Archive for June, 2008

June 30, 2008

Obama campaign site: Free Islamic terrorist!

E-mail addresses, phone numbers provided to ‘take urgent action’

Posted: June 29, 2008
8:02 pm Eastern

By Aaron Klein
© 2008 WorldNetDaily

“We are all Palestinians” post

JAFFA, Israel – A blog posting on Sen. Barack Obama’s official campaign site urges Americans to take action to secure the release of imprisoned terrorist fundraiser Sami Al-Arian, comparing the controversial former professor to Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

The posting is just a sampling of a large volume of racist, anti-Semitic and pro-Palestinian rhetoric published on the user-friendly MyObama community blog pages. The Obama campaign does not monitor all blog material, which is posted by registered users, but says it removes offending posts that are brought to the attention of the administrators.

In a blog post on Obama’s site titled, “We are all Palestinians,” user Ulf Erlingsson laments what he calls the “harsh” conditions of Al-Arian’s imprisonment – explaining he “lives in segregation … is not allowed any visitors and is given only two phone calls a month.”

The posting quotes Agha Saeed, chair of the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections, comparing Al-Arian to King and Malcom X, who “symbolized the struggle for human rights in the fifties and sixties. Dr. Sami Al-Arian has come to symbolize the current struggle for human rights.”

Al-Arian is also labeled an “internationally recognized political prisoner.”

Obama’s site readers are called upon to “take urgent action. Just 3 phone calls and 1 E-mail to make a difference.”

The blog – first noticed this weekend by Little Green Footballs – goes on to list phone numbers or e-mails for Al-Arian’s jail, a civil liberties office at the Homeland Security Department and the attorney general handling the Al-Arian case. The posting gives specific instructions for what protestors should say when they call the various agencies.

The blog also links to a Free Al-Arian website for readers interested in learning more.


Al-Arian, a former university professor, was arrested in 2003 on multiple charges of funding terrorists, including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror organization, which took credit for every suicide bombing in Israel since 2005. In 2006, Al-Arian accepted a plea bargain resulting in a conviction with conspiracy to aid Islamic Jihad.

Al-Arian was sentenced to 57 months in prison including time served. He was to serve the remainder of 19 months and then be deported, but he was held in contempt of court for refusing to testify in other related terrorism cases involving former associates. The contempt charges were overturned last year, but in March Al-Arian was subpoenaed to testify in front of another grand jury in a terrorist case, and he has so far refused.

The Al-Arian posting is joined by volumes of controversial rhetoric posted by registered users on Obama’s official campaign site. Some of the offending postings have been removed, while others still remain.

One recently removed posting claims Jews control the media:

“Jewish owners and managers of CNN, FOX NEWS, mainstream media and the press determine which person, which facts, which version of the facts, and which ideas shall reach the public,” read the blog.

Another post refered to Jews as “puppet masters” and “war criminals.”

Yet another posting, titled “The Israeli connection to 9/11,” claimed Israeli intelligence was involved in the mega-attack and planted “false flags” to blame Arab countries.

Other MyObama posts have warned of “Judeofacists and their Neocon comrades” who “already destroyed America … The entire Congress should be overthrown by revolution for having sold America to the Israelis.”

A popular topic on Obama’s site seems to be the so-called Israel Lobby.

An Obama site search under the key words “Israel lobby” brings up a large number of pages with titles such as “Bush uses Nazi history against Obama to pander to the Jewish lobby” and “The Israel Lobby: bad for the world.”

In one recently removed posting, titled, “How the Jewish Lobby works,” the page read, “No lobby is feared more” and claimed Jews “run the Federal Reserve Bank, US Homeland Security, and the US State Department.”

“If a politician does not play ball with the Jewish Lobby, he will not get elected, or re-elected, and he will either be smeared or ignored by the Jewish-owned major media,” read the posting.

Obama’s campaign did not return a WND e-mail request for comment before press time, but Obama spokesmen have previously stated the campaign cannot monitor all content but it promptly removes content brought to its attention that is deemed inappropriate or hateful.

A disclaimer on the MyObama blog section reads, “Content on blogs in My.BarackObama represents the opinions of community members and in no way should be interpreted as endorsed or approved by the campaign.”

Author Bill Levinson commented on the Israpundit blog, which documented some of the anti-Semitic postings: “The presence of these pages at is entirely consistent with Obama’s toleration of hate mongers (Louis Farrakhan, Jeremiah Wright) and even his endorsement and solicitation of racists, anti-Semites, and/or Catholic-hating bigots (, Al Sharpton, National Action Network).”

But the Patterico’s Pontifications blog took a different tone in a recent posting, writing, “Assuming the content was posted by an Obama supporter…so what?

“Barack Obama attracts some anti-Semitic supporters. That’s hardly a surprise, nor is it obviously his fault. In my opinion, he’s been too cozy with supporters of the anti-Semitic Louis Farrakhan. So criticize him for that. But the fact that he has anti-Semitic supporters, standing alone, says no more about him than the fact that there are white racists supporting John McCain.”


June 29, 2008

Officials: 30,000 troops heading to Iraq in 2009

Associated Press

Published: Friday June 27, 2008

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon is preparing to order roughly 30,000 troops to Iraq early next year in a move that would allow the U.S. to maintain 15 combat brigades in the country through 2009, The Associated Press has learned.

The deployments would replace troops currently there. But the decisions could change depending on whether Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, decides in the fall to further reduce troop levels in Iraq.

Several officials familiar with the deployments spoke on condition of anonymity because the orders have not yet been made public.

According to the officials, three active-duty Army brigade combat teams, one Army National Guard brigade and two Marine regimental combat teams are being notified that they are being sent to Iraq in early 2009. Officials would not release the specific units involved because the soldiers and Marines and their families have not all been told.

The Guard unit, however, is the 56th Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, from the Pennsylvania National Guard. Members of that unit — a large brigade with heavily armored Stryker vehicles — were told last October that they should be prepared to deploy to Iraq early in 2009. The order this week is the formal notice that includes a more specific time frame.

Currently, the final brigade involved in the military buildup in Baghdad last year is pulling out of Iraq. That departure will leave 15 combat brigades there — compared to a high of 20 for much of the past year. Other smaller units are also there, including troops doing security, logistics, air assaults, intelligence and medical aid.

Overall, there are about 146,000 forces in Iraq, and that number is expected to dip to about 142,000 by mid-July when that last unit is all out. That total is at least 7,000 more than the number of troops in Iraq before the buildup began early last year.

Petraeus told Congress in May that he is likely to recommend further troop reductions in Iraq, but he did not provide any details. If he decides in the fall that fewer brigades will be needed in Iraq during the next year, there is the chance that brigades could simply be directed to the war in Afghanistan instead.

There is a broad consensus that more troops are needed in Afghanistan, to both train the security forces and fight the insurgents. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Bush, earlier this year, told NATO allies that they would increase troop levels in Afghanistan in 2009 in response to the growing violence.


June 27, 2008

Internal documents:Capitol ill-prepared for bomb attack

By Jordy Yager
Posted: 06/23/08 07:46 PM [ET]

A future terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol is highly probable, and Congress’s specialized bomb squad is unlikely to be able to deal with it, according to internal U.S. Capitol Police documents obtained by The Hill.

The unclassified internal letters and memos, written by Capitol Police captains, lieutenants, and sergeants between 2005 and 2007, detail more than three years of complaints to their superiors about the Hazardous Devices Unit’s lack of vehicles, its desire for more frequent training and the inadequate level of experience of bomb technicians within the specialty unit.

A suicide bombing or a car bomb are “the two major threats to the United States Capitol complex and the Congressional community,” according to a memo from mid-2006. While Washington, D.C., has not experienced the effects of such attacks, “the possibility that one of these two techniques may be used remains quite high and could become a reality.”

The 2006 document cited “intelligencce reports.”

Capitol Hill’s bomb squad, tasked with protecting lawmakers, their staffs and visiting dignitaries, is considered one of the premier hazardous device units in the country, and it responds to several hundred possible threats each year.

But morale in the unit has fallen because of several key issues raised in the internal letters, according to Capitol Police sources. They said the issues remain unresolved and could hamper the bomb squad’s ability to respond to an attack.

Nearly half of the unit’s 14 members are seeking jobs elsewhere, according to Capitol Police sources.

Members could find opportunities at the Pentagon, which is forming a bomb squad, sources said.

Capitol Police is “fully prepared to carry out our daily mission to protect the legislative process, in addition to responding to critical incidents on a daily basis,” said Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, Capitol Police spokeswoman. “We remain at a constant state of readiness.”

At the top of the elite unit’s concerns is its need for additional vehicles, particularly for off-duty members of the bomb squad who might be needed in the aftermath of an attack. For example, in the event of a coordinated simultaneous attack, a strategy that terrorist groups have used in recent years, bomb squad members returning to Capitol Hill could get stuck in traffic.

Off-duty bomb squad members must report to Capitol Hill in their own personal vehicles, which have no sirens and are impossible for other drivers to distinguish, according to the letters. Once on Capitol Hill, the returning squad members would have to park their own cars and then drive a departmental vehicle to the scene of the threat.

“To carry out its mission to protect the Congress, staff and public on the Capitol Campus and to remain in the forefront of bomb disposal technology, the Hazardous Devices Section [HDS] must have the vehicles that are appropriate and necessary to deploy its equipment,” said one document written in late 2006.

The memos say the unit’s fleet of vehicles cannot meet the needs of its new equipment, a problem Capitol Police sources said remains unresolved. The documents call for Capitol Police to buy more large vehicles to keep up with updated bomb squad equipment.

Schneider disagreed with that conclusion. She said the unit is adequately supplied, but would not cite specifics for security reasons. “They have vehicles that meet their needs,” Schneider said of the bomb squad.

The documents show bomb squad officials have also repeatedly requested more frequent training to stay abreast of the ever-evolving tactics used by terrorists.

“Specialized training and proficiency are of the utmost concern as HDS strives to perform its assigned mission under the department’s Strategic Plan,” said one document from last year, which cited eight training programs that had been postponed or canceled because there was no money to pay for them.

Capitol Police bomb technicians are required to complete a refresher course at the Hazardous Devices School in Redstone, Ala., every three years. But Capitol Police sources say this is not enough to keep up with techniques and devices employed by attackers.

The average Capitol Police bomb technician has three or four years of experience, with the most senior technician serving for more than 12 years, according to Capitol Police sources.

Schneider said bomb squad members receive adequate training, and that the squad includes members with extensive experience. The squad also includes younger members, who are mentored by senior members they are expected to succeed.

“The combination and the mix of experience levels is critical to a good unit, and we do have that,” she said.

The documents, however, make repeated requests to increase the unit’s numbers and experience.

Another problem in the squad highlighted by Capitol Police sources is that the department does not promote bomb squad administrators from within the unit. Bomb squad administrators organize the unit’s response to threats, but rarely have bomb-related experience.

The reason for this policy is that the department wants to have individuals who are good at organizing and administrative duties in those positions, while those most familiar with bomb threats are on hand to deal with actual bombs.

Current and former police officials, however, defended this policy.

“When I was chief, the captain of the bomb unit was an outstanding technician and a very good captain, but that was relatively unique,” said Terrance Gainer, former Capitol Police chief and current Senate sergeant at arms. “In my experience, I think finding both combinations is rare. So what you try to do is have great technicians, sergeants who have stronger technical skills than they are managers, and then lieutenants and captains who have great leadership skills who aren’t making technical decisions.”

Schneider further explained the department’s policy. “It’s an administrative choice,” she said. “The assignment of personnel overall and assignment of supervisory personnel is standardized across the department and it’s based on the needs of the department. If it’s going to support the mission, then the department’s going to move in that direction, move people and assign them appropriately.”


June 25, 2008

McCain: World War III Would Justify Draft

John McCain said last night during a campaign tele-conference that he would bring back a military draft in the United States only in the case of a ‘World War III’ scenario.

Reuters reported:

Many Americans are fearful the U.S. government will be forced to reinstitute the draft given the prolonged Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Asked about that possibility by a potential voter in Florida during a telephone “town hall meeting,” McCain said: “I don’t know what would make a draft happen unless we were in an all-out World War III.” …

McCain, a Vietnam veteran, said the draft during that conflict weighed most heavily on lower-income Americans, and that this should not be repeated.

But McCain may be more open to the draft than it seems. During a July 2006 interview on CNN, McCain was asked about the following statement by Newt Gingrich: “We’re in the early stages of what I would describes as the Third World War and, frankly, our bureaucracies aren’t responding fast enough.” Asked whether he agreed, McCain said:

“I do to some extent. I think it’s important to recognize that we have terrorist organizations which — who are dangerous by themselves, are now being supported by radical Islamic governments, i.e., the Iranians, which makes them incredibly more dangerous because they are trained, equipped, motivated and assisted in every way by the Iranians.”

Also, as ThinkProgress noted, “Last October, President Bush himself warned of a coming ‘World War III’ with Iran. ‘I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III,’ said the President. ‘It seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.'”


June 24, 2008

Hamas Refuses to Comply With Terms of Truce

June 24, 2008 | From

Hamas say it will continue to smuggle arms into Gaza even as it stocks up on humanitarian aid.

Israel and Hamas entered into an Egyptian-brokered truce last Wednesday that is designated to last for six months. Under the terms of this truce, Israel will stop its attacks on terrorists in Hamas-controlled Gaza and increase the flow of goods into the Gaza Strip if Hamas will stop launching rockets into southern Israel and smuggling arms into Gaza. Israel has also stipulated that Israeli Corp. Galid Shalit be released.

For Israel’s part, it has ceased all attacks against Hamas and has so far allowed dozens of additional trucks filled with food, diapers, clothes and other humanitarian aid into Gaza. Israeli military spokesman Gil Karie reports that 90 truckloads of supplies were transferred from Israeli to Palestinian vehicles at a Gaza crossing on Sunday alone. This is up from the 60 to 70 truckloads a day before the truce.

On Hamas’s part, only the rocket attacks have stopped. Ismail Haniya, de facto head of Gaza’s government, said on Friday that arms smuggling into Gaza will not stop despite the fact that there is a truce. Hamas officials have also affirmed that they will not agree to release Corporal Shalit until Israel releases 450 Palestinian prisoners. Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan reiterated on Saturday that negotiations with Israel are out of the question and that Hamas will never recognize the Zionist enemy.

Since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip one year ago, it is estimated that Israel has sent 580,000 tons of humanitarian aid into Gaza. If this total were divided evenly among Gaza’s 1.4 million residents, a typical family of five would have already received more than 2 tons of food and supplies. During this same period, Hamas has smuggled over 100 tons of explosives into Gaza.

Israel is acting like a beggar for peace. No amount of aid the Olmert administration sends, however, will be able to buy peace. This is because the conflict at hand is not about food or aid; it is about a dangerous Islamic ideology that would deny Israelis the right to even breathe Middle Eastern air. For Hamas, this truce is a temporary respite it can utilize to stock up on arms and Israeli aid. As soon as the truce ends, Hamas will resume its struggle to drive the Israelis into the sea with new arms and new vigor.

For more information on Hamas’s relationship with Israel, read “Hamas Still Biting the Hand That Feeds Them” by Stephen Flurry.


June 23, 2008

You. Will. Not. Be. Able. To. Get. Food.

Written by Jan Lundberg
Culture Change Letter #189, June 20, 2008

The empire of cheap food is crumbling

You. Will. Not. Be. Able. To. Get. Food. Need this be spelled out any more plainly? It is time to consider that the stage has been set for petroleum-induced famine.

We have “innocently” accommodated rising population with greater and greater food production via technology and the profit motive. But now we have run out of room to grow, as biotechnology, for example, has severe limitations — major ones being petroleum dependence and topsoil loss. The biggest wild card for our existence is climate change, as we see with floods and other extreme weather affecting our food supply.

We are headed for massive shortages of food and other essentials, mainly brought about by the depletion of geological fossil reserves of cheap energy and water. The situation is demonstrated regularly with easy arithmetic based on statistical indicators from the United Nations, Worldwatch Institute, World Resources Institute, Earth Policy Institute, and numerous governments. Usually the full force of the message is offset by predictions of huge rises in future human population growth that are simple extrapolations of historical trends.

No one can say with certainty that the worst effects of today’s crisis will occur tomorrow or by any particular date. But it is irrational to assume there will only be gradual tightening of supplies until some solutions miraculously come to our aid. One ought to at least admit that one year ago few people thought we’d be going in the direction we’re going in, this fast, today.

Three days is our average food supply around the modernized world, i.e., for cities and their supermarkets. Long-term food stocks have plummeted: “Cereal stocks that are at their lowest level in 30 years,” according to Worldwatch institute in its most recent Vital Signs. This is exacerbated by increasingly weirder weather, compounded by the oil price/supply pressure on food. What can interfere with the three-day situation are truckers on strike (as in Europe), extended/repeated power outages, and the inability of the work force to commute to work.

I asked Chris Flavin, Worldwatch Institute president, about the escalating crisis that I assumed he was quite worried about. He told me on Wednesday,

“A lot will depend on the crop year and the weather. There is slack in the food supply system from meat consumption, for example. One steak’s energy requirement is the same as one gallon of ethanol. I see the glass half full and don’t have an apocalyptic view. We’re seeing fuel economy improvements and other self-correcting mechanisms. There’s $100 billion in renewable energy investment this year. We needed this crisis to start changing toward conservation. The pendulum is swinging again, as it did in the 1970s. We’re not going off the end of the cliff on peak oil. Production declines will be gradual.” I sent him my thoughts on the latter, with my thanks. I sure was surprised that he wasn’t half as worried as I am. Maybe he does not see as much of a problem the fact that the nation’s infrastructure is petroleum-based. He probably would not agree with me that the Earth is being murdered along with us human beings.

Zap! A global-warming heat wave kills many thousands in a U.S. city. Other cities take note, realizing their own cities are “like the one that got zapped last weekend.” Between the water supply problems, energy overload for air conditioning, rising prices for food, water and gasoline, people try to escape the urban heat island effect. Too many consumers stocking up and trying to split town exacerbated the tragedy.

When cities run out of food, and people want to leave en masse, they will get stuck in traffic jams the way fleeing (potential) victims of Hurricane Rita did in 2005. Will survivors be the ones who had the fullest gas tanks? Will these survivors also require guns to obtain food outside the city, whether by hunting or sticking up some hapless or well-armed locals?

Culture Change’s reports do not intend to add to hysteria. Indeed, if only there were no reason to be alarmed. But looking at our collective situation, it is difficult to see how wrenching shortages are avoidable. The consequence of reactions to these shortages will not be pretty. Without facing this, and taking action to prevent it, our Ship of Fools is on a course to hit the rocks.

Whether you are relatively “set” — with local food supply, not just money — or you are living from paycheck to paycheck and thus depend on the trucks coming into the supermarket without a hitch, you will not be immune to some interruption or limitation on the food you have probably taken for granted. As petroleum is in fast-dwindling supply and is relied upon for mass producing our food, shipping it (on average 1,500 miles for North Americans), packaging it and preparing it, we are up against a petroleum-induced famine of our own making. What evil-doer will we blame instead of ourselves?

The good news is that creative ways to obtain wild food are alive and well. Acorns and insects, however, are frowned upon — by the conventional consumer well fed for now. Is it time to stop cutting down oak trees? Poisoning snalis that are the escargot species? Wasting our nitrogen-rich urine by flushing it into our water supply instead of feeding it to fruit trees? Let us go over other options that we have:

Will we bring back the Victory Gardens through depaving and planting food in lawns? Until the food pops up for harvest, what will we eat — cats and rats? None of these sudden strategies can feed millions of hungry people in cities that don’t have pro-active leadership as yet. Yet, pedal power feeds millions in many a Chinese city surrounded by small farms. But every day the global economy plugs along, China is more fossil-fuel dependent, using far more coal than the U.S. and the U.K. combined.

Progress has been illusory in the last half century, but the period has been ballyhooed as amazing. “…the amount of grain produced per person grew from 285 kilograms in 1961 to a peak of 376 kilograms in 1986.” Since then it has gone down to 350 kilograms. China’s is 325 kilograms, the U.S. enjoys 1,230 kilograms, and in Zimbabwe — which Richard Heinberg told me is a guide to U.S. society after petrocollapse — is just 90 kilograms per capita. [Worldwatch, 2008] Can the most modern in the world really conserve the Earth suddenly?

There’s no let-up on the horizon, but people fervently hope for relief, as sure as tomorrow’s newspapers will be printed. As sure as the July 4th fireworks will be another display of our powerful continuity. Is this “Summer Driving Season” our last hurrah? Meanwhile, people are hurting in the pocket book, and are buying less stuff because of the oil price trend. So they look to blame someone, such as OPEC, the major oil companies, George Bush, take your pick. Some await Barack Obama to take over the White House and cleanse us of our woes, but even he says that community action is where it’s at.

Clearly, a half trillion dollar war on Iraq was not what our finances needed. If all that money had not been wasted, oil prices and food would be cheaper than they are. But what about the trickle-down of those corporations profiting off the war? Surely those billions for the contractors, and the fat salaries for those Americans so welcome in the Land Between Two Rivers, aided our economy. Or did they? The war profiteers and their friends in the corporate media expect everyone to buy capitalist theory. But wouldn’t you rather have had the half trillion bucks go to more livable conditions in our towns, such as community gardens, extended hours for libraries, better pay for teachers, and preventive health care? Thought so.

Unfortunately, our socioeconomic problems are too deeply rooted in disastrous treatment of Mother Nature, for even radical changes in federal spending priorities to get us out of this. So, the big one is coming. Looking at the fundamentals of our society and how it has changed from The Great Depression of the 1930s, we are in for something much worse than those days when the family farms were intact. What is implied for the big one on the horizon, according to optimistic activists such as Joanna Macy and David Korten, is “the great turning.” Doesn’t sound too scary, so I hope they’re right. They will be right, but they seem to skip the unpleasant bit about collapse.

The empire is crumbling, but first we must go through end-stages as the Romans and others had to: increasing debt, falling agricultural output, over-extended military, growing urban population without much productive purpose, etc. But we’re the good guys! — we call our empire’s philosophy “Democracy,” and we are so clever with science. Really, though, we’ve simply done better at distracting the populace and giving them the carrot more often than the stick, apparently. This translates to consumer freedom through more goods. The Big Gulp drink in disposable plastic — who could ask for more? We have had none other than The Empire of Cheap Food. Cheap in the sense that cancer can be had at lower prices than previous generations had to pay. Also, subsidized petroleum (to this day as well) jacked up the food supply and the human numbers.

It’s amazing how really intelligent people can be in dreamland over the possibility of positive change coming to the rescue. It’s not just limited to the technofix. It’s the general idea that people “are becoming more aware,” or “there are more and more people getting into organic gardening, CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), permaculture” and the like.

To get an indication of which may be more valid — (A) the trend for salvation as indicated by the growing phenomenon of gardening as noted by the New York Times last week, or (B) the inexorable, accelerating crunch of dwindling resources for too many people no matter how positive they may feel now — let us consider the result of a test on the community level.

This was very recently done in a most aware and progressive place. The population is small but well educated, oriented to be sensitive to world affairs, affluent, and active for local improvements. Sustainability is a goal in the eyes of many.

Here’s what was found from a survey of small and/or organic farms: no labor-help is needed at the beginning of the summer, nor for the whole summer long. Not even free help, volunteering. The farms’ production are set and unchangeable, apparently. Too bad, when the amount of food imported from afar is about 95% of what is eaten. One would think that at a time of rising food prices and the awareness of the global energy picture, such as peak oil, and when climate change makes the growing of food far more chancy, there’d be a discernible interest in upping the output and adding to community involvement of local farming. But the fact that people are (1) not anticipating any more demand for local and organic food this year, compared to last year, and that (2) there is no apparent need to gear up for greater production, seems ominous. It seems to indicate that there needs to be a raving crisis to get people to change their habits and plans.

Meanwhile, with a 100-year flood on the Iowa corn fields — where erosion on monocropped, depleted soil killed by petroleum pesticides and fertilizer and mechanical tilling — we are in for a hell of a summer. Is your food secure? Are you gardening, saving seeds, and protecting precious land and water?

The food price increases have something to do with oil prices that have doubled in a year. And the oil prices have something to do with peak oil. And peak oil has something to do with wasting the Earth headlong into deprivation and ecological destruction. And it’s about civilization as a runaway train. If you don’t agree with the metaphor, just try getting off. Crash must come, and come it will, and soon. I hope I’m wrong that: You. Will. Not. Be. Able. To. Get. Food.

That would be our concern when the price of oil can skyrocket (which it is already doing) — if we were prudent. The price of oil is far too low when there are still countless people driving cars unnecessarily. Apparently these drivers don’t find global warming to be as a big deal as “the economy.” Because it’s money, and only money, that can change some people — until they find they cannot eat their money.

Where I sit, the plants are crying out: It’s near 100 degrees Fahrenheit two days in a row in bone-dry San Francisco. It’s the wild deviations from the averages that are deadly to life.


June 22, 2008

Everything seemingly is spinning out of control

By ALAN FRAM and EILEEN PUTMAN, Associated Press Writers Sat Jun 21, 3:14 PM ET

WASHINGTON – Is everything spinning out of control?

Midwestern levees are bursting. Polar bears are adrift. Gas prices are skyrocketing. Home values are abysmal. Air fares, college tuition and health care border on unaffordable. Wars without end rage in Iraq, Afghanistan and against terrorism.

Horatio Alger, twist in your grave.

The can-do, bootstrap approach embedded in the American psyche is under assault. Eroding it is a dour powerlessness that is chipping away at the country’s sturdy conviction that destiny can be commanded with sheer courage and perseverance.

The sense of helplessness is even reflected in this year’s presidential election. Each contender offers a sense of order — and hope. Republican John McCain promises an experienced hand in a frightening time. Democrat Barack Obama promises bright and shiny change, and his large crowds believe his exhortation, “Yes, we can.”

Even so, a battered public seems discouraged by the onslaught of dispiriting things. An Associated Press-Ipsos poll says a barrel-scraping 17 percent of people surveyed believe the country is moving in the right direction. That is the lowest reading since the survey began in 2003.

An ABC News-Washington Post survey put that figure at 14 percent, tying the low in more than three decades of taking soundings on the national mood.

“It is pretty scary,” said Charles Truxal, 64, a retired corporate manager in Rochester, Minn. “People are thinking things are going to get better, and they haven’t been. And then you go hide in your basement because tornadoes are coming through. If you think about things, you have very little power to make it change.”

Recent natural disasters around the world dwarf anything afflicting the U.S. Consider that more than 69,000 people died in the China earthquake, and that 78,000 were killed and 56,000 missing from the Myanmar cyclone.

Americans need do no more than check the weather, look in their wallets or turn on the news for their daily reality check on a world gone haywire.

Floods engulf Midwestern river towns. Is it global warming, the gradual degradation of a planet’s weather that man seems powerless to stop or just a freakish late-spring deluge?

It hardly matters to those in the path. Just ask the people of New Orleans who survived Hurricane Katrina. They are living in a city where, 1,000 days after the storm, entire neighborhoods remain abandoned, a national embarrassment that evokes disbelief from visitors.

Food is becoming scarcer and more expensive on a worldwide scale, due to increased consumption in growing countries such as China and India and rising fuel costs. That can-do solution to energy needs — turning corn into fuel — is sapping fields of plenty once devoted to crops that people need to eat. Shortages have sparked riots. In the U.S., rice prices tripled and some stores rationed the staple.

Residents of the nation’s capital and its suburbs repeatedly lose power for extended periods as mere thunderstorms rumble through. In California, leaders warn people to use less water in the unrelenting drought.

Want to get away from it all? The weak U.S. dollar makes travel abroad forbiddingly expensive. To add insult to injury, some airlines now charge to check luggage.

Want to escape on the couch? A writers’ strike halted favorite TV shows for half a season. The newspaper on the table may soon be a relic of the Internet age. Just as video stores are falling by the wayside as people get their movies online or in the mail.

But there’s always sports, right?

The moorings seem to be coming loose here, too.

Baseball stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens stand accused of enhancing their heroics with drugs. Basketball referees are suspected of cheating.

Stay tuned for less than pristine tales from the drug-addled Tour de France and who knows what from the Summer Olympics.

It’s not the first time Americans have felt a loss of control.

Alger, the dime-novel author whose heroes overcame adversity to gain riches and fame, played to similar anxieties when the U.S. was becoming an industrial society in the late 1800s.

American University historian Allan J. Lichtman notes that the U.S. has endured comparable periods and worse, including the economic stagflation (stagnant growth combined with inflation) and Iran hostage crisis of 1980; the dawn of the Cold War, the Korean War and the hysterical hunts for domestic Communists in the late 1940s and early 1950s; and the Depression of the 1930s.

“All those periods were followed by much more optimistic periods in which the American people had their confidence restored,” he said. “Of course, that doesn’t mean it will happen again.”

Each period also was followed by a change in the party controlling the White House.

This period has seen intense interest in the presidential primaries, especially the Democrats’ five-month duel between Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Records were shattered by voters showing up at polling places, yearning for a voice in who will next guide the country as it confronts the uncontrollable.

Never mind that their views of their current leaders are near rock bottom, reflecting a frustration with Washington’s inability to solve anything. President Bush barely gets the approval of three in 10 people, and it’s even worse for the Democratic-led Congress.

Why the vulnerability? After all, this is the 21st century, not a more primitive past when little in life was assured. Surely people know how to fix problems now.

Maybe. And maybe this is what the 21st century will be about — a great unraveling of some things long taken for granted.


June 20, 2008

Floods Leave Iowa Swimming In Toxic Brew
Sewage, Farm Chemicals, Animal Waste Infest Water; Potential Levee Breaks Loom

OAKVILLE, Iowa, June 17, 2008

As flood water rise, families are struggling to keep their homes dry in Antioch, Ill. The Fox River is getting higher and time is running out. Joanie Lum reports.

* As flood water rise, families are struggling to keep their homes dry in Antioch, Ill. The Fox River is getting higher and time is running out. Joanie Lum reports.
Fighting Rising Water (1:27)
* Evacuees in the Midwest are beginning to return to their homes to assess the damage caused by severe flooding. Hari Sreenivasan reports.
Flood Victims Return Home (4:33)
* Students and faculty from the University of Iowa are struggling to prevent rising flood waters from destroying the college campus. Hari Sreenivasan reports from the Hawkeye State.

Midwest Floods

Powerful storms spawn deadly floods as rivers breach banks and levees.

Discover the destructiveness of floods and droughts, see this year’s predictions and get tips on what to do.


* Feds Say Midwest Levees Could Burst

* Midwest Braces For More Flooding

(CBS/ AP) As southeastern Iowa prepared for the Mississippi River’s wrath, the rest of Iowa began the slow move from protection to cleanup.

In much of the state there were small signs of a return to normalcy: Interstate 80 reopened near Iowa City in eastern Iowa for the first time in days, with Interstate 380 to the north scheduled to reopen early Tuesday. On the University of Iowa campus, officials began to take stock of the damage.

And in Des Moines, where a levee failure Saturday sent water pouring into the Birdland neighborhood, some residents returned for the first time to see the damage.

“It’s really bad. I mean, I can’t believe this,” said Gloria Ruiz, whose home suffered flood damage.

Ruiz pointed to a dirty line about 5 feet up on her basement wall showing how high the water rose. Her washer, dryer and boiler, and most of her children’s toys, including a stereo and an Xbox video game system, were ruined.

Floodwaters lingered about 50 feet from her driveway.

“We don’t know how long it will stay like that,” she said.

Where floodwaters remained, they were a noxious brew of sewage, farm chemicals and fuel. Bob Lanz used a 22-foot aluminum flatboat to navigate through downtown Oakville, where the water reeked of pig feces and diesel fuel.

“You can hardly stand it,” Lanz said as he surveyed what remained of his family’s hog farm. “It’s strong.”

LeRoy Lippert, chairman of emergency management and homeland security in nearby Des Moines County, warned people to avoid the floodwaters: “If you drink this water and live, tell me about it. You have no idea. It is very, very wise to stay out of it. It’s as dangerous as anything.”

Gov. Chet Culver and others pointed to the next looming trouble spot, in southeastern Iowa. Most requests for state aid were coming from Des Moines County, where the Mississippi River was not expected to crest until Wednesday. The county spent Monday sandbagging weak points on a major levee that, if broken, would cause flooding in several thousand acres and about 250 homes, said Gina Hardin, the county’s emergency management coordinator.

“We’re holding it back for now,” she said.

The federal government predicts that 27 levees could potentially overflow along the Mississippi River if the weather forecast is on the mark and a massive sandbagging effort fails to raise the level of the levees, according to a map obtained Monday by The Associated Press.

Brian Wiekand, 48, of Oakville, was sandbagging the levee Monday evening near a drainage pumping station, south of Kingston on the Mississippi River.

He was concerned about more flooding as water began lapping to within a foot of top of sandbag wall.

“The Bible says the prayer of one man, God hears,” Wiekand said. “Here’s my prayer: I ask for the strength of God to fight this flood, and I ask for the grace to accept whatever happens.”

Two more deaths were reported Monday, bringing the state’s death toll to five.

Also Monday, the American Red Cross said its disaster relief fund has been completely spent, and the agency is borrowing money to help flood victims throughout the Midwest.

In the college town of Iowa City, damage appeared limited. Some 400 homes took on water Sunday, and 16 University of Iowa buildings sustained some flood damage over the weekend. But the town’s levees were holding and the Iowa River was falling.

Officials in Illinois were building up the approach to the only major bridge over the Mississippi River linking Hamilton with Keokuk, Iowa, so the bridge could stay open despite rising water.

In Cedar Rapids, hazardous conditions forced officials on Monday to stop taking residents into homes where the water had receded. Broken gas lines, sink holes and structural problems with homes made conditions unsafe, said Dave Koch, a city spokesman. Officials hoped to allow residents in soon.

Frustrations spilled over at one checkpoint, where a man was arrested at gunpoint after he tried to drive past police in his pickup truck. All manner of refuse could be seen floating down the Iowa River – 55-gallon drums labeled “corrosive,” propane tanks, wooden fences and railroad ties. Dead birds and fish sat on the city’s 1st Avenue Bridge.

Officials plan to let more people into the flood-ravaged neighborhoods, but
on a case-by-case basis, CBS News Correspondent Cynthia Bowers reports.

A few blocks away, a paint store stood with its windows blown out. A line indicating the high-water mark could be seen about 8 feet above the floor. At the gas station next door, strong currents had knocked over two pumps.

Also mixed into the floodwaters are pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer from Iowa’s vast stretches of farmland.

Ken Sharp, environmental health director for the Iowa Department of Public Health, acknowledged that the floodwaters had the potential to make people sick. But he said the sheer volume of water can dilute hazardous substances.

“We don’t typically see mass cases of disease or illness coming from floodwater, but under any circumstance like this, we want people to avoid it because we don’t know what’s in there,” he said.

The flooding also raised concerns of contamination in rural wells, said G. Richard Olds, professor and chairman of the Medical College of Wisconsin.

“For rural folks, it’s going to be hard to know if their water’s safe or not,” he said.

In addition to the poison in the water, there are mosquitoes – millions of them spawning in acres of standing water. Greg Burg, assistant director of undergraduate biology at the University of Kansas, said the flooding “adds that much more water where they could potentially lay eggs and have the eggs survive.”

Business was already heating up at Mosquito Control, a Rolfe, Iowa-based company that sprays insecticide from a crop-duster airplane.

“We are already getting several calls that mosquitoes that have finally hatched,” co-owner Rich Welter said. “We’re hearing from folks around Cedar Rapids and all around the northern half of Iowa.”

When the waters rose Sunday in Oakville, a town of 400, Lanz and his family tried to move their pigs out of harm’s way. But they could only save a few. Most of their 350 sows and their 800 piglets were lost.

The family ripped out canvas ventilation curtains in the barn so the pigs “could at least have a chance,” said Logan Lanz, Bob Lanz’ grandson. “They were screaming. They were on top of each other. We had some big sows in there. They’re frantic, and they run you over.”

He said the water was choked with dead piglets.

Near Iowa City, Angela Betts and her three children were among those who fled last week when the Iowa River burst through a levee at Coralville. She stayed just long enough to fill two trash bags with clothes.

The family is now living in a shelter, and as far as Betts is concerned, everything she left behind can stay there.

“It bothers me, with everything that’s in the water,” she said. “I probably won’t keep anything. It won’t be worth it.”


June 18, 2008

When McCain Drops Out

Steve Rosenbaum Sun Jun 15, 11:20 PM ET

When the Republicans choose their candidate on September 4th, there is a very real chance that they could throw the election into an unexpected chaos as they pull a genuine September Surprise.

I think there is every reason to believe John McCain won’t be the nominee. Ok, let me say that again. McCain will not be the Republican candidate in November.

Here’s how it could happen:

At some point in mid August, John McCain will announce that he has decided that he can not accept his party’s nomination for president. The reason will be health-related, and that may turn out to be the truth. Anyone who’s seen him on stage these days knows he looks like he’s about to keel over. And anyone who’s been on a presidential campaign knows the physical demands are grueling and can be a challenge for a young man.

But excuses or facts hardly matters. He won’t be accepting his party’s nomination.

The reasons are simple. He can’t win.
Now that Obama is the presumptive Democratic nominee — the polls all show that McCain’s pro-war stance and Bush endorsement make him a lost cause in November. That combined with soft stand on litmus test conservative issues make him an unpopular candidate among the base. I know some Democrats that think the Republicans are planning to let McCain lose and ‘sit this one out’ so that they can hang the democrats with a bad economy and a war that is a morass. But that just isn’t how they play. They play to win every hand — think about 2000 with a popular Democratic president and good economy and a solid VP running for president. Why did they put up Bush? And why did they fight so hard? Because, you don’t ever throw a game. And they’re not going to throw this one.

McCain won’t be the nominee.

By August, they’ll have done something to try and pick away at Obama’s popularity. They’ll emphasis race, or whatever they can to get him to appear less than perfect. Then, they’ll bring out of the woodwork a surprise candidate who can shift the story fast. With just two months before the election — the new candidate will have little time to be ‘vetted’ but will be shiny and new, and will get a lot of media attention as Obama’s newness will have become — by then — tarnished or at least no longer the surprise that it has been as he unseated Hillary.

So, who will be the Republican candidate that faces Obama in the fall?

I’ve spoken to a number of friends who — when presented with this set of facts respond: “but they don’t have anybody else.” That’s simply not the case.

Joe Trippi, campaign consultant and most notably Howard Dean’s campaign manager, said of McCain dropping out: “While crazy, this may be the best shot they have.”

There are a whole list of Republicans who in many ways are more likely to energize the Republican base. One thing is certain — there are candidates that will play to the core issues in ways that McCain simply can’t.

Here’s a list of names. Some you know, some you don’t. But each of them knows their name is in play. Among them —

Condoleezza Rice (Secretary of State)
Colin Powell (fmr Sec. of State)
Marilyn Musgrave (Colorado Congresswoman)
Mitt Romney (fmr Massachusetts Governor)
Mike Huckabee (fmr Governor of Arkansas)
Charlie Crist (Florida Governor)
Tim Pawlenty (Minnesota Governor)
Bobby Jindal (Louisiana Governor)
Mark Sanford: (Governor of South Carolina)
John Thune (Senator from South Dakota)
Dick Lugar (Senator from Indiana)
Chuck Hagel (Senator from Nebraska)
MIchael Bloomberg (NYC Mayor)

Ok, go ahead knock them down. One by one. See if you can really remove ALL these names from a list of candidates that are more likely to give Obama a run for his money. They’ll come on the scene late, with a press corps that is looking for a horse race and a new story. Obama’s frontrunner status will be upset, and there will be a set of variables that need to be calculated — and tested against a weary electorate.

Is this supposition? Sure, but one grounded with enough history and observation to take it beyond conjecture and into the realm of the possible.

So — before the Democrats go and game out how to beat McCain, it may be worth thinking about what happens when he says he won’t accept the nomination. For the Republicans, a wide open convention would be both good theater and good politics.


June 17, 2008

Bush Administration War Plans directed against Iran

by Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, September 16, 2007

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Note: Readers are welcome to cross-post this article with a view to spreading the word and warning people of the dangers of a broader Middle East war. Please indicate the source and copyright note.

Quoting official sources, the Western media is now confirming, rather belatedly, that the Bush Administration’s war plans directed against Iran are “for real” and should be taken seriously.

According to official statements, “punitive bombings” directed against Tehran could be launched within the next few months.

The diplomatic mode has been switched off: The Pentagon is said to be “taking steps to ensure military confrontation with Iran” because diplomatic initiatives have allegedly failed to reach a solution.

These diabolical statements come within barely a couple of weeks following the release of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report. The later confirms unequivocally that Iran’s nuclear program is of a civilian nature and that Iran has neither the intention nor the capabilities to develop nuclear weapons:

Article IV (1): These modalities cover all remaining issues and the Agency [meaning IAEA] confirmed that there are no other remaining issues and ambiguities regarding Iran’s past nuclear program and activities.

Article IV (3): The Agency’s delegation is of the view that the agreement on the above issues shall further promote the efficiency of the implementation of safeguards in Iran and its ability to conclude the exclusive peaceful nature of the Iran’s nuclear activities.

Article IV (4): The Agency has been able to verify the non-diversion of the declared nuclear materials at the enrichment facilities in Iran and has therefore concluded that it remains in peaceful use. (IAEA Report, italics added)

At the same token, the IAEA report is a slap in the face for Washington. It confirms the lack of legitimacy and criminal nature of US foreign policy as well as Washington’s resolve to violate international law:

“The Bush administration’s abrupt dismissal of last Thursday’s IAEA report is one more sign that Washington has no interest in a diplomatic resolution to its confrontation with Tehran. Following Bush’s bellicose denunciations of Iran last week, the US has reiterated its intention to push for tougher UN sanctions against Tehran this month.” (Peter Symond, Global Research, September 2007)

No Public Outcry

Despite the overtly aggressive nature of US statements, these war plans directed against Iran, which in a real sense threaten the future of humanity, are not the object of public concern or debate. A US sponsored pre-emptive war, using thermonuclear weapons, which according to “authoritative” scientific opinion (on contract to the Pentagon), are “harmless to the surrounding civilian population” is simply not front page news in relation to any other trivial topic.

The dangers of a broader Middle East war are downplayed or ignored by the main anti-war coalitions. The proposed use of nuclear weapons in a conventional war theater is not a matter for debate.

Moreover, the planned attacks on Iran and their various devastating consequences are not being addressed by “progressive” civil society organizations including the “Left”, which tacitly considers The Islamic Republic as a real threat to human rights. According to Jean Bricmont:

“All the ideological signposts for attacking Iran are in place. The country has been thoroughly demonized because it is not nice to women, to gays, or to Jews. That in itself is enough to neutralize a large part of the American “left”. The issue of course is not whether Iran is nice or not ­according to our views — but whether there is any legal reason to attack it, and there is none; but the dominant ideology of human rights has legitimized, especially on the left, the right of intervention on humanitarian grounds anywhere, at any time, and that ideology has succeeded in totally sidetracking the minor issue of international law.” (Jean Bricmont, Global Research, September 2007)

Background of War Planning

For the last three years, in several carefully documented articles, Global Research has been reporting in detail on US sponsored war plans directed against Iran. These war plans include the preemptive use of thermonuclear weapons against Iran in retaliation for Tehran’s alleged non-compliance with the demands of the “international community”.

War plans in relation to Iran have been an advanced stage of readiness since mid 2005. Israel, Britain and NATO are part of the US led coalition and are slated to play an active role in the military operation.

The first phase of these war plans was formulated initially in mid-2003, under a Pentagon scenario entitled TIRANNT (Theater Iran Near Term). The military build-up has occurred over a period of more than three years.

In Summer 2006 as well as earlier this year, extensive war games were conducted in the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Israeli bombing of Lebanon in July 2006 was an integral part of the broader military agenda. In recent developments, Israel has conducted bombing raids inside Syrian territory visibly in an act of provocation.

Recent official statements by Washington confirm the broad nature of these war plans:

“Senior American intelligence and defense officials believe that President George W Bush and his inner circle are taking steps to place America on the path to war with Iran, …

Pentagon planners have developed a list of up to 2,000 bombing targets in Iran, …

Pentagon and CIA officers say they believe that the White House has begun a carefully calibrated programme of escalation that could lead to a military showdown with Iran.

In a chilling scenario of how war might come, a senior intelligence officer warned that public denunciation of Iranian meddling in Iraq – arming and training militants – would lead to cross border raids on Iranian training camps and bomb factories.

A prime target would be the Fajr base run by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Quds Force in southern Iran, where Western intelligence agencies say armour-piercing projectiles used against British and US troops are manufactured.

The intelligence officer said that the US military has “two major contingency plans” for air strikes on Iran.

“One is to bomb only the nuclear facilities. The second option is for a much bigger strike that would – over two or three days – hit all of the significant military sites as well. This plan involves more than 2,000 targets.” (quoted in The Sunday Telegraph, 16 September 2007)

US-NATO naval deployments are taking place in two distinct theaters: the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean.

In recent developments, it is reported that two aircraft carrier strike groups (USS Nimitz and USS Truman) are en route to the Persian Gulf to join up with the USS Enterprise, which means that there will be, by late September, three carrier strike groups in the Persian Gulf.

According to military sources, the USS Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group took up position in late August opposite the Lebanese coastline.

The attacks on Iran are now officially supported by America’s European allies including France and Germany. France’s Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has called upon France to support the US war on Iran:

“We have to prepare for the worst, and the worst is war,” Mr Kouchner said in an interview on French TV and radio. Mr Kouchner said negotiations with Iran should continue “right to the end”, but an Iranian nuclear weapon would pose “a real danger for the whole world” .(quoted by BBC, 16 September 2007)

Britain is closely involved, despite denials at the diplomatic level. Turkey occupies a central role in the Iran operation. It has an extensive military cooperation agreement with Israel. NATO is formally involved in liaison with Israel, with which it signed a military framework agreement in November 2004.

While the US, Israel, as well as Turkey (with borders with both Iran and Syria) are the main military actors, a number of other countries in the region, allies of the US, including Georgia and Azerbaijan have been enlisted.

There are indications from several media sources that Israel is also in an advanced stage of military preparedness and would be involved in carrying out part of the aerial bombardments. Syria and most probably Lebanon would also be targeted.

Already in 2005, the Israeli Air Force had reached a state of preparedness. Israeli air attacks of Iran’s nuclear facility at Bushehr had been contemplated using US as well Israeli produced bunker buster bombs. The attack was planned to be carried out in three separate waves “with the radar and communications jamming protection being provided by U.S. Air Force AWACS and other U.S. aircraft in the area”.

(See W Madsen,

Escalation Scenarios

If this military operation were to be launched, the entire Middle East Central Asian region would flare up.

The war would encompass an area extending from the Eastern Mediterranean to China’s Western frontier.

In this regard, US military planners have analyzed various “escalation scenarios”.

In fact, they expect the war to escalate. In other words, escalation, namely retaliation by Iran is a desired objective. It is part of the military agenda.

“A strike will probably follow a gradual escalation. Over the next few weeks and months the US will build tensions and evidence around Iranian activities in Iraq….

Under the theory – which is gaining credence in Washington security circles – US action would provoke a major Iranian response, perhaps in the form of moves to cut off Gulf oil supplies, providing a trigger for air strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities and even its armed forces. (Sunday Telegraph, op cit)

Iran Retaliates

The nature of Iran’s retaliation should be understood. General David Petraeus, who is responsible for managing the Iraq war theater, has voiced his opposition to an attack on Iran.

“Gen David Petraeus, Mr Bush’s senior Iraq commander, denounced the Iranian “proxy war” in Iraq last week as he built support in Washington for the US military surge in Baghdad.” (Sunday Telegraph, op cit)

General Petraeus is fully aware of the underlying implications for the Iraq war theater. A war on Iran would immediately spill over into Iraq:

Iran is the third largest importer of Russian weapons systems after India and China. In the course of the last five years, Russia has supported Iran’s ballistic missile technology, in negotiations reached initially in 2001 under the presidency of Mohammed Khatami.

Iran tested three new types of land-to-sea and sea-to-sea missiles in the context of its “Great Prophet II” military exercises last November. These tests were marked by precise planning in a carefully staged operation. According to a senior American missile expert, “the Iranians demonstrated up-to-date missile-launching technology which the West had not known them to possess.”

Tehran has the ability to retaliate and wage ballistic missile attacks against US and coalition facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Gulf states. Israel could also be a potential target, if Israel were to be an active partner in the bombing campaign.

Iranian ground troops could cross the border into Iraq and Afghanistan.

Iran’s forces total about 350,000 active military personnel as well 350,000 reserve forces (Jane’s Iran Profile). The Iranian Army disposes of some 2200 tanks. With these capabilities, in terms of military personnel and hardware, Iran could potentially inflict significant losses to US and coalition troops on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bush-Cheney Military Appointments

Several key military appointments were made in recent months which tend to reinforce Bush-Cheney control over the Military. Specifically, these appointments pertain to the positions of Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the commanders respectively of USCENTCOM, USSTRATCOM and US Pacific Command. All three commanders recently relinquished their respective positions.

These new appointments are crucial because USSTRATCOM, USCENTCOM and US Pacific Command are slated to play key roles in the coordination and implementation of the Iran military operation, in liaison with Israel and NATO.

1. Joint Chiefs of Staff

In May, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) General Peter Pace was fired (“non-renewal”). General Pace, in recent months, had indicated his disagreement with the Administration regarding both Iraq and the proposed attacks on Iran. General Pace stated (February 2007) that he saw no firm evidence of Tehran supplying weapons to Shiite militias inside Iraq, which was being heralded by the Bush administration as a justification for waging war on Iran:

“[M]aybe that’s why he’s the outgoing chairman. Maybe that’s why they’re not renewing him. Because …He has seen no evidence that Iran is fomenting unrest in Iraq that’s causing Americans lives… ” (Fox News’ Alan Colmes, ox News, June, 13, 2007),

General Peter Pace’s term as Chairman of the JCS ends at the end of September. Defense Secretary Gates’ chosen successor Admiral Michael Mullen, formerly U.S. Chief of Naval Operations, is slated to replace General Peter Pace as Chairman of the Joint chiefs of Staff.

Mullen’s discourse is in marked contrast to that of General Peter Pace. Mullen, who was in charge of coordinating 2006-2007 naval war games off the Iranian coastline, has expressed an unbending commitment to “waging” and “winning asymmetric wars”, while also “protecting the United States”:

“we must ensure we have the Battle Force, the people, and the combat readiness we need to win our nation’s wars…

Our Navy is fighting the Global War on Terror while at the same time providing a Strategic Reserve worldwide for the President and our Unified and Combatant Commanders…. Simply reacting to change is no longer an acceptable course of action if our Navy is to successfully wage asymmetric warfare and simultaneously deter regional and transnational threats (Statement, Senate Armed Services Committee, 7 May 2007)

Admiral Mullen’s stance is in line with that of the Bush Administration’s key Neo-conservative ideologues. With regard to Iran, echoing almost verbatim the stance of the White House, Admiral Mullen considers that it is “unacceptable that Iran is providing U.S. enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan with capabilities that are hurting and killing U.S. troops.” (Inside the Pentagon, June 21, 2007). But on the issue of Iran, the Democrats are on board. There is a bipartisan consensus, expressed by Senator Jo Lieberman:

“I want to make clear I’m not talking about a massive ground invasion of Iran,… [but a] strike over the border into Iran, where we have good evidence that they have a base at which they are training these people coming back into Iraq to kill our soldiers” (AP, June 11, 2007)

In June, Secretary of Defense Gates appoints the Commander of USSTRATCOM, General Cartwright to the position of Vice-Chairman of the JCS. Together with the appointment of Admiral Mullen, who is slated to take on his position of Chairman of JCS in October, these two new appointments imply a significant overhaul in the power structure of the JCS

In the meantime, USSTRATCOM is headed, pending Senate confirmation of a new commander, on an interim basis, by Air Force Lt. Gen. C. Robert Kehler


Admiral. William J. Fallon, was appointed Commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) in March by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

Admiral Fallon is fully compliant with the Bush administration’s war plans in relation to Iran. He replaces Gen. John P. Abizaid, who was pushed into retirement, following apparent disagreements with Rumsfeld’s successor, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. While Abizaid recognized both the failures and the weaknesses of the US military in Iraq, Admiral Fallon is closely aligned with Vice President Dick Cheney. He is also firmly committed to the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT). CENTCOM would coordinate an attack on Iran from the Middle East war theater.

Moreover, the appointment of an Admiral is indicative of a shift in emphasis of USCENTCOM’s functions in the war theater. The “near term” emphasis is Iran rather than Iraq, requiring the coordination of naval and air force operations in the Persian Gulf.

3. Pacific Command

Another major military appointment was implemented, which has a direct bearing on war preparations in relation to Iran. Admiral Timothy J. Keating Commander of US NORTHCOM was appointed in March, to head US Pacific Command, which includes both the 5th and the 7th fleets. The 7th Fleet Pacific Command is the largest U.S. combatant command. Keating, who takes over from Admiral Fallon is also an unbending supporter of the “war on terrorism”. Pacific Command would be playing a key role in the context of a military operation directed against Iran.(

Of significance, Admiral Keating was also involved in the 2003 attack on Iraq as commander of US Naval Forces Central Command and the Fifth Fleet.

It should be understood that these new military appointments tend to consolidate the power of Bush-Cheney in the military, overriding potential dissent or opposition to the Iran war agenda from within the upper echelons of the US military.

It is, however, unlikely that a major military operation would be launched immediately following Mullen’s instatement as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and prior to the confirmation of a new USSTRATCOM Commander by the US Senate.

USSTRATCOM’s Central Role in Coordinating the Attacks

USSTRATCOM would have the responsibility for overseeing and coordinating this military deployment as well as launching the military operation directed against Iran. (For details, Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War against Iran, Jan 2006 ).

In January 2005 a significant shift in USSTRATCOM’s mandate was implemented. USSTRATCOM was identified as “the lead Combatant Command for integration and synchronization of DoD-wide efforts in combating weapons of mass destruction.” To implement this mandate, a brand new command unit entitled Joint Functional Component Command Space and Global Strike , or JFCCSGS was created.

Overseen by USSTRATCOM, JFCCSGS would be responsible for the launching of military operations “using nuclear or conventional weapons” in compliance with the Bush administration’s new nuclear doctrine. Both categories of weapons would be integrated into a “joint strike operation” under unified Command and Control.

According to Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, writing in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists,

“The Defense Department is upgrading its nuclear strike plans to reflect new presidential guidance and a transition in war planning from the top-heavy Single Integrated Operational Plan of the Cold War to a family of smaller and more flexible strike plans designed to defeat today’s adversaries. The new central strategic war plan is known as OPLAN (Operations Plan) 8044…. This revised, detailed plan provides more flexible options to assure allies, and dissuade, deter, and if necessary, defeat adversaries in a wider range of contingencies….

One member of the new family is CONPLAN 8022, a concept plan for the quick use of nuclear, conventional, or information warfare capabilities to destroy–preemptively, if necessary–“time-urgent targets” anywhere in the world. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld issued an Alert Order in early 2004 that directed the military to put CONPLAN 8022 into effect. As a result, the Bush administration’s preemption policy is now operational on long-range bombers, strategic submarines on deterrent patrol, and presumably intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).”

The operational implementation of the Global Strike would be under CONCEPT PLAN (CONPLAN) 8022, which now consists of “an actual plan that the Navy and the Air Force translate into strike package for their submarines and bombers,’ (Japanese Economic Newswire, 30 December 2005, For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War against Iran, op. cit.).

CONPLAN 8022 is ‘the overall umbrella plan for sort of the pre-planned strategic scenarios involving nuclear weapons.’

‘It’s specifically focused on these new types of threats — Iran, North Korea — proliferators and potentially terrorists too,’ he said. ‘There’s nothing that says that they can’t use CONPLAN 8022 in limited scenarios against Russian and Chinese targets.’ (According to Hans Kristensen, of the Nuclear Information Project, quoted in Japanese Economic News Wire, op. cit.)

USSTRATCOM would play a central decision making and coordinating role in the eventuality of a war on Iran. The administration has demanded USSTRATCOM to elaborate centralized war plans directed against Iran. CENTCOM would largely be involved in carrying out these war plans in the Middle East war theater.

USSTRATCOM’s is described “a global integrator charged with the missions of full-spectrum global strike”.

USSTRATCOM is in charge of the coordination of command structures under global C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance). “Day-to-day planning and execution [by STRATCOM] for the primary mission areas is done by five Joint Functional Component Commands or JFCCs and three other functional components:”

If Iran Retaliates, the US Could Use Nuclear Weapons

US, NATO and Israeli military planners are fully aware that the aerial “punitive bombings” could lead coalition forces into a ground war scenario in which they may have to confront Iranian and Syrian forces in the battlefield.

Tehran has confirmed that it will retaliate if attacked, in the form of ballistic missile strikes directed against Israel as well as against US military facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf, which would immediately lead us into a scenario of military escalation and all out war.

Iranian troops could cross the Iran-Iraq border and confront coalition forces inside Iraq. Israeli troops and/or Special Forces could enter into Syria.

If Iran were to retaliate in a forceful way, which is contemplated by US military planners, the US could then retaliate with tactical nuclear weapons.

This scenario of using nuclear weapons against Iran has been in the pipeline since 2004. In 2005, Vice President Dick Cheney ordered USSTRATCOM to draft a “contingency plan”, which “includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons.” (Philip Giraldi, Attack on Iran: Pre-emptive Nuclear War , The American Conservative, 2 August 2005).

In relation to current war plans, Cheney has confirmed his intention to strike Iran with nuclear weapons.

“The vice president is said to advocate the use of bunker-busting tactical nuclear weapons against Iran’s nuclear sites. His allies dispute this, but Mr Cheney is understood to be lobbying for air strikes if sites can be identified where Revolutionary Guard units are training Shia militias.

Recent developments over Iraq appear to fit with the pattern of escalation predicted by Pentagon officials.” (Sunday Telegraph, op cit)

Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization

In May 2004, National Security Presidential Directive NSPD 35 entitled Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization was issued.

The contents of this highly sensitive document remains a carefully guarded State secret. There has been no mention of NSPD 35 by the media nor even in Congressional debates. While its contents remains classified, the presumption is that NSPD 35 pertains to the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in the Middle East war theater in compliance with CONPLAN 8022.

Tactical nuclear weapons directed against Iran have also been deployed at military bases in several NATO non-nuclear states including Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Turkey.

It should be understood that even without the use of nukes, the proposed US aerial bombardments of Iran’s nuclear facilities could result in a nuclear Chernobyl type disaster on a significnatly larger scale.

World War III Scenario

While the war on Iran is acknowledged by the Western media, it is not front page news.

The broad implications of an impending catastrophe are simply not addressed.

Escalation could lead us into a World War III scenario.

Through media disinformation, the seriousness of a US-led war on Iran allegedly in retaliation for Iran’s defiance of the “international community” is downplayed . The objective is to galvanize Western public opinion in support of a US-led military operation, which would inevitably lead to escalation.

War propaganda consists in “fabricating an enemy” while conveying the illusion that the Western World is under attack by Islamic terrorists, who are directly supported by the Tehran government.

“Make the World safer”, “prevent the proliferation of dirty nuclear devices by terrorists”, “implement punitive actions against Iran to ensure the peace”. “Combat nuclear proliferation by rogue states”…

Supported by the Western media, a generalized atmosphere of racism and xenophobia directed against Muslims has unfolded, particularly in Western Europe, which provides a fake legitimacy to the US war agenda. The latter is upheld as a “Just War”. The “Just war” theory serves to camouflage the nature of US war plans, while providing a human face to the invaders.

What can be done?

The antiwar movement is in many regards divided and misinformed on the nature of the US military agenda. In the US, United for Peace and Justice tacitly supports US foreign policy. It fails to recognize the existence of an Iraqi resistance movement. Moreover, these same antiwar organizations, which are committed to World Peace tend to downplay the implications of the proposed US bombing of Iran. More generally the antiwar movement fails to address the existence of a broader Middle East military agenda, a long-war. Its actions are piecemeal, focusing on Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine without addressing the relationship between these various war theaters.

To reverse the tide requires a massive campaign of networking and outreach to inform people across the land, nationally and internationally, in neighborhoods, workplaces, parishes, schools, universities, municipalities, on the dangers of a US sponsored war, which contemplates quite explicitly the use of thermonuclear weapons. The message should be loud and clear: As confirmed by the IAEA report, Iran is not the threat.

Debate and discussion must also take place within the Military and Intelligence community, particularly with regard to the use of tactical nuclear weapons, within the corridors of the US Congress, in municipalities and at all levels of government.

Ultimately, the legitimacy of the political and military actors in high office must be challenged.

The corporate media also bears a heavy responsibility for the cover-up of US sponsored war crimes. It must also be forcefully challenged for its biased coverage of the Middle East war.

For the past two years, Washington has been waging a “diplomatic arm twisting” exercise with a view to enlisting countries into supporting its military agenda. It is essential that at the diplomatic level, countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America take a firm stance against the US military agenda.

What is needed is to break the conspiracy of silence, expose the media lies and distortions, confront the criminal nature of the US Administration and of those governments which support it, its war agenda as well as its so-called “Homeland Security agenda” which has already defined the contours of a police State.

The World is at the crossroads of the most serious crisis in modern history. The US has embarked on a military adventure, “a long war”, which threatens the future of humanity.

It is essential to bring the US war project to the forefront of political debate, particularly in North America and Western Europe. Political and military leaders who are opposed to the war must take a firm stance, from within their respective institutions. Citizens must take a stance individually and collectively against war.

This article includes a few selected excerpts from my previous writings on US war plans in relation to Iran. For a review of US war plans in relation to Iran, see Global Research’s Iran dossier.