Friday, September 29, 2006

Bob Woodwards new Book, "State of Denial."

GOI: I can't wait to read this one. I have to finish "Fiasco" first (which I am enjoying immensely by the way. I HIGHLY recommend it). More of my commentary below the excerpts from the NYT article.

Mr. Woodward writes that in the weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Tenet believed that Mr. Rumsfeld was impeding the effort to develop a coherent strategy to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. Mr. Rumsfeld questioned the electronic signals from terrorism suspects that the National Security Agency had been intercepting, wondering whether they might be part of an elaborate deception plan by Al Qaeda.

On July 10, 2001, the book says, Mr. Tenet and his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, met with Ms. Rice at the White House to impress upon her the seriousness of the intelligence the agency was collecting about an impending attack. But both men came away from the meeting feeling that Ms. Rice had not taken the warnings seriously.

GOI: Two more sources that testify that Rice and Rumsfeld didn't take the Osama bin Laden threat seriously. Yet more vindication for President Bill Clinton and the Dem's.

In the weeks before the Iraq war began, President Bush’s parents did not share his confidence that the invasion of Iraq was the right step, the book recounts. Mr. Woodward writes about a private exchange in January 2003 between Mr. Bush’s mother, Barbara Bush, the former first lady, and David L. Boren, a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a Bush family friend.

The book says Mrs. Bush asked Mr. Boren whether it was right to be worried about a possible invasion of Iraq, and then to have confided that the president’s father, former President George H. W. Bush, “is certainly worried and is losing sleep over it; he’s up at night worried.”

GOI: Say what you want about GWH Bush but at least he was a smart guy unlike his son. He knew that invading Iraq was a mistake just like Scowcroft and other members of his cabinet (including Colin Powell). Bush Sr. had experience in intelligence coming from the CIA and knew the importance of getting your information right before you act. He knew that invading Iraq would have been a disaster. Hell, even then Sec. of Defense Dick Cheney knew that it would be a quagmire!! Quoting now from the book, "Fiasco" by Thomas E. Ricks:

We were there in the southern part of Iraq to the extent we needed to be there to defeat his forces and to get him out of Kuwait, but the idea of going into Baghdad, for example or trying to topple the regime wasn't anything I was enthusiastic about. I felt there was a very real danger here that you would get bogged down in long drawn-out conflict, that this was a dangerous, difficult part of the world.

Damning stuff Mr. Cheney, damning stuff.

UPDATE: Tony Snow is on the tee vee (as the goddess Randi Rhondes says) saying that the book is full of people saying things negative about the Bush administration because they weren't listened too. Yet, the Bush administration wasn't slamming Woodward's previous books that were rather kind to the administration!! Interesting.

---End of Transmission---

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Poll finds: Iraqi's Want U.S. Out of Their Country and Approve of Attacks on U.S. Military.

GOI: You're doing a heckova job there Georgie in winning the battle for "winning hearts and minds!!" The majority of those hearts and minds agree with attacks looking to blow up the hearts and minds of our military. Just saying that things are going good in Iraq certainly doesn't make it so President Giggles. Unlike you Ostrich boy we have our eyes open and we indeed know when we're not wearing clothes.

Good job indeed.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- About six in 10 Iraqis say they approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces, and slightly more than that want their government to ask U.S. troops to leave within a year, according to a poll in that country.

The Iraqis also have negative views of Osama bin Laden, according to the early September poll of 1,150.

The poll, done for University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes, found:

-Almost four in five Iraqis say the U.S. military force in Iraq provokes more violence than it prevents. (GOI: That opinion is consistant with the April NIE leaked recently).



-About 61 percent approved of the attacks - up from 47 percent in January. A solid majority of Shiite and Sunni Arabs approved of the attacks, according to the poll. The increase came mostly among Shiite Iraqis.

-An overwhelmingly negative opinion of terror chief bin Laden and more than half, 57 percent, disapproving of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

-Three-fourths say they think the United States plans to keep military bases in Iraq permanently.

-A majority of Iraqis, 72 percent, say they think Iraq will be one state five years from now. Shiite Iraqis were most likely to feel that way, though a majority of Sunnis and Kurds also believed that would be the case.

The State Department, meanwhile, has also conducted its own poll, something it does periodically, spokesman Sean McCormack said. The State Department poll found that two-thirds of Iraqis in Baghdad favor an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces, according to The Washington Post.

On the Net:

Program on International Policy Attitudes: http://www.pipa.org


---End of Transmission--

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The April 2006 NIE: Iraq War Becoming the "Cause Celebre" for Jihadists.

The partial release of the most recent NIE has upset the president and as well it should. It fly's in the face of the Bush propaganda that America and the world is safer because we are fighting in Iraq.

The report states that terrorists are "increasing in both size and geographic dispersion." This is because (again according to the report from Bush's own government) The, "Iraq conflict has become the 'cause celebre' for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement."

They go on to admit that if this spread of "the global jihadist movement" continues (and it has) then "threats to US interests at home and abroad will become more diverse, leading to increased attacks worldwide."

Now today Tony Snow claimed that the part, "cultivating supporters" does not mean creating more terrorists. However, let's remember that the president has said that anyone who helps, harbours terrorists will be seen as against us and thus terrorists as well. That makes sense. After all anyone who harbours criminals is themselves a criminal. Therefore anyone who "supports" terrorists is indeed themselves a terrorist!! Thus, "cultivating supporters" obviously means creating more terrorists. I was born in the afternoon Tony but not this afternoon.

The Bush administration as usual has been eating lead paint chips and is thus delusionally saying that "America is winning the war on terrorism." And yet a bipartisan survey conducted by American Progress and Foreign Policy of some 100 national security experts says otherwise: 1) we are losing the war on terror (84%), 2) the Iraq War is making the terror threat worse (87%), and 3) we are not safer (86%)

The report also claimed that if people like Zarqawi where killed that it would reduce the violence. "We assess that the resulting splinter groups would, at least for a time, pose a less serious threat to US interests than does al-Qaida." The reality, however, has been the opposite. Violence since the death of zarqawi has only increased.

The rest of the NIE hasn't been released because (according to some who have seen it) it is even more damaging to the White House arguement that Iraq isn't creating more terrorists. There is a new, current NIE (the one mentioned in this post was completed in April). However, they are saying that they won't release the new one (conveniently) until after the November elections in January of next year!!

"Stay the course" is Bush talk for creating more terrorists.

I just don't see how the White House can get any positive traction off this report created by their own people!! I mean John Negroponte is the head of the Director of National Intelligence (the office who created this report) You can't get more Bush partisan and Neo-Con then Negroponte folks.

As I often say on situations like this, "You can't polish a terd."

---End of Transmission---

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

2001 Memo to Rice Contridicts statements about Clinton, Pakistan.

Larry Womack
Published: Tuesday September 26, 2006

A memo received by United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice shortly after becoming National Security Advisor in 2001 directly contradicts statements she made to reporters yesterday. "We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda," Rice told a reporter for the New York Post on Monday. "Big pieces were missing," Rice added, "like an approach to Pakistan that might work, because without Pakistan you weren't going to get Afghanistan."

Rice made the comments in response to claims made Sunday by former President Bill Clinton, who argued that his administration had done more than the current one to address the al Qaeda problem before the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. She stopped short of calling the former president a liar.

However, RAW STORY has found that just five days after President George W. Bush was sworn into office, a memo from counter-terrorism expert Richard A. Clarke to Rice included the 2000 document, "Strategy for Eliminating the Threat from the Jihadist Networks of al-Qida: Status and Prospects." This document devotes over 2 of its 13 pages of material to specifically addressing strategies for securing Pakistan's cooperation in airstrikes against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Pakistan obstacle

The strategy document includes "three levers" that the United States had started applying to Pakistan as far back as 1990. Sanctions, political and economic methods of persuasion are all offered as having been somewhat successful.

Other portions of the passages relating to Pakistan – marked as "operational details" – have been redacted from the declassified memo at the CIA's request.

The document also explores broader strategic approaches, such as a "need to keep in mind that Pakistan has been most willing to cooperate with us on terrorism when its role is invisible or at least plausibly deniable to the powerful Islamist right wing."

But Clarke also made it clear that the Clinton Administration recognized the problem that Pakistan posed in mounting a more sweeping campaign against bin Laden: "Overt action against bin Laden, who is a hero especially in the Pushtun-ethnic border areas near Afghanistan," Clarke speculated in late 2000, "would be so unpopular as to threaten Musharraf's government." The plan notes that, after the attack on the USS Cole, Pakistan had forbidden the United States from again violating its airspace to attack bin Laden in Afghanistan.

The memo sent by Clarke to Rice, to which the Clinton-era document was attached, also urges action on Pakistan relating to al Qaeda. "First [to be addressed,]" wrote Clarke in a list of pending issues relating to al Qaeda, is "what the administration says to the Taliban and Pakistan about ending al Qida sanctuary in Afghanistan. We are separately proposing early, strong messages on both."

---End of Transmission---

Bush Answers NIE Questions Regarding Iraq Making the War on Terror Worse. And Criticism of Clinton's Fiery Speech.

A reporter asked what he thought about this document saying Iraq is making the war on terror worse. He responded and was seriously reading his answer from prepared notes. I'm surprised the prepared notes weren't pinned to his lapel by Karl Rove.

The President and other Republicans are now saying that this conclusion that Iraq is making the war on terror more difficult is only one part of the entire NIE. However, that doesn't matter. A "paragraph" making the thesis that Iraq is hurting the war on terror is still big, important news no matter how you spin it. Bush is trying to say that discussing this imformation leaked is being done to influence the upcoming election but he wouldn't know anything about that now would he?

Condi Rice said today that Clinton's admin didn't infact leave a comprehensive al-Qaeda plan. However documents are soon to be released by Raw Story reportedly showing Rice claims to be false.

"What we did in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding years," Rice said Monday during a meeting with editors and reporters at the New York Post.

Hmmm, but she didn't elaborate as to what exactly they did do in getting bin Laden during those now famous 9 months. How typical of these people. Distort and fall short of giving any adequate answers or proof. Clinton laid it all out and even admitted to what he did do wrong but you'll never get that kind of honesty from the Bush Neo-Cons.

Then you have FOX columnist Ronald A. Cass starting out his opinion hack-job by condemning Clinton for not serving in the military. He conveniently doesn't mention though that most of the entire Bush administration didn't serve either. And yet they felt more capable of planning and executing a war then many of our greatest generals (see the book "Fiasco" by Thomas E. Ricks).

Cass then slams Clinton for pulling out of Somalia and again fails to mention that hordes of Republicans where clammering for him to pull the troops out. They were saying, "no war for Monica" and that the intervention was "wag the dog."

---End of Transmission---

Monday, September 25, 2006

President Bill Clinton Rips FOX's Wallace a New One

GOI: My commentary below:

During the exchange, the former head of state attacked Wallace's criticism of Bush's attempts to deal with terrorism, summing it up as "Fox's bidding," and a "nice little conservative hit job."

"At least I tried," Clinton argued. "That's the difference in me and some, including all the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying."

"They had eight months to try," he continued. "They did not try. I tried. So I tried and failed. When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terrorist strategy, and the best guy in the country, Dick Clarke, who got demoted."

GOI: Ohhhhh, SNAP BILL!!!! GET 'EM!!!! YOU GOT SERVED NEO-FRAUDS!!!! They tried to crap all over Bill and he shoveled that shit sandwich right back into their faces and made them eat it. I add my voice to the many who are ecstatic that Bill Clinton took FOX, the neo-cons and Chris Wallace to the wood shed and beat 'em like a drum in that sunday interview. The Democrats are playing hardball for keeps and hitting them back in the mouth with both fists. We won't be swift boated again.

I've watched this interview over and over via the web today and each time I watch it I get chills. I pump my fists, yell and whistle with pride in the real great communicator with each new viewing. I hope that the Democratic candidates across the country pick up where Clinton left off and keep smacking the shit eating grins off these uppity, do nothing, arrogant, reckless, destructive, lying Republicans. They are FRAUDS and far from real Republicans.

The Republicant's are saying that he had a "meltdown" in the interview and I say, "GOOD!!!" He should "meltdown" with these impossible, irrational, ignorant ass clowns. They've had a good, swift, strong kick to the balls coming to them for a loooong time now. Bill shouldn't have sat there and taken that bullshit. I've never been more proud to be a Democrat. This is rallying cry folks.

We're tired of their immature school yard bully tactics and being pushed around by this bunch of corrupt, dangerous, immoral, incapable jackasses. We're tired of them dragging our great Constitution and flag "in the mud, the blood and the beer" as the late, great Johnny Cash sings.

They're on the ropes and now is not the time to back off and think we can coast to victory in November. We need to keep taking it to them with no mercy. Enough is enough. It's time for the adults to take over.

---End of Transmission---

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Iraq War Hurting U.S. Terror Fight

GOI: I'd like to officially welcome U.S. intelligence analysts to the reality train that we've been riding for years. Happy to see that you made it out of that 3 and a 1/2 year coma that you've been in.

We're trying to put out the fires of terrorism with buckets of gasoline. Great plan.

By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer

Sunday, September 24, 2006; Page A01

The war in Iraq has become a primary recruitment vehicle for violent Islamic extremists, motivating a new generation of potential terrorists around the world whose numbers may be increasing faster than the United States and its allies can reduce the threat, U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded.

A 30-page National Intelligence Estimate completed in April cites the "centrality" of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the insurgency that has followed, as the leading inspiration for new Islamic extremist networks and cells that are united by little more than an anti-Western agenda. It concludes that, rather than contributing to eventual victory in the global counterterrorism struggle, the situation in Iraq has worsened the U.S. position, according to officials familiar with the classified document.

According to officials familiar with the document, it describes the situation in Iraq as promoting the spread of radical Islam by providing a focal point, with constant reinforcement of an anti-American message for disaffected Muslims.

------

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Bin Laden Sick or Dead?

GOI: If true, it looks like Sith Lord Rove's October surprise has been busted. I'm sure (again if it's true) I wouldn't be surprised to hear the Bush crowd try and take credit for him dying of a water born illness. I can hear it now, "You see we had him on the run so that he had to live in remote areas without access to medical care. So you see we are responsible for him contracting a serious illness that he could not treat."

The Saudi's are the ultimate source of this news and we all know that they are in the pockets of the Bush family. So I wouldn't be surprised if they are releasing this information to force bin Laden to make another tape proving he is alive. And maybe the Bush admin/Republicans are banking that American's seeing another tape of bin Laden alive would affect the mid-term elections as the bin Laden tape before the 2004 elections did.

PARIS, France (CNN) -- Osama bin Laden has a water-borne illness, a Saudi intelligence source told CNN on Saturday, a report that conflicts with an article in a French newspaper saying that the al Qaeda leader is dead.

The Saudi intelligence source told CNN's Nic Robertson that there have been credible reports for the past several weeks that bin Laden is ill, but there has been no word of his death.

Laid Sammari, the journalist who wrote the article, told CNN in a telephone interview he was confident of the authenticity of the confidential document cited in his report.

He said the only thing the Saudis were trying to confirm was the burial place of the al Qaeda leader, before making an official announcementFrom Time:

"This is not a rumor," says the source. "He is very ill. He got a water-related sickness and it could be terminal. There are a lot of serious facts about things that have actually happened. There is a lot to it. But we don't have any concrete information to say that he is dead."

---End of Transmission---

Friday, September 22, 2006

The Abuse Can Continue



Senators won't authorize torture, but they won't prevent it, either.

Friday, September 22, 2006; Page A16

THE GOOD NEWS about the agreement reached yesterday between the Bush administration and Republican senators on the detention, interrogation and trial of accused terrorists is that Congress will not -- as President Bush had demanded -- pass legislation that formally reinterprets U.S. compliance with the Geneva Conventions. Nor will the Senate explicitly endorse the administration's use of interrogation techniques that most of the world regards as cruel and inhumane, if not as outright torture. Trials of accused terrorists will be fairer than the commission system outlawed in June by the Supreme Court.

The bad news is that Mr. Bush, as he made clear yesterday, intends to continue using the CIA to secretly detain and abuse certain terrorist suspects. He will do so by issuing his own interpretation of the Geneva Conventions in an executive order and by relying on questionable Justice Department opinions that authorize such practices as exposing prisoners to hypothermia and prolonged sleep deprivation. Under the compromise agreed to yesterday, Congress would recognize his authority to take these steps and prevent prisoners from appealing them to U.S. courts. The bill would also immunize CIA personnel from prosecution for all but the most serious abuses and protect those who in the past violated U.S. law against war crimes.

GOI: "Those" meaning Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc.

In short, it's hard to credit the statement by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) yesterday that "there's no doubt that the integrity and letter and spirit of the Geneva Conventions have been preserved." In effect, the agreement means that U.S. violations of international human rights law can continue as long as Mr. Bush is president, with Congress's tacit assent. If they do, America's standing in the world will continue to suffer, as will the fight against terrorism.

For now, the administration says it is not holding anyone in secret CIA facilities. The detention of those being held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay clearly conforms with international law. If suspects are routed into the CIA program in the future, the administration has pledged to consult with Congress about the interrogation techniques that will be permitted. In theory, Congress could override Mr. Bush's regulations governing treatment if it judges that they are being used to authorize unacceptable practices.

But the senators who have fought to rein in the administration's excesses -- led by Sens. McCain, Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and John W. Warner (R-Va.) -- failed to break Mr. Bush's commitment to "alternative" methods that virtually every senior officer of the U.S. military regards as unreliable, counterproductive and dangerous for Americans who may be captured by hostile governments.

Mr. Bush wanted Congress to formally approve these practices and to declare them consistent with the Geneva Conventions. It will not. But it will not stop him either, if the legislation is passed in the form agreed on yesterday. Mr. Bush will go down in history for his embrace of torture and bear responsibility for the enormous damage that has caused.

GOI: And from the The New York Times:

The deal does next to nothing to stop the president from reinterpreting the Geneva Conventions. While the White House agreed to a list of “grave breaches” of the conventions that could be prosecuted as war crimes, it stipulated that the president could decide on his own what actions might be a lesser breach of the Geneva Conventions and what interrogation techniques he considered permissible. It’s not clear how much the public will ultimately learn about those decisions. They will be contained in an executive order that is supposed to be made public, but Mr. Hadley reiterated that specific interrogation techniques will remain secret.

---End of Transmission---

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Torture in Iraq May be Worse Now Than it Was Under Saddam Hussein

GOI: So and our brave troops are caught in the middle of it all.

GENEVA (AP) -- Torture in Iraq may be worse now than it was under Saddam Hussein, with militias, terrorist groups and government forces disregarding rules on the humane treatment of prisoners, the U.N. anti-torture chief said Thursday.
Manfred Nowak, the U.N. special investigator on torture, made the remarks as he was presenting a report on detainee conditions at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay as well as to brief the U.N. Human Rights Council, the global body's top rights watchdog, on torture worldwide.

Reports from Iraq indicate that torture "is totally out of hand," he said. "The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than it has been in the times of Saddam Hussein."

Nowak added, "That means something, because the torture methods applied under Saddam Hussein were the worst you could imagine."


Some allegations of torture were undoubtedly credible, with government forces among the perpetrators, he said, citing "very serious allegations of torture within the official Iraqi detention centers."

"You have terrorist groups, you have the military, you have police, you have these militias. There are so many people who are actually abducted, seriously tortured and finally killed," Nowak told reporters at the U.N.'s European headquarters.

"It's not just torture by the government. There are much more brutal methods of torture you'll find by private militias," he said.

A report by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq's Human Rights office cited worrying evidence of torture, unlawful detentions, growth of sectarian militias and death squads, and a rise in "honor killings" of women.

According to the U.N. report, the number of Iraqi civilians killed in July and August hit 6,599, a record-high that is far greater than initial estimates suggested, the U.N. report said Wednesday.

It attributed many of the deaths to rising sectarian tensions that have pushed Iraq toward civil war.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Canadian Reportedly Beaten Under U.S. Rendition Program

GOI: And here I thought we didn't talk to Syria...Hmmm. I guess we do via Jordan. We won't talk to them because of their totalitarian government yet we are fine with them using their totalitarian torture techniques when questioning "suspects." I get it now. The ends justify the means with this Bush crowd.

Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, September 19, 2006; Page A01

TORONTO, Sept. 18 -- Canadian intelligence officials passed false warnings and bad information to American agents about a Muslim Canadian citizen, after which U.S. authorities secretly whisked him to Syria, where he was tortured, a judicial report found Monday.

The inquiry, which focused on the Canadian intelligence services, found that agents who were under pressure to find terrorists after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, falsely labeled an Ottawa computer consultant, Maher Arar, as a dangerous radical. They asked U.S. authorities to put him and his wife, a university economist, on the al-Qaeda "watchlist," without justification, the report said.

Arar, now 36, was detained by U.S. authorities as he changed planes in New York on Sept. 26, 2002. He was held for questioning for 12 days, then flown by jet to Jordan and driven to Syria. He was beaten, forced to confess to having trained in Afghanistan -- where he never has been -- and then kept in a coffin-size dungeon for 10 months before he was released, the Canadian inquiry commission found.

"This is really the first report in the Western world that has had access to all of the government documents we wanted and saw the practice of extraordinary rendition in full color," he said in an interview from Ottawa. "The ramifications were that an innocent Canadian was tortured, his life was put upside down, and it set him back years and years."

Since Sept. 11, the CIA, working with other intelligence agencies, has captured an estimated 3,000 people in its effort to dismantle terrorist networks. Many of them have been secretly taken by "extraordinary rendition" to other countries, hidden from U.S. legal requirements and often subject to torture.

Those renditions are often carried out by CIA agents dressed head to toe in black, wearing masks, who blindfold their subjects and dress them in black.

U.S. officials refused to cooperate with the Canadian inquiry.

---End of Transmission---

Monday, September 18, 2006

King Bush Wants to be Above the Law

WARNING: RANT AHEAD!!!

So Bush wants to change the law on torture retro-actively. This alone should convice those fence sitters that they have indeed tortured people and broken international law. Why would you need to retro-actively change a law unless you had broken it and were desperately trying to change the law to keep yourself out of jail for war crimes??? You just can't change a law after you commit a crime!! Can you imagine one of these child predator serial killers being able to retro-actively change the law so that they would be able to walk away from their horrible crimes?!!! I don't think so and our leaders shouldn't get special treatment. If they have broken the law then they must pay.

Remember back to last weeks press conference where Bush had his meltdown over torture? It's pretty damn scary when the "leader of the free world and 'Democracy'"can not define human dignity! What kind of "Christian," "Democratic" "leader" is blury on what is a human rights abuse?!! What is so dignifying about water boarding? What is so degnifying about putting woman's panties over the heads of detainees while a dog barks viciously a few feet away??? Human rights violations and violations of human dignity are like pornography--you know it when you see it.

The Republicans keep telling us that we are in a new world and a new kind of war so that requires new "tactics." That is so breath-takingly absurd and so so wrong!! (As Randi Rhodes says) We have faced some aweful people before in the past and we didn't feel the need to torture. Remember the Bataan death march during WWII where our soldiers were tortured? Did we reply in kind? NO!! In Vietnam our boys were tortured (just ask John McCain) and did we respond in a similar fashion? NO!!

When we sacrifice human rights for "safety" then we have lost everything that America stands for that is good, moral, just and Democratic. In that case we have already lost because we have become animals just like the terrorists who themselves torture.

If we keep going down this road then we will continue to be seen as a growing rogue state that must be brought to justice. Not to mention countries like China aren't going to have any reason to change their human rights policies with this kind of example coming from the "leaders of the free world."

And just wait for the 14 detainees who were previously held in these secret prisons who are coming to Gitmo to testify. The things that they are going to say will shake this country to it's very core (or at least it should. I don't know about people anymore). No wonder they don't want to allow these people lawyers or a real trial. No wonder they want to keep evidence secret and try them in secret courts.

Shifting gears a bit:

In an other issue, many people didn't hear Bush last week when he said that he wouldn't invade or attack Pakistan (who is harboring terrorists including Osama bin Laden) because they are a SOVEREIGN NATION!!!!!

Pressed on why he opposed the idea of sending a large contingent of special forces to Pakistan to hunt bin Laden, Bush said his strategy was to work with Pakistan's government.

"First of all, Pakistan is a sovereign nation," Bush said. "In order for us to send thousands of troops into a sovereign nation, we've got to be invited by the government of Pakistan.

Not that I think we should invade Pakistan but ARE YOU KIDDING ME????? What the f**k was Iraq????? Since when has a country being a "sovereign nation" stoped the Bushies from invading a country?!! (bashes head against computer then curls up into a ball in the corner, begins shaking and says, "make it stop. make it stop!!!").

I'm tired of being nauseous everyday and feeling like I need to take three showers just to feel clean because I'm a citizen in Bush's "America."

---End of Transmission---

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Torture Inc.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

MyThought of the Day.

I was watching the CNN show "Welcome to the Future" today and they were saying that we are spending $1 BILLION DOLLARS a WEEK in Iraq.

I have a MAJOR problem when we are spending that kind of money in a war but we won't spend that kind of money to fix social security and help our OWN PEOPLE?!! Especially when Bush is giving tax cuts to the wealthy during a time of war!!

---End of Transmission---

Friday, September 15, 2006

President Torture Strikes Again

DAVID GREGORY: Mr. President, critics of your proposed bill on interrogation rules say there's another important test. These critics include John McCain, who you've mentioned several times this morning.

And that test is this: If a CIA officer, paramilitary or special operations soldier from the United States were captured in Iran or North Korea and they were roughed up and those governments said, "Well, they were interrogated in accordance with our interpretation of the Geneva Conventions," and then they were put on trial and they were convicted based on secret evidence that they were not able to see, how would you react to that as commander in chief?

BUSH: My reaction is, is that if the nations such as those you name adopted the standards within the Detainee Detention Act, the world would be better. That's my reaction.

GOI: WHAT?!!!!!! I hope he didn't realize what he just said there but I have a sinking, nauseating feeling that he did.

This is the same guy who said the following in an interview with Matt Lauer of the "Today" show:

Matt Lauer: And yet you admitted that there were these CIA secret facilities. OK?

President Bush: So what? Why is that not within the law?

Matt Lauer: The head of Amnesty International says secret sites are against international law.

President Bush: Well, we just disagree with him.

From Human Rights Watch:

International human rights treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)3 and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment4 govern individual rights to liberty, to a fair trial, and to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. European governments are also bound by similar provisions in the European Convention on Human Rights.5 The Geneva Conventions address the detention, treatment and trial of prisoners of war and civilians during armed conflict or military occupation.6

International human rights and humanitarian law (the laws of war) ensure that the fundamental rights of all individuals are protected at all times. When the laws of war do not apply, international human rights law still protects that person’s rights. Furthermore, certain protections are so well established, such as the prohibitions on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and prolonged arbitrary detention, that they have become customary obligations that are binding legal obligations independent of specific treaty agreements.7 The domestic laws of states whose territories or nationals are implicated also apply.

GOI: And there there's this from the EU:

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union condemned on Friday the detention of terrorism suspects by the United States in secret overseas prisons, whose existence U.S. President George Bush first acknowledged last week.

[...]

"The existence of secret detention facilities where detained persons are kept in a legal vacuum is not in conformity with international humanitarian law and international criminal law," Finnish Foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja told a news conference after the bloc's 25 ministers discussed Bush's comments.

GOI: If you crane your ear enough you can hear the Constitution being shredded.

---End of Transmission---

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Colin Powell and other Influential Republicans Blast Bush on Terror Trials

“The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism. To redefine Common Article 3 (of the Geneva conventions) would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk.”

-Former Secretary of State Colin Powell

The senator's decision to go forward puts the president at odds with key members of his party. They are Warner, a former Navy secretary; Graham, a military lawyer and Air Force reservist; and Sen. John McCain, an ex-naval aviator who spent nearly six years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham:

"I have lost friends in this war. I do want to bring these people to justice," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told USA Today and Gannett News Service reporters. "But I can't say it enough. If we start acting like our enemy, we're going to lose."

Graham argued Bush's plan would send a defendant to death row with the declaration, "we can't tell you what you did, but trust us, it was bad."

Republican Senator John McCain:

John McCain, the perceived Republican frontrunner for the 2008 presidential election, has dramatically raised the stakes in a fight with the White House over secret Central Intelligence Agency prisons by saying he is unwilling to back down on the issue even if it ruins his chance of becoming president. The Arizona senator, who was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, strongly opposes Bush administration legislation that he believes would redefine US obligations under the Geneva conventions.

Republican Senator Steve Buyer:

Rep. Steve Buyer, R-Ind., said he told Bush during the president's visit that he should heed the military's top uniformed lawyers, who have previously opposed some provisions of the president's plan.

Buyer and other Republicans are expected to align themselves with McCain, who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war during Vietnam.

In other news:

4 soldiers killed in Iraq. 140 civilian bodies found in two days.

GOI: Good on you McCain, Powell, Warner, Buyer, Collins and Graham. Thank-you for standing up against your party to defend human rights. Get ready for them to be slimed by the Neo-Cons. The Neo-Cons will turn on ANYONE who gets in the way of their barbaric policies.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Bush Tries to Manipulate 9/11 for Political Gain.

Last night's speech by President Bush was a national disgrace. The Republican President took a solumn observance and turned it into a cheap and nauseating political propaganda stump speech. He could have taken the high ground and used his time to honor those lost on September the 11th. However, he did not take that road but chose rather to go down the road of conflating and bluring the lines between Iraq and the war on terror. All of this propaganda despite admitting several times that Iraq and Saddam had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. There was no connection. Even a Republican dominated Senate committee recently agreed that there was no connection. He is a damn liar. He is telling us to trust him. Ha!

We have absolutely no reason to trust him. He tells us to trust him out of one side of his mouth and then openly lies to our faces out of the other side of his mouth. Being the 5 year anniversary of 9/11 he should have NEVER brought up Iraq since we all know that Iraq had nothing, zero, nada to do with the 9/11 attacks.

Again he said that, "America did not ask for this war." No, we didn't ask for the war against Osama bin Laden who attacked us on 9/11. As for Iraq, however, we were forced into that war by his misleading speeches and "intelligence." He took us over the cliff and is now trying to pass the buck and put the blame on all of us.

He went on to echo Cheney's words that Iraq should have been invaded even without knowledge of WMD because the Saddam regime was "dangerous." This is again misleading as there are dozens of governments around the world that could be labeled "dangerous" and yet we don't invade them. Why? Because of course we can not police the world.

Then he claimed that his administration has tightened security around our sea ports. How? Using the United Arab Emirates government???

Bush also said that freedom is the greatest weapon and that all people should be free. Yet (as Keith Olbermann stated last night), when people use that freedom to disagree with and fight the Bush Republican policies in Iraq they are condemned as "appeasers of terrorists!" So really, they believe in freedom only when you use that freedom to agree with them.

He then again tried to compare himself to FDR and Truman in trying (yet again) to compare the war in Iraq with World War II. Saying that they stayed the course and so would he. Thus trying to insinuate that he was somehow in a similar moment and thus a great President as they were. Bullshit you asshole.

His final message was that we all need to unite to this test that "history" has given us. No, George. You and your cadre of suedo Republicans have drug us into this "test." Thanks for nothing.

For his own part Cheney yesterday repeated the lie that we haven't been attacked in five years. What about the anthrax attacks, DICK?!! No one has been brought to justice over those attacks yet.

Tony Snow said today that before 9/11 that probably no one would have been focusing in any serious way about Osama bin Laden. Clinton was. Yet, you have Republicans all over the place blaming Clinton for not doing enough about bin Laden! Which is it Republicans?!! What about the 8 months before 9/11 when the Bush administration did nothing about Osama bin Laden??? At least Clinton tried to kill him. Yes, we didn't kill him but at least we tried. Bush didn't even try until AFTER the 9/11 attacks!

A reporter then asked an excellent question mentioning that the President said we need to put aside our differences. Was the President talking about Iraq or something different? Snow said that it refered to winning the war on terror. Yet, isn't the war on terror in Afghanistan? If they are saying that it involves Iraq then isn't that statement of Bush's about not being able to disagree on the President's policy on Iraq???

In other news,

Sen. John Boehner said today (in talking about the Democrats), "I wonder if they're more interested in protecting the terrorists than protecting the American people," he said at a news conference. "They certainly don't want to take the terrorists on and defeat them ."

That's the leader of the Republicans in the House. Apparently that's the message that Republican House candidates want to put out there is year. Fine. I think most Americans will reject such a message.

This is one of the most disgusting and appauling statements that a politician has EVER said. He should apologize to every American for such a nasty lie.

(Photo: Way to step all over the flag W. I thought your party was against the desecration of the flag!! What the hell do you call that?! Photo Credit: Born at the Crest of the Empire)

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Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11: Five Years Later

May they always be remembered, their families held in our arms and supported.

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Saturday, September 09, 2006

Brig. Gen. Scheid: Rumsfeld Refused to Plan for Post-War.

BY STEPHANIE HEINATZ
FORT EUSTIS -- Months before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld forbade military strategists from developing plans for securing a post-war Iraq, the retiring commander of the Army Transportation Corps said Thursday. In fact, said Brig. Gen. Mark Scheid, Rumsfeld said "he would fire the next person" who talked about the need for a post-war plan. Rumsfeld did replace Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff in 2003, after Shinseki told Congress that hundreds of thousands of troops would be needed to secure post-war Iraq.

[...]

"The secretary of defense continued to push on us ... that everything we write in our plan has to be the idea that we are going to go in, we're going to take out the regime, and then we're going to leave," Scheid said. "We won't stay."

[...]

Scheid's comments are further confirmation of the version of events reported in "Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq," the book by New York Times reporter Michael R. Gordon and retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Bernard E. Trainor.

GOI: Yep, sounds like Rummy! The guy is nothing better then a school yard bully who has destroyed Iraq, broken our military and drained our countries coffers. He is the poster-child for everything that has and is going wrong with Iraq. In keeping Rumsfeld, Bush is showing that he cares more about his ego then he does about America and Iraq. And Republican Congress people and Senators are showing that they choose party over their country by not calling for his resignation.

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Friday, September 08, 2006

Pakistani Deal Appeases the Taliban Terrorists

GOI: Nick Robertson of CNN was reporting on "Your World Today" that the Pakistani government's recent deal with the militants will work as this allows them to put the emphasis on the border and not on remote villages.

However, the bulk of their forces are going to stay in the bases as apart of this deal. This is leaving the back door wide open. These militants will just cross the border through mountain passes and trails as well as find continued safe haven amongst the tribes of Pakistan in the surrounding villages. Villages where the Pakistani military now won't go according to this deal.

The government agreed to halt major ground and air operations, free prisoners, retreat to barracks, compensate for losses and allow tribesmen to carry small arms.

"The government policy has swung from one extreme to another, from the use of brute military force to what appears to be total capitulation to militants," wrote Ismail Khan of the Dawn newspaper.

"The government was desperate [for a solution]. It has bought temporary peace," said Rahimullah Yusufzai, a close follower of Taleban affairs. "I think this accord will give legitimacy to the militants. They will behave as people who fought the army to a standstill."

GOI: Under the deal foreigners (Taliban and al-Qaeda) would be allowed to stay in the region as long as they "keep the peace." This of course means that as long as they do not attack Pakistani forces then they will be left alone. This will allow the militants to plan attacks against NATO forces and the western government of Afghanistan as well as consolidate power within these tribal areas of north west Pakistan. And of course President Bush is clueless to the whole affair thinking this is an economic issue:

"I don't read it that way," Bush said of the agreement Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's government signed on Tuesday in which the militants agreed to stop attacks in the region.

"What he is doing is entering agreements with governors in the regions of the country, in the hopes that there would be an economic vitality, there will be alternatives to violence and terror,"

GOI: So, we are going to give economic incentives to the terrorists?!! People in these tribal villages who have been sympathetic to the Taliban are not going to stop supporting them simply because they might gain economic opportunity. In fact, it will probably only make it worse as much of any increased income will most likely only go right back to the militants! What happened to smoking the terrorists out and we do not negotiate with terrorists? Instead now we are going to engage in economics with them? And what kind of economic opportunity are we going to provide these terrorists sympathizers that can compete with the money in heroin production? It's like Reagan's delusional program to stop cocaine production in Latin America by convincing farmers to replace the coca plants with banana trees. If these fiercely independent tribal leaders won't give up Osama bin Laden, other al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders for millions upon millions in financial rewards then what other economic incentives can we add??? Who's appeasing whom there Dubya???

The Pakistani military is basically saying to the terrorists, "We will capture you if you are stupid enough to try and pass through the main border crossings but other then that we aren't going to chase or fight you anymore. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge."

Afghanistan is facing increased violence lately from the Taliban and I can't help but put the Pakistani story together with this one.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- A suicide car bomber struck a convoy of U.S. military vehicles Friday in downtown Kabul, killing at least 16 people, including two American soldiers, and wounding 29 others. It was the Afghan capital's deadliest suicide attack since the Taliban's 2001 ouster.

[...]

"The fighting is extraordinarily intense. The intensity and ferocity of the fighting is far greater than in Iraq on a daily basis," Brig. Ed Butler, the commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, told British ITV news.

[...]

He echoed NATO commander Gen. James L. Jones' call Thursday for more troops.

GOI: Hmmm, I wonder why Americans can not add more troops to Afghanistan? We had a lot of American troops there back before 2003 so I wonder where they went? Hmmm.

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Osama bin Laden Given a Free Pass from Pakistan

This from ABC News:

Osama bin Laden, America's most wanted man, will not face capture in Pakistan if he agrees to lead a "peaceful life," Pakistani officials tell ABC News.

The surprising announcement comes as Pakistani army officials announced they were pulling their troops out of the North Waziristan region as part of a "peace deal" with the Taliban.

If he is in Pakistan, bin Laden "would not be taken into custody," Major General Shaukat Sultan Khan told ABC News in a telephone interview, "as long as one is being like a peaceful citizen."

In addition to the pullout of Pakistani troops, the "peace agreement" between Pakistan and the Taliban also provides for the Pakistani army to return captured Taliban weapons and prisoners.

"What this means is that the Taliban and al Qaeda leadership have effectively carved out a sanctuary inside Pakistan," said ABC News consultant Richard Clarke, the former White House counter-terrorism director.

The agreement was signed on the same day President Bush said the United States was working with its allies "to deny terrorists the enclaves they seek to establish in ungoverned areas across the world."

The Pakistani Army had gone into Waziristan, under heavy pressure from the United States, but faced a series of humiliating defeats at the hands of the Taliban and al Qaeda fighters.

"They're throwing [in] the towel," said Alexis Debat, who is a Senior Fellow at the Nixon Center and an ABC News consultant. "They're giving al Qaeda and the Taliban a blank check and saying essentially make yourselves at home in the tribal areas," Debat said.

GOI: Ahhh yes, Osama bin Forgotten. So I guess now we are at war with Pakistan as they announce their willingness to harbour terrorists or at the very least look the other way. Remember you're either with us or against us? How could we forget? This story undermines the Bush rhetoric speech of today. A speech where he apparently said we are at war with everyone: The Sunni, the Shia, Hezballah, Iran, communists, North Korea, "Islamofascists" and now Pakistan? But wait, if the Iranian regime are terrorists and we are not supposed to negotiate with terrorists or give aid and comfort to them then why are we negotiating with them to end their nuke program? Negotiating that obvioiusly includes incentives for Iran to hault enrichment so doesn't that constitute "aid?" According to the black and white Bush doctrine aren't we just supposed to bomb them back into the stone age? Damn it, I can't keep up with all their changing rhetoric!! Their spin is making me so dizzy I'm vomiting propaganda.

Bush cluelessly said today that if we left Iraq then the country would become a base for terrorists but it already IS a base for terrorists!! (pulling hair out of his beard as I don't have anymore hair on my head). This kind of empty rhetoric isn't going to solve the problem. Thomas Freidman said on the CBS news tonight that Bush claimed today that we're in the "fight for our lives"-- yet (as Freidman says) we didn't commit enough troops. Freidman went on to quote Bush again saying we are in the "fight for out lives"-- but we need a tax cut for the wealthy.

The Bush Republicans have taken the blue pill one too many times and are permanately caught in Alice's, "Wonderland" where wrong is right, up is down, and where exercising one's freedom of speech is "enabling" the 'Islamofascist communist whatever-the-new-made-up-boogyman-word of-the-day is. They are desperate to try to win this election in November so they are pulling out the old hits and trying some new garbage. Throwing it all against the wall to see what (if anything sticks). Excuse me if I hold my nose to plug out the stench of all the dog links that they are throwing our way.

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Bush, Republicans Failing in the War on Terror and in Defending Our National Security


BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Two U.S. Marines and one sailor were killed in fighting in Iraq's restive Anbar province, the U.S. military command said Tuesday.

The three, all assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5, died on Monday "due to enemy action," the military said in a statement. It did not provide any further details. Their identities were not released pending notification of their families.

The deaths brought to eight the number of American troops killed in Iraq in combat-related violence over the past two days.

Anbar province, to the west of Baghdad, is one of the country's most volatile. It includes cities such as Ramadi and Fallujah, part of the so-called Sunni Triangle where the insurgency has been at its worst.

GOI: In invading Iraq, Bush and the Republicans created a factory for pumping out terrorists. This is one of the reasons that we are loosing the war on terror (thanks to the Republicans) and making America and the world less safe. Especially since the Republicans keep saying that Iraq is the, "central front in the war on terror." They have been beating that drum for a long time now. Taking their own words then, of course we are loosing the war on terror under Bush and the Republicans as we have long ago lost Iraq! Iraq is now on life support. All we are doing is putting out one fire and watching 5 more flame up in response.

Part of turning things around in Iraq is shaking up the leadership--starting with Field Marshall Von Rumsfeld and continuing with the Republican leadership in Congress and the Senate. Rumself is destroying this country by dragging us deeper and deeper into the chaos of the Iraqi civil war. He is going down in flames because of his Katherine Harris crazy policies toward Iraq and is dragging all of us down with him. He is like the bad influence friend who always gets you in trouble. In fact, Rummy, Bush, Cheney and the Republican Congress are like the "bad crowd" we've been running with, getting us into trouble for too long. We've been thrown in prison thanks to these a$$holes for the past 5 years. Now we have emerged from our jail cell and want to turn over a new leaf and the first step in doing that is to find a new crowd to run with. This means voting in a new Congress that represents a dedication to a new path that will bring us out of trouble, insanity and make us safer. It is time that we take a page from the British play book in preventing terrorism which means using more good old fashioned police work to prevent terrorism in our country.

You can not hope to end or even reduce terrorism and terrorist influences by the end of a gun. This only makes the angry youth even more enraged and pushes them into the arms of the terrorists. How would you re-act if a foreign occupying army (or it's proxy forces) killed your father, mother, brother, sister, child or all of the above? I think if we were all looking honestly at that question we would realize that most of us would obviously join the fight against the country that brought such bloodshed up on your family and country.

Another important way to catch and stop terrorists/terrorism is through good intelligence. However, as we know by now the Bush crowd doesn't really like inconvenient intelligence. They don't like intelligence that doesn't fit their ideology. That's why Cheney strong-armed the CIA before going to war. The obvious problem with this approach is that you insulate yourself to the point of being out of touch with the reality of difficult and complex situations such as Iraq. If you lie enough you begin to actually believe in the falsh reality you created with those lies. This is the environment that "stay the course" policies emerges from. Now, the country has finally caught on to their false reality and realize that they will never change course because they are that stubborn and arrogant. They are willing to drag the entire country into literal Hell then admit that they and their Rambo Hollywood policies are wrong. They are shocked and surprised when their G.I. Joe policies don't end in a happy, sit-com ending where everything works out. Real life is ugly and not everything turns out the way you want it to. Sometimes the hard decision isn't about making this perfect but about doing the best possible and moving on to a battle that one can win. It's time to admit that Iraq is no longer under our control. It was once a solid object like a piece of wood. However, that wood has caught fire and burned for too long and has turned into a wisp of smoke that is lost to our once tight grip of control.

Yes, the violence in Iraq would probably increase if we leave now but this is no longer our fight. Our presence and force is only creating more problems for our country (and for Iraq) and I think it's time that we think about ourselves first now. We should bring back some of our troops and redeploy the rest to surrounding countries such as Kuwait to act as a lightning force should Iran try to invade Iraq. Also we need to invest that money we are sinking into the Iraq quagmire on our own security and economy. You might say, "James, if we leave Iraq the terrorists will follow us here. We need to fight them there so we don't have to fight them here." I would respond by saying we are already fighting them here and fighting in Iraq is only sucking our resources for the defense of our homeland. Not only that but Iraq is creating more terrorists who want to fight us here. What better reason to leave Iraq and beef up our homeland security. Let's start by inspecting 100% of our port cargo.

Sure we can still send some money to Iraq but America is falling apart because Iraq is such a drain on us in SO many ways. Those of us calling for such a "radical" policy are not the "blame America first" crowd but rather we are the "think of America first" crowd.

What a "radical" idea.

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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Al-Qaeda No. 2 in Iraq Captured but Will it Make a Difference? Great Shia Leader Sistani Abandons Attempts to Restrain His Followers.


BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraqi and coalition forces have arrested the second most senior figure in al-Qaida in Iraq, Iraq's national security adviser announced on Sunday, saying the group now suffered from a "serious leadership crisis."

Hamed Jumaa Farid al-Saeedi, known as Abu Humam or Abu Rana, was captured north of Baghdad a few days ago "along with another group of his aides and followers," Mouwafak al-Rubaie said.

GOI: This is indeed great news, however, the skeptic in me wonders if this will make much of a difference. I have to say no it probably won't make much difference. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was a much bigger fish and after his demise the violence raged on like a forest fire at zero containment. Someone else will surely rise to fill the position that al-Saeedi held and not much will change. Even if al-Qaeda in Iraq is crippled with these recent arrests and killings it doesn't seem that it will do much to stop the sectarian violence which, frankly is more of a problem then outside terrorist influences such as al-Qaeda:

A report from the Pentagon on Friday said that the core conflict in Iraq had changed from a battle against insurgents to an increasingly bloody fight between Shia and Sunni Muslims, creating conditions that could lead to civil war. It noted that attacks rose by 24 per cent to 792 per week – the highest of the war – and daily Iraqi casualties soared by 51 per cent to almost 120, prompting some ordinary Iraqis to look to illegal militias for their safety and sometimes for social needs and welfare.

GOI: In the meantime violence continued in Iraq:

At least 16 Iraqis and two U.S. soldiers were killed Sunday in bomb attacks and shootings nationwide. (GOI: Two other soldiers were killed as well I just heard on CNN).

GOI: Even worse, however, is the frustration of the most important, moderating voice in Iraq who is giving up on trying to stop the sectarian violence:

The most influential moderate Shia leader in Iraq has abandoned attempts to restrain his followers, admitting that there is nothing he can do to prevent the country sliding towards civil war.

Aides say Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is angry and disappointed that Shias are ignoring his calls for calm and are switching their allegiance in their thousands to more militant groups which promise protection from Sunni violence and revenge for attacks.

"I will not be a political leader any more," he told aides. "I am only happy to receive questions about religious matters."

It is a devastating blow to the remaining hopes for a peaceful solution in Iraq and spells trouble for British forces, who are based in and around the Shia stronghold of Basra.

The cleric is regarded as the most important Shia religious leader in Iraq and has been a moderating influence since the invasion of 2003. He ended the fighting in Najaf between Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi army and American forces in 2004 and was instrumental in persuading the Shia factions to fight the 2005 elections under the single banner of the United Alliance.

GOI: Damn, this is a huge blow. If the most important Shia leader in Iraq is giving up then things are only going to get worse--if that is possible. If Sistani is packing it in then what hope do we Americans have in changing the hearts and minds to not join and fight in the militias? Not much I'm afraid.

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