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The Atta Surprise

Snoop Chief: Mohamed Atta Took Us by Surprise
by Kurt Nimmo
“The US Director of National Intelligence asserts that the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, were caused by weak domestic wiretapping laws,” David Edwards and Mike Sheehan write for Raw Story.
“Vice Admiral Mike McConnell, former head of the National Security Agency who was appointed DNI in 2007 by President Bush, spoke today to a group of students in St. Mary’s City, Missouri, about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a federal statute that outlines procedures for electronic surveillance by the US intelligence community.”

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Cry Baby Clinton vs. Black Obama

The Weepy Witch and the Secret Muslim
by Katha Pollitt
The media are hopelessly sexist and relentlessly trivial. So much we've learned from the mass hysteria over Hillary Clinton's "emotional moment" in New Hampshire.  
(Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Robert L. Jamieson: "She morphed into a 'compassion brand' -- like, irony of ironies, Kleenex"; New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd: "Can Hillary Cry Her Way Back to the White House?").
Even Southern charmer John Edwards couldn't resist observing that a commander in chief needed "strength and resolve" -- a view echoed by Fox commentator Dick Morris ("There could well come a time when there is such a serious threat to the United States that she breaks down") and given full misogynous display by nationally syndicated cartoonist Pat Oliphant's "Madam President Meets the Bad Guys," portraying a dumpy, tearful Hillary surrounded by Osama, Kim Jong Il and similar.
All this fuss over a welling of the eyes so brief that if you blinked your own you'd miss it. I have moments like that every day! This was the Dean Scream all over again: a nano-nothing whipped into a self-congratulatory media typhoon.

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Averting Kenya Crisis

Kenya Needs Us
by avaaz
Dear friends; Kenya still teeters on the brink of disaster – today bullets are flying on the streets, with over 600 killed and 250,000 made homeless as government and opposition dispute the presidency. There's hope yet, as Kenyan civil society groups stand up for peace and justice -- but only dialogue and an independent review of the tainted election can end this crisis and prevent escalating violence.

The world can play a crucial role: by reinforcing the efforts of mediators like Kofi Annan, and refusing to recognize any government until it is legitimately established. 50,000 Avaaz members have already sent this message to our foreign ministers, and almost all have listened so far. But inside Kenya, hardline leaders are sowing conflict.

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Basra Bizarre: SAS Commandos Arrested and Sprung

Basra Bizarre: SAS Commandos Arrested and Sprung
by C. L. Cook
An oddity in Iraq yesterday. Two British members of the elite SAS arrested by Iraqi police following a gun-fight at a checkpoint are now back in British hands after a dramatic jail break pulled off by fellow soldiers.

Two British commandos, members of the secretive SAS were arrested by Iraqi police yesterday in the southern Iraqi city of Basra. The two men, dressed in Arab garb and driving an unmarked car, drew the attention of police. As the car was approached, shots were fired.
[Before the inglorious British retreat from Basra, the city endured a vicious "sectarian" bombing campaign.  What the BBC didn't tell you about was the role played by their Tommy's in the field. This is another oldie from the Iraq occupation file.- lex]
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Afghanistan Fatalities: "We Didn't Want Canadians to be Aware"

Afghanistan Fatalities: "We Didn't Want Canadians to be Aware"
by C. L. Cook
Brigadier-General Mike Ward, the head of Canadian Forces operations summed up Canada's continued involvement with American wars in the Near East yesterday, telling reporters Joint Task Force 2 (JTF2), a secretive commando unit, had killed and captured Afghani "insurgents."
"We didn't specifically want Canadians to be aware that special operations were operating abroad." - Brigadier-General Mike Ward on Canadian involvement in Afghanistan. (Sept. 20, 2005)
[With news of Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan today, Jan. 17, 2008 suffering the third of three bombing attacks against patrols in the past week, (one confirmed killed and seven wounded) a look back to the point where the Canadian ship of state changed course, taking a distinctly more militaristic tack to the occupation in that country is warranted. - lex]

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Guantanamo as a Symbol
by Ramzy Baroud
11 January marked the sixth year anniversary of the establishment of the Guantanamo detention camp. Mere months after the start of the 2001 United States invasion of Afghanistan, a large cargo plane landed in a US military base in Cuba's Guantanamo Bay, bringing in a group of hunchbacked, orange-clad, blindfolded, "terrorist" suspects, apparently representing the worst of the worst. They included children and aged men, charity workers, journalists and people who were sold to the US military in exchange for a large bounty.

The debate over this notorious prison has ever since been marred by easy reductionism. The fact is that Guantanamo is neither a warranted compound holding "bad people" -- as explained by the ever straightforward President Bush -- nor is it a dark spot in the otherwise luminous US record for respecting human rights, rules of war and international treaties.
If anything, Guantanamo is a mere extension of a long list of untold violations practised by the Bush administration, which condenses the camp to being a symbol of widespread policy predicated on nonchalantly undermining international law.

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Return Journeys: The Slave Ship

Little Ships of Horror
by Christopher Leslie Brown
"Every man condemns the [slave] trade in general," wrote the abolitionist Thomas Cooper, of Manchester, England, in 1787, "but it requires the exhibition of particular instances of the enormity of this Commerce, to induce those to become active in the matter, who wish well to the cause upon the whole."Those accounts of the trade that present "particular distress, with its attendant circumstances," are best "calculated to excite compassion."
Such were the principles of the British campaign against the slave trade at the end of the eighteenth century, as historian Marcus Rediker explains. And this emphasis on itemizing particular instances describes just as well the approach that guides Rediker's breathtaking new book on the eighteenth-century Atlantic slave trade.

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On Success, the Surge, and the Baghdad Morgue Queue

The Corpse on the Gurney: The "Success" Mantra in Iraq
By Tom Engelhardt
The other day, as we reached the first anniversary of the President's announcement of his "surge" strategy, his "new way forward" in Iraq, I found myself thinking about the earliest paid book-editing work I ever did.
An editor at a San Francisco textbook publisher hired me to "doctor" god-awful texts designed for audiences of captive kids.
Each of these "books" was not only in a woeful state of disrepair, but essentially D.O.A. I was nonetheless supposed to do a lively rewrite of the mess and add seductive "sidebars"; another technician then simplified the language to "grade level" and a designer provided a flashy layout and look.
Zap! Pow! Kebang!

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Ending a Culture of Impunity

Ending a Culture of Impunity for Contract Soldiers
by Scott Horton
Today, Human Rights First released its report “Private Security Contractors at War: Ending the Culture of Impunity”(4MB PDF), which I helped write and edit. The report’s focus is not on the misdeeds of private military contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rather it focuses on the United States Government, and particularly the Department of Justice.
The Bush Administration has crafted a culture of impunity for contractors in Iraq. This can be seen in a number of acts and in a policy of official indifference towards violent crime involving contractors.
The victims of this policy are Iraqi civilians, coalition military, and members of the contractor force themselves. As a senior general in Iraq recently told one of my colleagues: “The three biggest threats faced by American soldiers in Iraq are IEDs, al Qaeda fighters, and unaccountable contractors.”
Repeated hearings and demands for action from Congress are ignored by the Justice Department.

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To Those Who Follow in Our Wake

Brecht ‘To Those Who Follow in Our Wake’
by Scott Horton
Wirklich, ich lebe in finsteren Zeiten!
Das arglose Wort ist töricht. Eine glatte Stirn
Deutet auf Unempfindlichkeit hin. Der Lachende
Hat die furchtbare Nachricht
Nur noch nicht empfangen.
Truly, I live in dark times!
An artless word is foolish. A smooth forehead
Points to insensitivity. He who laughs
Has not yet received
The terrible news.
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Canadians 'Too Thick' to Support Afghanistan Mission

Canadians Too Thick to Support Afghanistan Mission
by C. L. Cook
By way of getting to know his new subjects, freshly minted Conservative Defence Minister, Gordon O'Connor summed up what he sees as his greatest challenge: How to get through to the sixty-two percent of Canadians who don't believe the country should be involved with the worsening occupation of Afghanistan.

"The population out there doesn't really understand right now why we're there and what we're doing. You have to say the thing five, six, seven, eight times before it really gets through to a large number of people." - Defence Minister O'Connor instructs the foreign press.
[This comes from 2006. The minister has since departed his post. - lex]

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