Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Evangelicals exploit Air Force Academy; military officials interlocked with local activists

My article regarding the influence of right-wing evangelical activists at the Air Force Academy is now available at Insider Magazine and Online Journal.

At least we agree on ONE thing...

It is unfortunate that James Howard Kunstler, a leading advocate of Peak Oil, has decided to judge a book without knowing the first thing about it. In his most recent “Clusterfuck Nation Chronicle” entry, Kunstler writes:
“I regard the 9/11 conspiracy theories as a fantasy and a distraction from the real problems we face. It is especially unfortunate that they became associated with the Peak Oil issue, and that was obviously a result of Mike Ruppert's elaboration of them in his book Across the Rubicon, which brought discredit to his otherwise good reporting on the global oil situation,”
It is a shame that Kunstler has decided to ridicule a book that he doesn’t even know the title of. I will not attempt to counter Kunstler’s argument because when he calls "Across" the Rubicon a “fantasy,” he obviously doesn’t know what he is talking about.

As someone who has spoken with Kunstler and watched him speak, I can say he is a stubborn man who is very antagonistic to those who disagree with him. So I’m not holding my breath for him to change his opinion. That being said, I would encourage him, as I would anyone looking for evidence of complicity, to follow the money. General Mahmood and Yassin al-Qadi are the first two names that always come to mind.

I will also mention the fact that Ruppert has probably educated more people on Peak Oil than James Howard Kunstler and every other Peak Oil advocate combined, so it really makes no sense to say Ruppert has discredited himself by evaluating the attacks of September 11th.

Kunstler also discusses the wiretapping issue:
“I rather admired George W. Bush's hard-boiled remarks Saturday about the secret snooping carried out by the National Security Agency. As if we could afford to do otherwise.”
“Unlike the Nixon years, no evidence has emerged yet that this spying was directed widely at critics of government policy. If we are listening in on phone conversations and Internet chatter involving jihadists, then that is okay with me. If this spying were to swing over to critics of the war and the news media on a wholesale basis -- as in the Nixon / Vietnam years -- I'd feel differently about it.”
A few reasons for Mr. Kunstler to feel differently:

1. The program was illegal, and the only reasonable explanation for the Administration going around the law is that they thought the wiretap requests were likely to be denied or had already been denied by the FISA court, which has very few limitations.

2. Bush’s lies:
"Any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so." --Bush two years after he started circumventing the court

“For years, law enforcement used so-called roving wire taps to investigate organized crime. You see, what that meant is if you got a wire tap by court order -- and, by the way, everything you hear about requires court order, requires there to be permission from a FISA court, for example.” –Bush, April 19, 2004

“...any action that takes place by law enforcement requires a court order. In other words, the government can't move on wiretaps or roving wiretaps without getting a court order. --Bush, July 14, 2004

"...roving wiretaps allow investigators to follow suspects who frequently change their means of communications. These wiretaps must be approved by a judge,”--Bush, June 9, 2005

3. FBI counterterrorism agents have conducted surveillance and intelligence-gathering operations on environmental, animal cruelty and poverty relief groups. Green Peace, for example, is considered "a serious domestic terrorist threat."

4. The Pentagon has labeled antiwar and counter-recruiting demonstrations as "threats" to National Security.

5. The Bush Administration has spied on UN Security Council members:
“President Bush and other top officials in his administration used the National Security Agency to secretly wiretap the home and office telephones and monitor private email accounts of members of the United Nations Security Council in early 2003 to determine how foreign delegates would vote on a U.N. resolution that paved the way for the U.S.-led war in Iraq,”
6. According to Wayne Madsen -- a former Naval Intelligence officer who was once assigned to the NSA -- the Administration has used the NSA to spy on its own employees, as well as other U.S. intelligence personnel, and their journalist and congressional contacts. Today he reported the following:
“WMR (Wayne Madsen Report) has learned that the National Security Agency (NSA), on the orders of the Bush administration, eavesdropped on the private conversations and e-mail of its own employees, employees of other U.S. intelligence agencies -- including the CIA and DIA -- and their contacts in the media, Congress, and oversight agencies and offices.

The journalist surveillance program, code named "Firstfruits," was part of a Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) program that was
maintained at least until October 2004
and was authorized by then-DCI Porter Goss. ...

Firstfruits was a database that contained both the articles and the transcripts of telephone and other communications of particular Washington journalists known to report on sensitive U.S. intelligence activities, particularly those involving NSA. According to NSA sources, the targeted journalists included author James Bamford, the
New York Times' James Risen, the Washington Post's Vernon Loeb, the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh, the Washington Times' Bill Gertz, UPI's John C. K. Daly, and this editor [Wayne Madsen], who has written about NSA for The Village Voice, CAQ, Intelligence Online, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).”

Monday, December 19, 2005

Listened to who?

At today's press conference, Bush said:
"It wasn't a mistake to go into Iraq. It was the right decision to make.

I think that there's going to be a lot of analysis done on the decisions on the ground in Iraq. For example, I'm fully aware that some have said it was a mistake not to put enough troops there immediately -- or more troops.

I made my decision based upon the recommendations of Tommy Frank. And I still think it was the right decision to make. But history will judge."

According to Senator Bob Graham:
"In February 2002, after a briefing on the status of the war in Afghanistan, the commanding officer, Gen. Tommy Franks, told me the war was being compromised as specialized personnel and equipment were being shifted from Afghanistan to prepare for the war in Iraq -- a war more than a year away."
Sen. Graham also said that General Franks "laid out a very precise strategy for fighting the war on terror. First, we should win the war in Afghanistan; second move to Somalia, which as he described was almost anarchy but with substantial number of al-Qaeda cells, then to Yemen, and that we should be very careful about Iraq because our intelligence was so weak that we didn't know what we were getting into."

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

More or less

Jerome Corsi’s latest article, entitled “Profitable new natural-gas technologies,” -- like all of his recent articles -- is dedicated to debunking Peak Oil. Using the usual misleading argument, Corsi summarizes his article by writing:
Devon's story defies "Peak-Production" theorists, such as M. King Hubbert, famous for the bell-shaped "Hubbert's Peak," a chart that predicted the United States would eventually run out of oil and natural gas reserves. Hubbert, a Shell Oil employee, drew his famous "peak" in 1956, decades before the Barnett Shale's potential for producing natural gas was discovered.”
Hubbert did not inaccurately predict that the US would run out of oil, he accurately predicted that we would reach a point of peak production and then go into decline. Peak Oil is when approximately half the oil is gone, not all of it. The United States peaked in the 1970s, just as Hubbert predicted. Since then domestic production has declined, but we’ve continued to increase consumption by importing more every year. When the world peaks, there will be no place to import from.

The rest of Corsi’s arguments are equally flawed. The article is based around
Devon Energy Corporation’s success at the Barnett Shale field in Texas, which has been based on the use of “water frac” technology. Of course, Corsi failed to mention the following:
Statewide production of both crude oil and natural gas declined during the first six months of 2005 from the previous year, despite a 17 percent increase in production in the burgeoning Barnett Shale. ...

annually is the largest single producer of both oil and gas among the 50 states. But production has declined steadily for three decades. The state's peak production for both crude oil and natural gas was 1972, when Texas produced 1.26 billion barrels of crude oil and 9.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Last year, Texas produced 349.2 million barrels of crude oil and 5.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.”
This trend has continued, and will continue, despite Corsi’s dreams of debunking Peak Oil.

--Update Dec. 19th-- In Corsi's newest article, he argues that "By opening ANWR for oil exploration, we would make an important step to reversing the danger that every day we are becoming more dependent on foreign oil." What ever you say, Jerome.

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Friday, December 02, 2005

Untrue Lies

The Associated Press is running a story today entitled "Senator, general defend Iraq propagada plan". A few quick excerpts:
A key senator and the country's top military commander said Friday that a Pentagon propaganda program was part of an effort to "get the truth out" in Iraq. ...

Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, added that, "We want to get the facts out. We want to get the truth out." ...

"The purpose of this program is to ensure factual information is provided to the Iraqi public," Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a U.S. military spokesman, said in Iraq.

To illustrate the ridiculousness of this explanation, let's not forget (as the AP apparently did) that the Department of Defense did not just pay press outlets to run stories without disclosing the military's role; the stories also contained LIES about who was writing them. For example:

Titled "The Sands Are Blowing Toward a Democratic Iraq," an article written this week for publication in the Iraqi press was scornful of outsiders' pessimism about the country's future.

"Western press and frequently those self-styled 'objective' observers of Iraq are often critics of how we, the people of Iraq, are proceeding down the path in determining what is best for our nation," the article began. Quoting the Prophet Muhammad, it pleaded for unity and nonviolence.

But far from being the heartfelt opinion of an Iraqi writer, as its language implied, the article was prepared by the United States military as part of a multimillion-dollar covert campaign to plant paid propaganda in the Iraqi news media and pay friendly Iraqi journalists monthly stipends, military contractors and officials said.
So this is how the DoD gets the truth out? By lying!?

Since the Pentagon is so eager to spread the truth, maybe they should start telling the Iraqi people about their efforts to manipulate them into believing they live in a democracy, while destroying freedom of the press in the process.

And despite the ongoing propaganda campaign, a recent Ministry of Defence poll showed that 82% of the Iraqi population is "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops, which raises an obvious question: If Iraq is a democracy, then who represents the 82% who want us out?

And of course, instead of doing some actual investigating, all the US news networks are sitting around waiting for the DoD to get their story straight so they can report their own propaganda. In the meantime, they're running segments about insurgent propaganda, basically trying to give the Pentagon partial justification for their if our standards should be determined by the "evil-doers."

In other Iraq news, the white phosphorous issue seems to be tip-toeing its way out of the public spotlight. The “not a chemical weapon” excuse seems to have pacified the press. However this doesn’t play. As noted on page 42 of this military bulletin:
Incendiaries, which include napalm, flame throwers, tracer rounds and white phosphorus, are not illegal, per se, but must be monitored for their use to prevent “unnecessary suffering.” For instance white phosphorus is not banned as a method for marking targets or for igniting flammable targets, but it should not be used as an anti-personnel munition unless other types of conventional anti-personnel ordnance are unavailable. Air-delivered incendiaries have been banned in areas of civilian concentration under a protocol to the 1980 Conventional, Weapons Treaty, but the US has not ratified this protocol. The US position is that air-delivered incendiaries may be proper against targets in areas of civilian concentration if their usage would reduce civilian deaths, e.g., to destroy a chemical weapons factory in which the incendiary device burns the chemicals rather than disperses them.
This certainly indicates that the use of white phosphorous in Fallujah was not justified.

Furthermore, as Think Progress pointed out, the Pentagon described white phosphorous as a chemical weapon in a 1995 document regarding Iraqi weapons during the first Gulf War. The military has also described white phosphorous as a chemical weapon here, here, here, here, and here. Of course these are just words, but as Think Progress stated, this is an issue of right and wrong; and as pointed out above, by the military's own standards, the use of WP was not justified in Fallujah.