Showing posts from January, 2007

Another account of the battle outside Najaf

By the time the most likely account appears most of the media will have moved on to a serial murderer trial or something!

US 'victory' against cult leader was 'massacre'

User Rating: / 12
Wednesday, 31 January 2007
By Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad

There are growing suspicions in Iraq that the official story of the battle outside Najaf between a messianic Iraqi cult and the Iraqi security forces supported by the US, in which 263 people were killed and 210 wounded, is a fabrication. The heavy casualties may be evidence of an unpremeditated massacre.

01/31/07 "The Independent" -- -- A picture is beginning to emerge of a clash between an Iraqi Shia tribe on a pilgrimage to Najaf and an Iraqi army checkpoint that led the US to intervene with devastating effect. The involvement of Ahmed al-Hassani (also known as Abu Kamar), who believed himself to be the coming Mahdi, or Messiah, appears to have been accidental.

The story emerging on independent Iraqi …

More on extra-judicial killings in the Philippines

This is from today's Daily Tribune a leftist Manila newspaper. THe article exhibits the leftist view that the killings are sanctioned by and part of offical government policy. The shrill tone is typical of this newspaper. It has been charged with sedition in the past. I don't know whatever happened to the charges.

Palparan: Gloria and Esperon’s sacred cow



There is no way Gloria Arroyo will press charges against Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan (ret) and other senior officers said to be involved in the political killings, much less go by the doctrine of command responsibility, pointing to, at the very least, the military brass, and at most, to her, as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Commander-in-Chief.

No way at all, since her political survival hinges on her prostituted generals’ support, and if she as much as fails to provide them protection from their illegal acts, Gloria knows she and her government will collapse, in the wink of an eye.

To prosecute Palpa…

A US editorial on the Arar case.

While an apology would be good even better would be an investigation into the practice of rendition and holding those responsible who have been involved in it. Senator Leahy could certainly start the ball rolling.

From Daily Times Waltham MA, USA

Editorial: Arar deserves an apology
Tuesday, January 30, 2007 - Updated: 12:45 AM EST

Thanks in part to the Bush administration's penchant for secrecy, the stories of innocent people swept up in the war on terror are rarely told. Some of those stories are no doubt locked up at Guantanamo or secret prisons overseas, perhaps forever.
Maher Arar is the exception. He's been able to tell the story of how he was grabbed by U.S. authorities while changing planes in New York on his way home to Canada, how he was held for weeks without charges or access to due process, how the CIA transported him to Syria, where he was locked up and tortured for 10 months.

A Canadian citizen, Arar was released through pressure from his family and the Canadian gov…

Text of Stephen Harper Letter on Kyoto

NOTE: The Canadian Alliance party was the precursor to the present Conservative party. The Conservative party was formed by a merger of the Progressive Conservative Party and the Canadian Alliance.

Text of the 2002 Stephen Harper letter on Kyoto
Updated Tue. Jan. 30 2007 6:10 PM ET

Canadian Press

OTTAWA -- Text of a 2002 letter by Stephen Harper to members of his Canadian Alliance party denouncing the Kyoto accord:

Dear Friend,

We're on a roll, folks!

The Canadian Alliance is once again setting the agenda in the House of Commons. Look at what happened in less than two months since Parliament reopened:

We bagged another Liberal cabinet minister when we drove the hapless Lawrence MacAulay to resign for violating the ethics guidelines.
We broke Jean Chretien's chokehold on the House of Commons by getting the election of committee chairs and votes on all private members' bills.
We finally (!) got the Liberals to agree to set up a national registry for sex offenders.
But we can't …

A Conservative voice: Bush Appeases Iran

This is certainly a different viewpoint from most I should think. Sullivan is correct that allowing some democracy in Iraq gave the Shias a lot more clout in Iraq and Iran as well since some have close relations with Iran. This was no doubt a non-intended and problematic result of US policy in Iraq. As for the Kurds being great allies of the Iranians that is news to me. Of course they are willing to ally with Iraq Shias in order to have a joint policy that will assure Kurds control of oil in the Kurdish sector.
Eventually the US may pursue a three mini state policy but I doubt that is happening as yet. The US hopes that there will be a compromise on the oil bill that will assure control and revenue sharing that will include the Sunnis, for otherwise the insurgency is bound to continue.
Anyway it should be clear given the present buildup against Iran and the aggressive stance against Iranians in Iraq that to speak of appeasement is just a bit odd. Hakkim's own co…

Harper Haunted by Letters Past

It is interesting that Harper did not say straight out that he no longer believes the position outlined in his letter. He did say though that he accepted the science and was going to act. THe NDP seems to be co-operating with the Conservatives to at least get stronger environmental legislation passed. The Conservatives were also on the attack against the Liberal environmental record a easy target since the Liberals did little to meet Kyoto targets.

Kyoto letter has come back to haunt Harper, Liberal MPs say
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 | 4:36 PM ET
CBC News
Opposition Liberal MPs demanded Wednesday that Prime Minister Stephen Harper explain a letter he apparently wrote five years ago in which he derides the Kyoto accord.

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion asked Harper twice in question period to indicate whether his position on the issue has changed.

"Canada is unfortunate enough to have a prime minister who is a climate change denier," Dion said in the House of Commons.


Bush spoiling for a fight with Iran

The way is being prepared in typical psy-ops fashion with media dutifully reporting a barrage of statements about Iranian meddling in Iraq. Strange that no one even seems to notice that the US from half the world away might be just meddling a bit as well.

Bush 'spoiling for a fight' with Iran

Simon Tisdall
Wednesday January 31, 2007
The Guardian

US officials in Baghdad and Washington are expected to unveil a secret intelligence "dossier" this week detailing evidence of Iran's alleged complicity in attacks on American troops in Iraq. The move, uncomfortably echoing Downing Street's dossier debacle in the run-up to the 2003 Iraq invasion, is one more sign that the Bush administration is building a case for war.
Nicholas Burns, the senior US diplomat in charge of Iran policy, says Washington "is not looking for a fight" with Tehran. The official line is that Washington has made a conscious decision to "push back" against Iran on a range of fronts …

Bush increases his power over federal agencies

This is just one of many actions taken by Bush to increase the power of the presidency. He also appoints people such as Gonzales who interpret the president's powers very broadly--perhaps one might say "liberally"!

NY Times: Bush signs landmark executive order increasing power over federal agencies

Published: Monday January 29, 2007
Print This Email This

President George W. Bush has given his administration a boost in how the government regulates key issues such as civil rights and the environment, The New York Times will report on its Tuesday front page.

The President "signed a directive that gives the White House much greater control over the rules that the federal government develops to regulate public health, safety," privacy and other issues, writes Robert Pear for the Times.

Pear reports that "in an executive order published last week in the Federal Register, Bush said that each federal agency must have a regulatory policy office run by a po…

Arar's Torture: The Toope report

I have actually seen posts about the Arar case questioning whether Arar was actually tortured. Of course the RCMP investigator who received Arar's confessions from the Syrian authorities also thought that they were not the result of torture. He by the way had absolutely no training in assessing this according to the O'Connor report.
The Arar inquiry appointed Prof. Stephen Toope as a fact finder to ascertain if Arar was tortured and to what degree. His 27 page report is readily available in PDF format on line free!

Toope also heard testimony from Al Malki, el Maati, and Nurredin(sp?) who also claimed to be tortured in the same jail. THe Iacobucci inquiry is set up to inquire into their cases.

Ex CIA officer wants US investigation of Arar Case

I wonder why justice O'Connor would not participate in such a panel? He could be an invaluable resource person. I am very disappointed. Perhaps the Canadian government would not want him to in deference to their great respect for Gonzales, Bush et al. It is heartening that someone is making moves to further investigate in the US. It is also revealing that is an ex-intelligence operative behind the move. It should be Senator Leahy.

from Ottaw Sun

US Eyes Arar Case

A former top CIA official wants to raise the profile of Maher Arar in the U.S., where he hopes the story of Arar's deportation and torture will help end the American practice of extraordinary rendition.

Frederick Hitz, the Central Intelligence Agency's inspector general during the high-profile investigation into the Iran-Contra scandal, told a panel discussion yesterday that rank-and-file intelligence officers don't like the legally dubious measures being employed in the war on terrorism.

"I've dealt wi…

Extra-judicial killings and the Philippine Armed Forces

THis is from Malaya a left leaning Manila based newspaper. AFP is Armed Forces of the Philippines. Malacanang is the seat of government like the WHite House in the US.Many leftist groups think that extra-judicial killing is a government policy not the result of a few rogue soldiers or commanders.

AFP sings new tune, concedes some soldiers behind killings



THE Armed Forces yesterday acknowledged that soldiers were involved in extra-judicial killings of activists but said the military leadership is not condoning the abuses.

The military and government previously blamed communist rebels for the spate of killings, saying the New People’s Army was purging its ranks as it did in the 1980s.

"We acknowledge that some members of the AFP have been involved in the deaths of some members of militant organizations but we definitely do not condone these. In fact, more than condemning acts, we have taken a…

Buildup in Europe for US attack on Iran?

Together with concerted pressure by the US for Europe to cut off financial ties with Iran and US attacks against Iranians in Iraq perhaps the US hopes to provoke Iran and provide an excuse for an attack.

'US poised to attack,' claims Bulgarian agency
Tuesday, January 30, 2007

ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News

The United States “could be using its two air force bases in Bulgaria and one at Romania's Black Sea coast to launch an attack on Iran in April," the Bulgarian news agency Novinite claimed. Commenting on the report, The Sunday Herald wrote that the U.S. build-up along the Black Sea, coupled with the recent positioning of two U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups off the Straits of Hormuz “appears to indicate that U.S. President Bush has run out of patience with Tehran's nuclear misrepresentation and non-compliance with the U.N. Security Council's resolution.”

“Whether the Bulgarian news report is a tactical feint or a strategic event is hard to gauge at this …

Retired Philippine general and his wife refused entry to the US

This is old news but shows how the US fights the war with terror and uses its terror list. Jarque's crime is to act as advisor to the NDF (National Democratic Front) which was trying to negotiate a peace agreement with the Philippine Govt. and the NPA (New People's Army). The guy must be about eighty and has been to the US before many times.

Friday, September 23, 2005
Ex-general, wife refused entry in US, return to RP

MANILA -- Retired General Raymundo Jarque and wife Ma. Zenia will be escorted back to the Philippines after they were temporarily detained and denied entry by US immigration officials in Texas, USA.

The Jarques were detained last September 20 upon their arrival at the Dallas International Airport via Korean Airlines flight from Manila.

They are escorted back by Consul General to Los Angeles Marciano Paynor Jr. and are scheduled to arrive in Manila at 10:50 p.m. Friday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) aboard Korean Air Flight 621. They will have a bri…

Philippine Armed Forces blames for many murders

I am a little surprised at this report. The president Gloria Arroyo is no doubt not at all pleased with it. There have been peace talks with the NPA from time to time but the fact that the US has the NPA on its terror list has not helped negotiations. The New People's Army as the Maoists in Nepal have continued armed struggle long after the demise of Maoism and rise of market capitalism in China-- the so-called socialism with Chinese characteristics aka state steered capitalism with massive corruption but with much growth in production.
I lived in the Philippines with my wife for over a year. She owns property in Gabawan an area frequented by the NPA. The NPA is not good for property values!
They collect revolutionary taxes from those who can pay. There are several parties in the legislature that are regarded as fronts for the NPA. The leader of the Philippine COmmunist Party is in exile in the Netherlands.
The NPA is mostly in rural areas. In some areas the NPA more or less co…

Military plan spills the beans

Probably the TOries (Conservatives) do not plan right now to extend the mission. They have other fish to fry right now but obviously when the time comes and if they are even in power then they will need to extend the mission. The plan shows that the Taliban are not to be defeated in the short run. Perhaps Karzai may entice enough into negotiations to weaken the resistance. Already there are "reformed" Taliban who co-operate with the Karzai government.

Tories deny plan to extend mission in Afghanistan
Last Updated: Monday, January 29, 2007 | 10:59 PM ET
CBC News
Opposition critics are accusing the Conservative government of wanting to extend Canada's military operations in Afghanistan, but the Tories say they have no such plans.

The opposition members of Parliament were reacting Monday to a document released a day earlier that outlines Canada's goals in Afghanistan.

NDP defence critic Dawn Black spoke to reporters at Kandahar Airfield on Jan. 23. Members of the Commons de…

Background on Najaf battle

Some early accounts claimed the attack was by Sunni insurgents but by now that seems to have been discounted and this account or something similar seems closer to the truth. It is amazing that so many fighters so well equipped were able to muster. However perhaps the numbers are inflated along with the casualties. Insurgent body counts are always welcome news but whatever the civilian collateral damage there is not even mention of that.

Battle suggests new sectarian divides in Iraq
Sunday's attack on Shiites in Najaf may have been launched by the Shiite 'Army of Heaven' sect.
By Dan Murphy | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
CAIRO - What precisely happened near the Shiite shrine city of Najaf Sunday is still being sorted out, but it seems likely that at its root was an unusual new wrinkle in Iraqi violence: a Shiite plan to attack Shiites.

A battle that lasted for more than 12 hours in the nearby village of Zarqa ended with a US helicopter being shot down and a clai…

Cost's of O'Connor report etc.

This is an old story but of interest because it lists the costs of the O'Connor report and also other compensation packages paid by the Canadian government so that one can compare them with the Arar settlement. The cost of the O'Connor report might seem high but it lasted 30 months I believe. In fact it is still not finished. O'Connor is trying to get some portions released to the public that have been held back for security reasons. Anyway O'Connor certainly did a thorough job although his mandate was narrow and he was unable to punish anyone or even suggest as much. There has been zero accountability for some of the supposed mistakes. Zaccardelli did not resign as a result of the mistakes of the RCMP but because he in effect perjured himself in testimony before committees. He gave contradictory testimony.

Ottawa settles with Arar
Harper to unveil compensation of at least $10-million for Canadian tortured in Syria

OTTAWA -- Maher Arar, the Canadian engine…

Oil law terms still contested in Iraq

Obviously the Kurds want more control over development and existing wells in their area. Without cutting the Sunni's into a good share of the oil revenues it seems that the insurgents are not likely to join into the existing political process.

Hotly debated oil issue remains unsettled

Associated Press writer Monday, January 29, 2007

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraqi officials say a hotly debated proposed oil law will not favor Americans but acknowledge that foreign companies will be allowed to take their profits out of the country -- an incentive to draw foreign investment.

The Oil Ministry has been struggling for months to reach a compromise over draft legislation to govern Iraq's most important industry and pave the way for much-needed investment and know-how to revitalize the devastated infrastructure. But the measure faces strong objections by ethnic Kurds and concern about American influence in the sector.

Published reports in th…

Cluster bombs litter Lebanon UN says.

This article gives some idea of the extent of the use of cluster bombs. It mentions that Israel also planted land mines. There is an international treaty against the use of landmines as well but no doubt Israel as not signed on and neither has its sponsor the US. The use against civilians of cluster bombs violates international as well as US law.

Cluster bombs litter Lebanon, UN says
Last Updated: Friday, August 25, 2006 | 11:12 AM ET
CBC News
Unexploded cluster bombs litter homes, gardens and highways in south Lebanon, the United Nations said Friday, as the U.S. State Department investigated whether Israel's use of the American-made weapons violated secret agreements.

Dalya Farran, a spokeswoman for the UN Mine Action Co-ordination Center, said cluster bombs have been found in 285 locations in south Lebanon.

"Our teams are still doing surveys and adding new locations every day," Farran said. "We find about 30 new locations per day."

The U.S. State Department is inv…

Israel may have misused cluster bombs claims US.

"may have", a rather quaint phrasing instead of straight out saying they did. When and if the US comes to the judgment that they actually did, what will happen? Will there be a sternly worded protest and warning not to do it again?
Israel also has atomic weapons. The US is not even supposed to give military aid to countries that have helped proliferate nuclear weapons I understand. That is one reason Israel does not admit to having them.

Israel may have misused cluster bombs, says U.S.
Last Updated: Monday, January 29, 2007 | 2:10 PM ET
CBC News
Israel may have violated an agreement with Washington by using American-made cluster bombs during last summer's war with Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon, the U.S. State Department said Monday.

White House spokesperson Sean McCormack said a preliminary report on an American probe into the issue has been handed to Congress, but didn't provide further details on the investigation.

"There were likely violations," McCorm…

Iraq refers oil deals to Kurdish authorities angering Turkey

Obviously Kurdistan has been able to convince the central government to devolve some powers to the Kurdish zone or whatever one wants to call it. Turkey very much fears an independent Kurdistan because of the desires of its own Kurdish minority.

Iraq refers Oil deals to Kurds, Angers Turkey
Iraq's oil authority has referred Turkish companies' requests for renewal of their contracts for transportation of oil products to Iraq to Kurdish authorities, prompting an angry reaction from Turkey.

Iraq's State Oil Marketing Organization (SOMO) has refused to renew the contracts of Turkish companies exporting oil products to Iraq and said in a letter to the companies that they should get in touch with authorities in northern provinces if they wanted to renew their agreements, Anatolia news agency said.
But SOMO's letter, signed by Director-General Fallah Al-Amri, drew ire in Ankara. State Minister Kürşat Tüzmen confirmed that some companies had received some "strange&quo…

Turkish parliament discusses invading northern Iraq

Imagine the reaction if Iran's parliament secretly discussed invading southern Iraq! The US would go ballistic. However, Turkey is an ally and US uses at least one airbase in Turkey.

Turkey mulls 'invading' Iraq
By Jonathan Gorvett in Istanbul

Turkey considers the PKK a terrorist group and continues to fight it in the southeast [EPA]

Turkey's parliament went into secret session this week to debate sending troops to invade and occupy northern Iraq for security purposes.

More than 30,000 people have been killed in the confrontation between the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) and the Turkish army – about 400 last year alone, according to Turkey's Human Rights Association.

Onur Oymen, the deputy chairman of the Opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said: "Northern Iraq is the only place in the world where a terrorist group can operate without being pursued."

"If the Iraqis and the US are not prepared to take action over this, then we must."

Oymen r…

Turkey warns of civil war in Kirkuk

This is another potential trouble spot in Iraq unless there is some agreement between factions in the city and that seems unlikely. The Kurds are no doubt determined to prevail. THe region is rich in oil.

Turkey warns of "very big civil war" in Kirkuk
Jan 27, 2007, 12:55 GMT

Istanbul - Turkey warned Saturday against integrating the multiethnic city of Kirkuk, northern Iraq, into an autonomous Kurdish region.

'I fear that it could come to a very big civil war,' said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Ergodan in a television interview.

'Kirkuk belongs to all Iraqis,' he said. 'It would be wrong to give the city to only one ethnic group.'

Turkey fears that Kurdish control of the oil-rich city could lead to the creation of a Kurdish state in northern Iraq and one which is capable of surviving economically.

Erdogan called for Kirkuk to be given a special status, and said the referendum scheduled for late 2007 on the future of the city as foreseen by the Ira…

Turkey warns of civil war in Kirkuk

This is another potential trouble spot in Iraq unless there is some agreement between factions in the city and that seems unlikely. The Kurds are no doubt determined to prevail. THe region is rich in oil.

Turkey warns of "very big civil war" in Kirkuk
Jan 27, 2007, 12:55 GMT

Istanbul - Turkey warned Saturday against integrating the multiethnic city of Kirkuk, northern Iraq, into an autonomous Kurdish region.

'I fear that it could come to a very big civil war,' said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Ergodan in a television interview.

'Kirkuk belongs to all Iraqis,' he said. 'It would be wrong to give the city to only one ethnic group.'

Turkey fears that Kurdish control of the oil-rich city could lead to the creation of a Kurdish state in northern Iraq and one which is capable of surviving economically.

Erdogan called for Kirkuk to be given a special status, and said the referendum scheduled for late 2007 on the future of the city as foreseen by the Ira…