Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Short and Sweet

* With the current occupant of the White House, it feels just like the '80s. All the big players are back, too!

* The bill for rebuilding and occupying Iraq could reach $600 billion. As the US steps back from asking the UN for help, it looks like the American people are going to be footing the vast majority of this bill.

* What's a neocon? Let Jim Lobe explain, then check out what the original 'neo,' Irving Kristol, has to say.

* Howard Dean? Pro and con.

* Daniel Pipes, as I mentioned before, was nominated by the Bush administration to serve on the board of the government's leading peace think tank. Pipes is in danger of being rejected by a Senate panel which oversees the nomination, so Bush is going to appoint Pipes, thus bypassing the entire confirmation process.

* "A former Energy Department intelligence chief who agreed with the White House claim that Iraq had reconstituted its defunct nuclear-arms program was awarded a total of $20,500 in bonuses during the build-up to the war," reports WorldNetDaily. The lowdown:

Thomas Rider, as acting director of Energy's intelligence office, overruled senior intelligence officers on his staff in voting for the position at a National Foreign Intelligence Board meeting at CIA headquarters last September.

His officers argued at a pre-briefing at Energy headquarters that there was no hard evidence to support the alarming Iraq nuclear charge, and asked to join State Department's dissenting opinion, Energy officials say.

Rider ordered them to "shut up and sit down," according to sources familiar with the meeting.

As a result, State was the intelligence community's lone dissenter in the key National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction, something the Bush administration is quick to remind critics of its prewar intelligence...

Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham gave Rider a $13,000 performance bonus after the NIE report was released and just before the war, department sources say. He had received an additional $7,500 before the report.

"That's a hell of a lot of money for an intelligence director who had no experience or background in intelligence, and who'd only been running the office for nine months," said one source who requested anonymity. "Something's fishy."
* The United States' next target? No, not Syria, Iran, or North Korea. It's Al-Jazeera.

* Donald Rumsfeld threatened to charge them as war criminals a few months ago. Now, the human shields that went to Iraq before the war face up to 12 years in prison and $1 million in fines.

* Hemant Lakhani was caught by US intelligence trying to sell shoulder-launched missiles to alleged terrorists in a setup. While the threat of these types of missiles is very real, Lakhani's a small, inexperienced fish in a very large pond of weapons smugglers.

* Dr. Hatfield or Dr. Zack? Who's the true anthrax suspect?

* The US has no idea how may prisoners are being held at Guantanamo Bay, nevermind the identities of hundreds of the inmates.

* About the Al Franken-Fox suit...oh boy. No comment. Too bad I missed Fair 'n' Balanced Friday...

* A pay cut for the troops? The Pentagon now says no.

* The EPA's response to 9/11 was driven by politics. Gee, that's shocking.

* Afghanistan continues to be rocked by violence, as the US is shifting intelligence personnel out of that strife-ridden nation in order to deal with the mess in Iraq. Meanwhile: Zabul, the strategically important province between Kabul and Kandahar, has reportedly been seized by the Taliban.

* Enjoying the PATRIOT Act, are we? Then get ready for the similarly Orwellian-sounding VICTORY Act!

* The good folks at Cursor have compiled all of the available excerpts of Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber's Weapons of Mass Deception: "The Fog of War Talk," "True Lies," "Trading on Fear," and "How To Sell a War."

* Stauber and Rampton have got Brian Eno thinking. "What occurs to me in reading their book is that the new American approach to social control is so much more sophisticated and pervasive that it really deserves a new name," Eno writes in the Guardian. "It isn't just propaganda any more, it's 'prop-agenda'. It's not so much the control of what we think, but the control of what we think about. When our governments want to sell us a course of action, they do it by making sure it's the only thing on the agenda, the only thing everyone's talking about. And they pre-load the ensuing discussion with highly selected images, devious and prejudicial language, dubious linkages, weak or false 'intelligence' and selected 'leaks'."

* Judith Miller's back in the crosshairs. This time around Alex Cockburn is critiquing her -- and the NY Times' -- witting cheerleading for war.

* More than 5.6 million Americans -- 1 in 37 -- have spent time in jail. "If current trends continue," the CSM reports, "it means that a black male in the United States would have about a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison during his lifetime. For a Hispanic male, it's 1 in 6; for a white male, 1 in 17."

* "Plamegate" has fallen off the radar recently. David Corn and John Dean revisit the story. Corn concludes that a thorough investigation is unlikely, while Dean thinks this scandal makes Bush worse than Nixon. After all, "Nixon never set up a hit on one of his enemies' wives."

* Bush the revisionist: We have seen "the end of combat operations major military operations" in Iraq.

* The US military has killed another journalist in Iraq. This time Mazen Dana, a Reuters cameraman, was gunned down at close range by "negligent" soldiers. The "trigger happy" soldier excuse can only go so far. There is a distinct pattern here, one that has the CPJ and RSF deeply disturbed.

* Back to the old tricks: Israel's use of torture has once again become routine.

* A consequence of the US economy's "jobless recovery": homelessness.

* The editors of the Washington Post sure are a bunch of heartless bastards for this editorial.

* US war planners ignore the lessons of Vietnam at their own peril, says Pepe Escobar of the Asia Times.