Fellowship of Punditry

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Cul Heath

Mick Arran

Jeffrey Barbose

Inspector Lohmann

Eric M. Fink

Michael Lane

Rep. Mark B. Cohen

The Fellowship is accepting new members. Inquire within.

The Sages

  • David Weinberger
  • Jon Lebkowsky
  • Jay Rosen
  • Rebecca MacKinnon
  • Nova Spivack
  • Dan Gillmor
  • Jim Moore
  • Lawerence Lessig
  • Ed Cone
  • Jeff Jarvis
  • Joi Ito
  • The Titans

  • Talking Points Memo
  • Oliver Willis
  • Burnt Orange Report
  • Jim Hightower
  • Wonkette
  • Political Animal
  • The-Hamster
  • Matthew Yglesias
  • Pandagon
  • Altercation
  • Informed Comment
  • Donkey Rising
  • The Decembrist
  • Buzz Machine
  • Orcinus
  • Brad Delong
  • Eschaton
  • The Left Coaster
  • Pacific Views

    Distinguished Colleagues

  • Tom Burka
  • The American Street
  • wood s lot
  • Rox Populi
  • Scratchings
  • Blond Sense
  • Cut To The Chase
  • Bad Attitudes
  • Rook's Rant
  • Dohiyi Mir
  • Stout Dem Blog
  • A Violently Executed Blog
  • American Leftist
  • Easy Bake Coven
  • Southerly Buster
  • Abuddhas Memes
  • ECHIDNE OF THE SNAKES
  • Post-Atomic
  • Van Ramblings
  • Friends of the Fellowship

  • Texas Native
  • Chuck Currie
  • To The Teeth
  • Radically Inept
  • In Dark Times
  • Serial Blogonomy
  • The Bone
  • Public Domain Progress
  • Alien Intelligencer
  • Research Associates

  • Blogged In the Desert
  • One Fine Jay
  • Jessica's Universe
  • Selective Amnesia
  • In Grown Brain Stem
  • Immolation.org
  • Somewhere over the rainbough
  • Politikult
  • Political Puzzle
  • Dear Free World
  • Twenty Something
  • Thom:WebLog
  • Random Act of Kindness
  • A Skeptical Blog
  • The Common Man
  • Progressive News

  • The American Prospect
  • World Press Review
  • Alternet
  • In These Times
  • Common Dreams
  • Media Channel
  • History News Network
  • MOJO.COM
  • Tom Paine
  • Z-Magazine
  • Breaking News

  • Associated Press
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  • BBC Newswire
  • World NEws

  • The Guardian (UK)
  • The Independent (UK)
  • The Financial Times (UK)
  • Pravda (Russia)
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  • Arab News (Saudi Arabia)
  • The Age (Australia)
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  • Think Tanks

  • RAND CORPORATION
  • CEIP
  • The CATO Institute
  • Center for America Progress
  • Federation of American Scientists
  • Progressive Policy Institute
  • Council on Foreign Relations
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  • Blogging Resources

  • Principia Cybernetica
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  • Fact Check
  • 50 Ways To Improve Your Blog
  • Poynter Online's Writers ToolBox
  • News Thinking
  • The Scout Archives
  • WebReference.com
  • Into the Blogosphere
  • George Orwell

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    Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

    In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

    If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.

    But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.

    Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.

    Whatever is funny is subversive, every joke is ultimately a custard pie... a dirty joke is a sort of mental rebellion.

    In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics.' All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.

    All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.

    At fifty everyone has the face he deserves.

    Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise.

    John Stuart Mill

    Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.

    The amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.

    The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind.

    Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men.

    A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

    Mark Twain

    Don't let schooling interfere with your education.

    All generalizations are false, including this one.

    A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.

    Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.

    Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

    The Public is merely a multiplied "me."

    Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial "we."

    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

    Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.

    Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

    Winston Churchill

    The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

    I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.

    Don't talk to me about naval tradition. It's nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash.

    Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.

    Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.

    However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.

    In war as in life, it is often necessary when some cherished scheme has failed, to take up the best alternative open, and if so, it is folly not to work for it with all your might.

    Otto Von Bismarck

    When you want to fool the world, tell the truth.

    I have seen three emperors in their nakedness, and the sight was not inspiring.

    Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.

    Be polite; write diplomatically ;even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness.

    Voltaire

    A witty saying proves nothing.

    If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated.

    When he to whom one speaks does not understand, and he who speaks himself does not understand, that is metaphysics.

    I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it.

    To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered.

    Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.

    It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.

    The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out.

    Karl Marx

    Philosophy stands in the same relation to the study of the actual world as masturbation to sexual love.

    All I know is I'm not a Marxist.

    The writer may very well serve a movement of history as its mouthpiece, but he cannot of course create it.

    Saturday, November 08, 2014

    By Karlo


    Read more!

    posted by Karlo at 11/08/2014 02:55:00 AM |

    Saturday, October 12, 2013

    It's the evil thing...

    By Karlo


    Read more!

    posted by Karlo at 10/12/2013 08:31:00 PM |

    Friday, November 30, 2012

    Espers "Voices"

    By Karlo

    Now this is a nice song:



    Read more!

    posted by Karlo at 11/30/2012 11:54:00 PM |

    Tuesday, February 28, 2012

    Sharing the Burden

    By Karlo


    Read more!

    posted by Karlo at 2/28/2012 10:05:00 AM |

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Dorli Rainey

    By Karlo


    Read more!

    posted by Karlo at 11/21/2011 11:30:00 PM |

    Thursday, April 07, 2011

    Modern Life

    By Karlo


    Read more!

    posted by Karlo at 4/07/2011 08:56:00 AM |

    Saturday, December 04, 2010

    Boycott PayPal

    By Karlo

    PayPal has now gone over to the dark side in bending to pressure to boot Wikileaks. Let's all join the effort to boycott PayPal!
    Read more!

    posted by Karlo at 12/04/2010 10:17:00 AM |

    Saturday, August 28, 2010

    Sign of the times

    By Karlo

    Spiegel Online has a good article on the erosion of the U.S. middle class.
    Read more!

    posted by Karlo at 8/28/2010 07:16:00 PM |

    Wednesday, September 02, 2009

    The Corruption of Empire

    By Karlo

    By Philip Giraldi (August 31, 2009)

    Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz predicted in 2003 that the cost of the Iraq war would be covered by Iraqi oil revenue, which would also pay for reconstruction. The Iraq war has in fact cost the United States more than $900 billion, including more than $145 billion US and Iraqi dollars for rebuilding and local contracting to support US forces. Six years of reconstruction has been a failure, with most projects unfinished or so poorly built that they have been abandoned. Water and electricity has not been restored to the level enjoyed under Saddam Hussein. Even those inclined to look on the bright side acknowledge that at least $13 billion has been lost to fraud, theft, and waste. Most would put the number much higher, possibly as much as $125 billion if one includes both American and Iraqi money.

    Just as the United States is winding down its reconstruction of Iraq, the largest nation building project in history, President Obama wants to do the same for Afghanistan only do it better and bigger. Before he gets in too deep, he should listen to the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) which is sounding alarm bells over concerns that the White House is not sharing with it plans for the reconstruction. GAO envisions massive multi-billion dollar shortfalls bringing projects crippled by corruption and waste grinding to a halt. Government auditors note that more than $5 billion in reconstruction funds already cannot be accounted for in Afghanistan.

    Obama is gambling that the pervasive corruption in Iraq can somehow be avoided. It is a risky bet, both because corruption is a genie that is hard to return to the bottle and because bribery in Afghanistan, like in Iraq, is a bedfellow of government. And, tragically, it has taken hold among the American occupiers. When American military officers ran the Iraqi Defense Ministry in 2004-5, an entire year’s procurement budget of $1.3 billion disappeared on "contracts" signed in Poland and Pakistan for materiel that was never delivered. As as the New York Times’ Frank Rich put it astutely, in Iraq "corruption has been at the center of the entire mission," possibly even a primary factor in the failure of the reconstruction program, a calamity that has hitherto been blamed on inadequate planning and a high level of violence.

    The United States has never lacked for war profiteers aided and abetted by dishonest officials but the Iraq War has elevated corruption to a new level. In an environment in which many billions of unaccountable dollars were stacked in shrinkwrap pallets or floating around without any real oversight, it was perhaps inevitable that corruption would establish a new gold standard. Efforts to overcome fraud and waste might eventually become, as one observer has put it, the "second war" in that unhappy land. It was also inevitable that the corruption involving Iraqis would sooner or later ensnare the Americans involved, demonstrating once again that war produces "blowback" that damages the institutions of victor and vanquished alike.

    The United States has spent $145 billion on reconstruction and military support projects in Iraq. The reconstruction money, which is twice what was spent on rebuilding post-World War II’s devastated much larger and more populous Japan, has mostly been wasted. Numerous American officials, particularly those involved in contracting, have been investigated for corruption. There have been twenty-nine convictions, several suicides, and the investigations and trials promise to drag on. It is reported that more than two dozen indictments of Americans are pending.

    Army contracting officer Major Gloria Davis and Air Force procurement officer Charles Riechers both committed suicide over contracting fraud while Colonel Ted Westhusing shot himself after sending an accusatory letter to General David Petraeus concluding "I cannot support a mission that leads to corruption, human rights abuse and liars." Some believe that Westhusing was murdered because he was about to turn whistle blower.

    Robert Stein, the former US Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) controller for South Central Iraq, was one of the first successful prosecutions for corruption. Stein diverted $8.6 million through a business run by Californian Philip Bloom. Bloom admitted paying more than $2 million in bribes to US officials including four Army Colonels—Curtis Whiteford, Bruce Hopfengardner, Debra Harrison, and Michael Wheeler. Army Major John Cockerham accepted nearly $10 million in bribes while in Kuwait and his successor Army Major James Momon received $5.8 million. Army Major Christopher Murray, Army Lt. Col. Levonda Selph, Army Major John Rivard, Captain Michael Dung Nguyen, and Captain Bryant Williams have all been imprisoned for taking bribes. In Iraq’s Anbar province, local Iraqis report that US officers routinely demand 15% of all reconstruction project funds.

    One corruption whistleblower might even have been killed. American businessman Dale Stoffel went to the US authorities in Baghdad to complain that US military officers had been taking bribes in pizza boxes stuffed with hundred dollar bills at the contracting offices to conceal the payments. The use of dead drop points for leaving cash in paper bags was common throughout the green zone. Stoffel was threatened and was murdered in December 2004. Two US military officers, Army Colonel Anthony Bell and Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Hirtle, were identified by Stoffel before his death and are currently reported to be under investigation.

    Particularly disturbing is the growing evidence of widespread involvement of senior US military officers and civil servants in the corruption, which was driven by windfall profits on contracts requiring little or no work. Apart from the Army and Air Force officers who have gone to prison, reports from Kuwait suggest that at least sixteen American flag officers, generals and admirals, are currently under investigation by the Justice Department, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (Sigir), or by the Department of Defense. Sigir alone has carried out 300 investigations and more than 250 audits. Government sources report that 154 criminal investigations are still open.

    The assumption that Afghanistan will somehow be different than Iraq might actually mean that it will be worse. Where Iraq had a recent history of functioning governments Afghanistan does not. Where Iraq had a decent infrastructure of roads and tradition of the government providing services, Afghanistan does not. What Afghanistan does share with Iraq is pervasive corruption at all levels of government at all times. A total of $32 billion have already been largely wasted on reconstruction projects in Afghanistan, making potential donors nervous about further engagement where there is so little to show. The Europeans have already made it clear that they want out at the first opportunity.

    So as the US presence in Iraq winds down there is a lesson to be learned. Military occupation inevitably corrupts the occupier. Many US military officers involved in managing the billions of dollars spent on reconstruction and support of allied forces have succumbed to temptation. Afghanistan might well be different, but there is no reason to assume that to be the case. Indeed, given the harsh physical environment and pervasive corruption in Afghanistan itself everything might well be worse. If it is not too late to halt the march of the juggernaut, it might be wise for the Obama Administration to step back and consider what it is doing. The nation building exercise in Iraq was brought to its knees at least in part by corruption which has spread alarmingly among US government officials eager to take their share of the easy money and that experience will likely be repeated in Afghanistan. Is it worth repeated that experience in support of a war that makes no sense and that is surely being lost? Undoubtedly, no.

    Copyright © 2009 Campaign for Liberty
    Read more!

    posted by Karlo at 9/02/2009 03:27:00 PM |

    Wednesday, August 19, 2009

    Guns at political events

    By Karlo

    Howard Friel points out the interesting contrast between the treatment of protestors with signs and t-shirts at Bush rallies and the treatment of protestors with guns at Obama rallies. An excerpt:

    From the standpoint of the U.S. Constitution, the heavy-handed treatment of liberal school teachers, librarians, and county supervisors and the more deferential approach to armed right-wing protestors, makes no sense. While there would be no threat to the Constitution in the months and years ahead if dozens or hundreds of school teachers showed up at Republican political events wearing T-shirts with political messages that did not incite violence, the threat of violence would be extreme if as many armed right-wing protestors appeared at Democratic events. Even in the absence of actual violence, the implicit threat of violence by the appearance of armed right-wing protestors represents an unacceptable chilling effect on the First Amendment rights of Americans.
    Read more!

    posted by Karlo at 8/19/2009 10:32:00 AM |

    Monday, August 03, 2009

    D:

    By Karlo

    What's with this Vitamin D deficiency in children? Kids need to turn off the video game and get some sun.
    Read more!

    posted by Karlo at 8/03/2009 08:53:00 PM |

    Thursday, April 05, 2007

    Document 199-I

    By Karlo

    Document 199-I and The FBI’s Words to Chill The Soul by Greg Palast

    On November 9, 2001, when you could still choke on the dust in the air near Ground Zero, BBC Television received a call in London from a top-level US intelligence agent. He was not happy. Shortly after George W. Bush took office, he told us reluctantly, the CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the FBI, “were told to back off the Saudis.”

    We knew that. In the newsroom, we had a document already in hand, marked, “SECRET” across the top and “199-I” - meaning this was a national security matter.

    The secret memo released agents to hunt down two members of the bin Laden family operating a “suspected terrorist organization” in the USA. It was dated September 13, 2001 — two days too late for too many. What the memo indicates, corroborated by other sources, was that the agents had long wanted to question these characters … but could not until after the attack. By that time, these bin Laden birds had flown their American nest.

    Back to the high-level agent. I pressed him to tell me exactly which investigations were spiked. None of this interview dance was easy, requiring switching to untraceable phones. Ultimately, the insider said, “Khan Labs.” At the time, our intelligence agencies were on the trail of Pakistan’s Dr. Strangelove, A.Q. Khan, who built Pakistan’s bomb and was selling its secrets to the Libyans. But once Bush and Condoleeza Rice’s team took over, the source told us, agents were forced to let a hot trail go cold. Specifically, there were limits on tracing the Saudi money behind this “Islamic bomb.”

    Then we made another call, this time to an arms dealer in the Mideast. He confirmed that his partner attended a meeting in 1995 at the 5-star Hotel Royale Monceau in Paris where, allegedly, Saudi billionaires agreed to fund Al Qaeda fanatics. We understood it to be protection money, not really a sign of support for their attacks. Nevertheless, rule number one of investigation is “follow the money” — but the sheiks’ piggy banks were effectively off-limits to the US agents during the Bush years. One of the men in the posh hotel’s meeting of vipers happens to have been a Bush family business associate.

    Before you jump to the wrong conclusion, let me tell you that we found no evidence — none, zero, no kidding — that George Bush knew about Al Qaeda’s plan to attack on September 11. Indeed, the grim joke at BBC is that anyone accusing George Bush of knowing anything at all must have solid evidence. This is not a story of what George Bush knew but rather of his very-unfunny ignorance. And it was not stupidity, but policy: no asking Saudis uncomfortable questions about their paying off roving packs of killers, especially when those Saudis are so generous to Bush family businesses.

    Yes, Bill Clinton was also a bit too tender toward the oil men of Arabia. But this you should know: In his last year in office, Clinton sent two delegations to the Gulf to suggest that the Royal family crack down on “charitable donations” from their kingdom to the guys who blew up our embassies.

    But when a failed Texas oil man took over the White House in January 2001, demands on the Saudis to cut off terror funding simply stopped.

    And what about the bin Laden “suspected terrorist organization”? Called the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, the group sponsors soccer teams and summer camps in Florida. BBC obtained a video of one camp activity, a speech exhorting kids on the heroism of suicide bombings and hostage takings. While WAMY draws membership with wholesome activities, it has also acted as a cover or front, say the Dutch, Indian and Bosnian governments, for the recruitment of jihadi killers.

    Certainly, it was worth asking the bin Laden boys a few questions. But the FBI agents couldn’t, until it was too late.

    In November 2001, when BBC ran the report on the spike of investigations of Saudi funding of terror, the Bush defenders whom we’d invited to respond on air dismissed the concerns of lower level FBI agents who’d passed over the WAMY documents. No action was taken on the group headed by the bin Ladens.

    Then, in May this year, fifty FBI agents surrounded, invaded and sealed off WAMY’s Virginia office. It was like a bad scene out of the ‘Untouchables.’ The raid took place three years after our report and long after the bin Ladens had waved bye-bye. It is not surprising that the feds seized mostly empty files and a lot of soccer balls.

    Why now this belated move on the bin Laden’s former operation? Why not right after the September 11 attack? This year’s FBI raid occurred just days after an Islamist terror assault in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Apparently, messin’ with the oil sheiks gets this Administration’s attention. Falling towers in New York are only for Republican convention photo ops.

    The 199-I memo was passed to BBC television by the gumshoes at the National Security News Service in Washington. We authenticated it, added in our own sleuthing, then gave the FBI its say, expecting the usual, “It’s baloney, a fake.” But we didn’t get the usual response. Rather, FBI headquarters said, “There are lots of things the intelligence community knows and other people ought not to know.”

    Ought not to know?

    What else ought we not to know, Mr. President? And when are we supposed to forget it?

    **************

    Greg Palast’s reports for BBC Television Newsnight and The Guardian paper of Britain (with David Pallister) on White House interference in the investigation of terrorism won a 2002 California State University Journalism School ‘Project Censored’ Award.

    The BBC television reports, expanded and updated, will be released this month in the USA as a DVD, “Bush Family Fortunes,” produced by BBC’s Meirion Jones.

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    posted by Karlo at 4/05/2007 12:32:00 PM |

    Friday, March 23, 2007

    Being Forced to Spy for the Government

    By Karlo

    WaPo recently printed an anonymous editorial by a recipient of a possibly illegal yet somehow binding FBI Security Letter.

    It is the policy of The Washington Post not to publish anonymous pieces. In this case, an exception has been made because the author -- who would have preferred to be named -- is legally prohibited from disclosing his or her identity in connection with receipt of a national security letter. The Post confirmed the legitimacy of this submission by verifying it with the author's attorney and by reviewing publicly available court documents.

    Three years ago, I received a national security letter (NSL) in my capacity as the president of a small Internet access and consulting business. The letter ordered me to provide sensitive information about one of my clients. There was no indication that a judge had reviewed or approved the letter, and it turned out that none had. The letter came with a gag provision that prohibited me from telling anyone, including my client, that the FBI was seeking this information. Based on the context of the demand -- a context that the FBI still won't let me discuss publicly -- I suspected that the FBI was abusing its power and that the letter sought information to which the FBI was not entitled.

    I resent being conscripted as a secret informer for the government and being made to mislead those who are close to me, especially because I have doubts about the legitimacy of the underlying investigation.

    I recognize that there may sometimes be a need for secrecy in certain national security investigations. But I've now been under a broad gag order for three years, and other NSL recipients have been silenced for even longer. At some point -- a point we passed long ago -- the secrecy itself becomes a threat to our democracy. In the wake of the recent revelations, I believe more strongly than ever that the secrecy surrounding the government's use of the national security letters power is unwarranted and dangerous. I hope that Congress will at last recognize the same thing.

    Read more!

    posted by Karlo at 3/23/2007 07:19:00 PM |

    Friday, March 09, 2007

    Impeachment by the People

    By Karlo

    The following article recently appeared in The Progressive:

    Courage is in short supply in Washington, D.C. The realities of the Iraq War cry out for the overthrow of a government that is criminally responsible for death, mutilation, torture, humiliation, chaos. But all we hear in the nation’s capital, which is the source of those catastrophes, is a whimper from the Democratic Party, muttering and nattering about “unity” and “bipartisanship,” in a situation that calls for bold action to immediately reverse the present course.

    These are the Democrats who were brought to power in November by an electorate fed up with the war, furious at the Bush Administration, and counting on the new majority in Congress to represent the voters. But if sanity is to be restored in our national policies, it can only come about by a great popular upheaval, pushing both Republicans and Democrats into compliance with the national will.

    The Declaration of Independence, revered as a document but ignored as a guide to action, needs to be read from pulpits and podiums, on street corners and community radio stations throughout the nation. Its words, forgotten for over two centuries, need to become a call to action for the first time since it was read aloud to crowds in the early excited days of the American Revolution: “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and institute new government.”

    The “ends” referred to in the Declaration are the equal right of all to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” True, no government in the history of the nation has been faithful to those ends. Favors for the rich, neglect of the poor, massive violence in the interest of continental and world expansion—that is the persistent record of our government.

    Still, there seems to be a special viciousness that accompanies the current assault on human rights, in this country and in the world. We have had repressive governments before, but none has legislated the end of habeas corpus, nor openly supported torture, nor declared the possibility of war without end. No government has so casually ignored the will of the people, affirmed the right of the President to ignore the Constitution, even to set aside laws passed by Congress.

    The time is right, then, for a national campaign calling for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Representative John Conyers, who held extensive hearings and introduced an impeachment resolution when the Republicans controlled Congress, is now head of the House Judiciary Committee and in a position to fight for such a resolution. He has apparently been silenced by his Democratic colleagues who throw out as nuggets of wisdom the usual political palaver about “realism” (while ignoring the realities staring them in the face) and politics being “the art of the possible” (while setting limits on what is possible).

    know I’m not the first to talk about impeachment. Indeed, judging by the public opinion polls, there are millions of Americans, indeed a majority of those polled, who declare themselves in favor if it is shown that the President lied us into war (a fact that is not debatable). There are at least a half-dozen books out on impeachment, and it’s been argued for eloquently by some of our finest journalists, John Nichols and Lewis Lapham among them. Indeed, an actual “indictment” has been drawn up by a former federal prosecutor, Elizabeth de la Vega, in a new book called United States v. George W. Bush et al, making a case, in devastating detail, to a fictional grand jury.

    There is a logical next step in this development of an impeachment movement: the convening of “people’s impeachment hearings” all over the country. This is especially important given the timidity of the Democratic Party. Such hearings would bypass Congress, which is not representing the will of the people, and would constitute an inspiring example of grassroots democracy.

    These hearings would be the contemporary equivalents of the unofficial gatherings that marked the resistance to the British Crown in the years leading up to the American Revolution. The story of the American Revolution is usually built around Lexington and Concord, around the battles and the Founding Fathers. What is forgotten is that the American colonists, unable to count on redress of their grievances from the official bodies of government, took matters into their own hands, even before the first battles of the Revolutionary War.

    In 1772, town meetings in Massachusetts began setting up Committees of Correspondence, and the following year, such a committee was set up in Virginia. The first Continental Congress, beginning to meet in 1774, was a recognition that an extralegal body was necessary to represent the interests of the people. In 1774 and 1775, all through the colonies, parallel institutions were set up outside the official governmental bodies.

    Throughout the nation’s history, the failure of government to deliver justice has led to the establishment of grassroots organizations, often ad hoc, dissolving after their purpose was fulfilled. For instance, after passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, knowing that the national government could not be counted on to repeal the act, black and white anti-slavery groups organized to nullify the law by acts of civil disobedience. They held meetings, made plans, and set about rescuing escaped slaves who were in danger of being returned to their masters.

    In the desperate economic conditions of 1933 and 1934, before the Roosevelt Administration was doing anything to help people in distress, local groups were formed all over the country to demand government action. Unemployed Councils came into being, tenants’ groups fought evictions, and hundreds of thousands of people in the country formed self-help organizations to exchange goods and services and enable people to survive.

    More recently, we recall the peace groups of the 1980s, which sprang up in hundreds of communities all over the country, and provoked city councils and state legislatures to pass resolutions in favor of a freeze on nuclear weapons. And local organizations have succeeded in getting more than 400 city councils to take a stand against the Patriot Act.

    Impeachment hearings all over the country could excite and energize the peace movement. They would make headlines, and could push reluctant members of Congress in both parties to do what the Constitution provides for and what the present circumstances demand: the impeachment and removal from office of George Bush and Dick Cheney. Simply raising the issue in hundreds of communities and Congressional districts would have a healthy effect, and would be a sign that democracy, despite all attempts to destroy it in this era of war, is still alive.
    Read more!

    posted by Karlo at 3/09/2007 09:52:00 AM |

    Wednesday, February 14, 2007

    Flynt Leverett

    By Karlo

    I hear that the Bush administration is trying to silence Flynt Leverett. Which is why I've posted this here:

    Since leaving government service in 2003, I have been publicly critical of the Bush administration's mishandling of America's Iran policy -- in two op-eds published in the New York Times, another published in the Los Angeles Times, an article published earlier this year in The American Prospect, and a monograph just published by The Century Foundation, as well as in numerous public statements, television appearances, and press interviews. All of my publications on Iran -- and, indeed, on any other policy matter on which I have written since leaving government -- were cleared beforehand by the CIA's Publication Review Board to confirm that I would not be disclosing classified information.

    Until last week, the Publication Review Board had never sought to remove or change a single word in any of my drafts, including in all of my publications about the Bush administration's handling of Iran policy. However, last week, the White House inserted itself into the prepublication review process for an op-ed on the administration's bungling of the Iran portfolio that I had prepared for the New York Times, blocking publication of the piece on the grounds that it would reveal classified information.

    This claim is false and, I have come to believe, fabricated by White House officials to silence an established critic of the administration's foreign policy incompetence at a moment when the White House is working hard to fend off political pressure to take a different approach to Iran and the Middle East more generally.

    The op-ed is based on the longer paper I just published with The Century Foundation -- which was cleared by the CIA without modifying a single word of the draft. Officials with the CIA's Publication Review Board have told me that, in their judgment, the draft op-ed does not contain classified material, but that they must bow to the preferences of the White House. The White House is demanding, before it will consider clearing the op-ed for publication, that I excise entire paragraphs dealing with matters that I have written about (and received clearance from the CIA to do so) in several other pieces, that have been publicly acknowledged by Secretary Rice, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, and that have been extensively covered in the media.

    These matters include Iran's dialogue and cooperation with the United States concerning Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and Iran's offer to negotiate a comprehensive "grand bargain" with the United States in the spring of 2003.

    There is no basis for claiming that these issues are classified and not already in the public domain. For the White House to make this claim, with regard to my op-ed and at this particular moment, is nothing more than a crass effort to politicize a prepublication review process -- a process that is supposed to be about the protection of classified information, and nothing else -- to limit the dissemination of views critical of administration policy. Within the last two week, the CIA found the wherewithal to approve an op-ed -- published in the New York Times on December 8, 2006 -- by Kenneth Pollack, another former CIA employee. This op-ed includes the statement that "Iran provided us with extensive assistance on intelligence, logistics, diplomacy, and Afghan internal politics."

    Similar statements by me have been deleted from my draft op-ed by the White House. But Kenneth Pollack is someone who presented unfounded assessments of the Iraqi WMD threat -- the same assessments expounded by the Bush White House -- to make a high-profile public case for going to war in Iraq.

    Mr. Pollack also supports the administration's reluctance to engage with Iran, in contrast to my consistent and sharp criticism of that position. It would seem that, if one is expounding views congenial to the White House, it does not intervene in prepublication censorship, but, if one is a critic, White House officials will use fraudulent charges of revealing classified information to keep critical views from being heard.

    My understanding is that the White House staffers who have injected themselves into this process are working for Elliott Abrams and Megan O'Sullivan, both politically appointed deputies to President Bush's National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley.

    Their conduct in this matter is despicable and un-American in the profoundest sense of that term. I am also deeply disappointed that former colleagues at the Central Intelligence Agency have proven so supine in the face of tawdry political pressure. Intelligence officers are supposed to act better than that.
    Read more!

    posted by Karlo at 2/14/2007 11:59:00 AM |

    Monday, August 07, 2006

    The Wider War to Come

    By Karlo

    Here's an article by Reagan's Treasury Secretary, about the planning of the present wars.

    We're Being Set Up for Wider War in the Middle East
    by Paul Craig Roberts

    The old adage, "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me" does not apply to Americans, who have shown that they can be endlessly fooled.

    Neoconservatives deceived Americans into an illegal attack and debilitating war in Iraq. American neoconservatives are closely allied with Israel's Likud Party. In the past, some neocons lost their security clearances because of "mishandling" of classified information. According to In sight magazine, "the Pentagon has banned security clearance to Americans with relatives in Israel. Government sources and attorneys said the Pentagon has sought and succeeded in removing security clearance from dozens of Americans, mostly Jews, who either lived, worked, or have relatives in Israel."

    Despite questions of dual loyalties, neocons hold high positions in the Bush regime. Ten years ago these architects of American foreign and military policy spelled out how they would use deception to achieve "important Israeli strategic objectives" in the Middle East. First, they would focus "on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq." This would open the door for Israel to provoke attacks from Hezbollah. The attacks would let Israel gain American sympathy and permit Israel to seize the strategic initiative by "engaging Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran as the
    principal agents of aggression in Lebanon."

    Today, this neoconservative plan is unfolding before our eyes. Israel has used the capture of two of its soldiers in Lebanon as an excuse for an all-out air and naval bombardment against Lebanese civilian targets. However, a number of commentators have pointed out that such a massive attack requires weeks if not months of preparation that could not be done overnight in response to the capture of the soldiers.

    Regardless, in the first two days of the Israeli military attack on Lebanon more than a hundred civilians, including Canadians, have been killed by Israeli bombs (gifts from U.S. taxpayers).

    The Beirut International Airport has been repeatedly bombed, as have residential neighborhoods, roads, bridges, ports, and power stations. Soldiers are a legitimate military target. Civilians, civilian neighborhoods, tourists, and international airports are not.

    Under the Nuremberg standard used to sentence Nazi war criminals to death, the Israeli government is clearly guilty of war crimes. Meanwhile, the Israelis are committing identical war crimes in Gaza. Again Israel's excuse is the capture of an Israeli soldier.

    However, the distinguished Israeli professor Ran HaCohen said that the Israeli army "had been demanding a massive attack on Gaza long before the Israeli soldier was kidnapped." . . .
    Read more!

    posted by Karlo at 8/07/2006 08:30:00 AM |

    Wednesday, June 21, 2006

    Zizek, 2004

    By Karlo

    This 2004 excerpt, penned by Zizek reflecting on Shrub's relection, rings very true even today:

    However, the main advantage has to do with international politics. If Kerry had won, liberals would have had to face up to the consequences of the Iraq war, and the Bush camp would have been able to ascribe to them the results of its own catastrophic decisions.

    We still must wonder when conservatives (en masse) will start "facing up to" the consequences of the war.

    In 1979, in her essay "Dictators and Double Standards", Jeanne Kirkpatrick elaborated the distinction between "authoritarian" and "totalitarian" regimes which served as the justification for the US policy of collaborating with rightist dictators while attempting to destabilise Communist regimes: authoritarian dictators are pragmatic rulers who care about their power and wealth and are indifferent to ideological issues, even if they pay lip service to some big idea. In contrast, totalitarian leaders are selfless ideological fanatics who are ready to put everything at stake for their ideals. Authoritarian rulers react rationally and predictably to material and military threats - they can be dealt with. Totalitarian leaders are much more dangerous and have to be confronted directly. The irony is that this distinction perfectly encapsulates what went wrong with the US occupation of Iraq: Saddam was a corrupt authoritarian dictator guided by brutal pragmatic considerations. The US intervention has generated a much more uncompromising, "fundamentalist" opposition which rejects pragmatic compromises.

    And this is where we now find ourselves, spending billions (eventually, a trillion?!) on a fundamentally flawed policy which is not in our own interests.


    Read more!

    posted by Karlo at 6/21/2006 03:33:00 AM |

    Monday, March 27, 2006

    The Bush Stamp

    By Karlo

    The Postal Service created a stamp with a picture of President Bush. The stamp was not sticking to envelopes. This enraged the President, who demanded a full investigation. After a month of testing, a special Presidential commission presented the following findings:

    1. The stamp is in perfect order.
    2. There is nothing wrong with the applied adhesive.
    3. People are spitting on the wrong side.

    Read more!

    posted by Karlo at 3/27/2006 12:33:00 PM |

    Saturday, February 18, 2006

    America Abandoned by Alex Sabbeth

    By Karlo

    The following article, penned by Alex Sabbeth, appeared in Consortium News on February 16, 2006. Sabbeth provides an excellent look back at the Bush Administration's "accomplishments."

    Article : Editor’s Note: As an investigative news Web site, we often concentrate on the details of some very interesting trees and thus can be accused at times of missing the full panorama of the forest. Indeed, we do focus on specific facts, in part, because we believe that if our readers are armed with enough reliable information, they can reach their own wise judgments. We also trust in the old news axiom, “show, don’t tell.” But there are times when an overview can be helpful in recognizing patterns or coming to broader conclusions. In this guest essay, author Alex Sabbeth applies a wider lens to America’s present political crisis:

    Take a look at New Orleans today. It resembles the burned out blocks of Detroit, not rebuilt since riots decades ago, testifying to a basic truth. America's wealth and power are not directed towards our well-being and security. Maybe it's easier to grasp this when pondering Sept 11. Our vaunted military did not protect us from low-tech attacks. America has over 800 military bases strung across the globe, but the fact is New York and Washington were not protected.

    Doubtful? We were warned about Katrina for years. Newt Gingrich is right when he asks how we can think we're safe when New Orleans was destroyed under our noses. [Fox News, Sept. 6, 2005]Before continuing, I want to point out an obvious fact. The Bush administration purveys falsehoods as a matter of policy. Those who prove this are disparaged as the "reality community." [Boston Globe, quoting writer Ron Suskind, Nov. 5, 2004] These obvious falsehoods are directed to the administration’s political base, which either doesn't realize this, or doesn’t care. A few examples of very significant deceptions are in order. Bush claimed he invaded Iraq because Saddam refused to allow inspectors into Iraq (while they were there). Also, Bush said Saddam refused to disarm. [Nationwide radio address, Feb. 21, 2004, Office of the Press Sec. July 14, 2003] It's well documented that the inspectors were in Iraq from November of 2002 to just before the invasion, when Bush warned them to leave. CBS publicized their reaction to Powell's speech while in Iraq, in a story called “The Man Who Knew.” Also, our own inspectors say Saddam disarmed in the early 1990s, and was left with idle programs. [CBS Oct. 17, 2003, Associated Press, Feb. 13, 2004] Bush traveled the country, repeatedly emphasizing that warrants were required for government wiretaps, while he had been wiretapping without them for years. [AFP, Dec. 12, 2005]

    Regarding Sept. 11, do you remember Condoleezza Rice telling us the August 2001 Presidential Brief was mostly “historical” in nature, vague, not concerned with an impending attack? The brief warned that Osama bin-Laden was preparing an attack in America, using planes, activating cells already here. [Los Angeles Times, April 12, 2004] You get the point.

    America Hurt

    I want to show that Bush’s policies hurt America and our national interests. Despite detailed warnings of both Sept. 11 and Katrina, we were unprepared and unprotected. We invaded Iraq, although our intelligence officers warned that terrorism would increase as a result. [The Guardian, Feb. 24, 2003] While we were told that the invasion made Iraq and the world safer, the State Department issued a warning of increased al-Qaeda activity against U.S. personnel and interests worldwide. [State Department Worldwide Caution] The invasion was supposed to make Israel more secure, but their security officers have recently warned the chaos in Iraq makes the region more unstable and dangerous. [Guardian, Feb. 9, 2006] All this was foretold by U.S. and British intelligence.Military resources were redeployed away from the hunt for al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, to a country that absolutely was no threat to us. Former Sen. Bob Graham, D-Florida, wrote that Saudi Arabia’s role in financing the Sept. 11 attacks was covered up, as proved in the deleted pages of the Congressional report about Sept 11. [Graham’s “Intelligence Matters”] Our budget deficits have private-sector and government analysts warning of a genuine financial meltdown. Even the mellifluous Alan Greenspan has been warning these deficits are not sustainable.Our country's safety has been neglected, according to the Sept. 11 Commission, which issued failing grades to the government's response to its recommendations. In 2004, undercover teams slipped weapons past security barriers in 15 U.S. airports. [USA Today, Sept. 23, 2004] In 2005, a mock attack in Boston revealed complete disarray among the terror response units. [AP, Dec. 27, 2005]

    Government scientists warning about climate change, mercury and soot levels, and contaminants at Ground Zero, were overruled by political managers. Fifty Nobel prize winners signed a complaint that science is corrupted by this Administration. As a result, we miss out on the benefit of scientific guidance. [Reuters, June 20, 2004]

    Our military and intelligence officers warned that an invasion of Iraq would harm our international standing just when cooperation was most needed to coordinate information and responses to terrorist threats.

    Military Stress

    Also, our troops would be endangered by incompetent assault planning, and our economy would be stressed dangerously. The Army itself would be stretched to breaking because of repeated tours, morale-crunching stop-loss orders, insufficient protective armor, etc. [Los Angeles Times, July, 4, 2004; Washington Post, Jan. 13, 2004] We’re told our troops will begin to leave Iraq because of improvements in security. The attacks continue daily, and the real reason, admitted by Colin Powell, is that current troop levels can’t be sustained without serious damage to the Army, including recruitment problems. [AP, Dec. 18, 2005] When undercover agents are most needed in the war on terror, Valerie Plame was outed for political sport, showing that our agents are not safe from their own government. Would you risk your life overseas knowing that?

    To those who believe in the President, I say you live in a dream world. The President routinely does the opposite of what he says. Therefore, you have no idea what it is you support. Mr. Bush campaigned in 2000 on a “humble” foreign policy, deriding nation-building. But he clearly planned the Iraq invasion before Sept 11, and Condi Rice testified that the administration decided to remake the entire Middle East. [UPI, Oct. 19, 2005; Richard Clarke, Paul O’Neill, Judicial Watch Web site, March 2004] How humble is that? How do you think they're doing so far? Does Katrina make you pretty confident? They are enacting goals written in 1992 by Paul Wolfowitz, long before Bush was elected. [Carnegie Endowment for Peace, March 19, 2003] Did you know that during the 2000 campaign?

    Bush was going to restore honor and integrity to the White House. Have you ever heard of Abramoff? Did you see articles reporting how Rove is threatening Republicans if they revolt against NSA wiretaps? [Taegan Goddard’s Political Wire, Feb. 7, 2006] How about the Medicare actuary threatened if he revealed the true cost of the seniors' drug benefit? [CBS, March 16, 2004, “Medicare administrator warns actuary, Rick Foster to not tell Congress the price tag.”] Bush traveled the country assuring us that court warrants are still required for wiretaps. He guaranteed that. Yet years before, he had ordered wiretaps contrary to the FISA requirements. Who still has faith in what Bush says? Why listen at all? Bush scared us with dire threats of WMDs in Iraq. Wolfowitz slipped up by saying WMDs were only a bureaucratic device to gain agreement among individual planners. [AP, May 30, 2003] But Bush, faced with absence of WMDs, told Fox News he would have ordered the invasion knowing they weren't there. [Fox News, anchor Brit Hume, Dec. 14, 2005] They didn't matter at all!

    Mushroom Cloud

    Remember the mushroom cloud? Scott Ritter, the lead U.N. inspector, reported the U.S. knew Iraq had no WMDs since 1995! [Newsday, June 4, 2004] Blair's minister, Robin Cook, wrote that he was told by the chief of British intelligence that Saddam had no usable WMDs before the invasion. [Guardian, July 12, 2004] Our top CIA analyst in the Middle East (Paul Pillar) just wrote that the Administration corrupted the intelligence on Iraq, and invaded for entirely different reasons. [AFP, Feb. 10. 2006]We’re told Bush needs wiretaps to keep us safe. Did you know that he permitted the evacuation of dozens of Saudis, without proper interviews, right after Sept. 11, while commercial planes were grounded? [NYT, quoted in AFP, March 28, 2005] Or that hundreds of hours of Arabic language intercepts remain untranslated? [Justice Department inspector general's report released in September 2004] Who knows what’s on those tapes. Does that make you feel safe?I want to draw the obvious conclusion underlying these few examples. Bush has been governing like a King, not a democratically elected President. He lied to Congress about the weapons in Iraq, and then said their absence made no difference. He lied to all of us by assuring that warrants were required for wiretaps, while he was wiretapping thousands of innocent citizens with no court order. [NYT, Jan. 17, 2006] He has devised a veto of Congressionally enacted statutes by signing statements, which declare his refusal to honor the clear intent of the law. [Boston Globe, Jan. 4, 2006] He claims authority to ignore explicit laws under theories which caused Justice Department officers to resign, and which Gonzales admitted Congress would not have granted. [Newsweek, Feb. 6, 2006; Council on Foreign Relations Feb. 3, 2006] Republican senators have pointed this out, but have no stomach for forcing him to follow the law. They enact a charade of hearings, according Mr. Gonzales credence while he lied about existing wiretaps. [Washington Post, Jan. 31, 2006] Instead of censuring Gonzales, they continue the theatrics, knowing full well he’ll say whatever is needed to distract attention from the criminality of the secret surveillance. Most importantly, the lie is given to the “everything changed after Sept. 11” canard. New York Times reporter James Risen writes that these wiretaps were established right after Mr. Bush’s inauguration, eight months before Sept. 11. [Risen’s State of War] After the attacks, thousands of innocents were tapped, causing the FBI to be flooded with useless information. Does this sound like a “highly targeted” tap on only U.S. to overseas communications?

    Dear readers, the truth doesn’t matter today in Washington. The Administration assumes nobody pays attention, cares, or notices the bulk of its disinformation. If we don’t wake up, the America we learned about in school will remain only a shimmering dream. The British magazine, The Economist, is right for calling Bush incompetent. [The Economist, Oct. 28, 2004] But worse, he’s dangerous, and has harmed America and the world.

    Author Alex Sabbeth acts as an informal researcher and organizer for several retired intelligence officers who share his concerns about America's future.
    Read more!

    posted by Karlo at 2/18/2006 06:29:00 PM |

    Wednesday, November 30, 2005

    A Journey That Ended in Anguish

    By Karlo

    I guess this could have been a suicide . . . but it sounds very suspicious:

    Col. Ted Westhusing, a military ethicist who volunteered to go to Iraq, was upset by what he saw. His apparent suicide raises questions.
    By T. Christian Miller, Times Staff Writer

    "War is the hardest place to make moral judgments."

    Col. Ted Westhusing, Journal of Military Ethics

    WASHINGTON — One hot, dusty day in June, Col. Ted Westhusing was found dead in a trailer at a military base near the Baghdad airport, a single gunshot wound to the head. The Army would conclude that he committed suicide with his service pistol. At the time, he was the highest-ranking officer to die in Iraq. The Army closed its case. But the questions surrounding Westhusing's death continue.

    Westhusing, 44, was no ordinary officer. He was one of the Army's leading scholars of military ethics, a full professor at West Point who volunteered to serve in Iraq to be able to better teach his students. He had a doctorate in philosophy; his dissertation was an extended meditation on the meaning of honor.

    So it was only natural that Westhusing acted when he learned of possible corruption by U.S. contractors in Iraq. A few weeks before he died, Westhusing received an anonymous complaint that a private security company he oversaw had cheated the U.S. government and committed human rights violations. Westhusing confronted the contractor and reported the concerns to superiors, who launched an investigation.

    In e-mails to his family, Westhusing seemed especially upset by one conclusion he had reached: that traditional military values such as duty, honor and country had been replaced by profit motives in Iraq, where the U.S. had come to rely heavily on contractors for jobs once done by the military.

    His death stunned all who knew him. Colleagues and commanders wondered whether they had missed signs of depression. He had been losing weight and not sleeping well. But only a day before his death, Westhusing won praise from a senior officer for his progress in training Iraqi police.

    His friends and family struggle with the idea that Westhusing could have killed himself. He was a loving father and husband and a devout Catholic. He was an extraordinary intellect and had mastered ancient Greek and Italian. He had less than a month before his return home. It seemed impossible that anything could crush the spirit of a man with such a powerful sense of right and wrong.

    On the Internet and in conversations with one another, Westhusing's family and friends have questioned the military investigation.

    A note found in his trailer seemed to offer clues. Written in what the Army determined was his handwriting, the colonel appeared to be struggling with a final question.

    How is honor possible in a war like the one in Iraq?

    Even at Jenks High School in suburban Tulsa, one of the biggest in Oklahoma, Westhusing stood out. He was starting point guard for the Trojans, a team that made a strong run for the state basketball championship his senior year. He was a National Merit Scholarship finalist. He was an officer in a fellowship of Christian athletes.

    Joe Holladay, who coached Westhusing before going on to become assistant coach of the University of North Carolina Tarheels, recalled Westhusing showing up at the gym at 7 a.m. to get in 100 extra practice shots.

    "There was never a question of how hard he played or how much effort he put into something," Holladay said. "Whatever he did, he did well. He was the cream of the crop."

    When Westhusing entered West Point in 1979, the tradition-bound institution was just emerging from a cheating scandal that had shamed the Army. Restoring honor to the nation's preeminent incubator for Army leadership was the focus of the day.

    Cadets are taught to value duty, honor and country, and are drilled in West Point's strict moral code: A cadet will not lie, cheat or steal — or tolerate those who do.

    Westhusing embraced it. He was selected as honor captain for the entire academy his senior year. Col. Tim Trainor, a classmate and currently a West Point professor, said Westhusing was strict but sympathetic to cadets' problems. He remembered him as "introspective."

    Westhusing graduated third in his class in 1983 and became an infantry platoon leader. He received special forces training, served in Italy, South Korea and Honduras, and eventually became division operations officer for the 82nd Airborne, based at Ft. Bragg, N.C.

    He loved commanding soldiers. But he remained drawn to intellectual pursuits.

    In 2000, Westhusing enrolled in Emory University's doctoral philosophy program. The idea was to return to West Point to teach future leaders.

    He immediately stood out on the leafy Atlanta campus. Married with children, he was surrounded by young, single students. He was a deeply faithful Christian in a graduate program of professional skeptics.

    Plunged into academia, Westhusing held fast to his military ties. Students and professors recalled him jogging up steep hills in combat boots and camouflage, his rucksack full, to stay in shape. He wrote a paper challenging an essay that questioned the morality of patriotism.

    "He was as straight an arrow as you would possibly find," said Aaron Fichtelberg, a fellow student and now a professor at the University of Delaware. "He seemed unshakable."

    In his 352-page dissertation, Westhusing discussed the ethics of war, focusing on examples of military honor from Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee to the Israeli army. It is a dense, searching and sometimes personal effort to define what, exactly, constitutes virtuous conduct in the context of the modern U.S. military.

    "Born to be a warrior, I desire these answers not just for philosophical reasons, but for self-knowledge," he wrote in the opening pages.

    As planned, Westhusing returned to teach philosophy and English at West Point as a full professor with a guaranteed lifetime assignment. He settled into life on campus with his wife, Michelle, and their three young children.

    But amid the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he told friends that he felt experience in Iraq would help him in teaching cadets. In the fall of 2004, he volunteered for duty.

    "He wanted to serve, he wanted to use his skills, maybe he wanted some glory," recalled Nick Fotion, his advisor at Emory. "He wanted to go."

    In January, Westhusing began work on what the Pentagon considered the most important mission in Iraq: training Iraqi forces to take over security duties from U.S. troops.

    Westhusing's task was to oversee a private security company, Virginia-based USIS, which had contracts worth $79 million to train a corps of Iraqi police to conduct special operations.

    In March, Gen. David Petraeus, commanding officer of the Iraqi training mission, praised Westhusing's performance, saying he had exceeded "lofty expectations."

    "Thanks much, sir, but we can do much better and will," Westhusing wrote back, according to a copy of the Army investigation of his death that was obtained by The Times.

    In April, his mood seemed to have darkened. He worried over delays in training one of the police battalions.

    Then, in May, Westhusing received an anonymous four-page letter that contained detailed allegations of wrongdoing by USIS.

    The writer accused USIS of deliberately shorting the government on the number of trainers to increase its profit margin. More seriously, the writer detailed two incidents in which USIS contractors allegedly had witnessed or participated in the killing of Iraqis.

    A USIS contractor accompanied Iraqi police trainees during the assault on Fallouja last November and later boasted about the number of insurgents he had killed, the letter says. Private security contractors are not allowed to conduct offensive operations.

    In a second incident, the letter says, a USIS employee saw Iraqi police trainees kill two innocent Iraqi civilians, then covered it up. A USIS manager "did not want it reported because he thought it would put his contract at risk."

    Westhusing reported the allegations to his superiors but told one of them, Gen. Joseph Fil, that he believed USIS was complying with the terms of its contract.

    U.S. officials investigated and found "no contractual violations," an Army spokesman said. Bill Winter, a USIS spokesman, said the investigation "found these allegations to be unfounded."

    However, several U.S. officials said inquiries on USIS were ongoing. One U.S. military official, who, like others, requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, said the inquiries had turned up problems, but nothing to support the more serious charges of human rights violations.

    "As is typical, there may be a wisp of truth in each of the allegations," the official said.

    The letter shook Westhusing, who felt personally implicated by accusations that he was too friendly with USIS management, according to an e-mail in the report.

    "This is a mess … dunno what I will do with this," he wrote home to his family May 18.

    The colonel began to complain to colleagues about "his dislike of the contractors," who, he said, "were paid too much money by the government," according to one captain.

    "The meetings [with contractors] were never easy and always contentious. The contracts were in dispute and always under discussion," an Army Corps of Engineers official told investigators.

    By June, some of Westhusing's colleagues had begun to worry about his health. They later told investigators that he had lost weight and begun fidgeting, sometimes staring off into space. He seemed withdrawn, they said.

    His family was also becoming worried. He described feeling alone and abandoned. He sent home brief, cryptic e-mails, including one that said, "[I] didn't think I'd make it last night." He talked of resigning his command.

    Westhusing brushed aside entreaties for details, writing that he would say more when he returned home. The family responded with an outpouring of e-mails expressing love and support.

    His wife recalled a phone conversation that chilled her two weeks before his death.

    "I heard something in his voice," she told investigators, according to a transcript of the interview. "In Ted's voice, there was fear. He did not like the nighttime and being alone."

    Westhusing's father, Keith, said the family did not want to comment for this article.

    On June 4, Westhusing left his office in the U.S.-controlled Green Zone of Baghdad to view a demonstration of Iraqi police preparedness at Camp Dublin, the USIS headquarters at the airport. He gave a briefing that impressed Petraeus and a visiting scholar. He stayed overnight at the USIS camp.

    That night in his office, a USIS secretary would later tell investigators, she watched Westhusing take out his 9-millimeter pistol and "play" with it, repeatedly unholstering the weapon.

    At a meeting the next morning to discuss construction delays, he seemed agitated. He stewed over demands for tighter vetting of police candidates, worried that it would slow the mission. He seemed upset over funding shortfalls.

    Uncharacteristically, he lashed out at the contractors in attendance, according to the Army Corps official. In three months, the official had never seen Westhusing upset.

    "He was sick of money-grubbing contractors," the official recounted. Westhusing said that "he had not come over to Iraq for this."

    The meeting broke up shortly before lunch. About 1 p.m., a USIS manager went looking for Westhusing because he was scheduled for a ride back to the Green Zone. After getting no answer, the manager returned about 15 minutes later. Another USIS employee peeked through a window. He saw Westhusing lying on the floor in a pool of blood.

    The manager rushed into the trailer and tried to revive Westhusing. The manager told investigators that he picked up the pistol at Westhusing's feet and tossed it onto the bed.

    "I knew people would show up," that manager said later in attempting to explain why he had handled the weapon. "With 30 years from military and law enforcement training, I did not want the weapon to get bumped and go off."

    After a three-month inquiry, investigators declared Westhusing's death a suicide. A test showed gunpowder residue on his hands. A shell casing in the room bore markings indicating it had been fired from his service revolver.

    Then there was the note.

    Investigators found it lying on Westhusing's bed. The handwriting matched his.

    The first part of the four-page letter lashes out at Petraeus and Fil. Both men later told investigators that they had not criticized Westhusing or heard negative comments from him. An Army review undertaken after Westhusing's death was complimentary of the command climate under the two men, a U.S. military official said.

    Most of the letter is a wrenching account of a struggle for honor in a strange land.

    "I cannot support a msn [mission] that leads to corruption, human rights abuse and liars. I am sullied," it says. "I came to serve honorably and feel dishonored.

    "Death before being dishonored any more."

    A psychologist reviewed Westhusing's e-mails and interviewed colleagues. She concluded that the anonymous letter had been the "most difficult and probably most painful stressor."

    She said that Westhusing had placed too much pressure on himself to succeed and that he was unusually rigid in his thinking. Westhusing struggled with the idea that monetary values could outweigh moral ones in war. This, she said, was a flaw.

    "Despite his intelligence, his ability to grasp the idea that profit is an important goal for people working in the private sector was surprisingly limited," wrote Lt. Col. Lisa Breitenbach. "He could not shift his mind-set from the military notion of completing a mission irrespective of cost, nor could he change his belief that doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do should be the sole motivator for businesses."

    One military officer said he felt Westhusing had trouble reconciling his ideals with Iraq's reality. Iraq "isn't a black-and-white place," the officer said. "There's a lot of gray."

    Fil and Petraeus, Westhusing's commanding officers, declined to comment on the investigation, but they praised him. He was "an extremely bright, highly competent, completely professional and exceedingly hard-working officer. His death was truly tragic and was a tremendous blow," Petraeus said.

    Westhusing's family and friends are troubled that he died at Camp Dublin, where he was without a bodyguard, surrounded by the same contractors he suspected of wrongdoing. They wonder why the manager who discovered Westhusing's body and picked up his weapon was not tested for gunpowder residue.

    Mostly, they wonder how Col. Ted Westhusing — father, husband, son and expert on doing right — could have found himself in a place so dark that he saw no light.

    "He's the last person who would commit suicide," said Fichtelberg, his graduate school colleague. "He couldn't have done it. He's just too damn stubborn."

    Westhusing's body was flown back to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Waiting to receive it were his family and a close friend from West Point, a lieutenant colonel.

    In the military report, the unidentified colonel told investigators that he had turned to Michelle, Westhusing's wife, and asked what happened.

    She answered:

    "Iraq."


    Read more!

    posted by Karlo at 11/30/2005 02:48:00 PM |

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