The old straight-talking, damn-the-talking-points John McCain, it is now clear, ceased to exist in the summer of 2004, when he put an emphatic end to four years of well-grounded chatter that heâ€™d abandon the Republican Party and mount a Teddy Rooseveltâ€“style Presidential bid as an independent.
Instead, Mr. McCain threw himself headlong into an effort to re-elect President George W. Bushâ€”the same man he once charged with â€œtwisting the truth like Clinton.â€ (And this was before the President had ever uttered a word about W.M.D. or uranium enrichment.) Public courtships of Jerry Falwell and creationism enthusiasts soon followed.
Mr. Hagel, meanwhile, has taken up where Mr. McCain left off, scorning his partyâ€™s high priests and relieving himself in their sacred temples. Now, the 60-year-old Nebraskanâ€”like Mr. McCain, a decorated Vietnam veteranâ€”is edging toward parlaying that appealing independence into a Presidential bid.
Related: The Anti-War Republican Presidential Candidate? (politricks.mnp)
More Campaign ’08 News:
Germany has ordered the arrest of 13 suspected CIA agents over the alleged kidnapping of one of its citizens.
Munich prosecutors confirmed that the warrants were linked to the case of Khaled al-Masri (pictured above), a German national of Lebanese descent.Â Mr Masri says he was seized in Macedonia, flown to a secret prison in Afghanistan and mistreated there.
He says he was released in Albania five months later when the Americans realised they had the wrong man.
German arrest warrants are not valid in the US but if the suspects were to travel to the European Union they could be arrested.
*a Politricks MUST READ*
Barry Lando, a former 60 Minutes producer, examines how the United States has meddled in Iraq dating back to the Eisenhower administration. He also looks at how the Reagan and Bush administration helped arm Saddam Hussein at a time when he was committing his deadliest atrocities.
Transcript, Audio and Video streams available at the link below
Saddam Executed for â€˜lesserâ€™ crimes to avoid implicating the US? (politricks.mnp)
Tom Friedman lays out the case for engaging Iran in today’s NYTimes. The piece suffers from his usual oversimplifications, but it raises some good points:
Country A actively helped the U.S. defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan and replace it with a pro-U.S. elected alliance of moderate Muslims. Country A regularly holds sort-of-free elections. Country Aâ€™s women vote, hold office, are the majority of its university students and are fully integrated into the work force.
On 9/11, residents of Country A were among the very few in the Muslim world to hold spontaneous pro-U.S. demonstrations. Country Aâ€™s radical president recently held a conference about why the Holocaust never happened â€” to try to gain popularity. A month later, Country A held nationwide elections for local councils, and that same president saw his candidates get wiped out by voters who preferred more moderate conservatives. Country A has a strategic interest in the success of the pro-U.S., Shiite-led, elected Iraqi government. Although itâ€™s a Muslim country right next to Iraq, Country A has never sent any suicide bombers to Iraq, and has long protected its Christians and Jews. Country A has more bloggers per capita than any country in the Muslim Middle East.
Former neo-con Francis Fukuyama: The neocons have learned nothing from five years of catastrophe:
The US is hardly in a position to invade and occupy yet another country, especially one three times larger than Iraq. An attack would have to be conducted from the air, and it would not result in regime change, which is the only long-term means of stopping the WMD programme. It is hard to have much confidence that US intelligence on Iranian facilities is any better than it was in the case of Iraq. An air campaign is much more likely to build support for the regime than to topple it, and will stimulate terrorism and attacks on American facilities and friends around the globe. The US would be even more isolated in such a war than during the Iraqi campaign, with only Israel as a certain ally.
None of these considerations, nor the debacle in Iraq, has prevented certain neoconservatives from advocating military action against Iran. Some insist that Iran poses an even greater threat than Iraq, avoiding the fact that their zealous advocacy of the Iraq invasion is what has destroyed America’s credibility and undercut its ability to take strong measures against Iran.
Report: Iran schools feed pupils “war curriculum”
BRUSSELS, Jan 30 (Reuters) – Iran’s schools are nurturing a siege mentality in children with textbooks showing preparations for war and depicting Israel and the West as the enemy, an Israel-based think tank said on Tuesday.
One textbook gave 13-year-olds a basic overview of light arms while one early reader book depicted the murder of a Palestinian toddler by an Israeli soldier, a survey by the Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP) found.
The FBI appears to have adopted an invasive Internet surveillance technique that collects far more data on innocent Americans than previously has been disclosed.
Instead of recording only what a particular suspect is doing, agents conducting investigations appear to be assembling the activities of thousands of Internet users at a time into massive databases, according to current and former officials. That database can subsequently be queried for names, e-mail addresses or keywords.
Such a technique is broader and potentially more intrusive than the FBI’s Carnivore surveillance system, later renamed DCS1000. It raises concerns similar to those stirred by widespread Internet monitoring that the National Security Agency is said to have done, according to documents that have surfaced in one federal lawsuit, and may stretch the bounds of what’s legally permissible.
The U.S. Air Force is quietly spending millions of dollars investigating ways to use a radical power source — antimatter, the eerie “mirror” of ordinary matter — in future weapons.Â The most powerful potential energy source presently thought to be available to humanity, antimatter is a term normally heard in science-fiction films and TV shows, whose heroes fly “antimatter-powered spaceships” and do battle with “antimatter guns.”
More cataclysmic possible uses include a new generation of super weapons — either pure antimatter bombs or antimatter-triggered nuclear weapons; the former wouldn’t emit radioactive fallout. Another possibility is antimatter- powered “electromagnetic pulse” weapons that could fry an enemy’s electric power grid and communications networks, leaving him literally in the dark and unable to operate his society and armed forces.
Following an initial inquiry from The Chronicle this summer, the Air Force forbade its employees from publicly discussing the antimatter research program. Still, details on the program appear in numerous Air Force documents distributed over the Internet prior to the ban.
Israel probably violated the terms of its arms deals with Washington by using US-made cluster bombs in Lebanon last year, a US government report says.
US-made weapons are sold to the Israeli military with restriction on their use.
The Israeli army has said all weapons it uses “are legal under international law and their use conforms with international standards.”
The U.N. Mine Action Coordination Center has said that it is not illegal to use the cluster bombs against soldiers or enemy fighters, but the Geneva Conventions bar their use in civilian areas.
The Reagan administration imposed a six-year ban on cluster-weapon sales to Israel in 1982, after a congressional investigation found misuse of the weapon during Israel’s war that year with Lebanon.
[Washington Post & BBC News]
OFFICIALS are bracing themselves for a storm of public outrage over their controversial X-ray cameras scheme.
As part of the most shocking extension of Big Brother powers ever planned here, lenses in lampposts would snap â€œnakedâ€ pictures of passers-by to trap terror suspects.
The proposal is contained in leaked documents drawn up by the Home Office and presented to PM Tony Blairâ€™s working group on Security, Crime and Justice.
[The Sun (UK)]
An interesting article by David Rieff:
Policy analysts and pundits have been predicting for some time that the so-called unipolar moment, in which the United States stands unchallenged as the sole superpower, will soon come to an end. The debacle in Iraq has hastened this reckoning and sharpened the anxieties about Americaâ€™s role in the world â€” perhaps especially among those who believe that the United States is a benign hegemon and that the real choice is between a Pax Americana and anarchy. But it is the recent conduct of Hugo ChÃ¡vez, Venezuelaâ€™s firebrand president, that offers the starkest evidence yet of the changed circumstances that American policy makers are starting to confront around the world.
Update: Venezuela Poised to Hand ChÃ¡vez Wide-Ranging Powers
Iran’s efforts to produce highly enriched uranium, the material used to make nuclear bombs, are in chaos and the country is still years from mastering the required technology.
Iran’s uranium enrichment programme has been plagued by constant technical problems, lack of access to outside technology and knowhow, and a failure to master the complex production-engineering processes involved. The country denies developing weapons, saying its pursuit of uranium enrichment is for energy purposes.
[The Guardian (UK)]
too bad these didn’t get press coverage BEFORE the war…
WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 â€” Tens of thousands of protesters converged on the National Mall on Saturday to oppose President Bushâ€™s plan for a troop increase in Iraq in what organizers hoped would be one of the largest shows of antiwar sentiment in the nationâ€™s capital since the war began…
Demonstrators listened to speeches from a roster of politicians and entertainment figures including the Rev. Jesse Jackson; Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio and a candidate for the presidency in 2008; and Representative Maxine Waters, Democrat of California. The actors Jane Fonda, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins also addressed the crowd.
Veterans were more numerous among the crowd.
Fernando Braga, a 24-year-old Bronx native who is a member of the Army National Guard, said that he was skeptical of the war before it started. Mr. Braga said his views hardened into opposition while he served in Iraq from March 2004 through January 2005. â€œMy own commander told us when we arrived that if we thought we were there for any reason other than oil then we had another thing coming,â€ he said. â€œI realized even commanding officers were against it but following orders.â€
Related: Protesters spray paint Capitol – Police ordered not to arrest (The Hill)
The panel was considering a resolution condemning President Bush’s proposal to send 21,000 additional troops to Iraq; Hagel, a cosponsor of the resolution, would be the only Republican on the committee to vote for its passage…He had no prepared text but the words came easily as he took his turn at the mike. Calling Iraq the country’s most divisive issue since Vietnam, he dared his fellow committee members to take a stand. “I think all 100 senators ought to be on the line on this,” he said. “If you wanted a safe job, go sell shoes.”
But Hagel, who as of late last week was in the final stages of weighing a presidential run, is never mentioned in the top tier of Republican candidates for one, simple reason: since the initial buildup to the war in Iraq, he has assailed the Bush administration’s policyâ€”in sharp words, in constant refrain and, most unforgivably, in public.
His stance has earned him the enmity of the White House. Asked about Hagel last week in an interview with NEWSWEEK, Vice President Dick Cheney said: “I believe firmly in Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment: THOU SHALT NOT SPEAK ILL OF A FELLOW REPUBLICAN. But it’s very hard sometimes to adhere to that where Chuck Hagel is involved.”
BAGHDAD, Jan. 28 â€” Iranâ€™s ambassador to Baghdad outlined an ambitious plan on Sunday to greatly expand its economic and military ties with Iraq â€” including an Iranian national bank branch in the heart of the capital â€” just as the Bush administration has been warning the Iranians to stop meddling in Iraqi affairs.
Iranâ€™s plan, as outlined by the ambassador, carries the potential to bring Iran into further conflict here with the United States, which has detained a number of Iranian operatives in recent weeks and says it has proof of Iranian complicity in attacks on American and Iraqi forces.[NYTimes]