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    11 March 2005
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    But first, My thoughts go out to the victims and the people of Spain. One year later...

    Now, prior to November Republicans "put-off" a look into the intelligence surrounding the wrong if not fabricated intel re. WMDs due to the political climate of your dear leader. Today Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Senate Intelligence Chairman, came out with a similar statement:
    Following a speech Thursday at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Roberts was asked whether the inquiry's second phase would be taken up this spring. He listed three main parts of the investigation and dismissed the merits of each:

    --On whether the administration overstated Iraq intelligence in public remarks, Roberts said his committee could ask why officials made such strong, declarative statements about Iraq's weapons, but they would reply that their statements were based on ``bum intelligence.''

    ``To go through that exercise, it seems to me, in a postelection environment, we didn't see how we could do that and achieve any possible progress,'' he said. ``I think everybody pretty well gets it.''

    --On whether the estimates regarding the postwar situation in Iraq were accurate, Roberts said the intelligence was ``all over the lot.'' For instance, he said a predicted humanitarian crisis from a wave of refugees proved wrong.

    He said other issues before the committee take precedent over further study of Iraq intelligence, including the new national intelligence director, intelligence reform and ``pre-emptive oversight'' on North Korea, Iran and other areas.

    --On whether the Office of Special Plans -- an intelligence office reporting to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld -- operated appropriately, Roberts said there was no evidence the office had a significant impact on the national intelligence estimate of October 2002, a document the administration relied on to help make the case for the invasion.

    ``I do think the secretary of defense is entitled to have the best intelligence that he deems possible, so we sort of came to a crossroads and that is basically on the back burner,'' he said.

    Later in the day, Roberts' spokeswoman Sarah Little said the committee is still looking into issues saved for the inquiry's second phase. Roberts' comments were ``his personal view of the difficulties that the committee staff faces in engaging in phase two. He has ordered staff to follow every lead,'' Little said.

    I don't trust 'em...

    These are people who kept 11 year old children in Abu Ghraib and we Republican or Democrat, left of right should not trust or believe them.

    10 March 2005
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    his response to reaction from his 'Dear Condi' letter here.

    09 March 2005
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    Not to sure about this report:
    Ex-Marine Says Public Version of Saddam Capture Fiction

    United Press International

    A former U.S. Marine who participated in capturing ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said the public version of his capture was fabricated.

    Ex-Sgt. Nadim Abou Rabeh, of Lebanese descent, was quoted in the Saudi daily al-Medina Wednesday as saying Saddam was actually captured Friday, Dec. 12, 2003, and not the day after, as announced by the U.S. Army.

    "I was among the 20-man unit, including eight of Arab descent, who searched for Saddam for three days in the area of Dour near Tikrit, and we found him in a modest home in a small village and not in a hole as announced," Abou Rabeh said.

    "We captured him after fierce resistance during which a Marine of Sudanese origin was killed," he said.

    He said Saddam himself fired at them with a gun from the window of a room on the second floor. Then they shouted at him in Arabic: "You have to surrender. ... There is no point in resisting."

    "Later on, a military production team fabricated the film of Saddam's capture in a hole, which was in fact a deserted well," Abou Rabeh said.

    Abou Rabeh was interviewed in Lebanon.

    08 March 2005
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    from the CIA factbook:
    Muslim 59.7% (Shi'a, Sunni, Druze, Isma'ilite, Alawite or Nusayri)

    Christian 39% (Maronite Catholic, Melkite Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Syrian Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Roman Catholic, Protestant)

    other 1.3% note: seventeen religious sects recognized

    Lebanon, Sgrena

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    Those who think Lebanon is full of pro-West groups and that Syria is unwelcome there are greatly mistaken. The demographics of Lebanon contain sharp divisions in religion, between Christians (and other groups) and Shias. Today huge pro-Syrian demonstrations took place in Beirut, the first since the pro-democracy love fest of last week.
    Tens of thousands of people have gathered in Lebanon's capital, Beirut, to applaud Syria's role in the country and reject Western "interference".

    Crowds chanted "Beirut is free" and "America get out", as people streamed into a central square in the city.

    It is the first big show of support for Syria since opposition protests began last month for Syrian troops to leave.
    The rally has been organized by the powerful pro-Syrian Shia organisation Hezbollah, whose black-clad guards lined the area and took up positions on rooftops.

    The square is just a few hundred meters from the Martyrs Square area, where predominantly Christian, Druze and Sunni Muslims, including many westernised young people, have been holding their protests.

    A line of military vehicles separated the two squares to avoid a possible confrontation between rival demonstrators.

    "I came here today to say no to international intervention, the US, France and Israel. I came to thank Syria," said protester Zainab Farhat, who added that it was wrong to call Syria an "occupier".

    "You get rid of occupiers through bloody fighting, but Syria withdrew without any bloodshed," she said.

    Why does Syria have to pull out, and what will we do when the shooting starts again? Why can Israel, which I am very pro-Israel, continue to occupy portions of Syria and Lebanao. This is why many hate us, I would as well...


    An update of the Giuliana Sgrena incident, which I do not think that our troops would take part in a targeted killing even if ordered to by some heartless bushco operative giving orders. But what if they didn't know???

    Anyway BBC has an interview with Sgrena here:

    When did you become aware that your car was being fired at?

    We had no signal. We were just on the way to the airport. They started to shoot at us without any light or signal. There was no block, there was nothing. It was so immediate. I didn't know how I was alive after all that attack.

    Why do you think the Americans opened fire?

    We were not a hidden car. We were just a car on the road with lights and we were not running without any signal. So you have to ask the Americans because we don't know what happened.

    Did the Americans continue to fire when your car had come to a halt?

    Our car was destroyed. And then the driver got out and was shouting "we're Italian, we're Italian". So they came and they saw what happened. But I was badly injured so I can't explain exactly what happened after because I was waiting for 20 minutes on the road for a military car to bring me to the hospital.

    I don't know if they knew what they were doing or not but it's a big responsibility so they have to respond to what happened because it's impossible to shoot a car on a road to the airport without giving any signal, any stop or any check.

    Do you think it was deliberate?

    I can't say it was deliberate because we can't say if there was a lack of information. But also a lack of information in this case is [their] responsibility because you are in a war field and you have the responsibility to pass immediately any information.

    The information was given to the Italians to tell the Americans that we were on the road. Now, I can't say why they shot at us in this way but it's a very big responsibility and we ask for a response on what happened.
    How do you feel about the man who saved your life?

    I am very, very sad and feel pain for him. I'm sorry not to be able to go to the funeral because I am in hospital.

    He was a brave man.


    The assertion that the car was not speeding nor were there any warning shots was seconded by the Italian foreign Minister, but he maintained that it was an accident <link>.
    Italy’s foreign minister said Tuesday that the car carrying an intelligence officer killed by U.S. fire in Iraq last week was not speeding up and did not receive signals to stop, countering suggestions by American authorities.
    Fini was the first Italian official to openly dispute the U.S. account, and his comments put fresh pressure on Washington to get to the bottom of the matter. President Bush has promised a full investigation.

    Calipari, 50, was shot Friday as he headed to the Baghdad airport after securing the release of Giuliana Sgrena a month after the Italian journalist was abducted by Iraqi gunmen.

    “The car was traveling at a velocity that couldn’t have been more than 25 miles per hour,” Fini said. There were no attempts to stop the car, as indicated by the U.S. military, he added.
    “It was an accident,” he told lawmakers. “This does not prevent, in fact it makes it a duty for the government to demand that light be shed on the murky issues, that responsibilities be pinpointed, and, where found, that the culprits be punished.”

    He said Calipari, an experienced officer who had negotiated the release of other hostages in Iraq in the past, “made all the necessary contacts with the U.S. authorities,” both with those in charge of airport security and with the forces patrolling areas next to the airport.

    06 March 2005

    Garret of Newsday rips MSM 'greed'

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    Laurie Garrett of Newsday (on her way out), NPR, multiple Journalistic award winner (Pulitzer, Polk, and Peabody), and member (till March 8th) of the Council on Foreign Relations; refused to return to Newsday and left a blistering memo on Poynter Online attacking MSM

    "Ever since the Chandler Family plucked Mark Willes from General Foods, placing him at the helm of Times Mirror with a mandate to destroy the institutions in ways that would boost dividends, journalism has suffered at Newsday (...) The pain of the last year actually began a decade ago: the sad arc of greed has finally hit bottom. The leaders of Times Mirror and Tribune have proven to be mirrors of a general trend in the media world: They serve their stockholders first, Wall St. second and somewhere far down the list comes service to newspaper readerships."

    It gets better...

    "When I started out in journalism the newsrooms were still full of old guys with blue collar backgrounds who got genuinely indignant when the Governor lied or somebody turned off the heat on a poor person's apartment in mid-January. They cussed and yelled their ways through the day, took an occasional sly snort from a bottle in the bottom drawer of their desk and bit into news stories like packs of wild dogs, never letting go until they'd found and told the truth. If they hadn't been reporters most of those guys would have been cops or firefighters. It was just that way.

    ahh, the good old days...

    "Honesty and tenacity (and for that matter, the working class) seem to have taken backseats to the sort of 'snappy news', sensationalism, scandal-for-the-sake of scandal crap that sells. This is not a uniquely Tribune or even newspaper industry problem: this is true from the Atlanta mixing rooms of CNN to Sulzberger's offices in Times Square. Profits: that's what it's all about now. But you just can't realize annual profit returns of more than 30 percent by methodically laying out the truth in a dignified, accessible manner. And it's damned tough to find that truth every day with a mere skeleton crew of reporters and editors.

    A good diary for another day:  How much does the MSM spend to get news and how that number has plummeted in recent years.

    This is terrible for democracy. I have been in 47 states of the USA since 9/11, and I can attest to the horrible impact the deterioration of journalism has had on the national psyche. I have found America a place of great and confused fearfulness."


    "Judy Miller's bogus weapons of mass destruction coverage, the media's inaccurate and inappropriate convictions of Wen Ho Lee, Richard Jewell and Steven Hatfill, CBS' failure to smell a con job regarding Bush's Texas Air Guard career and, sadly, so on." (...)  "It would be easy to descend into despair, not only about the state of journalism, but the future of American democracy. But giving up is not an option. There is too much at stake."

    What do we do? How can We help?

    "It would be easy to descend into despair, not only about the state of journalism, but the future of American democracy. But giving up is not an option. There is too much at stake. (...) "Make me regret leaving, guys: Turn Newsday into a kick ass paper that I will be begging to return to."


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