Foreign Policy

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  Bush Team Hiding True Iraq ViolenceSeptember 29, 2006 11:10 The Bush administration was concealing the level of violence against US troops in Iraq and the situation there was growing worse despite White House and Pentagon claims of progress, journalist Bob Woodward has said in advance of his new book.
Insurgent attacks against US-led forces in Iraq occurred, on average, every 15 minutes, Woodward said, in an interview to be broadcast in the US tomorrow.

"It's getting to the point now where there are eight, 900 attacks a week. That's more than 100 a day. That is four an hour attacking our forces," Woodward said, in excerpts of the interview released yesterday before the release of his book on the administration, State of Denial.

"The assessment by intelligence experts is that next year, 2007, is going to get worse and, in public, you have the President and you have the Pentagon (saying), 'oh, no, things are going to get better'."
  Democratic Senators Criticise Terror BillSeptember 29, 2006 11:08 Democratic Senators in the US have accused the Bush administration of tearing up '200 years of legal standards' after a bill was passed endorsing proposals to interrogate and prosecute foreign terror suspects.

A majority in the Senate voted in support of the proposals, which were controversially outlined by President George W Bush.

The new bill could be signed into law within a few days.
  Bush Defends Approach To War On TerrorSeptember 29, 2006 11:07 President Bush, delivering the latest in a series of speeches on the war on terrorism, admitted to setbacks in Afghanistan on Friday, particularly in the training of police. But he predicted ultimate victory over resurgent Taliban forces there and against terrorists everywhere.

He lashed out anew at critics "who make a case that, by fighting the terrorists, we're making our people less secure here at home. This argument buys into the enemy's propaganda that the terrorists attack us because we're provoking them," he said.

Bush's speech to the Reserve Officers Association was the latest in a series defending his Iraq policy and the broader war on terrorism.

Bush expressed some disappointment with progress in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has regrouped, especially in the south, and where violence is rising.

"The training of the Afghan police has not gone as smoothly as the army," Bush said, citing "corruption and substandard leadership."
  Retired Officers Blast RumsfeldSeptember 26, 2006 11:38 Three recently retired military officers who served in Iraq blamed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Monday for the morass there. They said he should resign, and urged senators to subpoena active generals to testify about their concerns.

"I believe that Secretary Rumsfeld and others in the administration did not tell the American people the truth for fear of losing support for the war in Iraq," retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste said at a forum held by Senate Democrats.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton assessed Rumsfeld as "incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically."

"Mr. Rumsfeld and his immediate team must be replaced or we will see two more years of extraordinarily bad decision making," Eaton said.

  U.S. Military Deaths In Iraq Hit 2,690September 21, 2006 10:17 As of Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2006, at least 2,690 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. The figure includes seven military civilians. At least 2,140 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers.
  U.S. Government Called On To Clear Tortured Suspect's NameSeptember 21, 2006 09:59 The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), which in May selected Maher Arar and his lawyers at the Center for Constitutional Rights to receive a prestigious human rights award, has welcomed Canadian findings regarding his ordeal. IPS called on the U.S. government Wednesday to clear his name and that of his family, all falsely identified as having terrorist links.

"U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' response to the Canadian report is outrageous," said IPS Director John Cavanagh. "The U.S. rendition of Arar to Syria destroyed an innocent man's life, and such renditions go against every principle of human rights which the United States should embrace."

IPS plans to screen Arar's videotaped acceptance speech on Oct. 18, the night of the awards ceremony, because he is still barred from entry into the United States.

  Bush Says He'd Send Troops Into PakistanSeptember 21, 2006 09:58 President Bush said Wednesday he would order military action inside Pakistan if intelligence indicated that Osama bin Laden or other top terror leaders were hiding there. "Absolutely," Bush said in an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

With bin Laden still at large five years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and believed to be hiding somewhere along the mountainous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Bush disputed any suggestion that Pakistan has not done enough to hunt down terrorist leaders.

  Chavez Savages Bush In SpeechSeptember 21, 2006 09:48 Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's combative president, blasted President Bush on Wednesday in a U.N. speech as a racist, imperialist devil who has devoted six years in office to military aggression and the oppression of the world's poorest people.

Speaking from the podium where President Bush spoke a day earlier, Chavez said he could still smell the sulfur -- a reference to the scent of Satan. Even by U.N. standards, where the United States is frequently criticized as the world's superpower, Chavez's anti-American remarks were exceptionally inflammatory. They were also received with a warm round of applause.

Chavez's address followed of series of strident speeches by U.S. adversaries, including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad and Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir. Together, they represented an emboldened alliance of oil-rich states who defied U.S. demands to change their policies on a range of issues, including the development of nuclear technology and the role of U.N. peacekeepers in Darfur.

"Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world," Chavez told the chamber of international diplomats. "I think we could call a psychiatrist to analyze yesterday's statement made by the president of the United States. As the spokesman of imperialism, he came to share his nostrums, to try to preserve the current pattern of domination, exploitation and pillage of the peoples of the world."

  Ted Turner: Iraq War Among History's 'Dumbest'September 20, 2006 11:28 The U.S. invasion of Iraq was among the "dumbest moves of all time" that ranks with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor and the German invasion of Russia, billionaire philanthropist Ted Turner said Tuesday.

The founder of CNN and unabashed internationalist also defended the right of Iran to have nuclear weapons and the effectiveness of the United Nations and, in a jocular mood, advocated banning men from elective office worldwide in a Reuters Newsmaker appearance.

Alternately combative and humorous, Turner spoke nine years after his pledge to donate $1 billion to the United Nations over 10 years and on the same day President Bush addressed the U.N. General Assembly a mile away.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq has caused "incalculable damage" that will take 20 years to overcome "if we just act reasonably intelligently."

"It will go down in history, it is already being seen in history, as one of the dumbest moves that was ever made by anybody. A couple of others that come to mind were the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor and the German invasion of Russia," Turner told the forum.

  Chavez's Oil Gift, Part IiSeptember 20, 2006 09:06 Hugo Chavez, the fiery president of oil-rich Venezuela, is pumping up the volume - of cheap fuel oil for low-income New Yorkers.

And he's named a Kennedy as head salesman.

Individual homeowners and cooperatives in four of the city's five boroughs will be able to buy cheap fuel this winter from an oil-for-the-poor program, sources have told the Daily News.

CITGO Petroleum, the U.S. subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company, has earmarked 25 million gallons of fuel for low-income New York residents this year at 40% off the wholesale market price.

That's enough fuel to heat 70,000 apartments, covering 200,000 New Yorkers, for the entire winter.

Chavez launched the program last December in the South Bronx and other parts of the Northeast. CITGO delivered 1million gallons of discounted oil to three nonprofit South Bronx housing groups in a pilot project.

This winter's expanded program will be administered by Citizens Energy Corp., the Massachusetts nonprofit company founded by former Rep. Joseph Kennedy. The company ran similar pilot efforts last year in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
  U.S. May Boost Forces In IraqSeptember 20, 2006 08:40 The U.S. military is likely to maintain and may even increase its force of more than 140,000 troops in Iraq through next spring, the top American commander in the region said Tuesday in one of the gloomiest assessments yet of when troops may come home.

Gen. John Abizaid, commander of the U.S. Central Command, said military leaders would consider adding troops or extending the Iraq deployments of other units if needed. Until sectarian violence spiked early this year, Bush administration officials had voiced hopes that this election year would see significant U.S. troop reductions in what has become a widely unpopular war.
  Conservatives Criticize Mccain For Interrogation StanceSeptember 19, 2006 10:26 It's hard to believe that the conservative lobby, often claiming to be among the staunchest supporters of the Constitution, actually things it's right that we should NOT apply US Constitutional laws to people held in US custody. When did the US military become an extra-Constitutional entity?

Conservative activists are heaping criticism on Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for fighting President Bush over proposed rules for the interrogation of terrorism suspects, a spat that has reopened long-standing divisions between the maverick lawmaker and his party's establishment.

The attack from the right, which escalated over the weekend, could undercut McCain's concerted effort, in anticipation of a 2008 presidential bid, to woo Bush backers and other party regulars who have been skeptical of his conservative credentials.

"This very definitely is going to put a chilling effect on the tremendous strides he has made in the conservative evangelical community," said the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, one of several conservative activists who have stepped out in support of Bush's position in the debate on interrogation techniques. advertisement

The administration took a possible step toward breaking the deadlock Monday, when it sent a new proposal to Capitol Hill. Details were not immediately available, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a military judge who is a key McCain ally in the fight, was noncommittal in responding to it.
  US Criticizes China's Religious FreedomsSeptember 18, 2006 10:39 China on Monday denounced the U.S. accusation on China's religion policy and freedom, saying the "groundless" criticism, in violation of international norms, was "interference in China's internal affairs."

"China is strongly dissatisfied and resolutely opposed to the U.S. accusation on the country in its religious freedom report," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement.

Qin's comments came in the wake of the U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report 2006, which was released last Friday.

The annual report was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that "the Chinese government's respect for freedom of religion and freedom of conscience remained poor."

"That's a groundless criticism on China's religion policy and situation of religious freedom," Qin said.

  14,000 U.S. Detainees Sit In "War On Terror" Legal LimboSeptember 18, 2006 10:27 The scope of this is shocking...

In the few short years since the first shackled Afghan shuffled off to Guantánamo, the U.S. military has created a global network of overseas prisons, its islands of high security keeping 14,000 detainees beyond the reach of established law.

Disclosures of torture and long-term arbitrary detentions have won rebuke from leading voices, including the U.N. secretary-general and the U.S. Supreme Court. But the bitterest words come from inside the system, which is the size of several major U.S. penitentiaries.

"It was hard to believe I'd get out," Baghdad shopkeeper Amjad Qassim al-Aliyawi said after his release — without charge — last month. "I lived with the Americans for one year and eight months as if I was living in hell."

Captured on battlefields, pulled from beds at midnight, grabbed off streets as suspected insurgents, tens of thousands now have passed through U.S. detention, the vast majority in Iraq. Many say they were often interrogated around the clock, then released months or years later without apology, compensation or any word on why they were taken.

Defenders of the system say it's an unfortunate necessity in the battles to pacify Iraq and Afghanistan, and to keep suspected terrorists out of action.
  The U.S. Won'T Win Its War Of TerrorSeptember 18, 2006 10:24 The Bush Administration's shameless appropriation of the September 11 tragedy continued pathetically into its fifth straight year. The disaster first used to whip the nation into a frothy, pro-war lather was exploited again last week by President George W. Bush's State of the Union Address, in an effort to shore up his increasingly unpopular presidency amid rising anti-war sentiment. 58 percent of Americans now say that the Iraq War has not been worth the loss of life.

The U.S. war on terror is a sham of murderous proportions that was founded on lies and is fueled by the racist dehumanization of Arabs and Muslims. Hundreds of thousands have been killed and hundreds of billions of dollars have been wasted on a project that has made the world more volatile and dangerous. The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have created little more than economic devastation, political instability and a dedicated, anti-American resistance.

If you don't believe me, you can ask the guys in charge. Two weeks ago the Republican-led Congress issued a report exposing Bush's lies about prewar Iraq intelligence. Meanwhile, a senior Marine Corps official declared the US "defeated politically" in Iraq.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, on Sept. 8, reconfirmed that there was no relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, nor was there one between him and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, as Bush claimed approximately one million times to justify the war on Iraq. (Other war-promoting tall-tales referenced imaginary weapons of mass destruction and Nigerian nuke deals). In this light, it is clear that Washington's "war on terror" was not crafted to stop terrorism. Bush used 9-11 as an excuse to invade, occupy, and install puppet governments in influential territories with proven oil reserves.
  U.S. Military In Paraguay Prepares To “Spread Democracy”September 16, 2006 08:45 Controversy is raging in Paraguay, where the U.S. military is conducting secretive operations. 500 U.S. troops arrived in the country on July 1st with planes, weapons and ammunition. Eyewitness reports prove that an airbase exists in Mariscal Estigarribia, Paraguay, which is 200 kilometers from the border with Bolivia and may be utilized by the U.S. military. Officials in Paraguay claim the military operations are routine humanitarian efforts and deny that any plans are underway for a U.S. base. Yet human rights groups in the area are deeply worried.

White House officials are using rhetoric about terrorist threats in the tri-border region (where Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina meet) in order to build their case for military operations, in many ways reminiscent to the build up to the invasion of Iraq.

The tri-border area is home to the Guarani Aquifer, one of the world’s largest reserves of water. Near the Estigarribia airbase are Bolivia’s natural gas reserves, the second largest in Latin America. Political analysts believe U.S. operations in Paraguay are part of a preventative war to control these natural resources and suppress social uprisings in Bolivia.
  Bush On Defensive Over Anti-Terrorism MeasuresSeptember 16, 2006 08:33 We applaud the Republican senators who are patriotic enough to resist the president's attempts to devalue the fundamental fabric of our Nation's moral code.

In the wake of Republican rebellion over his proposals to approve interrogation techniques for terrorists and military tribunals, President George W. Bush on Friday used a Rose Garden press conference to defend his legislation and warned Congress: “Time is running out . . . Congress must act wisely and promptly.”

Mr Bush, at times testy and defensive, explained his effort to clarify the terms of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, and denied it would put at risk US soldiers who might be captured in countries such as Iran or North Korea. “I don’t think Americans want international courts determining how we protect ourselves,” he said.

The battle over the legislation has pitted the authority of the White House and House Republicans against the moral authority claimed by a group led by Senators John McCain, John Warner and Lindsey Graham, who contend that the US could see the basis of its fight against terrorism undercut by efforts to legalise controversial interrogation methods and tribunals.

The European Union on Friday added to the pressure on the White House when it denounced as “illegal” the secret CIA prison whose existence Mr Bush acknowledged last week.
  Islamic "Fascism", The New HysteriaSeptember 13, 2006 09:01 THE CHIEFTAINS of the never-ending "war on terror" are peddling a newly updated enemy: "Islamic fascism."

After British officials claimed in August to have foiled an al-Qaeda plot to blow up transatlantic air flights, George Bush said the arrests were "a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld went a step further, citing Adolph Hitler's rise to power in the 1930s and accusing administration critics of appeasing "a new type of fascism." Likewise, Bush's loyal British ally Tony Blair talked about an "arc of extremism"--in a "specifically Muslim version"--stretching across the Middle East.

Bush and Co. don't bother with any evidence to back up these sound bites--for good reason. The notion of "Islamic fascism" depends on lumping together all Islamist organizations--from Lebanon's Hezbollah, which, like the government of Iran, is based among Shia Muslims, to the ultra-Wahhabist Sunnis of al-Qaeda, which regards Shiites as enemies and infidels to be exterminated.

  Marine Report Sees Grim Outlook In West IraqSeptember 12, 2006 11:29 The political and security situation in western Iraq is grim and will continue to deteriorate unless the region receives a major infusion of aid and a division is sent to reinforce the American troops operating there, according to the senior Marine intelligence officer in Iraq.

The assessment, prepared last month by Col. Peter Devlin at the Marine headquarters in Anbar Province, has been sent to senior military officials in Iraq and at the Pentagon.

While the American military is focused on trying to secure Baghdad and prevent the sectarian strife there from escalating into a civil war, the assessment points to the difficulties in Anbar, a vast Sunni-dominated area of western Iraq where the insurgency is particularly strong. The province includes such restive towns as Ramadi, Haditha and Hit.
  Guantanamo Tarnishes Bush Credibility In 'War On Terror'September 11, 2006 11:06 The US prison facility for detainees in the war against terrorism remains a difficult challenge for the United States five years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

There are about 450 detainees still locked up at the US naval installation on Cuba, leaving US President George W Bush in the difficult position of trying to portray himself as a world leader of human rights while keeping people locked up for years without trial.

Bush has repeatedly said he wants to close Guantanamo but will not free detainees who continue to pose a security threat to the US and its allies, a position that has not satisfied human-rights organizations and foreign leaders who have pressured the White House to shut the facility.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as well as European leaders have urged Bush to close the prison camp.

Guantanamo has become the focus of accusations of human-rights violations since it opened in January 2002 amid images of detainees wearing orange jumpsuits strapped face up on stretchers being wheeled around in primitive Camp X-Ray - a collection of chain-linked open air prison cells at the time.
  Cheney Defends Hardline White House RoleSeptember 11, 2006 09:11 Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday defended his role as a leading advocate for invading Iraq, for a warrantless surveillance program and for harsh treatment of suspected terrorists.

"Part of my job is to think about the unthinkable, to focus what in fact the terrorists may have in store for us," Cheney told NBC's "Meet the Press" when asked about his "dark side."

Cheney said he now recognizes that the insurgency in Iraq was not "in its last throes," as he said in May 2005. "I think there is no question but that we did not anticipate an insurgency that would last this long," the vice president said.

"It's still difficult. Obviously, major, major work to do is ahead of us. But the fact is, the world is better off today with Saddam Hussein out of power. Think where we'd be if he was still there," Cheney said.

  Trials to Resume At Guantanamo in 2007?September 07, 2006 11:22 The U.S. military expects military tribunals could resume at Guantanamo base as soon as early 2007 once the U.S. Congress approves new legislation for trying terror suspects.

Morris Davis, the military's chief prosecutor for detainees at Guantanamo was quoted by U.S. media as saying Wednesday that the resuming time will be "around the first of 2007".

Davis said the military plans to try some 75 Guantanamo detainees, including the 14 key terror suspects recently transferred to Guantanamo from secret CIA custody.

He said the military would seek the death penalty in some cases, but the exact number has not yet been determined.

The expectation came as U.S. President George W. Bush was pressing a hard line with Congress Wednesday on a new legislation to regulate trials of Guantanamo detainees.

Bush was pushing hard for his version of the new legislation, urging lawmakers to allow evidence to be withheld from a defendant, if necessary, to protect classified information.
  French PM Rejects 'War On Terror'September 07, 2006 11:16 France issued an implicit criticism of U.S. foreign policy on Thursday, rejecting talk of a "war on terror."

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, speaking in parliament, expressed these views on global terrorism, while President Jacques Chirac backed France's claims to the international front rank with a fresh defense of his country's nuclear arsenal.

De Villepin noted Chirac's strong opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and said the Arab state had now sunk into violence and was feeding new regional crises.

"Let us not forget that these crises play into the hands of all extremists," the prime minister said in a debate on the Middle East. "We can see this with terrorism, whether it tries to strike inside or outside our frontiers," he added.

"Against terrorism, what's needed is not a war. It is, as France has done for many years, a determined fight based on vigilance at all times and effective cooperation with our partners.

"But we will only end this curse if we also fight against injustice, violence and these crises," he said.

  Pentagon Issues New Guidelines On Detainees, InterrogationsSeptember 06, 2006 13:19 A new Army manual bans some prisoner interrogation techniques made infamous during the five-year-old war on terror, officials said Wednesday.

Delayed more than a year amid criticism of the Defense Department's treatment of prisoners, the new Army Field Manual was set to be released later Wednesday.

It spells out appropriate conduct and procedures on a wide range of military issues and applies to all the armed services, not just the Army. It doesn't cover the CIA, which also has come under investigation for mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan and for allegedly keeping suspects in secret prisons elsewhere around the world since the September 11, 2001, attacks.

There has been an outcry about prisoner rights since shortly after those attacks.
  Bush Says Cia Detainees Will Get Prisoner-Of-War StatusSeptember 06, 2006 12:54 President Bush says 14 high value detainees kept in secret CIA prisons have been transferred to the custody of the U.S. Defense Department and will be granted prisoner-of-war status.

This is the first time the administration has confirmed the existence of prisons run by the Central Intelligence Agency. In a speech broadcast from the White House, the president said the prisons existed to detain and question a small number of the most dangerous terrorists.

The prisoners are said to include high-profile al Qaida members Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh, who have both been linked to the September 11th, 2001 attacks on the United States. Their change of status means they will be given protection under the international Geneva conventions, which outline humane treatment for prisoners of war.
  Deadly Days in the "War on Terror"September 04, 2006 21:44 Yesterday was another black day in the "war on terror". Across the Middle East, wave upon wave of violence engulfed the region and paid testament to the new, bloody reality five years on from 11 September.

The focus of some of the violence yesterday, the victims of attacks in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in Jordan, were Britons. Be they military or civilian, British citizens are increasingly at risk everywhere in the area because Britain is seen as the closest political and military ally of the US.

A group of tourists were looking at the remains of a Roman amphitheatre in the heart of Amman, the capital of Jordan, yesterday morning when a lone gunman approached them, shouting "Allahu Akbar" - " God is Great" - and opening fire. One Briton was killed and six other people, including two UK nationals, were wounded. A Jordanian man was arrested for the shooting. Hundreds of miles away across the great stony desert dividing Jordan from Iraq, a British military unit came under attack at Ad Diyar, north of Basra. A roadside bomb tore apart their vehicle, killing two British soldiers and severely wounding a third. The deaths bring the total number of British dead in Iraq to 117. Still further east in Kabul, Afghanistan, a suicide bomber in a car blew himself up beside a British convoy, killing one British soldier and wounding three others, one of them seriously. Four Afghans were also killed.

  Pentagon Fears Iraqi Civil WarSeptember 01, 2006 15:50 The core conflict in Iraq has changed from a battle against insurgents to an increasingly bloody fight between Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims, creating conditions that could lead to civil war, the Pentagon said in a report today.

The congressionally mandated report provided a sober assessment of Iraq over the past three months, saying overall attacks rose 24 percent to 792 per week and Iraqi casualties soared by 51 percent to nearly 120 per day.

Fighting between minority Sunnis, who controlled Iraq under former President Saddam Hussein, and the majority Shi'ites, who are asserting themselves after decades of oppression, now defines the conflict, it stated.

The release of this fifth in a series of quarterly Pentagon assessments comes as President Bush strives to bolster sagging U.S. public support ahead of mid-term elections while Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney assail war critics as defeatists.