Saturday, June 16, 2007

Impeach The Maniac, Now!

US administration debates new Iran strategy: report
Published: Friday June 15, 2007

An internal debate is underway in the administration of US President George W. Bush on whether the current diplomatic approach toward Iran has any hope of halting the country's nuclear program, The New York Times reported on its website Friday.
Citing unnamed senior administration officials, the newspaper said the debate has pitted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her deputies against the few remaining hawks inside the administration, especially those in the office of Vice President Richard Cheney.

Cheney's aides are pressing for greater consideration of military strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities, the report said.

One year ago, Rice spokes in favor of the United States joining forces with Europe, Russia and China to press Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment activities.

But since then, Iran has installed more than a thousand centrifuges to enrich uranium, and the International Atomic Energy Agency predicted that 8,000 or so could be spinning by the end of the year.

Those numbers are at the core of the debate over whether Bush should warn Iran’s leaders that he will not allow them to get beyond some yet-undefined milestones, leaving the implication that a military strike on the country’s facilities is still an option, the paper said.

Friends and associates of Rice say she has increasingly moved toward the European position that the diplomatic path she has laid out is the only real option for Bush, The Times said.

But conservatives inside the administration have continued in private to press for a tougher line, making arguments that their allies outside government are voicing publicly, the report said.

Only a few weeks ago, one of Cheney’s top aides, David Wurmser, told conservative research groups and consulting firms in Washington that Cheney believed that Rice’s diplomatic strategy was failing, and that by next spring Bush might have to decide whether to take military action, according to The Times.

The issue was raised at a closed-door White House meeting recently when the departing deputy national security adviser, J. D. Crouch, told senior officials that Bush needed an assessment of how the stalemate over Iran’s nuclear program was likely to play out over the next 18 months, The Times reported.

In response, Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns told the group that negotiations with Tehran could still be going on when Bush leaves office in January 2009, the paper said.

The hawks in the room were deeply unhappy but not surprised by Burns’s assessment, which they interpreted as a tacit acknowledgment that the administration had no "red line" beyond which Iran would not be permitted to step, according to the report.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free

MoDo: Outing The Out-of-touch

Outing the Out of Touch
By Maureen Dowd
The New York Times
Sunday 10 June 2007

Be honest. Who would you rather share a foxhole with: a gay soldier or Mitt Romney?

A gay soldier, of course. In a dicey situation like that, you need someone steadfast who knows who he is and what he believes, even if he's not allowed to say it out loud.

Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue, as the gloriously gay Oscar Wilde said. And gays are the sacrifice that hypocritical Republican candidates offer to placate "values" voters - even though some candidates are not so finicky about morals regarding their own affairs and divorces.

They may coo over the photo of Dick Cheney, whose re-election campaign demonized gays, proudly smiling with his new grandson, the first baby of his lesbian daughter, Mary.

But they'll hold the line, by jiminy, against gay Americans who are willing to die or be horribly disfigured in the cursed Bush/Cheney war in Iraq.

Peter Pace, whose job as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff became a casualty of Iraq on Friday, asserted in March that homosexual acts "are immoral." Yet in May, he wrote a letter to the judge in the Scooter Libby case, pleading for leniency for the Cheney aide. Scooter always looked for "the right way to proceed - both legally and morally," General Pace wrote of the man who lied to a grand jury about the outing of a spy, after he pumped up the fake case for the war that has claimed the lives of 3,500 young men and women serving under the general.

At the G.O.P. debate in New Hampshire last week, the contenders were more homophobic than the mobsters on "The Sopranos," unanimously supporting the inane "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Even Rudy Giuliani, who loves to cross-dress and who stayed with old friends, a gay couple, to avoid Gracie Mansion when his second marriage was disintegrating, had an antediluvian answer.

Wolf Blitzer asked him about the Arabic linguists trained by the government who have been ousted from the military after being outed.

Mr. Giuliani, who procured three deferments to avoid Vietnam, replied that, with the war in Iraq raging, "This is not the time to deal with disruptive issues like this."

If he's so concerned with disruptive issues, maybe he should start worrying about this one: Two straight guys who slithered out of going to Vietnam are devising a losing strategy in Iraq year after year. W. and Dick Cheney have fouled things up so badly that Robert Gates and Tony Snow are now pointing to South Korea - where American troops have stayed for over half a century - as a model.

Mitt Romney agreed with Rudy on the issue. Instead of going to Vietnam, Mr. Romney spent two and a half years doing Mormon missionary work in France. Isn't that like doing Peace Corps work in Monte Carlo?

At the memorial for Mark Bingham, the gay 6-foot-5 rugby player who was on Flight 93 on 9/11, John McCain said he might owe his life to the young man who helped fight the hijackers, bringing down the plane aiming to crash into the Capitol.

But Senator McCain wants gay troops to stay closeted. The policy, he said, is "working." But it's not. The Army in Iraq is like that exhausted nag Scarlett O'Hara whipped on to Tara. Yet Republicans surge on, even as they expel gays.

In a Times Op-Ed piece Friday, Stephen Benjamin, a gay Arabic translator eager to go to Iraq, told how he was dismissed when the Navy learned his status. "Consider," he wrote. "More than 58 Arabic linguists have been kicked out since 'don't ask, don't tell' was instituted. How much valuable intelligence could those men and women be providing today to troops in harm's way?"

He noted that 11,000 other service members have been shoved out since 1993 and speculated that if the Army had not been so short of Arabic translators, the cables that went untranslated on Sept. 10, 2001, might have been translated, preventing 9/11.

In 2000, the British military began letting anyone who served say if they were "a poof," as one squadron leader put it. Sarah Lyall wrote in The Times that the military reports that none of its fears "about harassment, discord, blackmail, bullying or an erosion of unit cohesion or military effectiveness have come to pass."

America has been Will-and-Graced since Bill Clinton had his kerfuffle on the issue in 1993. Tolerance has blossomed, especially among younger Americans. According to a Pew poll, 4-in-10 Americans say they have close friends or relatives who are gay.

The Republican field seems stale and out of sync. They should have listened to the inimitable Barry Goldwater, who told it true: You don't have to be straight to shoot straight.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free

Edwards' Health-care Plan

Edwards Lays Out Health Care Plan
The Associated Press
Thursday 14 June 2007

Detroit - Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on Thursday proposed cutting health care costs by overhauling the patent process for breakthrough drugs and requiring health insurance companies to spend at least 85 percent of their premiums on patient care.

The former North Carolina senator offered details of a universal health care proposal he released in February during an appearance at the East Riverside Health Center, a federally funded community clinic.

Edwards' plan would offer cash payments in place of long-term patents for companies that develop certain breakthrough drugs and then reap large profits because of the monopolies those patents provide.

He said offering cash incentives instead would allow multiple companies to produce generic and other versions of those drugs to drive down prices. Campaign officials said the payments could be voluntary for drug companies and would be aimed at spurring the development of drugs that cure diseases.

"Dealing with the health care crisis is about more than just about coverage," Edwards said. "Our health care system is entirely too expensive. We put more money into health care than any country in the industrialized world and we get one of the worst products out in the other end."

He also said his plan would require health insurance companies to spend at least 85 percent of the premiums they collect on patient care, adding that 30 percent of insurance premiums currently go toward administrative expenses and profit. He said New York, Minnesota, New Jersey, Florida already impose similar requirements.

His plan also would require that all Americans sign up for health insurance and would enact various reforms aimed at lowering administrative costs for providers and improving chronic and preventive care for patients. About 47 million people currently lack health insurance in the United States.

Edwards has faced criticism for his universal health care plan, in part because it would raise taxes and could cost $90 billion to $120 billion.

Edwards said his health care proposal would save families up to $2,500 annually.

Edwards said Detroit, where General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group spend $16 billion annually on health care costs and are expected to pay $114 billion in future retiree benefits, is indicative of health care ailments felt nationwide.

"These companies and their unions made a promise to workers," he said. "And that promise was that they'd have health care coverage. And now it's time for the government to meet its share of the responsibility of ensuring that those promises are met."

Edwards previously has proposed that employers be required to provide health coverage to workers or pay into a government fund to support insurance and allow workers to choose among plans.

A rival Democratic presidential candidate, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, has proposed to provide health care to millions of Americans and more affordable medical insurance, financed by tax increases on the wealthy.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free

FBI Must Disclose Illegal Spying Documents

This could get interesting.

Wonder how we might find out if we are victims of the FBI's over-zealousness, to put it mildly.

Judge orders domestic surveillance docs public.

“Just one day after a news that an internal audit found that FBI agents abused a Patriot Act power more than 1000 times, a federal judge ordered the agency Friday to begin turning over thousands of pages of documents related to the agency’s use of a powerful, but extremely secretive investigative tool that can pry into telephone and internet records.”

The April request from the Electronic Frontier Foundation asked the FBI to turn over documents related to its misuse of National Security Letters, self-issued subpoenas that don’t need a judge’s approval and which can get financial, phone and internet records. Recipients of the letters are forbidden by law from ever telling anyone other than their lawyer that they received the request. Though initially warned to use this power sparingly, FBI agents issued more than 47,000 in 2005, more than half of which targeted Americans. Information obtained from the requests, which need only be certified by the agency to be “relevant” to an investigation, are dumped into a data-mining warehouse for perpetuity.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free

Rise Of The New Atheist

If there is any one single thing that causes hostility toward religion in America it is the religiously insane, the zealots and the crusading crackpots. If they are heading for a mighty smackdown, they have only themselves to blame

Rise of the New Atheists
By Ronald Aronson,

The Nation
Posted on June 16, 2007, Printed on June 16, 2007

What began with publisher W.W. Norton taking a chance on a gutsy, hyperbolic and idiosyncratic attack on religion by a graduate student in neuroscience has grown into a remarkable intellectual wave.

No fewer than five books by the New Atheists have appeared on bestseller lists in the past two years -- Sam Harris's The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation, Daniel Dennett's Breaking the Spell, Richard Dawkins's The God Delusion and now Christopher Hitchens's God Is Not Great. The scandalized media have both attacked and inflated the phenomenon. After the New York Times Book Review, for example, ran a thoughtful review of Harris and then a negative front-page review of Dawkins, the daily paper published two weak op-ed attacks on the writers and a vapid article on how atheists celebrate Christmas, followed by tongue-in-cheek admiration in the Book Review for Hitchens's ability to promote his career by saying the unexpected.

Despite such dubious blessings, the four have become must-read writers. The most remarkable fact is not their books themselves -- blunt, no-holds-barred attacks on religion in different registers -- but that they have succeeded in reaching mainstream readers and in becoming bestsellers.

Is this because Americans are beginning to get fed up with the religiosity of the past several years? It would be comforting if we could explain this as a cultural signal of the end of the right-wing/evangelical ascendancy. Such speculations are probably wishful thinking -- book buyers are such a small slice of the population that few sociologists would stake their careers on claiming that book buyers' preferences reflect anything like a national mood.

The success of the New Atheists may, however, reflect something significant among their audience. In the past generation in the United States, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists have been a timid minority -- almost voiceless, often on the defensive, routinely derided, both warned against and ignored.

As Susan Jacoby pointed out in her book Freethinkers, it is symptomatic of the situation that the most dramatic presidential address in generations took place in the National Cathedral three days after September 11, 2001, so filled with religious language that it sounded like a sermon. It was delivered by a President flanked by Jewish, Muslim and Christian representatives, a model of religious inclusiveness, without anyone standing alongside them representing the tens of millions of nonreligious Americans. At this most important collective moment in our recent history, it was as if they did not exist. This is what the polls are telling us: Virtually everyone in America believes in God.

We know how zealously the conservative Christian denominations have politicized themselves in the past generation, how the GOP has harnessed this energy by embracing their demands -- opposing stem-cell research, gay marriage and abortion rights, championing government aid to religious schools and faith-based social programs -- and by appointing sympathetic judges. So effectively have they framed the issues that, according to the Pew Research Center's 2006 report on religion and public life, fully 69 percent of Americans believe that liberals have "gone too far in trying to keep religion out of schools and government."

We commonly hear that only a tiny percentage of Americans don't believe in God and that, as a Newsweek poll claimed this spring, 91 percent do. In fact, this is not true. How many unbelievers are there? The question is difficult to assess accurately because of the challenges of constructing survey questions that do not tap into the prevailing biases about religion. According to the American Religious Identification Survey, which interviewed more than 50,000 people, more than 29 million adults -- one in seven Americans -- declare themselves to be without religion. The more recent Baylor Religion Survey ("American Piety in the 21st Century") of more than 1,700 people, which bills itself as "the most extensive and sensitive study of religion ever conducted," calls for adjusting this number downward to exclude those who believe in a God but do not belong to a religion. Fair enough. But Baylor's own Gallup survey is a bit shaky for at least two reasons.

It counts anyone who believes in a "higher power" but not God as believing in God -- casting a vast net over adherents of everything from spirit to history to love. Yet the study allows unbelievers only one option: to not believe in "anything beyond the physical world," leaving no space for those who regard themselves as agnostics or skeptics, secularists or humanists.

Contrast this with a more recent and more nuanced Financial Times/Harris poll of Europeans and Americans that allowed respondents to declare agnosticism as well as atheism: 18 percent of the more than 2,000 American respondents chose one or the other, while 73 percent affirmed belief in God or a supreme being.

A more general issue affects American surveys on religious beliefs, namely, the "social desirability effect," in which respondents are reluctant to give an unpopular answer in a society in which being religious is the norm. What happens when questions are framed to overcome this distortion? The FT/H poll tried to counteract it by allowing space not only for the customary "Not sure" but also for "Would prefer not to say" -- and 6 percent of Americans chose this as their answer to the question of whether they believed in God or a supreme being. Add to this those who declared themselves as atheists or agnostics and, lo and behold, the possible sum of unbelievers is nearly one in four Americans.

All this helps explain the popularity of the New Atheists -- Americans as a whole may not be getting too much religion, but a significant constituency must be getting fed up with being routinely marginalized, ignored and insulted. After all, unbelievers are concentrated at the higher end of the educational scale -- a recent Harris American poll shows that 31 percent of those with postgraduate education do not avow belief in God (compared with only 14 percent of those with a high school education or less). The percentage rises among professors and then again among professors at research universities, reaching 93 percent among members of the National Academy of Sciences. Unbelievers are to be found concentrated among those whose professional lives emphasize science or rationality and who also have developed a relatively high level of confidence in their own intellectual faculties. And they are frequently teachers or opinion-makers.

But over the past generation they have come to feel beleaguered and, except for rare individuals like comedian and talk-show host Bill Maher, voiceless in the public arena. The great success of the New Atheists is to have reached them, both speaking to and for them. These writers are devoted, with sledgehammer force and angry urgency, to "breaking the spell" cast by the religious ascendancy, to overcoming a situation in which every other area of life can be critically analyzed while admittedly irrational religious faith is made central to American life but exempted from serious discussion.

This does not make for restraint. Harris displays brash self-confidence, Hitchens and Dawkins angry intellectual bite and Dennett an inexhaustible theoretical energy and range of inquiry. Harris excoriates religious moderates, accusing them of providing cover for fundamentalists at home and abroad by refusing to contest the extremists' premises -- because they share them. More upbeat, Dennett is devoted to creating the intellectual conditions for future discussions, in which religion will be treated as just another "natural" phenomenon and accordingly subjected to critical scrutiny. Dawkins bulldozes his way through every major argument for religious belief, and a great many minor ones. And Hitchens endlessly catalogues religion's crimes and absurdities. Each man is at war, writing as if no others had preceded him, and with a passion that can only be described as political.

Above all, each sees himself as breaking a taboo. This explains not only the vigor and urgency of these books, their mainstream character and their publishing success but also the common refrain in reviews that they have "gone too far." Of course they have, because their many faults are often inseparable from their strengths. Self-indulgence is their common flaw: Dennett and Dawkins might have considered their readers more and disciplined their own need to follow out every line of thought, while Harris is so full of his point of view that he, like Hitchens, is unable to consider faith as anything but stupid. They show little understanding of religion or interest in it [see Daniel Lazare, "Among the Disbelievers," May 28]. Still, I am surprised by the hostility and bemusement expressed toward them by their fellow travelers in The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker and The London Review of Books. In attacking religion the four have been breaking the taboo against talking about it seriously, and they may be forgiven for not being calmer, more expert or more measured. Doing battle with what they see as the most pervasive and bothersome phenomenon in American life during the past generation, Harris, Dennett, Dawkins and Hitchens deserve praise for their courage and tenacity in shattering its spell.

Where does the work of the New Atheists leave us? I hope they have roused a significant portion of America from its timidity. But to what end? Living without God means turning toward something. To flourish we need coherent secular popular philosophies that effectively answer life's vital questions. Enlightenment optimism once supplied unbelievers with hope for a better world, whether this was based on Marxism, science, education or democracy. After Progress, after Marxism, is it any wonder atheism fell on hard times? Restoring secular confidence will take much positive work as well as the fierce attacks on religion by our atheist champions. On a societal level, as Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris point out in Sacred and Secular, living without God requires creating conditions in which people are free from the kinds of existential vulnerability that have marked all human societies until the advent of Europe's postindustrial welfare states. Markedly more religious than any of them, the United States provides a life that is far more unequal and far more insecure.

The surprising response to the New Atheist offensive should thus inspire us to think politically as well as philosophically. As a first step this demands creating a coalition between unbelievers and their natural allies, secular-minded believers. I am speaking first about many millions of Americans who nominally belong to a religion but effectively live without any active relationship either to it or to God, or belong to a church and attend services but are "tacit atheists," living day in and day out with only token reference to God. And I also include the many believers who accept the principle of America as a secular society. These include members of the liberal Jewish and Christian denominations, who have long practice in accommodating themselves to science and the modern world and who, as the National Council of Churches website tells us, may remain inspired by Genesis while not needing to take it in "literal, factual terms." Many of these turned up in the most significant finding of the Baylor survey, namely that more than one in four American "believers" does not mean by this a personal God at all but a distant God who has little or nothing to do with the world or themselves. This sounds very much like the deist God of "unbelievers" Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine.

These believers, along with those who think of themselves as "spiritual," as well as professed unbelievers, help to explain why according to the Pew study so many Americans -- 32 percent -- want less religious influence on government. Twenty-four percent say that President Bush talks too much about his religious faith and prayer, and 28 percent deny that the United States is a Christian nation. Most dramatically, a whopping 49 percent believe that Christian conservatives have gone too far "in trying to impose their religious values on the country." This, then, is an unreported secret of American life: Considerable numbers of Americans, religious and secular, are becoming fed up with the in-your-face religion that has come to mark our society.

Until now the most vocal left-of-center response to the Christian right, for example by Sojourners, has been to call for more religion in politics, not less. In early June the group organized a nationally televised forum at which John Edwards, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton testified to their faith, talking about the "hand of God" (Edwards), forgiveness (Obama) and prayer (Clinton). Few loud-and-clear voices have been agitating in the mainstream on behalf of the separation of church and state, for secular and public education, or demanding less rather than more political discussion of religion. Yet tens of millions of Americans worry about such things.

Whether most of them continue to believe in God matters much less than that they are comfortable with secular knowledge and America's secular Constitution. Barry Lynn, for example, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, is a Protestant minister. Although Harris and Dawkins castigate all believers for sharing the premises of conservative Christians, the fact is that many believers could easily be working with out-and-out atheists and agnostics on key issues.

Such a coalition should take the offensive on behalf of American constitutional promises of a secular society, increasingly under threat from Bush's Supreme Court appointments. It will gain support in unexpected places: Judge John Jones III, a Bush appointee, delivered a devastating blow to the forces behind "intelligent design" in his December 2005 decision in the Dover School Board case. The first half of his impressive decision contains a crystal-clear reflection on what science is and why intelligent design, a refurbished form of creationism, is religion, not science.

The second half reads like a whodunit, revealing how a minority on the school board conspired to impose intelligent design on the district. It should be a rallying point for the nearly half of all Americans who are disturbed by right-wing religious attempts to impose their faith on the rest of us. An immediate goal should be a call for the publication and widest possible distribution of the Dover decision. It could become another bestseller -- by a conservative judge no less! -- and a text for civics, current events, history, law and basic science classes.

A second goal of such a coalition might be a campaign to reorient American thinking about atheists and atheism. In recent polls, far more respondents have declared themselves willing to vote for a woman or African-American for President than for an atheist -- atheists are more unpopular than gays. Television news viewers are encouraged to nod in agreement with such ageless gibes as "There are no atheists in foxholes" without seeing just how nasty they are. This obnoxious remark, by Katie Couric on NBC's Today show, drew a few complaints and letters, but no wider protests or apology. A coalition determined to widen the range of socially acceptable belief could make a significant difference on such issues.

A broad secular coalition could also demand more nuanced discussion of the range of belief and unbelief in America today. Rather than consciously or unconsciously promoting religious belief, public opinion research should try to register a full range of beliefs, including the interesting and perplexing ways in which people live secular as well as religious lives and their sometimes contradictory combinations. These are rejected by Harris, Dawkins, Dennett and Hitchens, and ignored by the media and mainstream politicians.

Finally, such an alliance could become one place where Dennett's goal of discussing religion openly and critically -- as well as atheism and agnosticism -- could begin to be realized. A number of questions might be explored: What, for example, is the common ground and what are the differences between believers and unbelievers? And -- I save for last the touchiest question of all -- shouldn't all Americans be instructed in the great religious and secular traditions, as well as their greatest books? After all, achieving literacy in both religion and secularism might allow us to discuss them more intelligently.

Ronald Aronson is the author of The Dialectics of Disaster, After Marxism and Camus and Sartre: The Story of a Friendship and the Quarrel That Ended It. His latest book is Living Without God, to be published next year by Counterpoint. He teaches at Wayne State University.

© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free

America is being run by sadistic, cowardly bastards

US defense chiefs denied knowledge of Abu Ghraib abuse
2 hours, 36 minutes ago

A general who investigated US troops sexually humiliating Iraqis at Abu Ghraib prison said in a report out Saturday that top Pentagon officials denied knowledge of lurid photographs of the acts.

Army Major General Antonio Taguba said he met with then secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld and other top officials and described to them some of the contents of a report he had prepared on the notorious prison.

But Rumsfeld testified before Congress the following day that he had no idea of the extent of the abuse, Taguba told the New Yorker magazine in an interview.

"He's trying to acquit himself and a lot of people who are lying to protect themselves," the magazine quoted him as saying, referring to Rumsfeld's May 7, 2004 testimony.

The photographs taken by US jailers humiliating prisoners who were naked or hooded, on leashes or piled in a pyramid, rocked the world, becoming one of the few things President George W. Bush has said he regretted about the war.

Taguba said that he described to Rumsfeld what he termed the "torture" of "a naked detainee lying on the wet floor, handcuffed, with an interrogator shoving things up his rectum," the magazine reported.

He said that all high-level officials had avoided scrutiny while the jail keepers were tried in courts-martial.

"From what I knew, troops just don't take it upon themselves to initiate what they did without any form of knowledge of the higher-ups," Taguba told the New Yorker, adding that his orders were to investigate the military police only and not their superiors.

"These (military police) troops were not that creative," he said. "Somebody was giving them guidance, but I was legally prevented from further investigation into higher authority," he told the magazine.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free

In Search of Honest Consevatives....

Litmus Test For The Honest Conservative
by tristero

Digby points to Rick Perlstein's mordant post about the "honest conservative" and I thought I'd chime in.

I hesitate to admit this, but I harbor a strong hope that, all the evidence to the contrary, there really is a prehistoric creature lurking in the mysterious deeps of Loch Ness (although I suspect that a diet of deep-fried Mars Bars has seriously affected its health). But to believe in the existence of an honest conservative?

Let's examine paragraph 3 of Mansfield's essay:

In other circumstances I could see myself defending the rule of law. Americans are fortunate to have a Constitution that accommodates different circumstances. Its flexibility keeps it in its original form and spirit a "living constitution," ready for change, and open to new necessities and opportunities. The "living constitution" conceived by the Progressives actually makes it a prisoner of ongoing events and perceived trends.

To explain the constitutional debate between the strong executive and the rule of law I will concentrate on its sources in political philosophy and, for greater clarity, ignore the constitutional law emerging from it.Mansfield is being highly disingenuous and evasive here.

Take sentence 1: "In other circumstances I could see myself defending the rule of law."

Folks, I don't think it's any stretch at all to conclude from the way this is presented that this sentence is nothing more or less than a rightwingers idea of a funny haha joke. You don't have to ask, "Well, exactly what are those circumstances, Harvey?" Anyone with half a brain can infer that Mansfield, with a certainly approaching 1, can only mean, "If Hillary Clinton was president. I could see myself defending the rule of law over a strong executive."...Can a conservative be, in any real sense, "intellectually honest" or a clear thinker?

Let me put this way. If Mansfield is a conservative, if Morecraft is, if Klinghoffer, Robertson, and Cheney are conservatives, then the answer is, "No, never."

Here's a very simple litmus test. If any conservative is prepared not only to acknowledge that Brady Kiesling was right but actually to hire him, I am prepared to call said conservative "honest." Otherwise, they can all just take a jump in the Loch.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free

Iraq War: A Pack of Deadly Lies

What Every American Should Know About Iraq

by David Michael Green
Jun 15 2007 - 9:06am
read more David Michael Green

Some people think that anyone who disagrees with the American invasion and occupation of Iraq is either a bleeding-heart liberal appeaser, a George W. Bush hater, a blame America firster, an underminer of the troops, a traitor, or a geopolitical naif.

To those who see opponents of the war as fitting into one, several, or all of these categories, I say read this page. I will make no arguments herein, nor even commentary. I will twist no data nor spin any tales. I will even include some of the comments and arguments made by the administration and its supporters.

Instead of arguing against the war, I will try to offer a fairly complete account of the relevant facts one might wish to consider when evaluating America's policy in Iraq. Especially for those who continually claim that they, more than others, have the best interests of the troops at heart - but actually for all citizens in a democracy - it is incumbent upon us to educate ourselves about this most important of national policies.

Those troops are being maimed and are dying on our behalf every day. The very least we can do is spend a brief amount of our time learning about this question so that we can decide whether their continued sacrifices are justified.

So, in that spirit - and as the Founders themselves said - "let Facts be submitted to a candid world".

* Mesopotamia has long been a playground for great powers. The British invaded the area in 1917, causing a widespread revolt of the Iraqi people. Britain later ruled under a League of Nations mandate that produced the artificial creation of the country Iraq (and Kuwait), and continued to control oil production in the region. Foreign Minister Arthur Balfour said at the time, "I do not care under what system we keep this oil, but I am quite clear it is all-important for us that this oil should be available".

* Saddam Hussein started his career as a political thug, on the payroll of the CIA during the 1950s and 1960s, torturing and murdering Iraqi leftists whose names were provided by American intelligence, and participating in an armed coup against the Iraqi government.

* In 1972, the United States conspired with Iran and Israel to support a revolt of the Kurdish people within Iraq against their government.

* In 1980, the United States provided encouragement, weapons, intelligence, satellite data and funding for Saddam's Iraq to invade Iran, launching an eight year war - the longest and probably the bloodiest of the post-WWII era.

* During this war, Ronald Reagan dispatched Donald Rumsfeld to Iraq to improve relations with Saddam. The United States then restored full diplomatic relations with Iraq, despite the administration's clear awareness that Saddam was using chemical weapons at the time.

* The Reagan administration also knew that Saddam had used chemical weapons against Iraqi Kurds rising up again against Baghdad (this was the incident George W. Bush would later repeatedly invoke, saying of Saddam, "He gassed his own people"), but nevertheless authorized expanded sales to Iraq of highly sophisticated equipment that could be used to manufacture weapons, only two months after the Halabja incident.

* George H. W. Bush equated Saddam to Hitler. But, in the wake of the 1990-91 Gulf War, after the elder Bush had encouraged Kurds and Shiites to rise up against the regime, he abandoned them, leaving them to be slaughtered by Saddam's military, in many cases right before the eyes of US forces who were ordered not to intervene.

* The senior Bush had a chance after that war to occupy Iraq and topple Saddam. He chose not to because, in his own words and those of his National Security Advisor, Brent Scowcroft, "Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq ... would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. ... We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. ...furthermore, we had been self consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post cold war world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the U.N.'s mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different - and perhaps barren - outcome."

* The younger Bush, George W., never asked his father for advice on Iraq. Instead, he said: "You know he is the wrong father to appeal to in terms of strength. There is a higher father that I appeal to." Bush has also stated, "I'm driven with a mission from God. ...God would tell me, 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq...' And I did."

* George W. Bush gave twenty interviews in 1999 to Mickey Herskowitz, a friend of the Bush family contracted at the time to ghostwrite his autobiography. Bush was thinking about invading Iraq at that time, saying "'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander in chief. My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it. If I have a chance to invade, if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency." Herskowitz said that Bush's beliefs on Iraq were shaped by Dick Cheney's ideas, based on the power and glory Margaret Thatcher earned from her Falklands War: "Start a small war. Pick a country where there is justification you can jump on, go ahead and invade." Herskowitz also reports this interesting note from his interviews with Bush: "He told me that as a leader, you can never admit to a mistake. That was one of the keys to being a leader."

* During the presidential campaign of 2000, candidate Bush said very little about Iraq, and certainly never suggested the need for urgent action. Somehow, though, in just two years time - during which, if anything, Iraq actually got weaker, not stronger - Saddam and his country became a perilous and imminent threat that had to be addressed immediately.

* Former members of his own cabinet have revealed that Bush planned to invade Iraq from the very beginning of his administration, well before 9/11. All discussions were about the how of doing it, never about the why, the justification, the costs or the wisdom.

* Bush claims he is fighting a war on terror in response to 9/11. But in the first eight months of his administration, his own top terrorism advisor, Richard Clarke, could not get a meeting of cabinet-level security officials to discuss terrorism. They finally met, one week before 9/11, and then the meeting was 'hijacked' into discussing Iraq instead. In 2004, Clarke said "Frankly, I find it outrageous that the president is running for re election on the grounds that he's done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it. He ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11." Clarke is a Republican who voted for Bush in 2000, and also served in the administrations of Bush's father, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

* Right after 9/11, according to Clarke, "The president dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door, and said, 'I want you to find whether Iraq did this.' Now he never said, 'Make it up.' But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this. I said, 'Mr. President. We've done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it with an open mind. There's no connection.' He came back at me and said, 'Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there's a connection'. And in a very intimidating way. I mean that we should come back with that answer. We wrote a report. It was a serious look. We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and found FBI and said, 'Will you sign this report?' They all cleared the report. And we sent it up to the president and it got bounced by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and sent back saying, 'Wrong answer. ... Do it again'."

* Iraq was not in league with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, whom the administration blamed for the 9/11 attacks. As Richard Clarke put it, "There's absolutely no evidence that Iraq was supporting al Qaeda, ever". Indeed, the opposite is true. Al Qaeda is a Muslim fundamentalist organization dedicated to the violent overthrow of the secular regimes ruling Islamic countries, precisely what Saddam Hussein's Iraq was. Indeed, even the highly religious Saudi Arabia (from which 15 of the 19 alleged hijackers came, none of them being Iraqis) is under violent pressure from al Qaeda for not being theocratic enough.

* Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Even George Bush has now admitted this. However, over the last six years, and still to this day, Bush constantly conflates the two in almost every speech he gives, to the point where in 2003 sixty-nine percent of Americans came to believe that Saddam had been behind the 9/11 attacks. There can be little doubt that the administration used 9/11 to justify the invasion of Iraq, though they had nothing whatsoever to do with each other.

* According to the internal top secret documents later leaked as the Downing Street Memos, we know that the administration itself realized that "the case was thin" for war against Iraq, because "Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran."

* Nevertheless, the administration made an internal decision that the war would be marketed around the supposed WMD threat, despite knowing it was false. The allusions to mushroom clouds, centrifuge tubes and all the rest were gross exaggerations and outright lies, and were known to be at the time by the people making them. As the Downing Street Memos reveal, a decision for war had already been made, and the public case for it was fabricated afterwards: "The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy".

* The president claimed in a state of the union speech that Saddam had gone to Africa to get uranium, seriously alarming the American public. Before the speech, the CIA had told the White House to remove that comment because it was transparently false, based as it was on a crude forged letter. Ultimately, the 'mistake' of including this lie was blamed on Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, who was later punished for this grave 'error' by being promoted to National Security Advisor. His former boss, Condoleeza Rice, was punished by being promoted to Secretary of State.

* When Joseph Wilson came home from a trip to Niger and told the truth about the forged letter, the administration revealed the identity of his wife, undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame, thus potentially jeopardizing the lives of all her contacts overseas. Eight witnesses recalled nine conversations with Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, in which Libby blew Plame's cover - an act of treason - in order to punish a political 'enemy' for telling the truth. Libby claimed not to remember these nine conversations. Both the jury and the judge in the case thought Libby was unquestionably lying and convicted him of obstructing justice, with jurors commenting that they felt sorry for him because he was obviously taking a fall for Cheney.

* The case regarding Saddam's chemical weapons capability was similarly trumped up. It was based on the rantings of a single source, code-named "Curveball", whose handlers in the German intelligence service had repeatedly warned the administration that he was a drunk and a liar.

* The administration continually relied upon Iraqi exiles, many of whom had not set foot in the country for decades, as sources for information about Iraq and as mouthpieces to justify the invasion. But it is unclear who was using whom. Ahmad Chalabi, the most prominent of these, intended to use the US military as a vehicle to become leader of Iraq. Despite being wanted for massive bank fraud in Jordan, Chalabi convinced neoconservatives that he was the "George Washington of Iraq". His Iraqi National Congress was the primary source for Bush administration claims that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda, neither of which was true. Chalabi gloated about how his influence led the Bush administration to war, and the Pentagon immediately flew him into Iraq following the invasion. The army of followers that he had promised would rally around him never materialized, and his party won zero parliamentary seats in the December 2005 elections. Ultimately, the United States accused him of providing intelligence secrets to the Iranian government and raided his offices.

* Colin Powell's presentation to the UN Security Council sealed the deal for most Americans regarding the case for war. It later became apparent that almost everything Powell said that day was false, and he has described this episode as the low point in his career.

* The Downing Street Memos reveal that the purpose of authorizing UN weapons inspectors to go to Iraq was never actually to assess the threat and destroy any weapons found. Instead, the purpose was to "wrongfoot" Saddam by getting him to reject the inspectors, thus giving the American and British governments a pretext for war. Tony Blair said "It would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. If the political context were right, people would support regime change."

* To this day Bush claims that Saddam kicked out the inspectors. That had been true five years previously, but not before the war. Hans Blix, the head of the 2002-03 weapons inspection team reported that they were getting good cooperation from the Iraqis, despite the fact that - as revealed by one of the former team members - the US had inserted American spies into prior international weapons inspection teams in Iraq.

* At the time of the invasion in 2003, the weapons inspectors were nearly done with their work, and only asked for a month or two more to finish. The Bush administration claimed that the threat of Saddam and his WMD was too grave and too urgent to wait. Bush's claim that Saddam kicked out the inspectors is not only false, but masks the actual truth, which is that the administration told the inspectors to leave because of the looming attack, before they could finish their work and by so doing remove the rationale for that attack.

* As war loomed, Iraq made broad overtures to the United States to prevent an invasion, offering to allow full, on-the-ground, American weapons inspections, anti-terrorism cooperation, oil concessions, and even backing for the US position in an Israeli/Palestinian peace plan. The only thing Saddam balked at was regime change, but even then he offered to hold elections within two years' time. The Americans were also informed by the Iraqis at the time that there were no existing WMD. The Iraqi representatives "could not understand why the Americans were focused on Iraq rather than on countries, like Iran, that have long supported terrorists". The Bush administration rejected their offer, despite that it met every demand that Bush was publicly making.

* Saddam had never attacked the United States, nor even threatened to do so.

* In March of 2003, when the invasion was launched, Iraq was a gravely weakened military and economic power which could not seriously threaten its neighbors, let alone the United States. International sanctions had seriously damaged its economy and killed vast numbers of its citizens, including about 500,000 children. It had no serious weapons capability. It had lost control over two-thirds of its own airspace to American and British flyers.

* In November of 2002, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1441, requiring that Iraq declare its WMD, disarm, and allow inspections to verify that this has occurred. One week later Iraq announced that it would accept the resolution, and the weapons inspectors were simultaneously deployed.

* Iraq submitted a report to the UN, as required, indicating that it possessed no weapons of mass destruction. The Bush administration immediately and definitively asserted that Saddam was lying. In fact, since Iraq had no WMD, and since Bush claimed that Saddam was unquestionably lying in saying so, it was Bush who lied, not Saddam.

* Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said of the supposed Iraqi WMD, "We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat". But the United States government had never informed the UN weapons inspectors - a team that Bush had demanded be sent - of where to find those weapons.

* Two subsequent reports from teams sent to Iraq by the Bush administration itself revealed that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, though some people continue to this day to say there were some found there. Moreover, these teams scientifically confirmed that such weapons are neither missing nor hidden nor deported, but never existed after the mandated weapons destruction which followed the Gulf War.

* At one point Bush claimed that two small trailers found in the desert were mobile "biological laboratories" and thus declared, "We have found the weapons of mass destruction", seemingly vindicating his decision to go to war. But even before he spoke, it was known by the Pentagon that these trailers had nothing to do with WMD production, and that fact was reported to Washington two days before the president's statement. Bush and other administration officials continued to make the claim for nearly a year, despite an unequivocal report filed from the field stating that the trailers were not, and could not be, weapons labs. Scientists and engineers on the investigating team referred to the trailers as ""the biggest sand toilets in the world".

* Added all together, what emerges from the above-listed facts is that all the carnage and destruction that has ensued was based on the case that Iraq was so imminent a threat - despite in fact being a very weak military power - that America could not wait four to six more weeks for the weapons inspectors to finish their work and reveal that it was no threat whatsoever.

* All the world, including the Bush administration, clearly understood that Security Council Resolution 1441 did not authorize an invasion of Iraq. Thus, in March 2003, the US drafted a second resolution which would explicitly do so. It needed nine out of fifteen votes, with no permanent member vetoes, to pass. In a press conference, Bush was asked whether he would call for a vote regardless of anticipated outcome. He responded, "No matter what the whip count is, we're calling for the vote. We want to see people stand up and say what their opinion is about Saddam Hussein and the utility of the United Nations Security Council. And so, you bet. It's time for people to show their cards, to let the world know where they stand when it comes to Saddam." But after extensive American pressure, lobbying and even spying on Security Council members, only four countries were prepared to vote in favor of the resolution, with three of the five permanent members opposing. The president quietly withdrew the resolution he had promised "no matter what".

* To this day Bush says in his speeches that Saddam did not comply with the UN, that Saddam kicked the inspectors out of Iraq, and that Bush had Security Council authorization to invade. None of those statements are true.

* In 2004, after saying that the Iraqi threat of WMD was urgent, Bush was asked by a reporter whether he had concerns about North Korea's nuclear weapons development program, which - unlike Iraq's - was quite real. In response, the president just opened his palms and shrugged. North Korea has since actually tested a nuclear warhead. Yet there is little expressed concern, the president almost never mentions it, there is no invasion being planned and no war drums being beaten.

* For that matter, there never was when the Soviet Union had more than 20,000 nuclear warheads mounted on ballistic missiles targeted on the US and set to a hair trigger. Bush never explained why nuclear deterrence worked against the Soviets with all their weapons for forty years, but couldn't have had the same effect against Iraq today.

* Bush also never explained why Iraq had to be invaded, even though more than thirty countries had greater WMD capability at the time.

* When the WMD and al Qaeda link rationales for the war were exploded, the administration began arguing that its central purpose in invading Iraq was to bring democracy to the country and to the Middle East. At the same time, however, it has done next to nothing about Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been murdered in a clear case of ongoing genocide. Since the first requisite for being able to vote is to be alive, it is unclear how invading Iraq in the name of democracy could be so urgent, yet saving lives in Darfur of little concern and no action.

* The administration was told in advance by American intelligence agencies that there was a very high danger that Iraq could explode into ethnic chaos following an invasion. It chose to attack anyhow.

* According to former US diplomat Peter Galbraith, Bush was startled to learn - in January 2003 - that there was a difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Responding to the three Iraqi exiles whom he had invited as guests to the Super Bowl, Bush looked at them and said, "You mean...they're not, you know, there, there's this difference. What is it about?" As Bush often likes to brag, he governs based on gut feelings, not on intelligence or analysis. Those who know him state that he doesn't read books, and he himself admitted he doesn't read newspapers.

* Before the war, General Eric Shinseki testified to Congress that several hundred thousand troops would be needed to govern this country of 25 million people during a post-war occupation. But since the administration was insisting that the war could be handled with far fewer troops and at far less expense, General Shinseki and at least one other general who made the same argument were publicly humiliated and had their long and prestigious military careers terminated for political reasons. Four years later, Bush is now 'surging' in Iraq by adding troops to the 140,000 or so that were already there, in addition to the 80,000 or so highly expensive mercenaries the taxpayers are funding. With the total now nearing 250,000 soldiers occupying the country, it is still transparently not enough to keep the peace.

* To say that there was never a plan for the post-war occupation of Iraq is technically incorrect. There was an extensive plan which the State Department had put together, working with experts and Iraqi exiles. But Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld didn't want the State Department to have the credit and control for the occupation, so he and Bush threw State's document in the garbage. Then there was no plan.

* Most of the Americans sent to staff the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) had no technical or professional training or experience in the work to which they were assigned. Rather, they were chosen because they were Republican Party loyalists.

* One of the most significant blunders the United States committed during the occupation was to dismiss the entire Iraqi Army, sending them home unemployed and armed, along with anyone associated with the Ba'ath Party, despite the fact that everyone who wanted to work at a professional level anywhere in Iraqi society had been forced under Saddam to join the Party. The first Chief Executive of the CPA, General Jay Garner, refused to purge all Ba'athists from Iraqi governing institutions, and instead sought to maximize Iraqi control of the post-war government as much as possible. He was quickly fired.

* As a result of this war, over 3,500 Americans are dead, and perhaps 20,000 or so are gravely wounded. Americans have not been allowed to see the caskets returning to Dover Air Force Base.

* The best, most scientific, and least politicized estimate of Iraqi dead suggests that probably close to one million have now perished in the country's post-war chaos, out of a population of 25 million.

* Nearly four million Iraqis have been forced to leave their homes as refugees from the violence, flooding Jordan and Syria, especially. The United States allowed all of 202 refugees - many thousands of whom have been targeted for death for having cooperated with the US occupation - to settle in America in 2006. America's major ally in the region, Saudi Arabia, is building a wall to keep them out.

* The United States has spent half a trillion dollars on the war, so far. Estimates suggest that the number could rise to two trillion dollars before the war is over and the continuing costs of medical care and economic displacement are fully accounted for.

* America's army has been described by Colin Powell as "broken". Almost all our land forces are deployed in Iraq - a war of choice - leaving none for use in a real foreign crisis.

* Similarly, our National Guard and Reserve troops have been used in ways that were never intended to fight this war - along with about 80,000 highly expensive mercenaries - so that the president could avoid an unpopular draft. This means that Guard and Reserve troops and their equipment are unavailable for use in national emergencies such as Hurricane Katrina.

* As a result of the war, America is far more hated today throughout much of the world, especially the Mid-East, and is seen as a imperialist power. The Iraq invasion thus played directly into the hands of Islamic radicals like Osama bin Laden.

* America's own intelligence agencies concede that Iraq has become a giant factory for the minting of new terrorists, where almost none existed prior to the invasion.

* Terrorist incidents worldwide have gone up seven-fold since, and largely because of, the invasion of Iraq.

* Iran, a country whose government truly does despise the United States, has been an enormous beneficiary of the war. Prior to 2003, Iran was a natural check on Iraq among Middle East powers, and vice versa. Now Iran is enormously influential in Iraq and throughout the region, its growth in power alarming its neighbors.

* A very real possibility exists that the civil war now raging within Iraq will become a regional war, perhaps drawing in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Jordan, Syria, Israel and others.

* Gas prices have doubled since the war began. The potential also exists for a global depression should further conflict limit the flow of oil to industrialized countries, just as these economies were damaged by OPEC doing the same thing in the 1970s.

* To this day, American troops in Iraq do not have sufficient body or vehicle armor, leading to hundreds of unnecessary deaths. Communities across America have literally held bake sales to raise funds for purchasing armor for their own kids. When confronted by a soldier about this, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld replied, "You go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time".

* Companies like Halliburton, meanwhile, in which the Vice President still maintains financial interests, have received multi-billion dollar contracts for work in Iraq, without having to competitively bid for them, and with the internal influence of Cheney's office in winning the assignments. Numerous scandals have emerged from these contracts, including billing for work never completed. Eight billion dollars in cash, entrusted to the Coalition Provisional Authority, has gone missing in one incident alone.

* Before the war, when they were marketing it to the public and Congress, administration officials hinted that it would be quick, easy and cheap. After the invasion, George Bush declared, under a "Mission accomplished" banner, that fighting had ceased before the war had really even begun. It has now lasted longer than America's involvement in World War Two, and the administration has begun to talk about Iraq using the Korean model of a fifty-year occupation.

* The invasion of Iraq was supposedly part of an American 'war on terrorism'. But, today, the United States is protecting Luis Posada from extradition to Venezuela or Cuba, despite that Posada has bragged about blowing up an airliner and killing seventy-three people on board, as well as a string of other bombings of Cuban hotels and nightclubs. The government claims that Posada cannot be extradited to Venezuela because he might be tortured, even though Venezuela has no such reputation - but after Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and the Attorney General's renouncing of the Geneva Conventions, the United States now does.

* None of the principals who decided to go to war in Iraq had ever seen combat themselves. George W. Bush used his father's influence to avoid service in Vietnam. John Ashcroft got seven draft deferments. Dick Cheney got five deferments, and later said "I had better things to do in the Sixties than fight in Vietnam". Neither Paul Wolfowitz nor Richard Perle nor Condoleeza Rice ever served, and Donald Rumsfeld never fought in a war. The only senior member of the administration who had was Colin Powell. Powell advised Bush to be cautious about invading Iraq, and was thus sidelined from discussions leading up to the war. George Bush's Secretary of State was not informed of the decision to invade Iraq until after Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador, had been told by the president.

While many can imagine political leaders making mistakes, most Americans find it inconceivable that an American president could actually put personal or political interests ahead of the national interest or the welfare of the troops, especially on so grave an issue as war and peace.
But such individuals would do well to remember that there is a long history of this sort of behavior, and that it is an unfortunate part of human nature. The Europeans used to have an expression for this, which was all too well earned from their own experiences. They noted that "War is the sport of kings".

This is precisely why America's Founders so feared the concentration of political power that they created a system devoted to spreading that power out, through checks and balances, through federalism, and through guaranteed civil liberties. Often those institutional obstacles have been successful at preventing presidents from acting like kings, but sometimes not. During the George W. Bush presidency, Congress has been a side-show, and many of America's Bill of Rights-provided civil liberties have been shredded.

Some Americans may believe that, while Europeans have been unfortunate enough to have suffered under warring governments, that could never happen here. The truth, alas, is that it already has, many times. We know today that the stories we were told by our government to justify US involvement in the Mexican war, the Spanish-American War and the Vietnam War, for instance, were complete and knowing fabrications, as the secret internal history of the latter war - the Pentagon Papers - definitively proved in that case.

Today, Americans will have to decide for themselves whether George Bush's invasion of Iraq to protect the United States from the threat of terrorism was legitimate, or yet another example of a president sporting like a king, at the expense of the American people, the troops, the Iraqis, and the world.

Personally, I think the evidence above does exactly what I had intended it would do in assembling it for this article. On the question of the motivation and justification for George Bush's invasion of Iraq, it speaks for itself._______

About author David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles (, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website,

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free

McCain Has been Used and Abused by the Bushites

And he has yet to figure this out for himself. This, alone, disqualifies him for president.

Of course, Romney is even worse!

McCain's run for presidential candidacy in trouble, experts say

Sheldon Alberts,

CanWest News Service
Published: Saturday, June 16, 2007

WASHINGTON - Of all the insults that get hurled at a U.S. presidential candidate during the course of a long campaign season, few sting worse than attacks motivated more by pity than anger.

Just ask John McCain.

When the Republican senator from Arizona this week accused GOP rival Mitt Romney of flip-flopping on the abortion issue, the former Massachusetts governor brushed McCain off like an elephant swatting its tail at a nettlesome mosquito.

"The McCain campaign's motives are obviously born of desperation," Romney's press secretary said in a statement. "Their actions are both sad and unfortunate."

That any leading Republican candidate would blithely dismiss McCain seemed improbable just five months ago. But hardly a soul in the party batted an eye this time because Romney's remarks rang so true.

After waiting eight years for a second chance at the Republican presidential nomination, McCain and his famed Straight Talk Express - the moniker given his campaign bus - have officially hit the ditch.

A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll this week showed McCain, the presumptive Republican front-runner as recently as January, languishing with just 14 per cent support, 15 points behind the front-runner, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. According to the nationwide poll, Romney had pulled even with McCain, despite lacking McCain's name recognition.

Worse yet for the 70-year-old senator, he trails Republican actor and lawyer Fred Thompson, a candidate who has still not formally entered the Republican field.

"McCain is sinking," says Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

The apparent collapse of McCain's campaign has stunned longtime Republican fundraisers and activists, who only last year scrambled to donate money and sign on as political advisers.
How did it go so wrong? The most obvious reasons for McCain's woes, say analysts, are his unswerving support for the war in Iraq and President George W. Bush's recent troop surge. McCain's unpopular stand has driven away independent voters and moderate Republicans who supported his insurgent campaign against Bush in 2000.

Never popular with Republican conservatives, McCain has recently alienated them further with his outspoken defence of controversial legislation that would give 12 million undocumented immigrants a path to American citizenship.

"He is crosswise to conservatives on immigration, and the people who were most excited about him in 2000 - the moderate Republicans - are mad at him on Iraq," observes Cal Jillson, a presidential historian at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "The political base is just not there for him in nearly the same way it was in 2000, and he's eight years older."

But the growing ambivalence toward McCain has developed for reasons that go beyond his unpopular stands on two hot-button issues, experts say.

When he first ran for the presidency in 2000, McCain positioned himself as the antithesis of Bush. He was the political maverick; Bush the establishment candidate. And McCain's status as a war hero who endured five years in a North Vietnamese prison camp contrasted well with Bush's more suspect military service.

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(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free

So, What About Impeachment?

By Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice

Why would we want a President Cheney? Or why would we want a new Republican who could run as an incumbent? Or why would we want a President Pelosi?

We propose impeaching Cheney first or together with Bush. The first Articles of Impeachment to be introduced (H Res 333) are addressed only to Cheney. Impeaching Cheney first ought to put the fear of a President Cheney to rest.

But there remains the possibility of fearing his replacement or even of not wanting Nancy Pelosi to be president or not wanting her to become president in this way. She won't. We will never succeed in removing Bush and Cheney from office simultaneously and by surprise. We will remove them, but they will be replaced by a new President Ford, who will operate within the rule of law and lose the next election.

But this whole discussion misses the point. The question of who holds which office for the next year or six months, as well as the question of who wins the next election, is of very minor importance in comparison with the question of whether future administrations will be compelled to operate within the limitations of the law. If we do not impeach Cheney and Bush, we will establish that it is permitted for future presidents and vice presidents to mislead the Congress and the public into wars, spy in violation of the law, detain without charge, torture, operate in secrecy, and rewrite laws with signing statements. Those powers in the wrong hands could do far more serious damage than Bush and Cheney have done.

So, if we keep this in perspective, the fear of Cheney appears trivial. It appears even more so when we consider that impeachment and removal from office are two separate steps and that we're only working on the first one so far, and when we recognize the extent to which Cheney has been running the country already for years. Were Cheney officially president, most policies would remain unchanged, but the public face of the White House and of the Republican party would be that of a man whose approval rating has been unable to top 20 percent. The Republicans will never allow this, so it would be rather foolish for the Democrats to retreat out of fear of it.

Whoever is president next will have to operate under fear of being impeached next. That is the point of impeachment. In the case of Cheney, he would be operating under the high probability of being impeached. No serious discussion of the evidence can incriminate Bush or Cheney but not the other. And, in any event, we will be impeaching Cheney first.

Why not just wait for the next election?

The authors of our Constitution established the schedule for elections, but devoted a lot more attention to the mechanism of impeachment as a check on elected despotism in between elections. They had recently thrown off a king and had no interest in electing temporary kings every four years. Neither should we.

Bush and Cheney can still do a great deal of damage before the end of their term. People are dying every day as a result of their policies. There is an urgent need to remove them from office in order to end the brutal occupation of Iraq and prevent an attack on Iran.

But we would need to impeach them were this January 2009 or had they already left office. The purpose of impeachment, again, is to set standards for future administrations. We cannot give the powers assumed by this administration (to mislead the Congress and the public into wars, spy in violation of the law, detain without charge, torture, operate in secrecy, and rewrite laws with signing statements) to future presidents and vice presidents without expecting similar or worse abuses.

Won't impeachment take up too much time and distract from other goals?

Nixon's impeachment took three months. Clinton's impeachment and trial combined took four months. The current Congress has wasted more than that amount of time already in avoiding impeachment, and has almost nothing to show for it (a minimal partial and gradual correction to the plummeting minimum wage). Congress has taken no serious steps toward ending the occupation of Iraq, and has in fact provided major new funding for it. During Nixon's impeachment and the lead up to it, in contrast, the threat of impeachment allowed Congress to raise the minimum wage, create the Endangered Species Act, and end a war.

Important as stem cell research and immigration policy may be, when did the Bill of Rights become a distraction? What is more important than restoring the right to not be spied on, to not be picked up without charge and locked away to be tortured with no access to a lawyer, a trial, or your family, not to be sent into an aggressive war for greed and power? Of course, there are many pressing areas in which we need to pass legislation. But the outgoing Republican Congress passed some important bills, including those banning torture and illegal spying. But Bush used signing statements to announce his intention to disobey those laws. Under the new Democratic Congress, Bush has made clear that he will either veto or signing statement any bill he disapproves of.

Isn't it more important to end the war?

Ending the war is a task that could best be accomplished by inaction, by Congress refusing to provide any more funding. Or it could be accomplished by a bill created by one committee. It is not a fulltime task for the entire Congress.

However, this Congress has already demonstrated that it has no intention of ending the war. Pelosi has sworn that cutting off the funding is "off the table."

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DAVID SWANSON is a co-founder of After Downing Street, a writer and activist, and the Washington Director of He is a board member of Progressive Democrats of America, and serves on the Executive Council of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, TNG-CWA. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and as a communications director, with jobs including Press Secretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign, Media Coordinator for the International Labor Communications Association, and three years as Communications Coordinator for ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. Swanson obtained a Master's degree in philosophy from the University of Virginia in 1997.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free

The Private War In Iraq; uncounted casualties and big bucks

Iraq Contractors Face Growing Parallel War

As Security Work Increases, So Do Casualties

By Steve Fainaru
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, June 16, 2007; A01

BAGHDAD -- Private security companies, funded by billions of dollars in U.S. military and State Department contracts, are fighting insurgents on a widening scale in Iraq, enduring daily attacks, returning fire and taking hundreds of casualties that have been underreported and sometimes concealed, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials and company representatives.

While the military has built up troops in an ongoing campaign to secure Baghdad, the security companies, out of public view, have been engaged in a parallel surge, boosting manpower, adding expensive armor and stepping up evasive action as attacks increase, the officials and company representatives said. One in seven supply convoys protected by private forces has come under attack this year, according to previously unreleased statistics; one security company reported nearly 300 "hostile actions" in the first four months.

The majority of the more than 100 security companies operate outside of Iraqi law, in part because of bureaucratic delays and corruption in the Iraqi government licensing process, according to U.S. officials. Blackwater USA, a prominent North Carolina firm that protects U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, and several other companies have not applied, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. Blackwater said that it obtained a one-year license in 2005 but that shifting Iraqi government policy has impeded its attempts to renew.

The security industry's enormous growth has been facilitated by the U.S. military, which uses the 20,000 to 30,000 contractors to offset chronic troop shortages. Armed contractors protect all convoys transporting reconstruction materiel, including vehicles, weapons and ammunition for the Iraqi army and police. They guard key U.S. military installations and provide personal security for at least three commanding generals, including Air Force Maj. Gen. Darryl A. Scott, who oversees U.S. military contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I'm kind of practicing what I preach here," Scott said in an interview on the use of private security forces for such tasks. "I'm a two-star general, but I'm not the most important guy in the multinational force. If it's a lower-priority mission and it's within the capabilities of private security, this is an appropriate risk trade-off."

The military plans to outsource at least $1.5 billion in security operations this year, including the three largest security contracts in Iraq: a "theaterwide" contract to protect U.S. bases that is worth up to $480 million, according to Scott; a contract for up to $475 million to provide intelligence for the Army and personal security for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and a contract for up to $450 million to protect reconstruction convoys. The Army has also tested a plan to use private security on military convoys for the first time, a shift that would significantly increase the presence of armed contractors on Iraq's dangerous roads.

"The whole face of private security changed with Iraq, and it will never go back to how it was," said Leon Sharon, a retired Special Operations officer who commands 500 private Kurdish guards at an immense warehouse transit point for weapons, ammunition and other materiel on the outskirts of Baghdad.

U.S. officials and security company representatives emphasized that contractors are strictly limited to defensive operations. But company representatives in the field said insurgents rarely distinguish between the military and private forces, drawing the contractors into a bloody and escalating campaign.

The U.S. military has never released complete statistics on contractor casualties or the number of attacks on privately guarded convoys. The military deleted casualty figures from reports issued by the Reconstruction Logistics Directorate of the Corps of Engineers, according to Victoria Wayne, who served as deputy director for logistics until 2006 and spent 2 1/2 years in Iraq.

Wayne described security contractors as "the unsung heroes of the war." She said she believed the military wanted to hide information showing that private guards were fighting and dying in large numbers because it would be perceived as bad news.

"It was like there was a major war being fought out there, but we were the only ones who knew about it," Wayne said.

After a year of protests by Wayne and logistics director Jack Holly, a retired Marine colonel, the casualty figures were included. In an operational overview updated last month, the logistics directorate reported that 132 security contractors and truck drivers had been killed and 416 wounded since fall 2004. Four security contractors and a truck driver remained missing, and 208 vehicles were destroyed. Only convoys registered with the logistics directorate are counted in the statistics, and the total number of casualties is believed to be higher.

"When you see the number of my people who have been killed, the American public should recognize that every one of them represents an American soldier or Marine or sailor who didn't have to go in harm's way," Holly said in an interview.

According to the logistics directorate, attacks against registered supply convoys rose from 5.4 percent in 2005, to 9.1 percent in 2006, to 14.7 percent through May 10. The directorate has tracked 12,860 convoys, a fraction of the total number of private supply convoys on Iraqi roads.

"The military are very conscious that we're in their battle space," said Cameron Simpson, country operations manager for ArmorGroup International, a British firm that protects 32 percent of all nonmilitary supply convoys in Iraq. "We would never launch into an offensive operation, but when you're co-located, you're all one team, really."

ArmorGroup, which started in Iraq with 20 employees and a handful of SUVs, has grown to a force of 1,200 -- the equivalent of nearly two battalions -- with 240 armored trucks; nearly half of the publicly traded company's $273.5 million in revenue last year came from Iraq. Globally, ArmorGroup employs 9,000 people in 38 countries.

The company, with headquarters at a complex of sandstone villas near Baghdad's Green Zone, is acquiring a fleet of $200,000 tactical armored vehicles equipped with two gun hatches and able to withstand armor-piercing bullets and some of the largest roadside bombs.

The U.S. Labor Department reported that ArmorGroup has lost 26 employees in Iraq, based on insurance claims. Sources close to the company said the figure is nearly 30. Only three countries in the 25-nation coalition -- the United States, Britain and Italy -- have sustained more combat-related deaths.

A Turning Point

In spring 2004, Holly built the logistics network for Iraq's reconstruction from scratch. The network delivered 31,100 vehicles, 451,000 weapons and 410 million rounds of ammunition to the new Iraqi security forces, and items as varied as computers, baby incubators, school desks and mattresses for every Iraqi government ministry. The network came to rival the military's own logistics operation.

Holly also discovered he was at the center of an undeclared war.

He assembled a small private army to protect materiel as it flowed from border crossings and a southern port at Umm Qasr to the 650,000-square-foot warehouse complex at Abu Ghraib and on to its final destination.

"The only way anything gets to you here is if somebody bets their life on its delivery," said Holly, a burly civilian with a trimmed gray beard who strikes a commanding presence even in khakis, multicolored checked shirts and tennis shoes. "That's the fundamental issue: Nothing moves anywhere in Iraq without betting your life."

The most dangerous link in Holly's supply chain is shipping. It requires the slow-moving convoys to navigate Iraq's dangerous roads. Holly erected a ground-traffic control center in a low-slung trailer near his office in Baghdad's Green Zone. The security companies monitor their convoys in air-conditioned silence, which is shattered by a jarring klaxon each time a contractor pushes a dashboard "panic button," signaling a possible attack.

On May 8, 2005, after dropping off a load that included T-shirts, plastic whistles and 250,000 rounds of ammunition for Iraqi police, one of Holly's convoys was attacked. Of 20 security contractors and truck drivers, 13 were killed or listed as missing; five of the seven survivors were wounded. Insurgents booby-trapped four of the bodies. To eliminate the threat, a military recovery team fired a tank round into a pile of corpses, according to an after-action report.
The convoy had been protected by Hart Security, a British firm that used unarmored vehicles. Within a month, another Hart-led convoy was hit. The team leader informed the ground-control center by cellphone that he was running out of ammunition. He left the cellphone on as his convoy was overrun.

"We listened to the bad guys for almost an hour after they finished everybody off," Holly said.
The attacks represented a turning point in the private war.

Holly vowed he would never again use unarmored vehicles for convoy protection. He went to his primary shipper, Public Warehousing Co. of Kuwait, and ordered a change. PWC hired ArmorGroup, which had armed Ford F-350 pickups with steel-reinforced gun turrets and belt-fed machine guns.

Other companies followed suit, ramping up production of an array of armored and semi-armored trucks of various styles and colors, until Iraq's supply routes resembled the post-apocalyptic world of the "Mad Max" movies.

Bolstered Tactics, Armor

ArmorGroup started in Iraq in 2003 with four security teams and 20 employees. It now has 30 mechanics to support its ground operation. "It's a monster," said Simpson, the country operations manager, strolling past a truck blown apart by a roadside bomb.

ArmorGroup operates 10 convoy security teams in support of Holly's logistics operation. The company runs another 10 to 15 under a half-dozen contracts, as well as for clients who request security on a case-by-case basis, Simpson said.

The company charges $8,000 to $12,000 a day, according to sources familiar with the pricing, although the cost can vary depending on convoy size and the risk. For security reasons, the convoys are limited to 10 tractor-trailers protected by at least four armored trucks filled with 20 guards: four Western vehicle commanders with M-21 assault rifles and 9mm Glock pistols, and 16 Iraqis with AK-47s.

The Western contractors, most with at least 10 years' experience, are paid about $135,000, the same as a U.S. Army two-star general. The Iraqis receive about a tenth of that.

"Every time I think about how it was at the beginning, arriving here with a suitcase and $1,000, and there was no one else around, it's just incredible," Simpson said. "Nobody envisioned that private security companies would be openly targeted by insurgents."

ArmorGroup prides itself on a low-key approach to security. Its well-groomed guards travel in khakis and dark blue shirts. The company's armored trucks are adorned with stickers issued by the Interior Ministry, where the company is fully licensed. Holly's former deputy, Victoria Wayne, said ArmorGroup turned down an opportunity to use more powerful weaponry as the insurgent threat increased.

"As a publicly traded company, they didn't want to be perceived as a mercenary force," she said.
But the company is under constant attack. ArmorGroup ran 1,184 convoys in Iraq in 2006; it reported 450 hostile actions, mostly roadside bombs, small-arms fire and mortar attacks. The company was attacked 293 times in the first four months of 2007, according to ArmorGroup statistics. On the dangerous roads north of Baghdad, "you generally attract at least one incident every mission," Simpson said.

Allan Campion, 36, who joined ArmorGroup after 18 years in the British infantry, said one of his convoys was recently attacked three times on a two-mile stretch outside Baghdad. One bomb exploded near the team leader's vehicle, but the convoy managed to continue, he said. Within minutes, another bomb exploded, followed by small-arms fire.

A firefight ensued as the convoy continued through the "kill zone," Campion said.

"We were still moving, so whether you've hit anybody or not, it's very hard to say," he said.
With the insurgents employing more-lethal roadside bombs, ArmorGroup has responded by changing tactics and spending $6.8 million to bolster its armor. Its new armored "Rock" vehicles are built on Ford F-550 chassis and are favored by ArmorGroup because of a V-shaped hull that provides better protection against roadside bombs.

Chris Berman, a former Navy SEAL who helped design the Rock for North Carolina-based Granite Tactical Vehicles, said its main deterrent is its twin gun hatches. "That gives you twice as much firepower," Berman said. "With two belt-fed machine guns in there, that's enough to chew up most people."

'Caught Up in the Mix'

Built on the site of a former Iraqi tank factory, the Abu Ghraib warehouse complex is known variously as Fort Apache, the Isle of Abu and Rocket City, a reference to when rockets and mortars frequently rained down on the compound.

The bleak, windswept facility consists of 64 buildings spread over a 1 1/2 -mile-long and half-mile-wide area; employees of Public Warehousing (now Agility) -- barricaded inside the fortress -- installed a driving range and a small fishing pond for entertainment. The perimeter is protected by double blast walls, guard towers equipped with belt-fed Dushka machine guns and uniformed Kurdish guards who answer to a military-style rank structure and carry AK-47 assault rifles.

Over the past two years, warehouse personnel "probably average four to six KIA a month and six to eight wounded a month," said Leon Sharon, the Falcon Security representative, dressed in a khaki military uniform with a "Falcon 6" patch identifying him as a field commander for the company.

"It's not a game," Sharon said. "People get killed here trying to go home. People trying to come here get killed because they work here. People on convoy escort get killed because of the materiel that we're shipping out of here. Truck drivers get killed because they get caught up in these ambushes. And you have security personnel who end up caught up in the mix. And the work has to go on as normal."

Attacks on Iraqi employees became so common that a trauma center was set up inside the main warehouse. Dozens of Iraqis, fearful of going home after work, live in barracks-style housing in the compound.

Sharon, 61, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is rail thin with a weathered, intelligent face shaped by chain-smoking and four decades of military work. He works out of a small office that is also his bedroom. A humidor sits on his desk. A U.S. flag covers his window. Cartons of Marlboro Reds are stacked behind him near a leather-bound copy of the Koran.

Sharon called Falcon Security a "private military company."

"When you have this many men, you don't manage it as you do a corporation. You manage it very much in the military style," he said. "My men aren't carrying potatoes; they're carrying AK-47s. It's not pilferage we're worried about. It's people storming the walls."

Falcon performs "a military-like role" in Iraq, he said, "with one key exception: We do not, and have no desire to, conduct offensive operations."

But even behind the blast walls, the private and public wars collide, Sharon said. Last year, insurgents attacked a passing U.S. military convoy on a highway outside the gates. Kurdish guards in one of the towers opened fire, killing two insurgents. "The Americans were thrilled," he said.

"All of the work that's being conducted here in Iraq by private security companies would have to be conducted by somebody, and that somebody is U.S. military personnel," he said. "If you had 500 soldiers here, that's 500 less soldiers that you have on the battlefield. And this isn't the only site. There are hundreds of sites around Iraq where you have private security. Where are you going to get this personnel?"

Sharon turns 62 in October. Asked when he planned to leave Iraq, he smiled.

"Last man here, please put the key under the door," he said.

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Lantern has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Lantern endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

....And The Truth Shall Set Us Free