Thursday, May 19, 2005

What George Galloway REALLY Said

Once in a while something resembling the truth about an event actually makes it out to us worker drones. Usually it is unintended. Here, the Times UK has publish the transcript of George Galloway's speech the the Heart of Darkness that is US politics. It is most likely because it's one of "their own" putting it to GWB and his minioins. Regardless. Publish this far and wide, and let the butterfly wings flap.

Thanks to the Signs of the Times news site for this piece.

Blue Ibis

Galloway vs. The US Senate: Transcript of Statement

Published on Tuesday, May 17, 2005 by the Times Online (UK)

George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, delivered this statement to US Senators today who have accused him of corruption

"Senator, I am not now, nor have I ever been, an oil trader. and neither has anyone on my behalf. I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one - and neither has anyone on my behalf.

"Now I know that standards have slipped in the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice. I am here today but last week you already found me guilty. You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without ever written to me or telephoned me, without any attempt to contact me whatsoever. And you call that justice.

"Now I want to deal with the pages that relate to me in this dossier and I want to point out areas where there are - let's be charitable and say errors. Then I want to put this in the context where I believe it ought to be. On the very first page of your document about me you assert that I have had 'many meetings' with Saddam Hussein. This is false.

"I have had two meetings with Saddam Hussein, once in 1994 and once in August of 2002. By no stretch of the English language can that be described as "many meetings" with Saddam Hussein.

"As a matter of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns. I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war, and on the second of the two occasions, I met him to try and persuade him to let Dr Hans Blix and the United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country - a rather better use of two meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary of State for Defense made of his.

"I was an opponent of Saddam Hussein when British and Americans governments and businessmen were selling him guns and gas. I used to demonstrate outside the Iraqi embassy when British and American officials were going in and doing commerce.

"You will see from the official parliamentary record, Hansard, from the 15th March 1990 onwards, voluminous evidence that I have a rather better record of opposition to Saddam Hussein than you do and than any other member of the British or American governments do.

"Now you say in this document, you quote a source, you have the gall to quote a source, without ever having asked me whether the allegation from the source is true, that I am 'the owner of a company which has made substantial profits from trading in Iraqi oil'.

"Senator, I do not own any companies, beyond a small company whose entire purpose, whose sole purpose, is to receive the income from my journalistic earnings from my employer, Associated Newspapers, in London. I do not own a company that's been trading in Iraqi oil. And you have no business to carry a quotation, utterly unsubstantiated and false, implying otherwise.

"Now you have nothing on me, Senator, except my name on lists of names from Iraq, many of which have been drawn up after the installation of your puppet government in Baghdad. If you had any of the letters against me that you had against Zhirinovsky, and even Pasqua, they would have been up there in your slideshow for the members of your committee today.

"You have my name on lists provided to you by the Duelfer inquiry, provided to him by the convicted bank robber, and fraudster and conman Ahmed Chalabi who many people to their credit in your country now realize played a decisive role in leading your country into the disaster in Iraq.

"There were 270 names on that list originally. That's somehow been filleted down to the names you chose to deal with in this committee. Some of the names on that committee included the former secretary to his Holiness Pope John Paul II, the former head of the African National Congress Presidential office and many others who had one defining characteristic in common: they all stood against the policy of sanctions and war which you vociferously prosecuted and which has led us to this disaster.

"You quote Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Well, you have something on me, I've never met Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Your sub-committee apparently has. But I do know that he's your prisoner, I believe he's in Abu Ghraib prison. I believe he is facing war crimes charges, punishable by death. In these circumstances, knowing what the world knows about how you treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, in Bagram Airbase, in Guantanamo Bay, including I may say, British citizens being held in those places.

"I'm not sure how much credibility anyone would put on anything you manage to get from a prisoner in those circumstances. But you quote 13 words from Dahar Yassein Ramadan whom I have never met. If he said what he said, then he is wrong.

"And if you had any evidence that I had ever engaged in any actual oil transaction, if you had any evidence that anybody ever gave me any money, it would be before the public and before this committee today because I agreed with your Mr Greenblatt [Mark Greenblatt, legal counsel on the committee].

"Your Mr Greenblatt was absolutely correct. What counts is not the names on the paper, what counts is where's the money. Senator? Who paid me hundreds of thousands of dollars of money? The answer to that is nobody. And if you had anybody who ever paid me a penny, you would have produced them today.

"Now you refer at length to a company names in these documents as Aredio Petroleum. I say to you under oath here today: I have never heard of this company, I have never met anyone from this company. This company has never paid a penny to me and I'll tell you something else: I can assure you that Aredio Petroleum has never paid a single penny to the Mariam Appeal Campaign. Not a thin dime. I don't know who Aredio Petroleum are, but I daresay if you were to ask them they would confirm that they have never met me or ever paid me a penny.

"Whilst I'm on that subject, who is this senior former regime official that you spoke to yesterday? Don't you think I have a right to know? Don't you think the Committee and the public have a right to know who this senior former regime official you were quoting against me interviewed yesterday actually is?

"Now, one of the most serious of the mistakes you have made in this set of documents is, to be frank, such a schoolboy howler as to make a fool of the efforts that you have made. You assert on page 19, not once but twice, that the documents that you are referring to cover a different period in time from the documents covered by The Daily Telegraph which were a subject of a libel action won by me in the High Court in England late last year.

"You state that The Daily Telegraph article cited documents from 1992 and 1993 whilst you are dealing with documents dating from 2001. Senator, The Daily Telegraph's documents date identically to the documents that you were dealing with in your report here. None of The Daily Telegraph's documents dealt with a period of 1992, 1993. I had never set foot in Iraq until late in 1993 - never in my life. There could possibly be no documents relating to Oil-for-Food matters in 1992, 1993, for the Oil-for-Food scheme did not exist at that time.

"And yet you've allocated a full section of this document to claiming that your documents are from a different era to the Daily Telegraph documents when the opposite is true. Your documents and the Daily Telegraph documents deal with exactly the same period.

"But perhaps you were confusing the Daily Telegraph action with the Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor did indeed publish on its front pages a set of allegations against me very similar to the ones that your committee have made. They did indeed rely on documents which started in 1992, 1993. These documents were unmasked by the Christian Science Monitor themselves as forgeries.

"Now, the neo-con websites and newspapers in which you're such a hero, senator, were all absolutely cock-a-hoop at the publication of the Christian Science Monitor documents, they were all absolutely convinced of their authenticity. They were all absolutely convinced that these documents showed me receiving $10 million from the Saddam regime. And they were all lies.

"In the same week as the Daily Telegraph published their documents against me, the Christian Science Monitor published theirs which turned out to be forgeries and the British newspaper, Mail on Sunday, purchased a third set of documents which also upon forensic examination turned out to be forgeries. So there's nothing fanciful about this. Nothing at all fanciful about it.

"The existence of forged documents implicating me in commercial activities with the Iraqi regime is a proven fact. It's a proven fact that these forged documents existed and were being circulated amongst right-wing newspapers in Baghdad and around the world in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Iraqi regime.

"Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed one million Iraqis, most of them children, most of them died before they even knew that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis with the misfortune to born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies.

“I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.

If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, whose dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened to President Chirac who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me and the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster that we are in today. Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth.

"Have a look at the real Oil-for-Food scandal. Have a look at the 14 months you were in charge of Baghdad, the first 14 months when $8.8 billion of Iraq's wealth went missing on your watch. Have a look at Halliburton and other American corporations that stole not only Iraq's money, but the money of the American taxpayer.

"Have a look at the oil that you didn't even meter, that you were shipping out of the country and selling, the proceeds of which went who knows where? Have a look at the $800 million you gave to American military commanders to hand out around the country without even counting it or weighing it.

"Have a look at the real scandal breaking in the newspapers today, revealed in the earlier testimony in this committee. That the biggest sanctions busters were not me or Russian politicians or French politicians. The real sanctions busters were your own companies with the connivance of your own Government."

Comment: It has likely been years since true words such as these were spoken in the American Congress. Certainly, as the old saying goes, truer words have never been spoken in those hallowed halls. The phony Republican/Democrat debate and illusion of democracy it so reassuringly gives to the populace has nothing to do with the real government of the people, by the people and for the people so hailed in the US mythology. Our world is the world of the lie, and people who speak the truth are slandered, smeared, and lynched.

Coleman and Levin know that Galloway's testimony isn't going to make a bit of difference to Bush's plans. As we saw, the US mainstream press is ignoring that part of his words that speak directly to US crimes. They ignore his point that the major Oil for Food scandal is the billions of dollars that have gone missing or that have been paid to US corporations. However, in a non-linear universe, the speaking of the truth so eloquently and forcefully in the den of corruption, that cesspool known as Capital Hill, may have effects none of us can imagine. What counts is that someone had the courage to go and confront the hangmen, stare them straight in the eye, and speak his peace.

Can you imagine what would happen to the other George in front of a hostile crowd? The one time it happened, during GW's visit to Ireland last summer when he was asked some pointed questions by an Irish journalist, he was furious. And that wasn't even a crowd!

Galloway has had his fifteen minutes of fame in the US media. The lethargic public may have raised its collective head momentarily when it heard something out of the usual occurred to Norm Coleman, only to fall back into its deep slumber when they realised it was a British politician and not a rock star or movie queen. Today it is back to business as usual. Another scandal or diversion will appear, our attention will be focused elsewhere, and the words of Norm Coleman, the man put into office by the murder of Paul Wellstone, calling Galloway's integrity into question will be repeated until they are believed in the same way that other sound bites hypotised Americans into believing it was a gang of Iraqi "terrorists" who hijacked the planes on 9/11. The smears will continue while Galloway's accusations of American crimes, condoned by his accusers, will be forgotten

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Are YOUR Papers in Order?

Seen on the Signs page today. Where is the outrage?

Real-ID Passes U.S. Senate 100-0


Last-minute attempts by online activists to halt an electronic ID card failed Tuesday when the U.S. Senate unanimously voted to impose a sweeping set of identification requirements on Americans.

The so-called Real ID Act now heads to President Bush, who is expected to sign the bill into law this month. Its backers, including the Bush administration, say it's needed to stop illegal immigrants from obtaining drivers' licenses.

If the act's mandates take effect in May 2008, as expected, Americans will be required to obtain federally approved ID cards with "machine readable technology" that abides by Department of Homeland Security specifications. Anyone without such an ID card will be effectively prohibited from traveling by air or Amtrak, opening a bank account, or entering federal buildings.

After the Real ID Act's sponsors glued it to an Iraq military spending bill, final passage was all but guaranteed. Yet that didn't stop a dedicated cadre of privacy activists from trying to raise the alarm in the last few days. [...]

Comment: Clearly the US government was aware that a national ID would NOT be supported even by a najority of Congress, much less the American people. For this reason it was tacked on as a "provision" to the bill for a further $82 billion to continue the bloody invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan which was unanimously passed.

National ID Cards Won't Stop Terrorism or Illegal Immigration

May 1010, 2005
by Rep. Ron Paul, MD

The US House of Representatives passed a spending bill last week that contains provisions establishing a national ID card, and the Senate is poised to approve the measure in the next few days. This week marks the American public’s last chance to convince their Senators they don’t want to live in a nation that demands papers from its citizens as they go about their lives.

Absent a political miracle in the Senate, within two years every American will need a conforming national ID card to participate in ordinary activities. This REAL ID Act establishes a massive, centrally-coordinated database of highly personal information about American citizens: at a minimum their name, date of birth, place of residence, Social Security number, and physical characteristics. The legislation also grants open-ended authority to the Secretary of Homeland Security to require biometric information on IDs in the future. This means your harmless looking driver’s license could contain a retina scan, fingerprints, DNA information, or radio frequency technology.

Think this sounds farfetched? Read the REAL ID Act, HR 418, for yourself. Its text is available on the Library of Congress website. A careful reading also reveals that states will be required to participate in the “Drivers License Agreement,” which was crafted by DMV lobbyists years ago. This agreement creates a massive database of sensitive information on American citizens that can be shared with Canada and Mexico!

Terrorism is the excuse given for virtually every new power grab by the federal government, and the national ID is no exception. But federal agencies have tried to create a national ID for years, long before the 9-11 attacks. In fact, a 1996 bill sought to do exactly what the REAL ID Act does: transform state drivers’ licenses into de facto national ID cards. At the time, Congress was flooded with calls by angry constituents and the bill ultimately died.

Proponents of the REAL ID Act continue to make the preposterous claim that the bill does not establish a national ID card. This is dangerous and insulting nonsense. Let’s get the facts straight: The REAL ID Act transforms state motor vehicle departments into agents of the federal government. Nationalizing standards for driver's licenses and birth certificates in a federal bill creates a national ID system, pure and simple. Having the name of your particular state on the ID is meaningless window dressing.

Federally imposed standards for drivers' license and birth certificates make a mockery of federalism and the 10th amendment. While states technically are not forced to accept the federal standards, any refusal to comply would mean their residents could not get a job, receive Social Security, or travel by plane. So rather than imposing a direct mandate on the states, the federal government is blackmailing them into complying with federal dictates.

One overriding point has been forgotten: Criminals don’t obey laws! As with gun control, national ID cards will only affect law-abiding citizens. Do we really believe a terrorist bent on murder is going to dutifully obtain a federal ID card? Do we believe that people who openly flout our immigration laws will nonetheless respect our ID requirements? Any ID card can be forged; any federal agency or state DMV is susceptible to corruption. Criminals can and will obtain national ID cards, or operate without them. National ID cards will be used to track the law-abiding masses, not criminals.

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

The US never suffered the devastation of a war fought on their own land in this century. Americans have no sense of the kind of incremental loss of rights that crept up on the German people as they slept, till it was too late for them. It appears more and more, that it is too late for the US.

What will you do, if YOUR papers are not in order??

Blue Ibis

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Margaret Atwood - Canadian Prophet?

April 29, 2005
Chicago, Illinois

Those "fundamentalist extremists" are at it again, trying to force women back to the Dark Ages. Christian fundamentalists, that is.

Intoxicated by their recent success at the voting booth, Christian fundamentalists are no longer satisfied with pressing their claim that fetal rights supercede those of a living, breathing woman. They are now championing the rights of the "unborn" zygote, a fertilized egg, destroyed by oral contraceptives in the moments after conception.

In a battle now raging in at least 23 states, the Christian Right has expanded its crusade against abortion to include these "killer" birth control pills. Pharmacy by pharmacy, members of "Pharmacists for Life" are refusing to fill doctors' prescriptions for emergency "morning after" pills and other oral contraceptives.

In addition, these pharmacists of conscience refuse to refer patients to other pharmacists to perform the deadly deed. Karen Bauer, the group's president, stated plainly, "A pharmacy should be for healing. It should not be for killing."

Meanwhile, back in Washington, Bush is doing his part to further advance anti-abortion mythology, announcing on April 22 his administration's intent to aggressively enforce "The Born-Alive Infant Protection Act of 2002," requiring doctors to keep a fetus alive that survives an abortion.

Bush administration officials admitted they don't know how often a fetus survives an abortion and noted no complaints about a lack of enforcement. This could be because there aren't any. No medical advancement can alter the laws of anatomical development, which preclude fetal survival outside the womb before hearts and lungs develop around the twentieth week of pregnancy.

The overwhelming majority of abortions after this point are performed only to save the health or life of the woman. In fact, only four one-hundredths of 1 percent of legal abortions are performed after the second trimester. And more than 95 percent of all abortions are performed during the first 15 weeks of pregnancy.

With ever more outlandish discourse, the Christian Right has gained the upper hand in the battle over abortion in Bush's second term. But the pro-choice movement has helped pave the way.

Just one year ago, a million pro-choice supporters gathered for the March for Women's Lives in Washington, D.C. Surely, the human material exists to form a "Pharmacists for Choice" group, to picket the local pharmacy that refuses to dispense birth control pills and to assert the rights of the three million women who face unplanned pregnancies in the U.S. each year. Yet the pro-choice movement is ceding ideological ground as fast as the Christian Right demands it.

NARAL Pro-Choice America, the nation's largest pro-choice organization, offered "no comment" in response to Bush's absurd announcement on "born-alive" fetuses. Its silence is deafening.

The pro-choice movement has reached a crisis point, stemming directly from its uncritical support for the Democratic Party. Having featured Hillary Clinton as an "honored guest" at last year's March for Women's Lives, the women's movement is paralyzed now that Clinton is leading the party's full retreat on abortion rights.

In January, Clinton called abortion a "sad, even tragic choice" in an overture to the religious right--while asking "people of good faith to find common ground in this debate."

Feminist Naomi Wolf, a political consultant for both Al Gore and Bill Clinton, has long stumped for the other side on key aspects of the abortion debate. In a 1997 New York Times editorial, Wolf called on pro-choice supporters to join abortion opponents to lower the nation's "shamefully high abortion rate."

"The pro-choice movement should give God a seat at the table," urged Wolf, lambasting the pro-choice movement for framing its defense of abortion rights around "a woman's right to choose," which she claimed is "abstract." Perhaps not surprisingly, Wolf is now proposing a ban on abortion after the first trimester, as Nation columnist Katha Pollitt noted with dismay in the May 2 issue.

Mainstream feminists and their organizations are doing more than shifting gears in the struggle for abortion rights. They are following the Democratic Party in abandoning it, at the very moment when the anti-abortion crusade is moving ahead at full throttle.

Comment: In 1985, Margaret Atwood wrote The Handmaid's Tale, a novel about the religious right coming to power in the United States:

In the Republic of Gilead, formerly the United States, far-right Schlafly/Falwell-type ideals have been carried to extremes in the monotheocratic government. The resulting society is a feminist's nightmare: women are strictly controlled, unable to have jobs or money and assigned to various classes: the chaste, childless Wives; the housekeeping Marthas; and the reproductive Handmaids, who turn their offspring over to the "morally fit" Wives. The tale is told by Offred (read: "of Fred"), a Handmaid who recalls the past and tells how the chilling society came to be. This powerful, memorable novel is highly recommended for most libraries. BOMC featured alternate. [Amazon description]
Twenty years have passed. We are closer than ever.