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[casi] News, 19-26/03/03 (5)

News, 19-26/03/03 (5)


*  Top White House anti-terror boss resigns
*  This war is brought to you by ...
*  Coalitions of the Willing Are Our Best Hope
*  Ideologues reshape world over breakfast
*  Washington The United States has been in direct negotiations with
*  11 US Congress Members Vote No on Resolution of War Support
*  U.S. searches for illegal Iraqis
*  Spending Request Envisions Long War
*  Channels of Influence
*  Perle's Ethics Standards as Adviser on Pentagon Board in Question


*  U.S. Warplanes Hit Southern Iraq Targets


NO URL (sent to list)

by P. Mitchell Prothero
United Press International, 19th March

WASHINGTON: The top National Security Council official in the war on terror
resigned this week for what a NSC spokesman said were personal reasons, but
intelligence sources say the move reflects concern that the looming war with
Iraq is hurting the fight against terrorism.

Rand Beers would not comment for this article, but he and several sources
close to him are emphatic that the resignation was not a protest against an
invasion of Iraq. But the same sources, and other current and former
intelligence officials, described a broad consensus in the anti-terrorism
and intelligence community that an invasion of Iraq would divert critical
resources from the war on terror.

Beers has served as the NSC's senior director for counter-terrorism only
since August. The White House said Wednesday that he officially remains on
the job and has yet to set a departure date.

"Hardly a surprise," said one former intelligence official. "We have
sacrificed a war on terror for a war with Iraq. I don't blame Randy at all.
This just reflects the widespread thought that the war on terror is being
set aside for the war with Iraq at the expense of our military and intel
resources and the relationships with our allies."

A Senate Intelligence Committee staffer familiar with the resignation agreed
that it was not a protest against the war against Iraqi leader Saddam
Hussein but confirmed that frustration is widespread in the anti-terror
establishment and played a part in Beers' decision.

"Randy said that he was 'just tired' and did not have an interest in adding
the stress that would come with a war with Iraq," the source said.

The source said that the concern by the administration about low morale in
the intelligence community led national security adviser Condoleezza Rice to
ask Beers twice during an exit interview whether the resignation was a
protest against the war with Iraq. The source said that although Beers
insisted it was not, the tone of the interview concerned Rice enough that
she felt she had to ask the question twice.

"This is a very intriguing decision (by Beers)," said author and
intelligence expert James Bamford. "There is a predominant belief in the
intelligence community that an invasion of Iraq will cause more terrorism
than it will prevent. There is also a tremendous amount of embarrassment by
intelligence professionals that there have been so many lies out of the
administration -- by the president, (Vice President Dick) Cheney and
(Secretary of State Colin) Powell -- over Iraq."

Bamford cited a recent address by President Bush that cited documents, which
allegedly proved Iraq was continuing to pursue a nuclear program, that were
later shown to be forgeries.

"It is absurd that the president of the United States mentioned in a speech
before the world information from phony documents and no one got fired,"
Bamford said. "That alone has offended intelligence professionals throughout
the services."

But some involved in the fight on terror said that it was dangerous to look
too far into one resignation -- particularly from an official who has not
blamed the war on Iraq.

"I found his resignation shocking," said one official closely involved in
the domestic fight on terror. "And it might reflect a certain frustration
over the allocation of resources. But I'm not positive that there's a
consensus (among intelligence services) that deposing Saddam's regime is a
bad idea for fighting terror. I think that there are serious concerns about
resources and alienating allies, but some of us see an upside."

But others point out that the CIA warned Congress last year that an invasion
might lead to a rise in terrorism. This, they say, is evidence there's more
than just ambivalence about the war among the spy community.

"If it was your job to prevent terror attacks, would you be happy about an
action that many see as unnecessary, that is almost guaranteed to cause more
terror in the short-term?" said one official. "I know I'm not (happy)."

Beers joined the NSC in August after heading the State Department's
International Narcotics and Law Enforcement branch, where he ran the Plan
Colombia program to fight narco traffickers in that country. Beers served
both Bush administrations as well as serving in similar capacities with both
the Clinton and Reagan administrations.

by Pepe Escobar
Asia Times, 20th March


It's no surprise that Bush, on February 26, chose to unveil his vision of a
new Middle Eastern order at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a
right-wing Washington think tank. The PNAC's office is nowhere else than on
the 5th floor of the AEI building on 17th St, in downtown Washington. The
AEI is the key node of a collection of neoconservative foreign policy
experts and scholars, the most influential of whom are members of the PNAC.

The AEI is intimately connected to the Likud Party in Israel - which for all
practical purposes has a deep impact on American foreign policy in the
Middle East, thanks to the AEI's influence. In this mutually-beneficial
environment, AEI stalwarts are known as Likudniks. It's no surprise, then,
how unparalleled is the AEI's intellectual Islamophobia. Loathing and
contempt for Islam as a religion and as a way of life leads to members of
the AEI routinely bashing Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. They also oppose any
negotiations with North Korea - another policy wholly adopted by the Bush
administration. For the AEI, China is the ultimate enemy: not a peer
competitor, but a monster strategic threat. The AEI is viscerally anti-State
Department (read Colin Powell). Recently, it has also displayed its innate
Francophobia. And to try to dispel the idea that it is just another bunch of
grumpy dull men, the AEI has been deploying to the BBC and CNN talk shows
its own female weapon of mass regurgitation, one Danielle Pletka. Lynn
Cheney, vice president Dick's wife, a historian and essayist, is also an AEI
senior fellow.

The AEI's former executive vice president is John Bolton, one of the Bush
administration's key operatives as undersecretary of state for arms control
and international security. Largely thanks to Bolton, the US unilaterally
withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty. Bolton has also
opposed the establishment of the new International Criminal Court (ICC),
recently inaugurated in The Hague. The AEI only treasures raw power as
established under the terms of neoliberal globalization: the International
Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization. Its nemesis
is everything really multilateral: the ABM treaty, the ICC, the Kyoto
protocol, the treaty on anti-personal mines, the protocol on biological
weapons, the treaty on the total ban of nuclear weapons, and most
spectacularly, in these past few days, the UN Security Council.

The AEI's foreign policy agenda is presided over by none other than Richard
Perle. As Perle is a longtime friend and advisor to Rumsfeld, he was
rewarded with the post of chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board:
its 30-odd very influential members include former national security
advisers, secretaries of defense and heads of the Central Intelligence
Agency (CIA). Perle is also a very close friend of Pentagon number two
Wolfowitz, since they were students at the University of Chicago in the late
1960s. Perle now reports to Wolfowitz.


David Wurmser, former head of Middle Eastern projects at the AEI, is now
special assistant to PNAC founder John Bolton, the undersecretary of State
for arms control and a fierce enemy of multilateralism. Wurmser wrote
Tyranny's Ally: America's failure to defeat Saddam Hussein, a book published
by the AEI. The foreword is by none other than Perle. Meyrav Wurmser,
David's wife, is a co-founder of the Middle East Media Research Institute.

In July 1996, Perle, Feith and the Wurmser couple wrote the notorious paper
for an Israeli think tank charting a roadmap for Likud superhawk and
then-incoming Israeli prime minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu. The paper is
called "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm". Perle, Feith
and the Wurmsers tell Bibi that Israel must shelve the Oslo Accords, the
so-called peace process, the concept of "land for peace", go for it and
permanently annex the entire West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The paper also
recommends that Israel must insist on the elimination of Saddam, and the
restoration of the Hashemite monarchy in Baghdad. This would be the first
domino to fall, and then regime change would follow in Syria, Lebanon, Iran
and Saudi Arabia. This 1996 blueprint is nothing else than Ariel Sharon's
current agenda in action. In November last year, Sharon took the liberty to
slightly modify the domino sequence by growling on the record that Iran
should be next after Iraq.


During the Cold War in the 1970s, Wolfowitz learned the ropes laboring on
nuclear treaties, the endless talks with the Soviets on nuclear armament
limitations. At the time he also started a career for one of his better
students, Lewis Libby - who today is Cheney's chief of staff. For three
decades Wolfowitz has been involved in strategic thinking, military
organization and political and diplomatic moves. Even former Jimmy Carter
national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, the author of The Grand
Chessboard - or the roadmap for US domination over Eurasia - allegedly
allows Wolfowitz to figure alongside Henry Kissinger, McGeorge Bundy or Zbig
himself: that select elite of academics who managed to cross over to high
office and radiate intellectual authority and almost unlimited power by
osmosis because of close contact with an American president.

Wolfowitz routinely talks about "freedom and democracy" - with no
contextualization. His renditions always sound like a romantic ideal. But
there's nothing romantic about him. During the First Gulf War, Wolfowitz was
an undersecretary at the Pentagon formulating policy. Cheney was the
Pentagon chief. It was Wolfowitz who prepared Desert Storm - and also got
the money. The bill was roughly $90 billion, 80 percent of it paid by the
allies: a cool deal. It was Wolfowitz who convinced Israel not to enter the
war even after the country was hit by Iraqi Scuds, so the key Arab partners
of the 33-nation coalition would not run away.

But Saddam always remained his nemesis. When Bush senior lost his
re-election, Wolfowitz became dean of the School of Advanced International
Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Later, he was fully
convinced that Iraq was behind the first attack against the World Trade
Center, in 1993.

Wolfowitz and Perle, though close, are not the same thing. Perle is
virtually indistinguishable from the hardcore policies of the Likud in
Israel. Perle thinks that the only possible way out for the US - not the
West, because he despises Europe as a political player - is a multi faceted,
long-term, vicious confrontation against the Arab and Muslim world.
Wolfowitz is more sophisticated: he has already served as American
ambassador to Indonesia. He definitely does not subscribe to the fallacious
Samuel Huntington theory of a clash of civilizations. Wolfowitz even
believes in an independent Palestine - something that for Perle is beyond

Wolfowitz, born in 1943 in New York, is the son of a Polish mathematician
whose whole family died in Nazi concentration camps. It was Allan Bloom, the
brilliant author of The Closing of the American Mind and professor at the
University of Chicago, deceased in 1992, who steered Wolfowitz towards
political science. Wolfowitz had the honor of being cloned by Saul Bellow in
the novel Ravelstein: the Wolfowitz character shows up under a fictional
name in the same role he occupied in 1991 at the Pentagon. Messianic, and a
big fan of Abraham Lincoln, Wolfowitz is a walking contradiction: his fierce
unilateralism is based on his faith in the universality of American values.

Wolfowitz and his proteges's are hardcore "Straussians" - after Leo Strauss,
a Jewish intellectual who managed to escape the Nazis, died in 1999 as a
100-year-old and was totally anti-modern: for him, modernity was responsible
for Nazism and Stalinism. Strauss was a lover of the classics - most of all
Plato and Aristotle. His most notorious disciples were Chicago's Allan Bloom
and also Harvey Mansfield - who translated both Machiavelli and Tocqueville
and was the father of all things politically correct in Harvard.

Strauss believed in natural right and in an immutable measure of what is
just and what is unjust. Thus the Wolfowitz credo that a vague "democracy
and freedom" is a one-size-fits all panacea to be served everywhere, even by
force. Plenty of neo-hawks followed Bloom's courses at the University of
Chicago: Wolfowitz of course, but also Francis Fukuyama of "end of history"
fame, and John Podhoretz, who reigns over the editorial pages of the ultra
reactionary Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid the New York Post. As to Mansfield,
his most notorious student was probably William Kristol, the editor of the
also Rupert Murdoch financed magazine Weekly Standard. In Kristol's own
formulation, all these Straussians are morally conservative, religiously
inclined, anti-Utopian, anti-modern and skeptical towards the left but also
towards the reactionary right.

Ronald Reagan, because of his "moral clarity" and his "virtue", is their
supreme icon - not the devious realpolitik couple of Richard Nixon and
Kissinger. This conceptual choice is absolutely essential to understand
where the neocons are coming from. Take the crucial expression "regime
change": there's nothing casual about it. Strauss used to say that "classic
political philosophy was guided by the question of the best regime". Here
Strauss was talking specifically about Aristotle and his notion of politeia.
The "regime" - or politeia - designates not only government, but also
institutions, education, morals, and "the spirit of law". In the mind of
these Straussians, to topple Saddam is a mere footnote. "Regime change" in
Iraq means to implant a Western Utopia in the heart of the Middle East: a
Western-built politeia. Many would argue this is no more than a replay of
Rudyard Kipling's "white man's burden".


Perle and Wolfowitz may shape policy, but that would not enhance their
mundane status among the political chattering classes if they didn't have a
bulldog to disseminate their clout in the media. That's where William
Kristol, the chairman of the Project for a New American Century and the
director of the magazine Weekly Standard comes in. Kristol's co-chairman at
the PNAC is Robert Kagan, former deputy for policy in the State Department
in the bureau for Inter-American affairs. Kagan is the author of Of Paradise
and Power: America vs Europe in the New World Order - where, according to a
fallacious formula, Europeans living in a kind of peaceful, Utopian paradise
will be forced to stomach unbridled American power. Robert is the son of
Donald Kagan, ultra-conservative Yale professor and eminent historian. Kagan
junior is a major apostle of nation building, as in "the reconstruction of
the Japanese politics and society to America's image". He cheerleads the
fact that 60 years later there are still American troops in Japan. The same,
according to him, should happen in Iraq. Any strategist would remind Kagan
that in Japan in 1945 the emperor himself ordered the population to obey the
Americans and in Germany the war devastation was so complete that the
Germans had no other alternative.

William is the son of Irving Kristol and Gertrud Himmelfarb, classic New
York Jewish intellectuals and ironically former Trotskyite who then made a
sharp turn to the extreme right. Former Trotskyites have a tendency to
believe that history will vindicate them in the end. Irving, at 82 a former
neo-Marxist, neo-Trotskyite, neo-socialist and neo-liberal, today is
officially a neoconservative and one of the AEI's stalwarts.

Kristol junior reportedly likes philosophy, opera, thrillers and is fond of
- who else - Aristotle and Machiavelli, who not by accident were eminences
behind the prince. Instead of rebelling against his parents, he sulked in
his bedroom rebelling against his own generation - the anti-war,
peace-and-love, Bob Dylan-addicted 1960s baby boomers. Although admitting
that Vietnam was a big mistake, William did not volunteer to go to war, a
fact that qualifies him as the archetypal "chicken hawk" - armchair
warmongers who know nothing about the horrors of war. William wants to erect
conservatism to the level of an ideology of government. His great heroes
include Reagan - for, what else, his "candor" and "moral clarity". A naked
imperialist? No, he's not as crass as Rumsfeld: he prefers to be
characterized as a partisan of "liberal imperialism".

As media hawk-in-chief, William is just following up daddy's work: Irving
Kristol was the ultimate portable think tank of Reaganism. Today, Kristol
junior is convinced that the Middle East is an irredeemable source of
anti-Americanism, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and an assorted
basket of evils. Kristol of course is a very good friend of Wolfowitz, Kagan
and former ex-CIA chief James Woolsey, who not by accident heaps lavish
praise on The War over Iraq: Saddam's tyranny and America's mission, a book
by Lawrence Kaplan and ... William Kristol. Woolsey loves how the book goes
against the "narrow realists" around Bush senior and the "wishful liberals"
around Bill Clinton.

Under Bush senior, William Kristol was Dan Quayle's chief of staff. Under
Clinton, he was in the wilderness until he finally managed to launch the
Weekly Standard. Who financed it? None other than Rupert Murdoch, whose
tabloidish Fox News is widely known as Bush TV. The Weekly Standard loses
money in direct proportion to the expansion of its influence. It remains
invaluable as the voice of "Hawk Central".

Hawks, or at least some neoconservatives, seem to understand the importance
of a lighter touch as a key public relations strategy. That's where David
Brooks comes in. Brooks, former University of Chicago, former Wall Street
Journal and now a big fish at the Weekly Standard, was the one who came up
with the concept of "bobos" - bourgeois bohemians, or "caviar left" as they
are known in Latin countries. "Bobos", accuse the neocons, do absolutely
nothing to change a social order that they seem to fight but from which they
profit. Bobo bashing is one of the neocon's ideological strategies to
dismiss their critics out of hand.

In his conference at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in
January, Noam Chomsky demistified the mechanism through which these people,
"most of them recycled from the Reagan administration", are implementing
their agenda: "They are replaying a familiar script: drive the country into
deficit so as to be able to undermine social programs, declare a 'war on
terror' (as they did in 1981) and conjure up one devil after another to
frighten the population into obedience. In the 1980s it was Libyan hit men
prowling the streets of Washington to assassinate our leader, then the
Nicaraguan army only two days march from Texas, a threat to survival so
severe that Reagan had to declare a national emergency. Or an airfield in
Grenada that the Russians were going to use to bomb us (if they could find
it on a map); Arab terrorists seeking to kill Americans everywhere while
Gaddafi plans to 'expel America from the world', so Reagan wailed. Or
Hispanic narco-traffickers seeking to destroy our youth; and on, and on."


by Richard Perle
National Post (Canada), 21st March

Saddam Hussein's reign of terror is about to end. He will go quickly, but
not alone: In a parting irony he will take the United Nations down with him.

Well, not the whole United Nations. The "good works" part will survive, the
low-risk peacekeeping bureaucracies will remain, the looming chatterbox on
the Hudson will continue to bleat. What will die in Iraq is the fantasy of
the United Nations as the foundation of a new world order.

As we sift the debris of the war to liberate Iraq, it will be important to
preserve, the better to understand, the intellectual wreckage of the liberal
conceit of safety through international law administered by international

As free Iraqis document the quarter-century nightmare of Saddam's rule, as
we hear from the survivors able to speak from their own soil for the first
time, let us not forget who was for this war and who was not, who held that
the moral authority of the international community was enshrined in a plea
for more time for inspectors, and who marched against "regime change." In
the spirit of postwar reconciliation that diplomats are always eager to
engender, we must not reconcile the timid, blighted notion that world order
requires us to recoil before rogue states that terrorize their own citizens
and menace ours.

Many have argued against a coalition of the willing using force to liberate
Iraq. Decent, thoughtful and high-minded, they must surely have been moved
into opposition by an argument so convincing that it overpowered the obvious
moral case for removing Saddam's regime.

No, instead the thumb on the scale of judgment about this war is the idea
that only the UN Security Council can legitimize the use of force. It
matters not if troops are used only to enforce the UN's own demands. A
willing coalition of liberal democracies isn't good enough. If any
institution or coalition other than the UN Security Council uses force, even
as a last resort, "anarchy," rather than international law, would prevail,
destroying any hope for world order.

This is a dangerously wrong idea, an idea that leads inexorably to handing
great moral--and even existential politico-military decisions--to the likes
of Syria, Cameroon, Angola, Russia, China and France.

When challenged with the argument that if a policy is right with the
approbation of the Security Council, how can it be wrong just because
communist China or Russia or France or a gaggle of minor dictatorships
withhold their assent, they fall back on the primacy of "order" versus

But is this right? Is the United Nations Security Council the institution
most capable of ensuring order and saving us from anarchy? History would
suggest not. The United Nations arose from the ashes of a war that the
League of Nations was unable to avert. The League was simply not up to
confronting Italy in Abyssinia, much less--had it survived that debacle--to
taking on Nazi Germany.

In the heady aftermath of the Allied victory in the Second World War, the
hope that security could be made collective was reposed in the United
Nations Security Council--with abject results. During the Cold War, the
Security Council was hopelessly paralyzed. The Soviet empire was wrestled to
the ground, and Eastern Europe liberated, not by the United Nations but by
the mother of all coalitions, NATO. Apart from minor skirmishes and sporadic
peacekeeping missions, the only case of the Security Council acting in a
serious matter affecting world order during the Cold War was its use of
force to halt the North's invasion of South Korea--and that was only
possible because the Soviets had boycotted the Security Council and were not
in the chamber to cast their veto. It was a mistake they did not make again.
With war looming, the UN withdrew from the Middle East, leaving Israel to
defend itself in 1967 and again in 1973.

Facing Milosevic's multiple aggressions, the UN could not stop the Balkan
wars or even protect its victims. Remember Sarajevo? Remember Srebrenica? It
took a coalition of the willing to save Bosnia from extinction. And when the
war was over, peace was made in Dayton, Ohio, not in the United Nations. The
rescue of Muslims in Kosovo was not a UN action: Their cause never gained
Security Council approval. The United Kingdom, not the United Nations, saved
the Falklands.

This new century now challenges the hopes for a new world order in new ways.
We will not defeat or even contain fanatical terror unless we can carry the
war to the territories from which it is launched. This will sometimes
require that we use force against states that harbour terrorists, as we did
in destroying the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

The most dangerous of these states are those that also possess weapons of
mass destruction, the chemical, biological and nuclear weapons that can kill
not hundreds or thousands but hundreds of thousands. Iraq is one such state,
but there are others. Whatever hope there is that they can be persuaded to
withdraw support or sanctuary from terrorists rests on the certainty and
effectiveness with which they are confronted. The chronic failure of the
Security Council to enforce its own resolutions--17 of them with respect to
Iraq, the most recent, 1441, a resolution of last resort--is unmistakable:
It is simply not up to the task.

We are left with coalitions of the willing. Far from disparaging them as a
threat to a new world order, we should recognize that they are, by default,
the best hope for that order, and the true alternative to the anarchy of the
abject failure of the United Nations.

by Guy Dinmore in Washington
Financial Times, 22nd March

Billed as a "black coffee briefing on the war on Iraq", yesterday's
breakfast for the influential hawks of the American Enterprise Institute was
more of a victory celebration.

With a few words of caution - that the war to oust Saddam Hussein was not
yet over - the panel of speakers, part of the Bush administration's
ideological vanguard, set out their bold vision of the postwar agenda:
radical reform of the UN, regime change in Iran and Syria, and "containment"
of France and Germany.

The failure of the first Bush administration to finish the job in 1991,
according to William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, the US
magazine, had resulted in "a lack of awe for the US" in the Middle East, an
absence of respect that fostered contempt of the US among Arabs and
encouraged the rise of the al-Qaeda terrorist organisation.

This war would redress those mistakes, Mr Kristol declared, opening up the
prospect for real democratic change in the region.

The war was going well, said Richard Perle, chairman of the Pentagon's
Defence Advisory Board. There were more anti-war demonstrators in San
Francisco than Iraqis willing to defend their leader. The "coalition of the
willing" was growing.

The fall of Mr Hussein would be an "inspiration" for Iranians seeking to be
free of their dictatorial mullahs, Mr Perle said.

While not speaking for the administration, such voices reflect the views of
the hawkish faction in the government - including Dick Cheney,
vice-president, Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary, and Paul Wolfowitz, his
deputy - now in the ascendancy.

Michael Ledeen, a former Reagan administration official and author of The
War Against the Terror Masters, said this conflict was part of a "longer
war" and such terrorist-sponsors as Iran and Syria knew that. France and
Germany insisted on "shoring up tyrannical regimes". Anti-war demonstrators
had reached "new lows of disgustingness".

Mr Kristol said the US should distinguish between France and Germany.
Splitting Germany away would be "intelligent American diplomacy - maybe too
much to hope for from the state department".

"Americans are not vindictive," Mr Perle asserted. Mr Ledeen said, in the
context of France, that he hoped they were.

Mr Kristol said that the UN did not matter much. Mr Perle suggested that as
a security institution "its time has passed" though it might still be of
some use in health matters and peacekeeping.

by Warren P. Strobel
The State, 22nd March

Washington The United States has been in direct negotiations with generals
in Saddam Hussein's elite Republican Guard this week, trying to persuade
them to surrender and allow U.S. troops to enter Baghdad, U.S. officials
disclosed Friday.

The talks came close to producing a deal Thursday, said one official with
direct knowledge of the covert effort to avoid a prolonged U.S. war that
could kill thousands of Iraqis, destroy much of the country and outrage the
Muslim world.

But the negotiations failed to produce any white flags from Baghdad, so
President Bush and his advisers decided to unleash Friday's massive bombing
of Baghdad and other cities on schedule, officials said.

The negotiations with several commanders in the Republican Guard -- a
roughly 60,000 strong force that is Saddam's most formidable fighting force
-- are the latest chapter in a sustained U.S. psychological effort to
persuade Iraqi generals not to fight.

Revelation of the talks came on a day when U.S. officials said they saw
fresh signs of disarray, and perhaps even crumbling authority, at the top of
Saddam's regime.

Iraqi television Friday broadcast a brief videotape of Saddam meeting with
his war Cabinet. Intelligence officials said it was not certain when that
tape was made.

Other officials noted three top Saddam aides were not at his side in the
tape, raising questions about whether they had been killed or severely
wounded or had been deployed:

 Gen. Ali Hassan al Majid, known as "Chemical Ali," the architect of the
1998 nerve gas campaign against Iraq's Kurds

 Izzat Ibrahim al Douri, one of Saddam's most trusted aides

 Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan, Iraq's emissary to the outside world.

Majid, Saddam's cousin, has recently been charged with defending the area of
southern Iraq now under heavy attack.

Given Majid's pioneering use of chemical weapons against the Kurds, some
have concluded his appointment to defend the south signaled Saddam's
intention to launch chemical weapons early in the fight against U.S. forces.

But that overlooked several factors, some experts argue. The Bush
administration could have gained a lot more sympathy, as even the French
have signaled, if chemical and biological weapons were in evidence. And any
weapons of mass destruction might instead be used as a last resort as
invading troops near Baghdad.

Friday, U.S. officials said they are monitoring one Republican Guard unit
outside Baghdad that they believe has been issued artillery shells filled
with chemical agents.

Saddam's son Qusai, who commands the regime's secret police, did appear at
the Friday meeting, contradicting early reports suggesting he was killed or
seriously injured in the bombing.

Some U.S. intelligence officials are becoming increasingly convinced Saddam
himself was injured, perhaps seriously, in a strike on a leadership compound
late Wednesday that was the opening salvo of the war.

U.S. government officials cited information from both spies and intercepted

Among the latter was an urgent summons for medical assistance to the
compound that indicated someone very high in the government was badly hurt,
officials said.

The CIA concluded Thursday that a tape broadcast of Saddam after the attack
on the compound was almost certainly the Iraqi leader and not a double. But
when it was made is unclear.

Electronic intercepts in the hours after the strike "suggested Saddam was
losing control, and that his inner circle was crumbling," one official said.
Another official said U.S. intelligence has intercepted no orders from
Saddam to his military commanders in the field.

At a Pentagon briefing Friday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared
"the regime is starting to lose control of their country."

"The confusion of Iraqi officials is growing," Rumsfeld said. "Their ability
to see what is happening on the battlefield, to communicate with their
forces and to control their country is slipping away. They're beginning to
realize, I suspect, that the regime is history."

The Republican Guard's six divisions are far more capable than Iraq's
regular army. Most of the force has been repositioned around Baghdad to
protect the capital against U.S. ground troops.

The United States has conducted a three-month-long psychological operations
campaign consisting of telephone calls, leaflet drops and even e-mails to
persuade Iraqi generals not to fight for a regime that will soon be out of

In some cases, one official said, U.S. emissaries have called the wives of
Iraqi generals when their husbands weren't home.

U.S. commanders were still trying to persuade several Iraqi Republican Guard
commanders to surrender Friday, both directly and through intermediaries,
including the Russians.

So far, one senior official said Friday afternoon, the effort has borne no
fruit, although there are signs some units might be "wavering."

The offer contains carrots -- and sticks, the senior official said.

The Iraqi commanders are being told that if they give up and their units lay
down their arms, they won't be prosecuted as war criminals and might be
offered roles in the reconstruction of Iraq. If they don't, they'll be
killed and their units will be obliterated.

by Richard Simon
Arab News (Saudi Arabia), 23rd March

WASHINGTON (LA Times): Once the bombing of Iraq started, most members of
Congress  even those who have opposed the march to war  rallied around
President Bush.

The clear exceptions  11 House members. The 11, all Democrats and almost
half from California, broke ranks with their party leaders to oppose a
resolution  approved shortly after 3 a.m. Friday  expressing support for
US troops and the commander in chief.

All the dissenters stressed that they, like their colleagues, support the
troops. But Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., who posted an explanation of his
"no" vote on his congressional website, objected that the resolution
suggested an endorsement of Bush's policies.

"I, for one, will not be forced to praise the president's decisions, when
what I want to do is praise the troops," said McDermott.

A Navy veteran, McDermott drew fire from Republicans when he criticized Bush
during a visit to Iraq in the fall with two House colleagues. Rep. Diane
Watson, D-Calif., one of five California Democrats to oppose the resolution,
accused Republicans of playing politics with war.

"I support the troops," she said. "But I will not be coerced into endorsing
the president's failure to resolve the Iraq dispute peacefully. We are not
at war because it is necessary. We are at war because the president failed
to find a diplomatic solution to this problem."

The resolution received 392 "yea" votes, while 22 members abstaining by
voting "present." Along with backing for the troops, the resolution
expressed "unequivocal support" for Bush as commander in chief. It praised
his "firm leadership and decisive action" in the military action "as part of
the ongoing Global War on Terrorism."

The measure was approved after lengthy negotiations between Democratic and
Republicans leaders over its wording. The Democrats wanted to avoid a
blanket endorsement of Bush's policies.

Stuart Roy, a spokesman for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, said
GOP leaders worked with the Democrats to devise language that would "get
broad bipartisan support, and I think we did that."

But some Democrats said they still objected to some of the resolution's
phrasing, but voted for it because they did not want to be branded
unpatriotic. Don Kettl, a University of Wisconsin political scientist, said
the concern among among many Democrats was that the resolution "is a trap
... of having 'support the troops' bleed into 'support the president while
waging war,' and then having that bleed into 'support the president.'"

Also voting against the resolution were Reps. Maxine Waters, Barbara Lee,
Mike Honda and Pete Stark of California, John Conyers of Michigan, Charles
Rangel of New York, Bobby Scott of Virginia, Edolphus Towns of New York and
Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio.

Meanwhile, anti-war demonstrations swept across the globe yesterday, drawing
hundreds of thousands into the streets in protest against the US-led war on
Iraq. In a third straight day of protest, hundreds of thousands massed in
front of US embassies and in city centers, branding US President George W.
Bush and his allies Australian Prime Minister John Howard and British Prime
Minister Tony Blair "terrorists" and "war criminals" for sending troops to
fight the Baghdad regime.

by Patrick J. McDonnell and Greg Krikorian
Gulf News, from Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service, 24th March

Los Angeles: Federal authorities are seeking to arrest as many as several
hundred illegal immigrants from Iraq whom they view as potential security
threats, law enforcement sources said.

Immigration and FBI agents, who began making the arrests Thursday primarily
on the East Coast, are targeting individuals suspected of violations that
extend beyond immigration infractions, the sources said.

In Los Angeles and San Diego, home to two of the nation's largest Iraqi
populations, several dozen Iraqi nationals may be taken into custody in the
coming days and weeks, according to authorities.

Several dozen immigrants have already been arrested in New York, Detroit,
Boston and Washington by the FBI and the new Bureau of Immigration and
Customs Enforcement, according to a federal law enforcement source.

Officials said that although those targeted by the federal agencies are not
run-of-the-mill visa violators, there is a lack of specific evidence needed
to file criminal charges against them. As a result, officials said, they are
focusing on detaining and deporting the Iraqi nationals because of their
immigration status.

"These are people we had some level of concern about," said one law
enforcement official in Washington. "It's a very targeted group."

The new arrests, the FBI official added, are not part of ongoing terrorism
investigations targeting individuals of various nationalities, including
Iraqis, who are believed to have specifically helped terrorist groups with
funding or logistics.

"With those individuals, to the degree we think they are actively supporting
terrorism, we will use every tool we can to get them off the streets," the
official said.

The new arrests are also unrelated to the FBI interviews that began this
week of about 11,000 Iraqi nationals who may have information on terrorism
or information that could help the United States in its war in Iraq,
authorities said.

"These are people who may have been to Iraq recently," said a Justice
Department source.
"When they lived in Iraq they may have come into contact with certain
information and maybe could help us identify certain terrorist threats in
America. These are mostly people who fled Saddam Hussain's Iraq."

However, the focus on Iraqi population in the United States has caused deep
concern among other Middle Eastern immigrants, many of whom also have been
the subject of heightened law enforcement scrutiny since the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks.

by Dana Milbank
Washington Post, 25th March

The White House last night outlined a war spending plan that envisions a
protracted conflict and military occupation in Iraq, as the American public
showed signs that it, too, was bracing for an extended and bloody fight.

The Bush administration said it plans to ask Congress to spend $74.7 billion
over the next six months on Iraq and related foreign aid and anti-terrorism
matters. The proposal includes $63 billion to prosecute the war -- enough to
keep the full force of U.S. troops in Iraq for nearly five months -- $8
billion for international aid and relief, and $4 billion for homeland
security. A senior administration official, briefing reporters, said the
request is based on a conclusion in recent days that the government of Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein will not fold quickly.


The $74.7 billion request closely tracks details administration officials
began to discuss over the weekend. The $63 billion to prosecute the war
includes $53 billion to deploy and sustain the troops, $5 billion to
replenish weapons, $1.5 billion in payments to Pakistan and others, and
unspecified classified expenses, most likely for the CIA.

The $8 billion for international relief and reconstruction includes $3.5
billion for Iraq ($2.5 billion in a relief fund and much of the rest for oil
field repair) and $5 billion in assistance to nations that have been helpful
in the Iraq war or in fighting terrorism, including Jordan, Israel,
Pakistan, Egypt, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Colombia and some Eastern
European countries.

Turkey will get $1 billion of the funds; the country had been offered a $6
billion aid package if it allowed use of its bases but its parliament
rejected the offer. The plan envisions $500 million for oil field repair.

The $4 billion for homeland security includes $2 billion in grants to states
for state and local anti-terrorism efforts and $2 billion for federal
efforts, particularly the Coast Guard and the Justice Department, which will
get $500 million, mostly for the FBI. Airlines, which had requested a
bailout because of reduced traffic, would not get any funds in the

The senior administration official who briefed reporters last night said it
costs $30 billion to deploy troops to the region and $5 billion per month to
sustain them. Therefore, the $53 billion for the troops would allow a full
force to remain for nearly five months. The official said the administration
pictures "at least the beginnings of withdrawal" within six months.

The administration steadfastly refused to release estimates of the war cost
while Congress was considering a budget plan that included a $726 billion
tax cut Bush proposed. Both houses of Congress passed a 2004 budget outline
last week without the figures, although the Senate took out $100 billion of
the tax cut to pay for the war.

The senior official, who briefed reporters on condition that his name not be
used, said the delay in the war-cost estimate was dictated by military

"We found out finally that Saddam was not going to simply go peacefully and
do what the world community has been asking him to do for 12 years," the
official said. "That would have led to a very different package. Secondly,
we found that there would not be an immediate surrender of the Iraq regime,
that there would be some resistance."

The new proposal, because it deals only with funds in the fiscal year that
ends Sept. 30, is likely not the last funding related to the Iraq conflict
and its aftermath. Most of the $74.7 billion will be added to a deficit for
the current fiscal year that is already forecast at $316 billion.

In a long meeting with congressional leaders last night -- at which the
lawmakers were "unexpectedly inquisitive," according to the official -- Bush
asked for the plan to be passed by April 11 with as few as possible items
added. But Democrats said they would push for additional homeland security
funds, a longstanding subject of friction with Bush.

An aide to Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) said Democrats
"fully support" Bush's proposal to fund military operations in Iraq, but
believe his request for homeland security is "inadequate." Democrats will
attempt to increase the amount when the legislation comes before the Senate,
the aide said.

"Somewhere between $8 [billion] and $10 billion would be more appropriate
for the myriad costs that states and cities across America are facing," the
Daschle aide said. Daschle made a similar promise to increase funds in a
conference call yesterday with mayors.

Rep. David R. Obey (Wis.), the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations
Committee, said the administration is not giving a full accounting of the
war's costs in its emergency request.

"I know people think this will pay for the war," he said. "It most
definitely will not. This is, in my view, the first installment."

Taxpayers for Common Sense, a budget watchdog organization, contended
yesterday that the costs of war with Iraq would exceed $110 billion in 2003,
assuming the war ends before May, and $550 billion over 10 years. The group
calculated that the military has already spent $1 billion on cruise
missiles, $380 million on chemical protective suits and more than $100
million on air combat missions.

The senior administration official said the war would cost less than the
1991 Gulf War, which cost more than $80 billion in today's dollars. However,
all but $9 billion of that came from allies, and it appears so far that the
United States will pay almost all of the cost of the current conflict.

Aides said Bush is returning to a regular schedule of public appearances
after staying largely out of sight in the first days of the war. After his
Pentagon visit today, he will travel to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa to
make remarks to military families and eat lunch with troops. Bush will meet
with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at Camp David on Thursday, an
administration official said.

Staff writers Mike Allen, Helen Dewar, Juliet Eilperin and Christopher Lee
contributed to this report.

by Paul Krugman
New York Times, 25th March

By and large, recent pro-war rallies haven't drawn nearly as many people as
antiwar rallies, but they have certainly been vehement. One of the most
striking took place after Natalie Maines, lead singer for the Dixie Chicks,
criticized President Bush: a crowd gathered in Louisiana to watch a
33,000-pound tractor smash a collection of Dixie Chicks CD's, tapes and
other paraphernalia. To those familiar with 20th-century European history it
seemed eerily reminiscent of. . . . But as Sinclair Lewis said, it can't
happen here.

Who has been organizing those pro-war rallies? The answer, it turns out, is
that they are being promoted by key players in the radio industry  with
close links to the Bush administration.

The CD-smashing rally was organized by KRMD, part of Cumulus Media, a radio
chain that has banned the Dixie Chicks from its playlists. Most of the
pro-war demonstrations around the country have, however, been organized by
stations owned by Clear Channel Communications, a behemoth based in San
Antonio that controls more than 1,200 stations and increasingly dominates
the airwaves.

The company claims that the demonstrations, which go under the name Rally
for America, reflect the initiative of individual stations. But this is
unlikely: according to Eric Boehlert, who has written revelatory articles
about Clear Channel in Salon, the company is notorious  and widely hated 
for its iron-fisted centralized control.

Until now, complaints about Clear Channel have focused on its business
practices. Critics say it uses its power to squeeze recording companies and
artists and contributes to the growing blandness of broadcast music. But now
the company appears to be using its clout to help one side in a political
dispute that deeply divides the nation.

Why would a media company insert itself into politics this way? It could, of
course, simply be a matter of personal conviction on the part of management.
But there are also good reasons for Clear Channel  which became a giant
only in the last few years, after the Telecommunications Act of 1996 removed
many restrictions on media ownership  to curry favor with the ruling party.
On one side, Clear Channel is feeling some heat: it is being sued over
allegations that it threatens to curtail the airplay of artists who don't
tour with its concert division, and there are even some politicians who want
to roll back the deregulation that made the company's growth possible. On
the other side, the Federal Communications Commission is considering further
deregulation that would allow Clear Channel to expand even further,
particularly into television.

Or perhaps the quid pro quo is more narrowly focused. Experienced
Bushologists let out a collective "Aha!" when Clear Channel was revealed to
be behind the pro-war rallies, because the company's top management has a
history with George W. Bush. The vice chairman of Clear Channel is Tom
Hicks, whose name may be familiar to readers of this column. When Mr. Bush
was governor of Texas, Mr. Hicks was chairman of the University of Texas
Investment Management Company, called Utimco, and Clear Channel's chairman,
Lowry Mays, was on its board. Under Mr. Hicks, Utimco placed much of the
university's endowment under the management of companies with strong
Republican Party or Bush family ties. In 1998 Mr. Hicks purchased the Texas
Rangers in a deal that made Mr. Bush a multimillionaire.

There's something happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear, but a good
guess is that we're now seeing the next stage in the evolution of a new
American oligarchy. As Jonathan Chait has written in The New Republic, in
the Bush administration "government and business have melded into one big
`us.' " On almost every aspect of domestic policy, business interests rule:
"Scores of midlevel appointees . . . now oversee industries for which they
once worked." We should have realized that this is a two-way street: if
politicians are busy doing favors for businesses that support them, why
shouldn't we expect businesses to reciprocate by doing favors for those
politicians  by, for example, organizing "grass roots" rallies on their

What makes it all possible, of course, is the absence of effective
watchdogs. In the Clinton years the merest hint of impropriety quickly blew
up into a huge scandal; these days, the scandalmongers are more likely to go
after journalists who raise questions. Anyway, don't you know there's a war

by Maureen Dowd
Salt Lake Tribune, from New York Times, 25th March


Stephen Labaton wrote in The New York Times on Friday that Perle was
advising the Pentagon on war even as he was retained by Global Crossing, the
bankrupt telecommunications company, to help overcome Pentagon resistance to
its proposed sale to a joint venture involving a Hong Kong billionaire.

The confidant of Rummy and Wolfy serves as the chairman of the Defense
Policy Board, an influential Pentagon advisory panel. That's why Global
Crossing agreed to pay Perle a fat fee: $725,000.

The fee structure is especially smelly because $600,000 of the windfall is
contingent on government approval of the sale. (In his original agreement,
Perle also asked the company to shell out for "working meals," which could
add up, given his status as a gourmand from the Potomac to Provence, where
he keeps a vacation home among the feckless French.)

Although his position on the Defense Policy Board is not paid, Perle is
still bound by government ethics rules that forbid officials from reaping
financial benefit from their government positions.

He and his lawyer told Labaton that his work for Global Crossing did not
violate the rules because he did not lobby for the company and was serving
in an advisory capacity to its lawyers.

But that distinction is silly because Global Crossing has so many other big
names on its roster of influence-peddlers that it doesn't need Perle's
Guccis for actual lobbying footwork or advice on the process. His name alone
could be worth the $725,000 if it helps win the Pentagon's seal of approval.

His convictions of right and wrong extend to the right and wrong
investments. On Wednesday he participated in a Goldman Sachs conference call
to advise clients on investment opportunities arising from the war, titled,
"Implications of an Imminent War: Iraq Now. North Korea Next?"

Maybe Perle should remove the laurel wreath from his head and replace it
with a paper bag.


Reuters, 19th March

ABOARD USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Gulf (Reuters) - Warplanes from at least two
U.S. aircraft carriers struck targets in southern Iraq Wednesday, hours
before the expiry of the U.S. deadline for President Saddam Hussein to leave
Iraq or face war, U.S. Navy officials said.

Aircraft from the Abraham Lincoln bombed command and control facilities in
southwest Iraq after coalition aircraft patrolling a no-fly zone were fired
on by Iraqi forces, Rear Admiral John Kelly told reporters on the Lincoln.

"There were yesterday four firings against our aircraft flying in the
southern no-fly zone," he said.

Later in the day, eight F-18 "Hornets" and two F-14 "Tomcat" strike aircraft
from the carrier Kitty Hawk hit targets in southeastern Iraq -- their first
such strikes in support of the no-fly zone since the carrier entered the
region nearly a month ago, said Kitty Hawk spokeswoman Lt. Nicole Kratzer.

The Kitty Hawk-based aircraft used laser-guided and precision strike weapons
against an Iraqi intelligence facility and mobile surface-to-air missile
sites after unspecified Iraqi provocations, she said.

In London, the Ministry of Defense said U.S. and British warplanes attacked
Iraqi artillery positions in the southern no-fly zone late on Wednesday, but
a ministry spokesman denied it was abnormal activity.

"Aircraft that patrol the southern no-fly zone have been in action tonight
with normal no-fly zone activity targeting systems which are a threat to our
forces," the spokesman told Reuters.

"It is not the big push. It is normal southern no-fly zone activity," he
added. "This isn't the start of something big."

In Washington, the U.S. military confirmed the strikes and said warplanes
had also dropped two million leaflets telling Iraqi troops how to surrender
in any U.S.-led war over Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction..

U.S. and British warplanes have been policing no-fly zones over southern and
northern Iraq for more than a decade. The zones were established to protect
ethnic Kurds in the north and Shi'ite Muslims in the south from Saddam's
forces. Iraq does not recognize the no-fly zones.

Kelly said Iraq was moving its surface to air missile systems and other
weapons systems around the country in an apparent effort to avoid being

Kelly said coalition intelligence was reporting increased movement of
troops, aircraft and weapons in Iraq.

"We're seeing some fortifications that were built over the last month or two
months being occupied. Mostly we're seeing high value targets, surface to
air missiles, moving in an effort by them to increase their survivability,"
he said.

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