United States News Digest
U.S. General Admits: Violence Increasing in Northern Iraq
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 11 (EIRNS)While trying to put a positive spin on events, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of U.S. forces in northern Iraq, freely admitted to reporters at the Pentagon today that in some parts of his area of responsibility, particularly Diyala Province, the level of violence has gone up since the beginning of the surge of U.S. troops into Baghdad. He attributed the increased violence to an increase in the operations tempo of U.S. troops in Diyala and the movement of both Sunni and Shi'a insurgents into the province, as well as into Salahuddin province, from Baghdad. He also said that while the number of attacks has not increased in other provinces, there have been more spectacular attacks and a greater number of attacks on civilians. Mixon also said that he doesn't have enough troops to deal with the situation in Diyala, which he had described as "very difficult," but that Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, the overall commander of U.S. troops, has been providing additional troops as they become available. There are about 3,500 U.S. troops in Diyala, along with about 10,000 Iraqi troops.
Mixon described governance in Diyala as "nonfunctional." He said that the provincial government failed to execute its 2006 budget; it is unable to achieve a quorum in the provincial council; and it is unable to provide basic services. He attributed many of the problems with governance and the Iraqi security forces to the government in Baghdad, where everything is centralized in the ministries which move too slowly to provide the support that the provinces need.
Earlier in the week, the Pentagon announced that 35,000 soldiers had received orders to deploy to Iraq beginning this Fall, suggesting to some, despite the denials by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, that the surge will continue well into 2008.
GOP Congressman Tell Bush To Solve Iraq by FallOr Else
May 10 (EIRNS)Eleven Republican Members of Congress met May 8 at the White House with President Bush and top members of the Administration to read Bush the riot act on the Iraq War. Also attending the meeting, which took place just after Vice President Cheney left to stir up trouble in Southwest Asia, were Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, CIA Director Robert Gates, and others at the White House, The Congressmen reportedly told Bush that there will be no Republican Party left if he doesn't get the out of Iraq soon. The delegation, led by Rep. Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Charlie Dent (Pa.), also included Fred Upton (Mich.), Mike Castle (Del.), Tom Davis (Va.), Todd Platts (Pa.), Jim Ramstad (Minn.), Jo Ann Emerson (Mo.), Jim Gerlach (Pa.), Jim Walsh (N.Y.), and Ray LaHood (Ill.).
Tim Russert of NBC reported, on a leak from the Republicans, that the members told the President, "The word about the war and its progress cannot come from the White House or even you, Mr. President. There is no longer any credibility. It has to come from Gen. Petraeus." MSNBC commentators on May 9 compared the meeting (while admitting it did not have the same intense import) to the 1974 meeting of Senators Hugh Scott and Barry Goldwater at the White House with Richard Nixon, to tell him the jig was up on Watergate.
Will Bush Grant Osama Asylum Too?
May 10 (EIRNS)On May 8, a Federal judge in El Paso, Texas dismissed all charges against Bush family terrorist asset Luis Posada Carriles. Posada, who was born in Cuba, and is now a Venezuelan national, was charged with immigration fraud after entering the U.S. illegally. These charges were dropped on the grounds that the government's translator had botched the Spanish-English translation of Posada's naturalization interview in 2005.
Posada, who now resides in the U.S., is accused, along with Orlando Bosch, of having masterminded the blowing up of Cubana Airlines flight 455 in October 1976, in which 73 people were killed. The bombing was part of Operation Condor, and occurred shortly after the assassination of former Chilean Foreign and Defense Minister Orlando Letelier in Washington, when George H.W. Bush was head of the CIA. Both terrorist actions were planned at a June 11, 1976 meeting in Santo Domingo.
Having turned down requests from Venezuela and Cuba that Posada be deported to Venezuela, where he is still wanted on charges of terrorism, the Bush Administration is now expected to grant him asylum. According to Peter Kornbluh, in August 2003, the Miami bureau of the FBI decided to close its terrorism case on Posada. Subsequently, five boxes of evidence were removed from the bureau's evidence room and destroyed.
One can only wonder whether Osama bin Laden, another Bush family asset from the time of the Afghan war against the Soviet Union, will be similarly rewarded for services rendered.
White House Leaves Gonzales Twisting in the Wind
May 10 (EIRNS)In a pathetic appearance before the House Judiciary Committee today, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales seemed to know less about the firing of the U.S. Attorneys than almost anybody in the room. To the exasperation of committee chairman Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Gonzales could not answer the most fundamental question: Who decided that nine U.S. Attorneys should be dismissed?
Conyers pointed out that the Federal prosecutors who were fired were among the highest-rated in the nation, while others, who were "loyal Bushies," were retained; he added that the purpose of the hearing was to find out who drew up the list of prosecutors to be fired. When the White House refuses to allow its officials to testify, Conyers said, when it "makes open-ended claims of executive privilege, and loses or destroys millions of e-mails relevant to our investigation, one has to ask whether the Administration is trying to cover up two simple truthswho created the list, and why."
The hapless Gonzales was unable to shed any light on the problem. He did admit that Karl Rove had complained to him that prosecutors weren't pursuing alleged "voter fraud" in a number of districts, and Gonzales acknowledged that Bush had raised the same issue, but he denied knowing whether Rove had anything to do with deciding who should be fired, and he was certainwithout ever saying whythat Bush and Vice President Cheney had nothing to do with it.
Gonzales was also questioned about what appears to be the ninth U.S. Attorney to be dismissed: Todd Graves, in Kansas City, Mo., who was forced to resign after resisting Justice Department pressure to file "voter fraud" cases which he considered unwarranted. Graves was replaced by an official from Justice Department headquarters known for pressing alleged voter-suppression practices.
Typical of Gonzales's deliberate ignorance and indifference toward major policy issues, was his response when Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) asked if any American citizens are being detained without being granted the right of habeas corpus. "You're asking me a question I hadn't really thought about," answered the Attorney General of the United States.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Conyers said that although Gonzales had not answered the most basic questions, the committee has a duty to move forward on the investigation, in which, he said, "the bread crumbs seem to be leading to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."
Tenet Reveals: Gore Wanted To Free Pollard
May 9 (EIRNS)Former CIA Director George Tenet, in his book on the pre-Iraq War machinations, At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA, also relates some interesting items about the Clinton Administration, in which he also served. One concerns then-Vice President Al Gore's attempt to obtain the release of Jonathan Pollard, serving a life sentence for passing extremely sensitive U.S. military secrets to the Israeli government which, in turn, traded them to the Soviet Union.
When the Israelis and the Palestinians were negotiating a peace agreement at the Wye Summit in 1998, then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted that part of any "deal" be the release of Pollard. Clinton had put off this question until an agreement had been reached, and then Netanyahu again broached the subject. Tenet writes that he himself was unalterably opposed, and told Clinton that he would have to resign as CIA Director if Pollard were freed. Tenet knew that bucking Netanyahu on Pollard might be a deal breaker, but he was prepared to take that chance.
During the discussion, Gore tried to weigh in, through Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta. As Tenet writes [p. 70.]:
"'John Podesta, Clinton's chief of staff, called. John was not pushing, just delivering a message. 'The vice president asked me to phone you,' he began. 'Do you know how important this agreement is?'
" 'Yes, I know it is important.'
" 'Well, the Israelis won't sign unless they get Pollard.'
" 'John,' I told him, 'this agreement is in their interest. They will sign it. Do not give them Pollard.' Just so there could be no misunderstanding, I repeated my position. 'If you give them Pollard, I'm donebut you don't have to. They will sign this agreement because it is in their interest. Just hold fast.' "
As it turned out, refusing to free Pollard was not the deal-breaker Gore claimed it would be.
John Edwards: The Man from $$Fortress$$
May 9 (EIRNS)Former Sen. John Edwards, an announced candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination, might be dubbed "The Man from Fortress."
Fortress Investment hedge fund was the biggest source of contributions as an employer to Edwards in first quarter of 2007, according to Federal Election Commission reports. Fortress bundled $155,000 in employee contributions to Edwards from January through March 31. Edwards was employed as a "senior advisor" to Fortress from October 2005 until December 2006the month before he announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination.
Fortress, with $35.1 billion in assets, is one of the larger of the 9,000-plus hedge funds operating in the United States. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has stated that the hedge funds are now furiously fighting all efforts by Congress to force them to register, and to tax them.
New Evidence Confirms LPAC's Expose of 'Cheney's Contras' Against Iran
May 8 (LPAC)On March 2, 2007, the LaRouche Political Action Committee (LPAC) published a story on its website (www.larouchepac.com) entitled, "Is the White House Running Another 'Secret Contra' War Against Iran With Stolen Funds?" Now, in the May 2007 edition of the Atlantic, an article exposes a coordinated effort of the United States, with Saudi Arabia, and the intelligence agencies of Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel, to carry out covert operations in and against Iran, according to the website RawStory. Drawing from quotes from the article by David Samuels, RawStory says this combination is being bankrolled with $300 million from Saudi Arabia, under the assumption that a pullout of U.S. troops would leave Iran to fill the power vacuum in the region, and that "a nuclear-armed Iran means trouble."
Echoing a March 5 article in the New Yorker by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, Samuels claims that the U.S.-Israel-Arab Sunni grouping has already drawn blood in a February attack which killed 11 Iranian Revolutionary Guardsmen in Baluchistan, "the mysterious death of the Iranian [nuclear] scientist Ardashir Hosseinpour," and other, lesser operations. Hersh claimed that the funding through Saudi Arabia was specifically designed to skirt the normal Congressional oversight mechanisms, which are designed to prevent just this type of unilateral policy-making by the Executive branch.
Samuels lays the blame for this operation at the door of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, but, as LPAC and EIR reported in early March, the covert war is actually the project of Vice President Dick Cheney.