While America is busy deciding which of the Democratic candidates is most likely to end the war, Congress is debating behind closed doors how much of a priority ending the war should be.
Although most Democrats in Congress favor withdrawing troops from Iraq, many are pushing for a $172 billion war spending package that would fund the occupation beyond the end of the Bush administration. In the next few weeks, the House Appropriations Committee may bring to the floor a bill combining Bush's supplemental war funding requests for 2008 and 2009, according to a spokeswoman for Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey.
"In going up against John McCain, Obama or Clinton will be facing someone who looks very strong on national security," Sharp told Truthout. "The Democrats have made the determination that pushing hard for withdrawal will reflect negatively upon them."
On the Senate side, the supplemental plan is still wide open, according to John Bray, a spokesman for Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd. Senate Republicans may play the supplemental strategically: Representative Jerry Lewis (R-California) said yesterday that he would attempt to tack onto the funding legislation a bill granting telecommunications companies immunity from prosecution for disclosing customer information to the government. Republican senators are almost universally opposed to attaching domestic funds to the supplemental. "There has been no decision made yet" on whether the Senate version will include the 2009 funds, Bray told Truthout.
Although passing a $172 billion plan would eliminate most of Congress's leverage in pushing for an end to the war, it wouldn't necessarily mean an end to the year's war funding. Regardless of the supplementals' fate, small amounts of money for ammunition, reconstruction, training and other needs may well be included in the Defense and State Department budgets this fall.
US military personnel aboard a cargo ship traveling into the Persian Gulf fired nearly a dozen warning shots at Iranian speed-boats Thursday, according to several breaking news reports.
Reports of the incident prompted a nearly immediate spike in oil prices, which jumped $3 per barrel.
The latest incident is also the second showdown with Iran in the Persian Gulf. It follows a January showdown in which the US Navy said Iranian speedboats threatened its ships in the Strait of Hormuz. That incident was later revealed to have been overblown, and some saw echoes of the Gulf of Tonkin incident that drew America deeper into Vietnam.
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran on Friday denied there had been any confrontation between its forces and a U.S. ship in the Gulf, Iranian media reported, after a U.S. official said a ship contracted by the U.S Military Sealift Command fired on an Iranian vessel.
Some media suggested that, if there had been an incident, it may have involved a private boat that could have been Iranian.
"Even if there was a shooting ... American forces have likely shot at a non-military or fishing boat, and even then one cannot be certain that it was Iranian," Iran's Mehr News Agency reported.
A U.S. defence official earlier said a ship contracted by the U.S Military Sealift Command had fired at least one shot toward an Iranian boat.
Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the Pentagon is planning "potential" military actions against Iran, reports The Washington Post.
Mullen criticized Iran's "'increasingly lethal and malign influence' in Iraq," writes Ann Scott Tyson for the Post.
"It would be a mistake to think that we are out of combat capability," she quotes the U.S.'s top military leader at a Pentagon news conference.
Mullen's assertion comes a day after American forces reportedly fired warning shots at Iranian speedboats in the Persian Gulf, a confrontation that Iran denies took place.
In a speech Monday at West Point, Gates said Iran "is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons." He said a war with Iran would be "disastrous on a number of levels. But the military option must be kept on the table given the destabilizing policies of the regime and the risks inherent in a future Iranian nuclear threat."
In an interview with The Associated Press, the Palestinian leader sounded pessimistic about the prospects of achieving any deal with Israel this year despite a big US push that began five months ago at a summit in Annapolis, Maryland.
"Frankly, so far nothing has been achieved. But we are still conducting direct work to have a solution," Abbas said.
"We demanded the Americans implement the first phase of the road map that talks about the cessation of settlement expansion," Abbas said, expressing disappointment the US has not exerted more pressure on Israel to stop. "This is the biggest blight that stands as a big rock in the path of negotiations."
"We demanded that they talk about the '67 borders," Abbas told AP, showing a rare flash of anger. "None of them talk about the '67 borders."
Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, said Bush did not respond directly when Abbas brought up the issue of Palestinian objections to continuing Israeli settlement expansion when the two leaders met Thursday at the White House.
"Bush told him (Abbas) that I'm focusing on the bigger picture," Erekat explained.
"Hamas is biding time in order to rearm and regroup. There would be no need for Israel's defensive actions if Hamas would cease and desist from committing terrorist attacks on Israelis," Israeli government spokesman David Baker said.
There have been few shooting attacks in the West Bank in recent years, but Israel has repeatedly said Abbas’ government is not yet capable of controlling militants in the territory.
The Gaza Strip has fallen eerily silent as day-to-day life grinds to a halt in the face of an Israeli fuel blockade that has forced the UN to halt its food shipments into the territory.
Since citizenship carries with it a responsibility to be exclusively loyal to one country, the whole concept of dual citizenship and nationality raises questions about which of the dual citizenships have priority. This is extremely important when the two countries have opposing interests. It can be a deadly problem when a dual citizen is in a high position within our American government.
Can one imagine a Japanese citizen serving in the Pentagon during WWII? Or how about a citizen of the Soviet Union holding a cabinet position in the White House during the Cold War?
Today's conflicts are centered in the Middle East. America needs to balance foreign policies towards oil producing Arab nations with our goal being peace and stability in the region. This places a burdon on our government to be even-handed in our dealings with the Arab world and Israel. While the Iraq War was waged on lies about Weapons of Mass Destruction and revenge for 911, the real reason has emerged as a well designed global plan to improve the power and leverage of Israel.
So, you might ask, are there any other dual Israel-American citizens who hold US government positions that could compromise American security? Yes. Consider the following list that I obtained on the web:
(Rabbit's note: I pulled the 'names only' for below. Info on each is in the article)
Michael Mukasey, Michael Chertoff, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Lawrence (Larry) Franklin, Douglas Feith, Edward Luttwak, Henry Kissinger, Dov Zakheim, Kenneth Adelman, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Robert Satloff, Elliott Abrams, Marc Grossman, Richard Haass, Robert Zoellick, Ari Fleischer, James Schlesinger, David Frum, Joshua Bolten, John Bolton, David Wurmser, Eliot Cohen, Mel Sembler, Steve Goldsmith, Adam Goldman, Joseph Gildenhorn, Christopher Gersten, Mark Weinberger, Samuel Bodman, Bonnie Cohen, Ruth Davis, Daniel Kurtzer, Cliff Sobel, Stuart Bernstein, Nancy Brinker, Frank Lavin, Ron Weiser, Mel Sembler, Martin Silverstein, Lincoln Bloomfield, Jay Lefkowitz, Ken Melman, Brad Blakeman
I don't know about you, but dual citizenship is fine with me for an ordinary citizen. But if you hold an official position that demands that you put American interests above all else -- if you should look transparent and fair to the rest of the world regarding your formation of Middle East foreign policies, then this is a dangerous trend. Even if there were no pro-Israeli agenda, the fact that decision makers have a bias or an allegiance to one of the parties involved in the current conflict should have raised red flags long before now.
No one caught on to Kadish for over 20 years. So how did the Feds uncover this forgotten angle of the Pollard case? Newsweek cites one official as saying "the information that identified Kadish came from super-secret intelligence monitoring related to ongoing inquiries about the Pollard case." Ongoing inquiries – after all these years?
"Israeli sources are reporting that the FBI investigation of the Ben-Ami Kadish spy case resulted from a leak coming from inside the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Submitted by a reader ... Thanks, Lee.
"Can you imagine this [feces]? Whats next?
I think its time to reel in the double spooks and take 'em out to the field.
One way or another.
Where in the US constitution [does it] say 'we the ppl will lie to the ppl for another set of ppl to make sure those ppl are in better shape [than]Americans?'
NO where. -- Lee"
The elderly New Jersey man arrested last week on charges of spying for Israel years ago was probably still working for the Jewish state’s espionage service in tandem with another, as yet unidentified spy, former American intelligence officials say.
Kadish, who worked at the U.S. Army’s Picatinny Arsenal in Dover, N.J., from 1963 to 1990, could also spend the waning years of his life in jail if he is convicted.
A former senior CIA counterintelligence operative believes the case “will never go to trial, because of all the ugly stuff that would come out” about Israeli activities in the United States.
One role Kadish could play was as a “spotter,” who could size up possible recruits for Israeli intelligence, even while living in a retirement community in Monroe Township, N.J., said Olive and another former federal agent.
Israeli intelligence had a spy, code-named MEGA, high up in the Reagan administration at the same time Pollard, and now allegedly Kadish, were stealing documents, according to a Washington Post story years ago that has never been confirmed.
In fact, according to past and present U.S. counterintelligence officials, Israeli agents were so aggressive even after the Pollard case that an FBI counterintelligence boss in the late 1990s, David Szady, summoned Mossad’s top official for a tongue lashing.
But Brandon, who retired in the mid-1990s but retains many intelligence contacts for his global security consulting business, says the Israelis are interested in commercial as much as military secrets. They have a muscular technology sector themselves.
“They are always looking for a leg up,” he said.
Congress is a major target, too, Brandon said.
“God, they would work the Hill, ” he said. “They really worked the Hill. They were not necessarily interested in collection [of information] so much as they were in influence.”
Mossad agents also scout for people to help them in the Jewish-American community, he said, based on their religious and political commonality. It’s a vast community of potential “spotters,” who can point them to other Jewish Americans in government, law, finance and banking who might be susceptible to recruitment...
As 1.5 million Gazans are crying out to the world to pressure Israel to lift its scandalously callous blockade of the coastal territory, another 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank are struggling to cope with an unprecedented economic crisis that is further impoverishing and exhausting them.
The crisis, the harshest in recent memory, stems from a host of local and global factors, including soaring food and energy prices, sagging currency value, rampant joblessness and draconian Israeli restrictions on the movement of people, goods and services.
With PA-Israeli peace talks going nowhere, and with Israel continuing to expand Jewish settlements in the West Bank, effectively annulling any remaining prospect for a viable Palestinian state, the next few months are predicted to be crucial in terms of how the Palestinians will elect to manage their national ordeal.
This week, Henry Siegman, director of the US/Middle East Project in New York, underscored the bankruptcy and disingenuousness of the peace process. "What is required of statesmen is not more peace conferences or clever adjustments to previous peace formulations but the moral and political courage to end their collaboration with the massive hoax the peace process has been turned into," he said.
It was the second time in the past year the pipeline had been hit and the latest in a series of attacks on Iraqi oil refineries, blamed on insurgents.
Pumping from the refinery was stopped because of the explosion, and production was likely to be affected, according to an official speaking anonymously.
A fire which broke out at an Iraqi oil pipeline south of Baghdad injuring at least eight security guards was accidental, the US military has said.
Iraq has the world's third-largest oil reserves, consisting of more than 115 billion barrels.
Five British hostages who were kidnapped in Iraq almost a year ago are being held inside Iran by Revolutionary Guards, according to two separate sources in the Middle East and London.
However, British officials said that while there had been rumours that the five were in Iran, they had seen no evidence to support the idea.
The hostages are said to be in good physical shape but spending much of their time in solitary confinement.
One of the sources, who has close links to the Revolutionary Guard, said the captors were looking for a face-saving way of freeing them.
A member of the health and environment committee of the Iraqi legislature, Liqaa Al-Yassin (Sadrist) says Iraqi authorities have medical and forensic proof that the Americans have been using cluster bombs in their air-strikes on Sadr City, the proof being in the form of the type of marks these weapons leave on the bodies of the dead and wounded.
اتهمت عضو لجنة الصحة والبيئة في مجلس النواب العراقي لقاء آل ياسين السبت القوات الأمريكية باستخدام الأسلحة "المحرمة دوليا" خلال العمليات العسكرية التي تقوم بها في مدينة الصدر شرقي بغداد، فيما وصف المستشار الإعلامي للجيش الأمريكي تلك الاتهامات بانها عارية عن الصحة.
The arrest of a New Jersey engineer on charges of conspiracy to pass U.S. military secrets to Israel Tuesday shows a consistent, continued pattern of Israeli spying on its major benefactor, the United States, according to espionage experts.
U.S. officials briefed on Kadish's case said that Kadish's alleged handler was Yosef Yagur, the same scientific attaché at the Israeli consulate in New York who handled Pollard.
Martin said Pollard and Kadish likely did not know one another. "As a matter of trade-craft, the Israeli intelligence service would not want one operative to know the other unless it was absolutely necessary, and it does not appear to have been necessary. Pollard was in the Navy stealing highly classified communication information while Kadish was getting information on the latest developments in aircraft technology," said Martin.
The following quote from a top fanatical zionist in Israel serves as a reminder of the inroads its racist regime has made into the ruling class of the USA. The subservient contenders to the USA presidency are competing with each other for absolute loyalty to the zionist apartheid regime of Israel, including the continued occupation of Iraq.
"I want to thank you for your support of Israel and in particular for waging a war against Iraq."
Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger to President George W. Bush Wed January 09,2008(J.Post)
To the extent that the suicides are attributable to the war, more than 500 deaths should be added to the reported combat fatalities each month.
Turning to Iraqi deaths, expert studies support as many as 1.2 million dead Iraqis, almost entirely civilians. Another 2 million Iraqis have fled their country, and there are 2 million displaced Iraqis within Iraq.
“Our” government has still not told “we the people” the real reasons “our” government invaded Afghanistan and Iraq.
Instead, the American sheeple have accepted a succession of transparent lies: weapons of mass destruction, al Qaeda connections and complicity in the 9/11 attack, overthrowing a dictator and “bringing democracy” to Iraqis.
The more likely explanation for the US invasion of Iraq is the neoconservative Bush Regime’s commitment to the defense of Israeli territorial expansion. There is no such thing as a neoconservative who is not allied with Israel. Israel hopes to steal all of the West Bank and southern Lebanon for its territorial expansion. An American colonial regime in Iraq not only buttresses Israel from attack, but also can pressure Syria and Iran from giving support to the Palestinians and Lebanese. The Iraqi war is a war for Israeli territorial expansion. Americans are dying and bleeding to death financially for Israel. Bush’s “war on terror” is a hoax that serves to cover US intervention in the Middle East in behalf of “greater Israel.”
An Iraqi member of parliament has revealed that the US forces have used forbidden weapons against Iraqi civilians in Baghdad's Sadr City.
An al-Sadr spokesman accused Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of wanting to resolve the problem by force instead of dialogue.
BAGHDAD — The U.S. military said on Monday it had killed 38 fighters in a day of battles in northeastern Baghdad as militants took advantage of dust storms to launch apparently coordinated assaults.
The attacks, which appeared to be some of the biggest clashes in weeks, showed that some fighters had defied an order by anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to observe a ceasefire.
The dust storms grounded U.S. helicopters, the main weapon American troops use to hunt rocket crews.
The U.S. forces killed "22 criminals," it said in a statement, adding: "The criminals' small-arms fire was ineffective and there were no U.S. or (Iraqi security force) casualties in the attack."
The United States blames rogue elements of Sadr's militia for firing the rockets. It accuses neighboring Iran of supplying the weapons and says some were made as recently as last year. Iran denies the accusations.
WASHINGTON - Millions of dollars of lucrative Iraq reconstruction contracts were never finished because of excessive delays, poor performance or other factors, including failed projects that are being falsely described by the U.S. government as complete, federal investigators say.
The special IG's review of 47,321 reconstruction projects worth billions of dollars found that at least 855 contracts were terminated by U.S. officials before their completion, primarily because of unforeseen factors such as violence and excessive costs. About 112 of those agreements were ended specifically because of the contractors' actual or anticipated poor performance.
The Israelis already have the Gaza Strip under military siege, carefully controlling what and who goes in and out of it. They have now cut off most fuel, and the United Nations has been forced to stop distributing food aid.
Despite the violent groups on its margins, Hamas itself has at various points indicated a willingness to play ordinary politics, but Olmert will be satisfied with nothing less than destroying it.
For Likudniks to call Jimmy Carter a "bigot" is sort of like the Ku Klux Klan denouncing Nelson Mandela for racial insensitivity.
Despite Israel's refusal to acknowledge its nuclear weapons status, its secret arsenal is an open secret that Israeli policy makers don't go out of their way to deny.
Click on a symbol or location for more about Israel's secret arsenal.
Certain things are not talked about among Jews, diseases in particular. If a loved one gets ill he is wished the best, wished long life and that’s it. The disease itself is never mentioned or talked about. The common attitude is that it will eventually go away and all will be well.
It seems that the cancer of zionism is thought of in that same light, you don’t hear it discussed much, it’s hardly mentioned.
Instead of Israelis maintaining their silence, they MUST speak out against the state terrorism that is happening in their name. Every minute of silence costs lives, hundreds at a time.
The same goes for Americans, a people living in a country whose government has supported every evil move of the zionist administration. Any presidential candidate that vows continued support of Israeli policies must be defeated.
Miyasar Abu Meatak was preparing breakfast for her children in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun when an explosion ripped through the home, her stepson Ibrahim said. Four of her children, ages 15 months to 6 years, were killed instantly, and she died shortly afterward at a hospital, Palestinian officials said. Her two older children were reported critically wounded.
In a statement, the military said explosives carried by the militants were detonated by an Israeli airstrike, and the blast from the explosives hit the house, not a tank shell, "and uninvolved civilians were hit." Palestinians said the militants were at least 400 yards from the house and none of the fighters were killed near the structure.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak put the blame on the Islamic militants of Hamas, which has run Gaza since defeating the rival Fatah movement in a five-day battle last June. Barak said Israel would continue to operate in the volatile coastal territory.
"We see Hamas as responsible for everything that happens there, for all injuries," Barak said during a tour of an Israeli weapons factory. "Hamas is also responsible, by operating within the civilian population, for some of the civilian casualties."
The EU condemned Iran's defiance of U.N. resolutions demanding it suspend enrichment and pressed it to clarify intelligence reports that it secretly studied ways of building atom bombs in violation of the NPT.
The Jerusalem Post has learned that at last Friday's meeting of the EU's Political and Security Committee (PSC) in Brussels, Italy removed its objection to placing Bank Melli, Iran's largest bank, on a list of Iranian institutions and personalities that the EU would boycott. Government sources said this was an early indication that new Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi seemed intent on steering a different Italian policy toward Iran.
The EU, by now putting the bank on its black list, has ratcheted up those sanctions a notch, joining the US, which took unilateral sanctions against the bank last October
A US Department of Treasury statement at the time explained its sanctions against the bank by saying that Melli "provides banking services to entities involved in Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs," and that it also provided banking services to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards and its Quds force, which "provides material support to the Taliban, Lebanese Hizbullah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC)."
"The package is about the great questions of the world and the nuclear question could be the subject of discussion," Iran's top national security official Saeed Jalili said after talks with Russia's Valentin Sobolev.
The package appears to emphasise what Iran sees as its growing power in the world and the supposed decline of the great world powers such as Britain and the United States.
It has repeatedly urged the West to solve the crisis through diplomacy but as a veto-wielding UN Security Council permanent member it has also backed three resolutions imposing sanctions against Tehran.
Moscow has also bluntly told Tehran it currently has no need to enrich uranium on its own soil and should obey the resolutions' calls to stop the process, which can be used to make nuclear weapons.
At start of weekly cabinet meeting, prime minister says Israel regrets 'tragic incident which left a mother and her four children dead.' He stresses, however, that 'we are also sorry for our own children, who have been getting hurt for many years now'
"We regret the fact that civilians are being hurt here, and we regret the fact that Hamas is operating from within populated area, exposing them to outcomes we do not intend to reach."
Olmert went on to address a possible truce mediated by Egypt, saying clearly that "I hope the terror organizations' brutal fighting will cease. I regret the fact that it continues.
"I believe our regret is more real, sincere and painful than the regret of the terror organizations we are facing. But as long as the terror organizations fire at the south's residents, the IDF will continue to operate against them."
Across the occupied West Bank, raw untreated sewage is pumped every day out of the Jewish settlements, along large metal pipes, straight onto Palestinian land. From there, it can enter the groundwater and the reservoirs, and become a poison.
Standing near one of these long, stinking brown-and-yellow rivers of waste recently, the local chief medical officer, Dr Bassam Said Nadi, explained to me: "Recently there were very heavy rains, and the s**t started to flow into the reservoir that provides water for this whole area. I knew that if we didn't act, people would die. We had to alert everyone not to drink the water for over a week, and distribute bottles. We were lucky it was spotted. Next time..." He shook his head in fear. This is no freak: a 2004 report by Friends of the Earth found that only six per cent of Israeli settlements adequately treat their sewage.
Meanwhile, in order to punish the population of Gaza for voting "the wrong way", the Israeli army are not allowing past the checkpoints any replacements for the pipes and cement needed to keep the sewage system working. The result? Vast stagnant pools of waste are being held within fragile dykes across the strip, and rotting. Last March, one of them burst, drowning a nine-month-old baby and his elderly grandmother in a tsunami of human waste. The Centre on Housing Rights warns that one heavy rainfall could send 1.5m cubic metres of faeces flowing all over Gaza, causing "a humanitarian and environmental disaster of epic proportions".
The killings of three U.S. soldiers in separate attacks in Baghdad pushed the American death toll for April up to 47, making it the deadliest month since September, the military said Wednesday.
In all, at least 4,059 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.
The Pentagon has agreed to cut from its budget $171 million to build police stations in Iraq after demands from Congress that the Iraqi government spend its recent oil windfall on reconstruction projects.
The amount is a fraction of the roughly $47 billion Congress has approved to rebuild Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. But Democrats and Republicans have complained that American taxpayers are continuing to pay for reconstruction work in Iraq when crude oil prices, now nearing $120 a barrel, have left the country's U.S.-backed government reaping a budget surplus in the tens of billions of dollars.
In a report to the council on behalf of the multinational forces, Khalilzad says Iran and Syria must stop sending weapons and foreign fighters into Iraq.
"I'm afraid that the label occupation sticks to us even to this day, although the occupation ended in June of 2004," said the Iraq war architect at Hudson Institute Monday.
"The dollar has totally been removed from Iran's oil transactions," Oil Ministry official Hojjatollah Ghanimifard told state-run television Wednesday. "We have agreed with all of our crude oil customers to do our transactions in non-dollar currencies."
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the depreciating dollar a "worthless piece of paper" at a rare summit last year in Saudi Arabia attended by state leaders from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday that sending a second U.S. aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf could serve as a "reminder" to Iran, but he said it's not an escalation of force.
In recent weeks, U.S. officials have ratcheted up their complaints that Iran is increasing its efforts to supply weapons and training to militants in Iraq.
Military commanders in Baghdad are expected to roll out evidence of that support soon — including date stamps on newly found weapons caches showing that recently made Iranian weapons are flowing into Iraq at a steadily increasing rate.
... Merida Initiative is a $500 million proposal to counter drug crime in Mexico.
He added that if Congress failed to approve the funding — which is included in the emergency war funding bill — it would be "a real slap at Mexico."
"There is indication that the Iranian support of the Taliban has continued," said General Ham. "Again, we don't believe it to be at the same level of which they have provided fighters and weapons into Iraq. But there is some clear evidence that it has occurred."
The new allegation comes as two U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups are in the Persian Gulf in an unusual display of American military power in the waterway along Iran's southwestern coast.
General Ham says the two carriers will enable U.S. commanders to order more air strikes in Iraq, as well as more reconnaissance flights and other missions.
"These exercises are not aimed at Iran," said Dana Perino. "They reinforce that the U.S. has an enduring commitment to the region and to our allies and we continue to protect our allies and interests wherever necessary."
CIA Director Michael Hayden said Wednesday that Iranian policy, at the highest government level, is to help kill Americans in Iraq, the boldest pronouncement of Iranian involvement by a U.S. official to date.
In recent weeks, U.S. officials have ratcheted up their complaints that Iran is increasing its efforts to supply weapons and training to militants in Iraq.
Military commanders in Baghdad are expected to roll out evidence of that support soon, including date stamps on newly found weapons caches showing that recently made Iranian weapons are flowing into Iraq at a steadily increasing rate.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said the U.S. prefers to resolve the issue through other pressures, but that it has the combat capability to strike Tehran, if necessary.
Iran complained to the United Nations on Wednesday about U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's comment the United States could "totally obliterate" Iran in retaliation for a nuclear strike against Israel.
Iran's deputy ambassador to the United Nations sent a letter to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the president of the Security Council expressing Iran's condemnation of "such a provocative, unwarranted and irresponsible statement."
"Moreover, I wish to reiterate my government's position that the Islamic Republic of Iran has no intention to attack any other nations," he [Deputy Ambassador Mehdi Danesh-Yazdi]said. "Nonetheless .... Iran would not hesitate to act in self-defense to respond to any attack against the Iranian nation and to take appropriate defensive measures to protect itself."
Iran, OPEC's second-largest producer, has completely stopped conducting oil transactions in U.S. dollars, a top Oil Ministry official said Wednesday, a concerted attempt to reduce reliance on Washington at a time of tension over Tehran's nuclear program and suspected involvement in Iraq.
Iran's central bank has also been reducing its foreign reserves denominated in U.S. dollars, motivated by the falling value of the greenback and U.S. attempts to make it difficult for Iran to conduct dollar transactions.
U.S. banks are prohibited from conducting business directly with Iran, and many European banks have curbed their dealings with the country over the past year under pressure from Washington.
President Vladimir Putin has assured his Iranian counterpart there will be continuity in Russia's relations with Tehran, RIA news agency quoted a senior Russian official as saying on Wednesday.
The official delivered the message in Tehran a few days before world powers, including Russia, are expected to meet in London on Friday to discuss Iran's disputed nuclear plans.
Six world powers fell short at a meeting in Shanghai on April 16 of agreeing a package of trade and other incentives to offer Iran if it suspends sensitive nuclear work.
The six -- the United States, Russia, Britain, France, China and Germany -- are expected to meet again in London on Friday.
A Pentagon official denied on Wednesday that the surge of U.S. casualties in Iraq in April reflected deteriorated security in the Middle East country.
"While it is sad to see an increase in casualties, I don't think it is necessarily indicative of a major change in the operating environment," Lt Gen. Carter Ham, Joint Staff director for operations, told a Pentagon news conference.
The killings of five U.S. soldiers in separate attacks in Baghdad on Wednesday drove the number of the American death toll in April to 49, making it the deadliest month since September.
On the other hand, the official statistics show that Iraqi deaths in April reached at least 1,073, slightly down from the 1,082 in March but sharply up from the previous six months.
As Congress gears up to debate the Bush administration's latest request for an additional $108 billion in war funding for Iraq and Afghanistan, Iraqis are fuming at suggestions being floated by lawmakers that Baghdad should start paying a share of the war's costs by providing cheap fuel to the U.S. military.
The criticisms in Congress that Iraq isn't paying its share are "a bit overplayed," said Stuart Bowen, the inspector general, in a telephone interview.
"It's an evolving process, but the Iraqi government has now taken over the majority of the funding," he said. "In 2007 the U.S. share dropped below 50 percent, and it will drop even more dramatically in 2008."
Though it was the Bush administration's original intention that Iraq's oil revenues should be used to finance all the rebuilding of Iraq, the projection that Iraq would earn $50 billion to $100 billion from oil exports in the first two years proved to be wildly optimistic, as did estimates that the whole war would cost $50 billion to $60 billion. The Congressional Budget Office now puts the total cost of the war to date at $600 billion.
Basit believes these numbers are an overstatement. Whatever the amounts embezzled by Iraqis, he says, the figure is insignificant compared with the $8.8 billion in Iraqi oil money spent by the Bremer administration that still can't be accounted for, according to Special Inspector General reports.
"I am sure the amounts wasted under Bremer exceed the amounts wasted since then," he said. "All the money spent in Iraq needs to be audited very carefully, but the money spent by Americans in Iraq needs an extra special audit."
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday she was determined not to give ground over a package of "incentives" that the West has offered up to convince Iran to give up its nuclear programme.
The top US diplomat, who arrived in London for talks on Friday on Iran, the Middle East peace process and Kosovo, insisted on the need to "fully" implement United Nations sanctions levied on Tehran.
"But I just want to say I don't see any evidence that the Iranians appear to be interested in that track," she said, adding that she did not expect any notable results from Friday's meeting.
"If there are things that can be done to improve the chances that the Iranians will do what they should have done and ought to do, fine," she said. "Let's look at it."
"I don't think the problem is the package. I think the problem is Iranian will."
The U.S. military has drafted and won approval for attack plans ir response to an Iran attack.
Western diplomatic sources said the U.S. military's Central Command has submitted plans for an air and naval strike on Iran. The sources said the plan envisioned escalating tensions that would peak with an Iranian-inspired insurgency strike against U.S. military assets in the Gulf.
"This is not some grand scheme to destroy the Iranian regime and its nuclear program," a source said. "It is a practical plan on how to respond to an Iranian strike or a provocation."
At 1.00 in the morning on the 30th of April, the Israeli Army raids orphanage in Hebron, home to 110 girls, seizing all equipment from community sewing workshop.
The Hebron Orphanage for girls is run by the Charitable Islamic Society,(I.C.S) and houses 110 children.
The ICS is accused by Israel of funding the Hamas movement under the table, and in recent years, the ICS has been raided several times by the Israeli Army who seized computers and paper work from their offices. Now the Israeli government wants to take property owned by the ICS and has issued a court order to this effect.
DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff and Dorit Beinisch, president of Israel’s Supreme Court, came together at the conservative Heritage Foundation on Wednesday to discuss ways to change the law to meet the unique security issues of the 21st century.
The United States and Israel face a similar dilemma: how to protect civil rights, even those of your most vicious and unrepentant enemies, in times of peril. Part of the solution, Chertoff said, is to recognize that some traditional ways of doing things, in intelligence gathering for example, no longer apply in the rapidly changing world, and the public and their leaders should be flexible enough to recognize this and strike an appropriate balance between protection of the public and civil rights.
Moreover, inherently difficult activities, such as the collection of information and the prevention of terrorism, sometimes require the willingness to compromise on issues of civil liberties, the secretary said. Whatever is decided, the issue must be addressed head on, with an understanding that there could be costs one way or the other, and that those costs, once agreed to, must be lived with.
Moscow's sabre-rattling over two disputed regions of Georgia is driven by Kremlin hardliners who want to push Russia's next president into an anti-Western stance, diplomats in both countries said.
Tension has risen sharply in the volatile South Caucasus since Russia forged closer links with the separatist governments of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, sent more peacekeeping troops to Abkhazia and threatened to use force if Georgia attacks.
Russia has started deploying 1,200 additional troops to Abkhazia, an impoverished coastal province which was once the playground of the Soviet elite.
It claims the right to add to an existing peace-keeping force there and says it needs to do so because Georgia is building up troops and planning an invasion.
Tbilisi has also been sharpening its rhetoric and accuses Russia of planning to annex Abkhazia and of violating its territorial integrity by sending in more troops without Georgia's consent.
"The real risk is not that either side deliberately starts a war," one Moscow-based ambassador said. "It's that a miscalculation or mistake by one side ignites a conflict that quickly spirals out of control. That's what scares us."
Residents of the rebel Black Sea region of Abkhazia welcomed the arrival of extra Russian troops on Thursday as a guarantee of their self-declared independence from former Soviet Georgia.
In the lush province's capital Sukhumi, residents told AFP that troops had begun to arrive on Wednesday and that a convoy of Russian armoured personnel carriers had brought dozens of soldiers through the streets of Sukhumi, in a move that has sharpened tensions between Tbilisi and Moscow.
"It gives us hope and confidence in the future when such a strong power as Russia declares it will protect the people of Abkhazia," said Sukhumi resident Lyobov Shersheria, 72.
Tensions between Russia and Georgia have soared over Moscow's decision last month to strengthen ties with the two rebel regions and over Tbilisi's claim that a Russian fighter jet shot down a Georgian spy drone over Abkhazia on April 20.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls it "embarrassing" and some members of Congress vow to fix it, hopefully by Mandela's 90th birthday on July 18.
"The notion that people knew about this restriction all these years and didn't do anything about it is very disappointing. And so we're trying to rectify it"-' "-
This is a bill that the Democratic congress should rush to pass. It should go through unanimously. That could do their dismal poll ratings some good. And if any member of the opposition party votes against such a bill, they'll be in a terribly indefensible position, making them seem like total extremist fear mongers.
Prime minister questioned by police after AG issues special order to begin urgent probe regarding alleged bribery by American businessman prior to his induction in office.
At this time, Olmert is facing three different investigations related to the time he served as the minister of trade, labor, and commerce.
Whether true or not, the reports regarding the latest investigation are very grave. Even if there is an iota of truth in them, it is hard to believe that Ehud Olmert would be able to continue serving as prime minister; the thought of bundles of cash reaching the hands of the most important man in our political hierarchy prompt deep revulsion.
The quiet that currently prevails in the political system could give rise, in the coming days, to a grave political crisis that would shake up the country and the political system. Those who were looking for reasons to topple the government can now find them at the Fraud Investigation Unit.
Jewish anti-Zionists published the following in the Guardian (thanks to The Fanonite).
We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state founded on terrorism, massacres and the dispossession of another people from their land. We cannot celebrate the birthday of a state that even now engages in ethnic cleansing, that violates international law, that is inflicting a monstrous collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza and that continues to deny to Palestinians their human rights and national aspirations.
Methinks Israel is in for a big surprise on it’s 60th birthday….. no one is in ‘celebration mode’… or mood. The war, the economic situation, the recent scandals among high government officials could be part of the reason. The ongoing crisis between Israel and Palestine is probably the main factor, people on both sides of the wall are sick and tired of the needless killing.
Many notables were invited to attend the various celebrations that will take place…. many did not respond or declined or canceled. Barbara Streisand was among those that canceled. As a known supporter of Israeli causes in previous years, her cancellation was the most notable.
“My friends, I will have an energy policy which will eliminate our dependence on oil from Middle East that will then prevent us from having ever to send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East.”
"I can confirm that we conducted a strike in Sadr City this morning," a US military spokesman told AFP. "The targets were known criminal elements. Battle damage assessment is currently ongoing."
Just outside the hospital, a shack which appeared to be the target was reduced to a pile of rubble.
"Intelligence reports indicate the command and control centre was used by criminal elements to plan and coordinate attacks against Iraqi security and coalition forces and innocent Iraqi citizens."
"They (the Americans) will say it was a weapons cache (they hit)," said the head of Baghdad's health department, Dr Ali Bistan. "But, in fact they want to destroy the infrastructure of the country."
He charged that the attack was aimed at preventing doctors and medicines reaching the hospital which is located inside an area of increased clashes between American troops and militiamen.
Residents said the shack that appeared to be the main target of the air strike was a transit point for Muslim pilgrims.
Just like any other day, the Hussein family was getting ready for lunch at their home in Baghdad, Iraq, when the house suddenly shook and the brick walls came down around them.
When Hussein's father could not locate Ali, he said he began frantically digging.
"Everyone felt desperate and the police have left the scene, but I kept on digging. I told them I will not leave my son. I will take him out. I felt fainted after two hours of digging."
The parents called on both Shiite militias and the U.S. military to stop operations in the violence-torn district. And they criticized American military efforts that resulted in the deaths of civilians.
"You attacked civilians' houses crowded with people for the sake of a few militants," said Hussein's father, his face in tears.
TEHRAN (Reuters) - A senior Iranian official said on Saturday Tehran saw no need for more talks with the United States about Iraqi security until what he described as U.S. attacks on Iraqis stopped, Iran's Fars News Agency reported.
Washington accuses Tehran of funding, training and equipping militias in Iraq, a charge Iran denies. Tehran blames the presence of U.S. troops for violence and instability in Iraq.
Yagur, who is now retired and living in Israel, was Kadish’s case officer, handling the cases of both him and Jonathan Pollard. Before the anonymous leak of information, the FBI had no idea that Kadish had been a spy for Israel. Now it is investigating a number of US citizens, including an individual who held very senior security positions in the Clinton and Bush White Houses.
It is believed that the “doves” in the Olmert administration who leaked the information are seeking to make a military confrontation more difficult and are hoping that negotiations, particularly with Syria, will instead take place.
As she flew to the region for a two-day visit, Rice told reporters that she planned to review whether Israel had taken steps on the ground to make life easier for Palestinians as she urged Israel not to undercut Palestinian security forces as they deploy in the West Bank and questioned if its promises to remove roadblocks had been kept, local website ynetnews reported.
On Sunday evening, Rice is scheduled to hold another three-way meeting with Livni and chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei to discuss the disagreements between Israel and the PNA on the core issues, including Jerusalem, the refugees and the permanent borders of a future Palestinian state.
"If the Israeli occupation kept putting off any response to Cairo's proposals for a lull in Gaza, Hamas will have to deal with one of two options, the calmness or the escalation," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zurhi said, adding that "if it is the escalation, it will be unprecedented."
According to legend, Iran's president has threatened to destroy Israel, or, to quote the misquote, "Israel must be wiped off the map." Contrary to popular belief, this statement was never made.
... it's important to note that the "quote" in question was itself a quote – they are the words of the late Ayatollah Khomenei...
Ahmadinejad has essentially been credited (or blamed) for a quote that is not only unoriginal, but represents a viewpoint already in place well before he ever took office.
The full quote translated directly to English:
"The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time."
Word by word translation:
Imam (Khomeini) ghoft (said) een (this) rezhim-e (regime) ishghalgar-e (occupying) qods (Jerusalem) bayad (must) az safheh-ye ruzgar (from page of time) mahv shavad (vanish from).
Who is responsible for the translation that has sparked such worldwide controversy?
The Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran's official propaganda arm, used this phrasing in the English version of some of their news releases covering the World Without Zionism conference. International media including the BBC, Al-Jazeera, Time magazine and countless others picked up the IRNA quote and made headlines out of it without verifying its accuracy, and rarely referring to the source.
Though the IRNA wording was inaccurate and misleading, the media assumed it was true, and besides, it made great copy.
Iran’s nuclear programme is expected to be high on the agenda in an intelligence-sharing process described by Israeli officials as a “strategic dialogue”. It is building on long-standing cooperation between MI6 and Mossad, both of which have extensive spy networks in the Middle East.
It is understood that Israel has made a breakthrough in intelligence-gathering within Iran.
Israeli officials believe the US will revise its analysis of Iran’s programme. “We expect the Americans to amend their report soon,” a high-ranking military officer said last week.
It is thought that if Israel were considering military action against Iran over its nuclear programme, it would want to ensure it had diplomatic support in London and Washington because of the danger of triggering a wider Middle East conflict.
State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey was reacting to Iran's announcement it will not hold a fourth round of security talks with the United States as long as US forces continue attacking Shiite militias in Baghdad.
In previous security talks, Casey said, the United States has raised "the unhelpful behavior" of Iran towards Iraq in which it allegedly funds, trains and offers material support to militias.
Iran, whose ties with Washington have been severed since 1980 and which wants US troops to leave Iraq, strongly denies the allegations.
An Iranian envoy said Monday his government will not submit to extensive nuclear inspections while Israel stays outside the global treaty to curb the spread of atomic weapons.
"The existing double standard shall not be tolerated anymore by non-nuclear-weapon states," Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh told a meeting of the 190 countries that have signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
"We take a look at the military buildup, we take a look at the rhetoric, we take a look at the diplomatic posturing, and I would say that it’s a virtual guarantee that there will be a limited aerial strike against Iran in the not-so-near future—or not-so-distant future, that focuses on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command," Ritter said last week in a little-noted interview with Amy Goodman's Democracy Now. "And if this situation spins further out of control, you would see these aerial strikes expanding to include Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and some significant command and control targets."
The Pentagon denied the claim again Monday.
Ritter's remark about Iran comes on the heels of a report Sunday in the UK Sunday Times' which alleges that the Pentagon is drawing up plans for a "surgical strike" against an alleged insurgent training camp in Iran, and a CBS report that suggests US forces are prepared to launch small-scale attacks.
American officials are opposed to any attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, [the Times' Michael] Smith says. They believe, however, that an attack on a militant camp could send a message to the Republican Guard.