30 December 2005

Telling it like it isn't

LA Times
27 Dec 2005
Telling it like it isn't
By Robert Fisk, ROBERT FISK is Middle East correspondent for the London Independent and the author, most recently, of "The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East," published last month by Knopf.

I FIRST REALIZED the enormous pressures on American journalists in the Middle East when I went some years ago to say goodbye to a colleague from the Boston Globe. I expressed my sorrow that he was leaving a region where he had obviously enjoyed reporting. I could save my sorrows for someone else, he said. One of the joys of leaving was that he would no longer have to alter the truth to suit his paper's more vociferous readers.

"I used to call the Israeli Likud Party 'right wing,' " he said. "But recently, my editors have been telling me not to use the phrase. A lot of our readers objected." And so now, I asked? "We just don't call it 'right wing' anymore."

click the link

Islam's ideological vanguard

Islam's ideological vanguard

October 31, 2005
By Zeyno Baran

Extremist Islamist organizations such as Al Qaeda have become well known in recent years for trying to accomplish their objectives through violence. Less well known, however, are the organizations devoted not to direct action but to ideological struggle. Of these, the most important is Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HT, or the Party of Liberation), a transnational movement that has served as radical Sunni Islamism's ideological vanguard.

HT is not a terrorist organization, but it can usefully be thought of as a conveyor belt for terrorists. It indoctrinates individuals with radical ideology, priming them for recruitment by more extreme organizations where they can take part in actual operations.

HT's exact size is difficult to confirm because the group is composed of secretive cells, but its membership is estimated to number in the hundreds in European countries, such as Denmark, and up to tens of thousands in Muslim countries, such as Uzbekistan.

Because many governments recognize the threat it poses to them, HT is banned in most of the Muslim world, as well as in Russia and Germany. But until recently, it has been allowed to operate freely elsewhere - most notably in Britain, where it has played a major role in the radicalization of disaffected Muslim youth.

Since HT occupies a gray zone of militancy, with its activities involving more than mere expression of opinion but less than terrorism, regulating it poses a unique challenge to liberal democracies.

Hizb-ut-Tahir was founded in 1953 by a Palestinian judge who asserted that the only way to re-establish the kind of Islamic society promulgated by the Prophet was to liberate Muslims from the thoughts, systems and laws of nonbelievers and replace the Western nation-state system with a borderless umma ruled by a new caliph.

Under the current leader, Ata Abu Rashta, a Palestinian who had served as HT's spokesman in Jordan, HT has become more aggressive. But to avoid problems with law enforcement, HT scrupulously refrains from engaging in criminal or terrorist activities.....

click the link above for the entire article.

For other information see:

and also see:

Islamic Group Banned by Many Is Not on U.S. Terrorist List
By David B. Ottaway
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 27, 2004; Page A04
The militant Islamic group exhorts Muslims to suicide bombings, martyrdom against American "infidels" and the killing of Jews. It openly advocates replacing all Middle East governments with an Islamic caliphate and rails against "the American campaign to suppress Islam."

You got it all wrong about the caliphate, Rumsfeld

By Mafoot Simon
The Straits Times
Publication Date : 2005-12-24

In this hypothetical letter, Sheikh Ata Abu Rashta, the global leader of The Hizb ut-Tahrir al Islami (Islamic Liberation party), a transnational radical political movement which aims to re-establish the caliphate (an Islamic state), tells US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld why his version of the caliphate is wrong

Greetings Secretary Rumsfeld

It is now crystal clear that the buzzword among you and your fellow Straussian neo-con colleagues in the White House is 'caliphate' - a global Islamic state where Islamic laws reign supreme.

You seem certain that the caliphate's goal would be to end what you consider 'moderate' Muslim nations in the Middle East, and to attack the West. The United States would of course be the prime target.

"We know that's their goal. They've said so. They've put it down in writing. Ayman Al-Zawahiri, a member of Osama bin Laden's top council, has explained (in an intercepted letter) why Iraq is so crucial to the terrorists. He outlined Al-Qaeda's goals as the following: to expel Americans, to establish a radical Islamic caliphate, and to extend the jihad worldwide."

That's what you told your folks at a Pentagon Town Hall Meeting last week.

I'll let you in on our secret at Hizb ut-Tahrir: We had a good laugh when we read the news reports about that 'letter' which your intelligence services claim to have intercepted. It was purportedly written by Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda's No. 2 and Osama's right-hand man, to Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, their top man in Iraq. But more of that later.

I am sorry to have to disappoint you but it is not Al-Qaeda and its ilk which will recreate the caliphate. It is we, the Hizb ut-Tahrir, who will bring it about, God willing. We have been working on this for more than 50 years, ever since our very talented leader, judge Taqiuddin An-Nabhani, founded this global Islamic political organisation in 1953.

Yes, Hizb ut-Tahrir seeks the re-establishment of the caliphate (khilafah) in the Muslim world. It will establish the laws of the syariah and carry the call of Islam to the world under a system completely different from democracy, theocracy or monarchy.

It will be a unitary system of one state for all Muslims. Citizens of the caliphate will have every right to be involved in politics and the caliph (or ruler) will be a servant of the masses, governing them with justice.

These principles are enshrined in our 186-article Constitution that sets out the roles of the khalifah (the caliph), the mu'awin ut-tafweed (delegated assistant), the wali (governor) and the aamil (provincial mayor). It also sets out our policies on education and foreign affairs.

We have been working hard - within the Islamic world as well as in the West - to achieve our goal.

We are now active throughout Europe, Central Asia, Africa, the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, Australasia and the Americas. But for the time being, our focus is on Turkey, Central Asia and Western Europe.

You seem certain that the caliphate will arise from Iraq and then spread out, but that will not be the case. It will instead begin in Turkey, with Istanbul as its seat of government.

The reason is quite obvious: It was the Turkish strongman Kemal Attaturk who abolished the original caliphate in 1924.

What we have been trying to do in Turkey is to convince our fellow Muslims to forget about the European Union. Why should they become one among many in the Union? Instead, they should lead in the fight against the West.

The disintegration of the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s was a god-given opportunity for us. We are now actively helping our brothers and sisters in Uzbekistan - a centre of scientific learning and an enlightened, tolerant culture during Islam's glorious past. We are trying to fill the deep psychological needs of Uzbeks. They have to cope with corruption, poverty, drug addiction and political repression. Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov's repressive, dictatorial ways are making our job easier.

We also have a strong presence in Western Europe. It helps that the countries in the region are having difficulties absorbing and assimilating Muslim immigrants who came in to rebuild their economies after World War II. Frustrated Islamic youths - the second and third generation immigrants who have given up on democracy - have become easy targets. They are rebelling against the system. We provide them with a cause.

It is easy for us to make inroads wherever we go because we are an Islamic political party, and not a sect or a school of thought.

So that is our plan. "We walk the talk", as I think you would put it. But have you seen a concrete plan from the Al-Qaedaists?

No. Why? Obviously, because they have none. That is why you have not read or heard them talk about their plans for a caliphate in as detailed a fashion as they speak and write about jihad (which means holy war to them).

Let me now talk about that letter from one Al-Qaeda Z to another.

We know that caliphate was a term which caught your attention during the planning stages of the Iraq war. But your concerns about the caliphate reached a crescendo only recently, after that 'letter' from Zawahiri to Zarqawi was intercepted - by your account, by your intelligence services.

To begin with, we think that if your National Intelligence Council could come up with a hypothetical letter from a fictional grandson of Osama to a family relative in 2000, recounting the struggles of a certain caliph, nothing else would be impossible for you.

That hypothetical letter and the 'letter' from Zawahiri to Zarqawi had one thing in common: They are based on the limited knowledge your intelligence community has about us - the ummah.

Interestingly, some of your own people have better horse sense - that's how you say it in your language, no? - than your intelligence services.

We have monitored what they have said about the "Z2Z letter". You ought to listen to some of them.

To begin with, take this research associate at the Hudson Institute, Christopher Brown, who wondered why the 'letter' should have both Arabic and Western dates when the 'letter' was meant for consumption by Zarqawi. The use of Western dates is customarily done only for material designed for Western consumption, not for internal communications, he said.

If I may add: Do you think they would want to put in anything as 'infidel' as a Western date in their letters to each other?

Zawahiri was also said to have mentioned that he had a daughter called Nawwar, and then proceeded to explain the meaning of the name. Your sharp Mr Brown asked why would Zawahiri need to explain an Arab name to another Arab?

Then there is this academic Juan Cole who has a good understanding of the intricacies of the Islamic world.

He has pointed out how strange it was for Zawahiri to call Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Hussain Imam, Al-Imam Al-Sibt, or 'the Imam, the grandson'.

"I do not believe that a hardline Sunni such as Zawahiri would call Hussain Al-Imam Al-Sibt. That is Shi'ite terminology," he argued.

But I like this one best. It was written by a blogger who calls himself Sonic. He said: "Remember when the US government wouldn't allow tapes from Osama or Zawahiri to be broadcast on TV, using the excuse that there might be 'hidden messages' in the broadcast that they couldn't allow to be transmitted? Now they release a 6,000-word letter from Zawahiri which could contain dozens of hidden messages for all they know. Curious, eh?"

There are numerous others but I think you have got the drift, as you would have put it in your language.

I was not at all surprised that Zarqawi himself described the letter as cheap propaganda, "without foundation except in the imagination of the leaders of the Black (White) House and its servants."

Still, your people got carried away and began producing material that was then translated and placed in Baghdad newspapers.

I am afraid you have been caught with your hand in the cookie jar - as I think you Americans would say. You cannot hope to win the hearts and minds of one billion Muslims this way.

They have heard about the weapons of mass destruction that have turned out to be non-existent. They have heard that Iraq under the tyrant and dictator Saddam Hussein was somehow involved in the 9/11 attacks but that has been debunked by your own 9/11 commission.

If you continue to push the line about these terrorists wanting to create a caliphate by first turning Iraq into their base, you would be dead wrong.

Remember, it is we, the Hizb ut-Tahrir, who will bring about the new caliphate.

Sheikh Ata Abu Rashta Emir
Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami

29 December 2005

What is that ring around your anus?

Dwayne Brown/George Deutsch
Headquarters, Washington
(202) 358-1726/1324

Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore
(410) 338-4514

Dec. 22, 2005
RELEASE: 05-590
NASA's Hubble Discovers New Rings and Moons Around Uranus
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope photographed a new pair of rings around Uranus and two new, small moons orbiting the planet.

The largest ring is twice the diameter of the planet's previously known rings. The rings are so far from the planet, they are being called Uranus' "second ring system." One of the new moons shares its orbit with one of the rings. Analysis of the Hubble data also reveals the orbits of Uranus' family of inner moons have changed significantly over the past decade.

click the link....

ASU professor to explore DNA based computing

Nanotechnology : October 19, 2005

Arizona State University School of Life Sciences professor Wayne Frasch was recently awarded a $1.2 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the U.S. Air Force Office of Science Research to fund a 2-year project linking DNA technology with computer science. This could result in a computer that uses DNA, rather than electronic components, to crunch numbers.

Frasch uses his lab's single molecule DNA detection technology--among the most sensitive detecting systems available in the world--to take advantage of a DNA property known as hybridization to make the calculations. Frasch believes what will result is a massively parallel computer that can make lots of calculations simultaneously. ...

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The Golden Sayings of Epictetus

Sometimes you need to step back and read something, think about it. step back read it again...and think about how it might apply to the topics at hand...

Socratic teaching is always so much more insightful IMHO...

Epictetus. (c.A.D. 50–c.A.D. 138). The Golden Sayings of Epictetus.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

And now we are sending you to Rome to spy out the land; but none send a coward as such a spy, that, if her hear but a noise and see a shadow moving anywhere, loses his wits and comes flying to say, The enemy are upon us! 1
So if you go now, and come and tell us: “Everything at Rome is terrible: Death is terrible, Exile is terrible, Slander is terrible, Want is terrible; fly, comrades! the enemy are upon us!” we shall reply, Get you gone, and prophesy to yourself! we have but erred in sending such a spy as you. Diogenes, who was sent as a spy long before you, brought us back another report than this. He says that Death is no evil; for it need not even bring shame with it. He says that Fame is but the empty noise of madmen. And what report did this spy bring us of Pain, what of Pleasure, what of Want? That to be clothed in sackcloth is better than any purple robe; that sleeping on the bare ground is the softest couch; and in proof of each assertion he points to his own courage, constancy, and freedom; to his own healthy and muscular frame. “There is no enemy near,” he cries, “all is perfect peace!”

This one is also rather enlightening:
"The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth becomes the greatest enemy of the State."
– Dr. Joseph M. Goebbels

Pace: U.S. to Launch Phased Iraq Pullout

Pace: U.S. to Launch Phased Iraq Pullout
By KIM GAMEL, Associated Press Writer 33 minutes ago
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - The U.S. will carry out planned withdrawals of American troops in Iraq only from regions where Iraqi forces can maintain security against the insurgents, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said Thursday.


Gen. Peter Pace said the current force of 160,000 would drop to below 138,000 by March, then U.S. commanders on the ground would work with the Iraqi government to determine the pace of future pullbacks in areas that have been secured by local security forces.

"The bottom line will be that the Iraqi army and the Iraqi police will gain in competence, that they will be able to take on more and more of the territory, whether or not there are still insurgents in that area," he said in an interview with a small group of reporters, including The Associated Press, aboard a military plane en route to the United Arab Emirates.

Amid congressional pressure and growing public opposition to the war, the Bush administration last week announced plans to reduce U.S. combat troops in Iraq to below the 138,000 level that prevailed most of this year.

The number of American forces in Iraq was raised to about 160,000 to provide extra security during the October referendum and December parliamentary elections, and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has said those extra troops would be leaving soon.

The exact size of the additional troops cuts has not been announced, but senior Pentagon officials have said the number of American troops in Iraq could drop to about 100,000 by next fall.

The decision where to cut troops "will be based on the Iraqi units in that area and the threat that exists in that area," Pace said earlier at a news conference in Bahrain.

The key, he stressed, "is the Iraqis' ability to control that area."

Pace has said American units will steadily hand off more security duties in the coming months to Iraqi forces and stressed the U.S. military needs to be flexible, but his comments offered a detailed glimpse of the administration's plans.

Pace's tour of the region came two weeks after Dec. 15 Iraqi parliament elections, which the United States considered a key step toward stability that could allow a drawdown of troops.

But violence has not stopped in Iraq. On Thursday, gunmen killed 12 members of an extended Shiite Family south off Baghdad and a suicide bomber killed a policeman in the capital.

Complaints by Sunni Arab and secular Shiite groups of widespread fraud and intimidation during the vote also have threatened to spark a serious crisis that could set back hopes for a broad-based government that could have the legitimacy necessary to diminish the insurgency — a key part of any U.S. military exit strategy from Iraq.

Pace said efforts were under way to recruit Sunnis into the Iraqi security forces, "especially on the officers' side."

Pace, who was making his first official visit to the region since becoming the first Marine to be named chairman of the joint chiefs of staff three months ago, said the withdrawals of two brigades in the coming months would provide a test for the decision to pull out troops.

"We are going to have to watch how these drawdowns go to see if we have judged it properly," he said.

Pace, who was traveling with his wife, Lynne, and a group of entertainers to offer holiday cheer to U.S. troops in the region, began his weeklong trip Wednesday in Qatar. He also planned stops in Iraq, Afghanistan and the East African nation of Djibouti

Ich bin der Staat

Executive Uber Alles
Mon, 26 Dec 2005 00:00:00 -0800
The Usurpers of Our Freedoms
At stake in the so-called war on terror is longer just treatment of detainees, but the freedom of Americans.
Bush and company have very wrongly used the commander-in-chief power as a lever to make the President far, far too powerful, powerful far beyond anything intended by the framers, who created a government in which the legislature was to be the more powerful branch.
John Yoo has despicably abetted this process by writing intellectually corrupt legal opinions, which were to be used to shield officials high and low against the possibility of criminal prosecutions even though their acts plainly are criminal. The legal opinions, moreover, were classified, were all kept secret, in major part because Congress and the public would never stand for what is being done if they were to learn about it by reading the opinions
Congress has been ineffective and cowardly.
Bush has committed the impeachable felony of conspiracy to commit torture, but the media and the politicians refuse to discuss this. He should, however, be impeached for this felony.
The New York Times has apparently withheld information about various important subjects, and one wonders what those subjects might be.
Samuel Alito should be asked very specific, pointed questions about the extent of Presidential power.
In accordance with first amendment values, there should be reporters’ privilege when confidential sources alert them to evildoing by government, but not when confidential sources try to use reporters to further evildoing by government.
Bush’s claims of power all come down to a single overarching principle, articulated for him in legal terms by John Yoo, and articulated in political speech by Bush himself. That overarching principle is that the President is all powerful whenever he asserts a claim that what he authorizes or does is for the purpose of fighting a war.
John Yoo said that such all-surpassing power comes from the commander-in-chief clause and cannot be limited by Congress. Of course, Yoo shamelessly distorts the commander-in-chief power, which was intended simply to put a civilian in charge of the military lest a general seek to take over the country and become dictator, and was not intended to make the President a dictator, was not intended to give him the dictatorial power that the framers were guarding against in a general.
Never has this been put more eloquently than in a passage in a concurring opinion written in the Korean War’s Steel Seizure Case by that most eloquent of all Supreme Court Justices, Robert Jackson:
His command power is not such an absolute as might be implied from that office in a militaristic system but is subject to limitations consistent with a constitutional Republic whose law and policy-making branch is a representative Congress. The purpose of lodging dual titles in one man was to insure that the civilian would control the military, not to enable the military to subordinate the presidential office. No penance would ever expiate the sin against free government of holding that a President can escape control of executive powers by law through assuming his military role.
Bush, of course, doesn’t write, and most likely doesn’t even read, legal opinions, whether from Supreme Court Justices or Department of Justice lawyers. (Opinions are more than one page long.) Bush merely says, echoing Yoo, that because he is commander-in-chief he can do whatever he claims is necessary to protect Americans. He also says that Congress’ authorization of the use of force allows him to engage in warrantless electronic surveillance.
Of no concern to Bush is the fact that legislators say they never even thought about warrantless electronic eavesdropping when considering an authorization of force (they were, after all, focused on military action, not surveillance); that people who apparently have read the Congressional history find no mention of surveillance, that there is a specific law against what he is doing. Ich bin der Staat, after all.
Attorney General Gonzalez, in Bush’s defense, says that a few Justices of the Supreme Court—not all—said in the Guantanamo case that the authorization of force means we can imprison enemy fighters. Therefore, concludes Gonzalez, the authorization also means we can wiretap citizens without a warrant. It does not seem to occur to this mental giant of an Attorney General that in every war one takes and holds prisoners, so that an authorization of force must mean you can do this. But why the authority to take enemy prisoners—an incident of every war—means you can also wiretap American citizens without a warrant, and why it means this even in the face of a contrary statute, simply escapes one who is not a hack henchman for Bush. On the other hand, L’Etat, c’est moi, so what a statute of Congress says is irrelevant.
The statements of people like Bush, Gonzalez and Cheney, and the so-called legal opinions of John Yoo, are not to be taken seriously from the intellectual standpoint. Indeed, one wonders if they are even seriously meant, since they are too stupid, too frivolous, to be intellectually serious. The true, underlying intended function of these claims, and particularly of the legal memos, is really something quite different.
The intended function is to provide a shield for Bush and company, down to the lowest CIA operative, NSA operative, or grunt, if someone were ever to think about putting them in the criminal dock for what they have done. The possible defendant, be he Bush on down to a grunt, could point to the legal opinions of John Yoo (and his one time boss, now Federal judge Jay Bybee) and say, “I cannot be fairly accused of a crime. There were legal opinions from high Department of Justice officials—opinions on torture, on surveillance [and possibly on God knows what else that we don’t even know about yet] that said what I was doing was legal.” It was, indeed, CIA personnel’s desire for protection—dare one say cover—that led to the torture opinions. Gonzalez recently pointed out that Bush had documents from lawyers all over Washington (as I believe Gonzalez put the matter) saying that what Bush was doing was lawful. Some NSA officials were very worried about the legality of the warrantless surveillance. Some of the NSA people were—and still are—so worried about its legality that they apparently wouldn’t participate in it and/or blew the whistle to The New York Times despite John Yoo’s classified memos claiming legality.
Once the story about the warrantless surveillance broke, Bush, Gonzalez & Co. came up with some other claims that in effect hold that the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which banned warrantless electronic surveillance, must be considered in Ron Zeigler’s deathless word—inoperative. There has been, it is said, a lot of technology changes since 1978. And a two minute phone call between terrorists can lead to hundreds or thousands of deaths.
But FISA allows the government to engage in immediate warrantless electronic surveillance as long as it thereafter seeks a warrant within 72 hours. All the new technology and two minute phone calls in the world can’t be quick enough to escape electronic surveillance once the latter has been applied immediately, without a warrant, with the only requirement being that the government then seek a warrant within 72 hours after starting the surveillance. The claims about the need for speed are just so much smoke. One cannot, after all, be more immediate than immediate, and the government is authorized by FISA to be immediate.
Nor need there be fear of lack of cooperation from the secretly operating Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, from which warrants need be sought. The court can and does act very quickly—once a judge held a hearing in his living room at 3 a.m. on applications for a warrant—and last year, it is reported, the court received 1754 applications for warrants and denied not a single one. From 1995-2004 the court received over 10,600 applications for warrants and from 1978 onward it has received nearly 19,000, and in this entire period it has turned down only four of the nearly 19,000 (all four in 2003, apparently). So, if there is to be a fear here, it is not that the court will be uncooperative, it is that the court is usually a rubber stamp. (Indeed, the head of the court is the pro-establishment Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly).
The only administration claim that makes even the slightest intellectual sense is one that amounts to saying that the FISA procedure was ignored because the government wanted to conduct surveillance that could not meet even the obviously minimal standards of a FISA court that rejected none of 1,754 applications for warrants last year and only 4 of nearly 19,000 since 1978. But this claim simply leads to the heart of the problem: it simply leads to the fact that, as has been said here before, it is now no longer the fates of our enemies that is involved, but rather the rights and freedom of Americans themselves.
For we are faced with an Executive, whose charge is led by the dumb Bush and the truly evil Cheney, that says it can do whatever it wants in the name of allegedly safeguarding America, and that whatever it does for this claimed purpose is therefore ipso facto legal regardless of whether it is in violation of statutory law, in violation of longstanding custom and precedent, or in violation of any reasonable conception of humanity.
If the President says it’s necessary to torture people to safeguard America, and even to murder some of them as part of the interrogation process in order to safeguard the country, then this is legal.
If he says it’s necessary to secretly kidnap people, apparently by the thousands, and secretly fly them off to other countries where they will be tortured, all as part of a process that is sanitized by calling it “rendition,” then this is legal.
If he says, it is necessary to engage in permanently warrantless wiretaps, then this is legal. And so on. Why, then, would it not be legal, if the President says it must be done to safeguard America, to pick up Americans off the street and beat the crap out of them (or worse) in prison in order to obtain information? Why wouldn’t it be legal, if the President says it must be done to safeguard our country, to wiretap two or three million people, or to break into their homes in order to steal their papers, computers, etc. in order to obtain information (like Nixon’s henchmen broke into the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist for this very purpose)?
Thus it is that today we find that our country has been doing things, many of them discussed above, that would have once seemed inconceivable, even in the darkest days of the Civil War or World War II. Because of the orders and opinions of Bush and his henchmen we have tortured and killed prisoners, kidnapped thousands (apparently) of people as part of the process that is sanitized by calling it “rendition,” have sent kidnapped people to other countries to be tortured, have run secret prisons in foreign countries, have secretly held various “high value” prisoners in compounds located God knows where, have conducted warrantless electronic surveillance on Americans, on false premises have started a war that has killed over 2,000 Americans and many, many thousands of Iraqis, and have done God knows what else that has not yet been disclosed.
It is little wonder given all this, and given claims that the President can do whatever he wants, that one believes it is democracy and freedom that have become at stake.
It was, I think, Germaine Greer who said a few decades ago that a person’s views are a cluster, that if a guy on an airplane told her what he thinks about one thing, she could almost surely tell you what he thinks about a lot of things. She was, of course, dead right. And the cluster of views held by Bush, Cheney, et. al., are really pretty rotten, as made plain by the roster of once inconceivable things we have now done. We did all these things because those guys claimed them essential and ordered them done. People who variously are and collectively include, a former drunk, a serial failure in business, a drunken flunk-out from Yale when less than two percent of Yalies flunked out, a draft dodger, a combat avoider, guys who have spent their lives getting ahead by pull, connections and family influence rather than brains and talent (which they don’t have), and guys who are just plain mean, nasty bastards are at the helm, and ardently believe in doing the terrible things we have done.
Are we supposed to not fear the possibility that there could already be more horrible stuff which we don’t even know about yet, or that in future more such stuff could be done? Are we supposed to not worry about this?
The New York Times admitted earlier this year that the paper had changed articles in response to concerns expressed in advance by the CIA and other government agencies. Since the paper would not disclose what articles these were, or what changes had been made, I wrote here that “For all we know, the excluded facts or details could be ones of enormous importance for the public to know. The possibilities will not bear mention; the mind reels at some of them.”
As indeed the mind should have. For now we know one of the stories that was not only changed, but was killed for a year: the story about the warrantless electronic disclosure authorized by Bush (and, as he himself has said, reauthorized by him 30 times). When it finally broke the story a few weeks ago, The Times said, in its lengthy article, that the government had asked it not to print the story, and it therefore had in fact delayed it for a year to do “additional reporting” (and then had omitted certain unknown details).
Imagine that: The Times, at the behest of the government, sat on this nation-shaking story for over a year without disclosing it. Does this not remind you of The Times’ failure, at government request, to print what it knew in the early 1960s about the impending Bay of Pigs invasion, the invasion which therefore went ahead because it had not been publicly disclosed and which proved to be a perfect storm of disaster?
No doubt The Times felt it was acting patriotically in both cases, but we know that its failure to perform its First Amendment duty led to disaster at the Bay of Pigs. And it is not unfair to suspect that bending its knee to the government for one year with regard to illegal surveillance will also prove a horrible mistake, just as its failure to question the government’s reasons for going to war in Iraq was a horrible mistake.
The Times did not disclose why it bent the knee for one year on the electronic eavesdropping story, and there has been but little notice or discussion of the matter in the media. When a newspaper, let alone the country’s leading newspaper, sits on a story like this for a year, instead of telling the public what it has every right to know and a deep interest in knowing because the nature of our governing system is involved and our freedoms are involved, when the nation’s paper of record sits on a story like this for a year, its conduct and the reasons for its conduct demand explanation and analysis.
There is one other matter that has been brought up here before and is vitally related to The Times story. That is the question of the reporter’s privilege of confidentiality.
It appears that one of the big reasons that The Times was able to learn about and report on the warrantless eavesdropping is that at least a dozen people in government agencies, including the NSA, were so worried about the legality and propriety of the eavesdropping that they were willing to talk to The Times on condition of being granted anonymity.
King George, however, has ordered an investigation. He wants to find out who these people were and clap them in irons because they revealed his illegal conduct. It is possible that one way he might try to learn their identities is by subpoenaing the reporters in an effort to force them to reveal their sources or to confirm or deny various pieces of information. If this were to happen, The Times should fight him to the death, for freedom of the press to perform its first amendment duty of revealing governmental misconduct to the people—the very duty mentioned by Justice Black in The Pentagon Papers Case—would be deeply involved, as derivatively would be the safeguarding of the freedom of citizens themselves.
It has been said before here that, in terms of the purposes of the first amendment, prominent among which is the revelation of governmental misconduct so that it can be stopped, there is a vast difference between governmental insiders revealing such misconduct to the press on an anonymous, confidential basis in the hope that it may thereby be stopped, as occurred in the electronic surveillance case, and government insiders using the press, on an anonymous, confidential basis, in order to further governmental misconduct, as Libby, Rove and Cheney have done on the Valerie Plame case. If we want to carry out the first amendment purpose of stopping governmental misconduct, there should be a privilege of confidentiality in the first case but not the second.
One suspects that the Times, as it should, will fight the government to the death if its reporters are subpoenaed in the warrantless surveillance case. For about a couple of months now, the paper’s news columns (like some other media too) have regularly given the reasons why sources who revealed particular matters did so only on condition of anonymity. It is regularly said in news stories that sources required anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about a matter, or because a matter was classified, etc. This likely is being done partly as a result of the heat that has recently been put on the media for its prior vast overuse of anonymous sources without ever mentioning the fact, let alone the reason for it.
But doubtless it is also being done to build a record, a public record, of all the information that the paper (like other media) could bring to the public only by granting anonymity to sources who otherwise would not talk. One builds a record for a reason. Here the reason almost surely is to have a conveniently available public record of the importance of confidentiality in bringing important information to people should there be legal proceedings seeking to force reporters to reveal sources’ identities or confidential information or documents, or should it prove necessary to seek state or federal legislation protecting the confidentiality of sources. So, as said, the Times (and other media too) seems to be preparing to fight if necessary, and one say more power to them in the warrantless surveillance matter, where our freedoms are at stake.
This brings me to the subject of Congress.
The institutional and individual rot in Congress has now been put on display in the electronic surveillance area. Here Congress was supposed to exercise oversight over the executive branch. The way this “oversight” was “exercised” was that a small number of legislators at the head of relevant committees would go to the White House, where Cheney and company would rapidly go through subjects that are claimed to be technical and complex. The legislators could bring no staff and were not allowed even to take notes—how could any self respecting human being accept a condition under which he or she is told, has it imposed on him/her, is ordered , that he/she is not permitted to take notes on a serious and difficult subject but is expected nonetheless to learn and exercise oversight over it.
In addition to being allowed no staff and no notes, legislators say they were unable to discuss what they learned with anybody , lest they violate rules of classification and secrecy. When one of them, Jay Rockefeller, wished to register concerns in writing, he could not even have a secretary type the letter lest the secretary see what he was saying, and instead he had to send a handwritten letter. (And when one NSA official privately mentioned his concerns to a Congressional official, nothing ensued because ”’People just looked the other way because they didn’t want to know what was going on.’”) How can grown men and women act so cravenly.
It has been said here many times that there should be impeachment because Bush and Cheney are plainly committing the felony of conspiracy to commit torture, which is punishable by up to life imprisonment and, being a felony, is an impeachable high crime or misdemeanor. No conservative has ever written or emailed to deny that they are violating the anti-torture statute, but thus far neither Congress nor the media have wanted to discuss this. Now Bush and Cheney are committing the felony of unlawful electronic surveillance in violation of the FISA, which is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and is likewise an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor. (Senator Boxer says that she heard John Dean say that Bush’s recent admission about the surveillance is the first time that he, Dean, had ever heard a President admit to an impeachable offense.)
So now we know that Bush is guilty of at least two impeachable crimes. And many people think—not implausibly—that the distortions if not outright lies by which Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et. al., took us into war are themselves impeachable as political (albeit not legal) high crimes and misdemeanors.
Investigations are being discussed and censure is being mentioned. These actions may be, almost surely would be, politically easier than impeachment, but nothing can really substitute for it as a vehicle for stopping gross usurpations of power and ungodly distortions of the constitutional plan envisioned by the founders whom Bush and his fellow right wingers love to (falsely) cite.
The confirmation of Samuel Alito should also be affected, although, like impeachment, this probably won’t happen even though it should happen. By rights, as it were, Alito’s confirmation hearings should be put off until after full hearings are held, perhaps by the Senate Judiciary Committee, into the question of the gross usurpations of power by the Executive. Otherwise, at least if one assumes Congress might impeach and convict Bush/Cheney, or at minimum will issue a formal censure of them, we are likely to get yet another Supreme Court Justice nominated by an unsurper to carry out his views, including views of presidential power. (If memory serves, the Republicans stopped Abe Fortas from gaining a higher judicial position when Lyndon Johnson, who nominated him, had become thoroughly discredited, and one is hard pressed to understand any principled reason why the situation should be different now.)
But, assuming as one does that Alito’s nomination hearings will go forward as scheduled, it is more important than ever for Senators on the Judiciary Committee to ask him sharp, short, penetrating questions about his views of Presidential power, questions of the type Senator Specter had submitted to Harriet Miers. It is similarly important that Senators demand full, candid answers to those questions, rather than letting Alito get away with the humbug they let John Roberts get away with, and that Senators reject Alito if his answers indicate that he would or might support, and would not necessarily vigorously oppose, the kind of constitutional distortions, the kind of overweening, freedom-destroying executive supremacy, sought by the usurper of power who nominated him.
We cannot remain a free country with the Bush/Cheney view of the Executive uber alles—a view at the opposite pole from the framers’ desire for a government where, precisely to avoid tyranny, the legislature is supreme as between the two political branches, and the Senate should not confirm to the Supreme Court a man who will not pledge to oppose this usurpation, this destruction of the constitutional plan.

Lawrence R. Velvel is the Dean of Massachusetts School of Law. He can be reached at velvel@mslaw.edu.
B.A., University of Michigan; J.D., University of Michigan Law School
Telephone Number: (978) 681-0800
Velvel @ MSLaw ● EDU

Lawrence R. Velvel is the Dean of Massachusetts School of Law and a professor of law. Mr. Velvel is a 1960 graduate of the University of Michigan and a 1963 graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, where he served on the law review and was elected to the Order of the Coif. He was a law professor from 1966-1978, first at the University of Kansas and then at Catholic University. He has been a partner in major law firms in Washington, D.C., and was the first chief counsel of an organization established to write United States Supreme Court briefs in support of state and local governments. He has been active in Supreme Court litigation, constitutional law, antitrust law and complex litigation. He is the author of a book dealing with constitutional aspects of the Vietnam war, of seventeen law review articles and of twenty-three articles for legal and daily newspapers. He has written thirty-three United States Supreme Court briefs, is editor of the MSL journal called The Long Term View, and serves as a moderator and executive producer of four MSL television programs, the legal series called “A Question of Law,” the non-legal, public policy series called the “MSL Educational Forum,” the topical “Issues In The News” and the book discussion show “Books of Our Time.” These programs are carried by television stations nationwide.

*This essay represents the personal views of Lawrence R. Velvel.

White House also track visitors with Web BUGS

Thursday, December 29, 2005 · Last updated 6:36 p.m. PT
U.S. to probe contractor's Web tracking


NEW YORK -- Unbeknown to the Bush administration, an outside contractor has been using Internet tracking technologies that may be prohibited to analyze usage and traffic patterns at the White House's Web site, an official said Thursday.

David Almacy, the White House's Internet director, promised an investigation into whether the practice is consistent with a 2003 policy from the White House's Office of Management and Budget banning the use of most such technologies at government sites.

"No one even knew it was happening," Almacy said. "We're going to work with the contractor to ensure that it's consistent with the OMB policy."

An official with the contractor, WebTrends Inc., said later Thursday, however, that although a cookie may be used, no data from it is actually sent back to the company.

The development came a day after the National Security Agency admitted it had erred in using banned "cookies" at its Web site. Cookies are small data files that can be used to track Internet users. The acknowledgments followed inquiries by The Associated Press......

click the link for the entire story...

NSA Web Site Places 'Cookies' on Computers

NSA Web Site Places 'Cookies' on Computers

By ANICK JESDANUN, AP Internet Writer Thu Dec 29, 7:24 AM ET
NEW YORK - The National Security Agency's Internet site has been placing files on visitors' computers that can track their Web surfing activity despite strict federal rules banning most of them.

These files, known as "cookies," disappeared after a privacy activist complained and The Associated Press made inquiries this week, and agency officials acknowledged Wednesday they had made a mistake. Nonetheless, the issue raises questions about privacy at a spy agency already on the defensive amid reports of a secretive eavesdropping program in the United States.

"Considering the surveillance power the NSA has, cookies are not exactly a major concern," said Ari Schwartz, associate director at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a privacy advocacy group in Washington, D.C. "But it does show a general lack of understanding about privacy rules when they are not even following the government's very basic rules for Web privacy."

Until Tuesday, the NSA site created two cookie files that do not expire until 2035 — likely beyond the life of any computer in use today.

Don Weber, an NSA spokesman, said in a statement Wednesday that the cookie use resulted from a recent software upgrade. Normally, the site uses temporary, permissible cookies that are automatically deleted when users close their Web browsers, he said, but the software in use shipped with persistent cookies already on.

"After being tipped to the issue, we immediately disabled the cookies," he said.

Cookies are widely used at commercial Web sites and can make Internet browsing more convenient by letting sites remember user preferences. For instance, visitors would not have to repeatedly enter passwords at sites that require them.

But privacy advocates complain that cookies can also track Web surfing, even if no personal information is actually collected.

In a 2003 memo, the White House's Office of Management and Budget prohibits federal agencies from using persistent cookies — those that aren't automatically deleted right away — unless there is a "compelling need."

A senior official must sign off on any such use, and an agency that uses them must disclose and detail their use in its privacy policy.

Peter Swire, a Clinton administration official who had drafted an earlier version of the cookie guidelines, said clear notice is a must, and `vague assertions of national security, such as exist in the NSA policy, are not sufficient."

Daniel Brandt, a privacy activist who discovered the NSA cookies, said mistakes happen, "but in any case, it's illegal. The (guideline) doesn't say anything about doing it accidentally."

The Bush administration has come under fire recently over reports it authorized NSA to secretly spy on e-mail and phone calls without court orders.

Since The New York Times disclosed the domestic spying program earlier this month, President Bush has stressed that his executive order allowing the eavesdropping was limited to people with known links to al-Qaida.

But on its Web site Friday, the Times reported that the NSA, with help from American telecommunications companies, obtained broader access to streams of domestic and international communications.

The NSA's cookie use is unrelated, and Weber said it was strictly to improve the surfing experience "and not to collect personal user data."

Richard M. Smith, a security consultant in Cambridge, Mass., questions whether persistent cookies would even be of much use to the NSA. They are great for news and other sites with repeat visitors, he said, but the NSA's site does not appear to have enough fresh content to warrant more than occasional visits.

The government first issued strict rules on cookies in 2000 after disclosures that the White House drug policy office had used the technology to track computer users viewing its online anti-drug advertising. Even a year later, a congressional study found 300 cookies still on the Web sites of 23 agencies.

In 2002, the CIA removed cookies it had inadvertently placed at one of its sites after Brandt called it to the agency's attention.

The Fast Rise and Steep Fall of Jack Abramoff

You gotta love this stuff:
The Fast Rise and Steep Fall of Jack Abramoff
How a Well-Connected Lobbyist Became the Center of a Far-Reaching Corruption Scandal
By Susan Schmidt and James V. Grimaldi
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, December 29, 2005; A01

"Abramoff wallowed in his access, real and imagined. When his crack administrative assistant Susan Ralston bolted for a position with White House political adviser Karl Rove, Abramoff told colleagues he had gotten her the job even though it was Ralston's old boss, Reed, who made it happen, her former colleagues said.

Even glowing profiles in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal noting Abramoff's extensive influence and impressive income were not enough. Abramoff quietly paid op-ed columnists thousands of dollars to write favorably about his clients, including one writer for Copley News Service who disclosed this month that he had been paid for as many as two dozen columns since the mid-1990s

...There was even more buzz on Capitol Hill about Scanlon, the gregarious former DeLay press aide who had become a multimillionaire almost overnight. His old friends were astonished that Scanlon, then in his early thirties, was traveling to the beach by helicopter and living in a waterfront Rehoboth mansion that he bought for nearly $5 million in cash. A Louisiana paper, the Town Talk of Alexandria, reported in September 2003 that the Coushatta tribe paid Scanlon's public relations firm $13.7 million, a figure that amazed tribal lobbyists as well as some of Abramoff's colleagues. It was around that time that one colleague, Kevin Ring, learned from one of Abramoff's assistants that his boss was secretly getting money from Scanlon, according to a source privy to the conversation....


As a follow up to the 10 December posting on 4th Generation warfare I found the following article rather enlightening.

Here's why: The very first thing that you ned to do either in business or in warfare is a strategic analysis of your competitor. How you appraoch that analysis can be critical to how you carry out your tactical plans. If the basic theory that you have come up with is flawed then how you handle the tactics thelselves can also be flawed. It is always best to keep an open mind to alternitvie ideas and even to recognize that although a "new" idea may have merit and be "fun" to talk about and postulate about sometimes it's good to go back and re-evaluate the entire theory and make sure that it is correct.

In the case of the following article I think you can see that the permise is hat we don't ned no stinkin new theory. In fact, our old theories work just fine.

I found that the key statement here, as always, was:
"In any case, German success on the battlefield depended more often than not on such factors as thorough planning, quality training, and decentralized leadership."

Or as Napolean said, "In war, it is not MEN, but the MAN who counts" The idea of decentralized leadership and permitting the guy in the field to make the decison he knows how best to decide based upon his or her pallnign and training i ave always felt was the key to success.

I think the discussion that Dr. Echevarria makes is very thought provoking:
"As we can see, each of the tendencies in Clausewitz’s wondrous trinity remains alive and well, even in the war on terror, which is precisely the kind of conflict that scholars such as van Creveld wrongly refer to as “nontrinitarian.” Strictly speaking, then, there is no such thing as trinitarian war because, as any review of history shows, the forces Clausewitz described are present in every war, not just the wars of nation-states. If they are present in every war, then the term must fall out as a discriminator. In other words, if the basis for making a distinction, any distinction, disappears, then the distinction itself also vanishes. It follows, then, that since there is no such thing as “trinitarian” war, per se, there can be no such thing as “nontrinitarian” war; the initial concept or idea has to exist before the idea that negates it can come into being. Nontrinitarian war is, therefore, nothing more than the negation of a misunderstanding. The proponents of 4GW failed to perceive this particular flaw in their reasoning because they did not review their theory critically; instead, they attempted to augment it with whatever ideas seemed in vogue at the time. "

So it must follow that instead of developing "new" strategy and tactcis for 4GW adn asymetric threats we merely need to adapt what we already know through thousands of years of warfighting. hmmmmm. Now, THAT is worth pondering for a bit.

hmmmm "...thorough planning, quality training, and decentralized leadership."

oh, and I liked the follwoing statement... it goes back to my comments earleir on the "TERRORISM 101" blog:
"Still, even its tactics are not the psychological “judo throw” envisioned by 4GW theorists, but an attempt to inflict as many casualties and as much destruction as possible in the hope of provoking a response massive enough to trigger a general uprising by the Islamic community. "

28 December 2005

Top Ten Myths about Iraq in 2005

Iraq has unfortunately become a football in the rough and ready, two-party American political arena, generating large numbers of sound bites and so much spin you could clothe all of China in the resulting threads.

Here are what I think are the top ten myths about Iraq, that one sees in print or on television in the United States.

5. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, born in Iran in 1930, is close to the Iranian regime in Tehran Sistani, the spiritual leader of Iraq's majority Shiite community, is an almost lifetime expatriate. He came to Iraq late in 1951, and is far more Iraqi than Arnold Schwarzenegger is Californian. Sistani was a disciple of Grand Ayatollah Burujirdi in Iran, who argued against clerical involvement in day to day politics. Sistani rejects Khomeinism, and would be in jail if he were living in Iran, as a result. He has been implicitly critical of Iran's poor human rights record, and has himself spoken eloquently in favor of democracy and pluralism. Ma'd Fayyad reported in Al-Sharq al-Awsat in August of 2004 that when Sistani had heart problems, an Iranian representative in Najaf visited him. He offered Sistani the best health care Tehran hospitals could provide, and asked if he could do anything for the grand ayatollah. Sistani is said to have responded that what Iran could do for Iraq was to avoid intervening in its internal affairs. And then Sistani flew off to London for his operation, an obvious slap in the face to Iran's Supreme Jurisprudent Ali Khamenei.

I found #5 very good. I think many hve been led to believe otherwise... ann coulter types mainly...

click on the link for teh top 10

After Iraq's election 2

The author is Ahmed Chalabi's daughter, who recently earned her PhD at Harvard.

The Prospect
Issue 118 / January 2006

After Iraq's election 2

The election managed to mobilise all Iraqi groups into political participation. But it also entrenched the country's increasing ethnic polarisation

Tamara Chalabi
Tamara Chalabi travelled throughout Iraq during the election campaign. Her book on Lebanon's Shias is forthcoming

Every major Iraqi community turned out to vote in high numbers, including the Sunnis who boycotted the last election in January. From 8m voters then, the number rose this time to 11m, out of 15m registered to vote. But where, prior to the Ba'ath regime, Iraqi parties covered the established political spectrum of left and right, this time identity politics took centre stage; large numbers voted on the basis of ethnicity or sect.

Nevertheless, in my conversations with Iraqis of various communities, it was region and class that seemed to determine voting choices most strongly. Fawaz, a third-year chemistry student at Baghdad University and a Sunni, leaned towards a secular list but felt pressured to vote Sunni by the shadowy violent groups in his mixed neighbourhood, al-Hurriya in Baghdad, where both Sunnis and Shias have been targeted.

Doing businss with the Euro

Worth checking out the webiste. I had the opportunity to attend this conference and just got my copy fo the conference proceedings. It happened at an interesting time: just before the vote in France on the constitution. Good dialogue:

The Falling Dollar: A Silver Lining for Pittsburgh
By Barry Balmat and Keith Crane
This commentary appeared in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on May 8, 2005.
With the dollar falling, inflation accelerating, interest rates rising and growth slowing, the U.S. economy is in the midst of what could be a painful economic adjustment, triggered by historically high trade and budget deficits. But there is a silver lining in this cloud because corporations in Pittsburgh and around the United States can benefit from a more competitive dollar.

The good news about the falling value of the dollar is that it is creating a rising demand for U.S. exports. Over the past 24 months, U.S. manufacturers have had a respite from hammering by foreign competition, especially European manufacturers of machinery and equipment.

Manufacturing costs are still under control, and with an ample supply of high quality products U.S. exporters have regained ground against European competitors. Such Pittsburgh-based corporations as U.S. Steel and Alcoa are already benefiting from the more competitive dollar.

American steel exports have risen by 49 percent in the past year. However, there is still a long way to go. U.S. exports would have to rise by $620 billion — or by more than half — to close the trade gap. Traditional Pittsburgh products and services will play a role in restoring balance.

While in the past the dollar was king, the new European currency called the euro is beginning to play the role of upstart prince. In the future, contracts, trade credits and invoices are as likely to be denominated in euros as dollars. Although U.S. exporters are benefiting from the decline of the dollar, they will also need to adapt to the new global role of the euro in business and trade.

A number of leading U.S. corporations have already adjusted their accounting, financial management and European operations to adapt to the expanding role of the euro. Successful strategies will be discussed at a conference sponsored by the Rand Corp. and the European Commission of the European Union, "Doing Business with the Euro," in Pittsburgh on May 18. (See www.rand.org/events/doing_business_with_the_euro.html for details).

Speakers will include former U.S. Treasury Secretary and Alcoa Chairman Paul O'Neill, PNC Financial Services Group Chairman and CEO James Rohr, Rand Corp. President and CEO James Thomson, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Vice President Gary Litman, Bayer Corp. President and CEO Atilla Molnar, and Allegheny Technologies President and CEO L. Patrick Hassey. European speakers include European Commission Ambassador John Bruton, European Commission Minister of Financial Affairs Herve Carre, and Representative of the European Central Bank to the International Monetary Fund J. Onno de Beaufort Wijnholds.

The conference will focus on how corporations and financial institutions in the Pittsburgh region and throughout the United States can boost exports and profits by taking advantage of opportunities created by the falling value of the dollar compared with the rising euro.

27 December 2005

Iraq: Game Over

Iraq: Game Over
Robert Dreyfuss
December 22, 2005

Robert Dreyfuss is the author of Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam (Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books, 2005). Dreyfuss is a freelance writer based in Alexandria, Va., who specializes in politics and national security issues. He is a contributing editor at The Nation, a contributing writer at Mother Jones, a senior correspondent for The American Prospect, and a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone.He can be reached at his website: www.robertdreyfuss.com.

The last hope for peace in Iraq was stomped to death this week. The victory of the Shiite religious coalition in the December 15 election hands power for the next four years to a fanatical band of fundamentalist Shiite parties backed by Iran, above all to the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). Quietly backed by His Malevolence, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, sustained by a 20,000-strong paramilitary force called the Badr Brigade, and with both overt and covert support from Iran's intelligence service and its Revolutionary Guard corps, SCIRI will create a theocratic bastion state in its southern Iraqi fiefdom and use its power in Baghdad to rule what's left of the Iraqi state by force.

The consequences of SCIRI's victory are manifold. But there is no silver lining, no chance for peace talks among Iraq's factions, no chance for international mediation. There is no centrist force that can bridge the factional or sectarian divides. Next stop: civil war....

see the link above for the remainder of the article.

26 December 2005

Classified National Security Information

Executive Order
Further Amendment to Executive Order 12958,
As Amended, Classified National Security Information

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to further amend Executive Order 12958, as amended, it is hereby ordered that Executive Order 12958 is amended to read as follows:

"Classified National Security Information

This order prescribes a uniform system for classifying, safeguarding, and declassifying national security information, including information relating to defense against transnational terrorism. Our democratic principles require that the American people be informed of the activities of their Government. Also, our Nations progress depends on the free flow of information. Nevertheless, throughout our history, the national defense has required that certain information be maintained in confidence in order to protect our citizens, our democratic institutions, our homeland security, and our interactions with foreign nations. Protecting information critical to our Nations security remains a priority...

..more at the above link

"Ask any intelligence or national security professional with real clearances why SAPs exist and what is the purpose of covert or clandestine operations and they will tell you that they exist as much to cover illegal and unpalatable activity as to "protect" intelligence sources and methods. "

24 December 2005

Media Bias Is Real

Media Bias Is Real, Finds UCLA Political Scientist

Date: December 14, 2005
Contact: Meg Sullivan ( msullivan@support.ucla.edu )
Phone: 310-825-1046

While the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal is conservative, the newspaper's news pages are liberal, even more liberal than The New York Times. The Drudge Report may have a right-wing reputation, but it leans left. Coverage by public television and radio is conservative compared to the rest of the mainstream media. Meanwhile, almost all major media outlets tilt to the left.

These are just a few of the surprising findings from a UCLA-led study, which is believed to be the first successful attempt at objectively quantifying bias in a range of media outlets and ranking them accordingly.

"I suspected that many media outlets would tilt to the left because surveys have shown that reporters tend to vote more Democrat than Republican," said Tim Groseclose, a UCLA political scientist and the study's lead author. "But I was surprised at just how pronounced the distinctions are."

"Overall, the major media outlets are quite moderate compared to members of Congress, but even so, there is a quantifiable and significant bias in that nearly all of them lean to the left," said co‑author Jeffrey Milyo, University of Missouri economist and public policy scholar.

The results appear in the latest issue of the Quarterly Journal of Economics, which will become available in mid-December.

click the link for the entire article

20 December 2005

Echelon is the name of Big Brother

In the greatest surveillance effort ever established, the US National Security Agency (NSA) created a global spy system, codename ECHELON, which captures and analyzes virtually every phone call, fax, email and telex message sent anywhere in the world. ECHELON is controlled by the NSA and is operated in conjunction with the Government Communications Head Quarters (GCHQ) of England, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) of Canada, the Australian Defense Security Directorate (DSD), and the General Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) of New Zealand. These organizations are bound together under a secret 1948 agreement, UKUSA, whose terms and text remain under wraps even today.

The ECHELON system is fairly simple in design: position intercept stations all over the world to capture all satellite, microwave, cellular and fiber-optic communications traffic, and then process this information through the massive computer capabilities of the NSA, including advanced voice recognition and optical character recognition (OCR) programs, and look for code words or phrases (known as the ECHELON “Dictionary”) that will prompt the computers to flag the message for recording and transcribing for future analysis. Intelligence analysts at each of the respective “listening stations” maintain separate keyword lists for them to analyze any conversation or document flagged by the system, which is then forwarded to the respective intelligence agency headquarters that requested the intercept.

Processing millions of messages every hour, the ECHELON systems churn away 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, looking for targeted keyword series, phone and fax numbers, and specified voiceprints. It is important to note that very few messages and phone calls are actually transcribed and recorded by the system. The vast majority are filtered out after they are read or listened to by the system. Only those messages that produce keyword “hits” are tagged for future analysis. Again, it is not just the ability to collect the electronic signals that gives ECHELON its power; it is the tools and technology that are able to whittle down the messages to only those that are important to the intelligence agencies.

While UKUSA agencies have pursued economic and commercial information on behalf of their countries with renewed vigor after the passing of communism in Eastern Europe, the NSA practice of spying on behalf of US companies has a long history. Gerald Burke, who served as Executive Director of President Nixon’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, notes commercial espionage was endorsed by the US government as early as 1970: “By and large, we recommended that henceforth economic intelligence be considered a function of the national security, enjoying a priority equivalent to diplomatic, military, and technological intelligence.”<54>

To accommodate the need for information regarding international commercial deals, the intelligence agencies set up a small, unpublicized department within the Department of Commerce, the Office of Intelligence Liaison. This office receives intelligence reports from the US intelligence agencies about pending international deals that it discreetly forwards to companies that request it or may have an interest in the information. Immediately after coming to office in January 1993, President Clinton added to the corporate espionage machine by creating the National Economic Council, which feeds intelligence to “select” companies to enhance US competitiveness. The capabilities of ECHELON to spy on foreign companies is nothing new, but the Clinton administration has raised its use to an art:

In 1990 the German magazine Der Speigel revealed that the NSA had intercepted messages about an impending $200 million deal between Indonesia and the Japanese satellite manufacturer NEC Corp. After President Bush intervened in the negotiations on behalf of American manufacturers, the contract was split between NEC and AT&T.
In 1994, the CIA and NSA intercepted phone calls between Brazilian officials and the French firm Thomson-CSF about a radar system that the Brazilians wanted to purchase. A US firm, Raytheon, was a competitor as well, and reports prepared from intercepts were forwarded to Raytheon.<55>
In September 1993, President Clinton asked the CIA to spy on Japanese auto manufacturers that were designing zero-emission cars and to forward that information to the Big Three US car manufacturers: Ford, General Motors and Chrysler.<56> In 1995, the New York Times reported that the NSA and the CIA’s Tokyo station were involved in providing detailed information to US Trade Representative Mickey Kantor’s team of negotiators in Geneva facing Japanese car companies in a trade dispute.<57> Recently, a Japanese newspaper, Mainichi, accused the NSA of continuing to monitor the communications of Japanese companies on behalf of American companies.<58>
Insight Magazine reported in a series of articles in 1997 that President Clinton ordered the NSA and FBI to mount a massive surveillance operation at the 1993 Asian/Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) hosted in Seattle. One intelligence source for the story related that over 300 hotel rooms had been bugged for the event, which was designed to obtain information regarding oil and hydro-electric deals pending in Vietnam that were passed on to high level Democratic Party contributors competing for the contracts.<59> But foreign companies were not the only losers: when Vietnam expressed interest in purchasing two used 737 freighter aircraft from an American businessman, the deal was scuttled after Commerce Secretary Ron Brown arranged favorable financing for two new 737s from Boeing.<60>

All of this power is very well and good when used properly. Therin lies the problem. The Constituion of the US implements a series of checks and balances so that no single branch of goverment can blackmail the others in pursuit of their own vested interests. The problem with such a system is that there are no checks and balances. Unscrupulous people could potentially "spy" on political rivals under the guise of "national security". As an example here is a story of the RCMP using the sytem to track Margaret Trudeau, the wife of them Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, for 3 months because she was accused of using marijuana. The story proved unfounded but it allowed teh RCMP to listen to all of her conversations for this period. As you can see this could have very big political ramifications.

I think that this also highlights the problem that the Bush Administration faces. Since the system is set up to target all communications and then select, via software, key words, it is virtually impossible to know who is being targeted until they are targeted....an there could be thousands of people that have ot be sifted from the noise.

This should prove to be an interesting dilemma for congress to sort out

You may also want to check out:


Rockefeller memo

Interesting note from Sen Jay Rockefeller to the President. click the link

18 December 2005

John Yoo's Memorandum


The President has broad constitutional power to take military action in response to the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. Congress has acknowledged this inherent executive power in both the War Powers Resolution and the Joint Resolution passed by Congress on September 14, 2001.

The President has constitutional power not only to retaliate against any person, organization, or State suspected of involvement in terrorist attacks on the United States, but also against foreign States suspected of harboring or supporting such organizations.

The President may deploy military force preemptively against terrorist organizations or the States that harbor or support them, whether or not they can be linked to the specific terrorist incidents of September 11

John Yoo's Memorandum


The President has broad constitutional power to take military action in response to the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. Congress has acknowledged this inherent executive power in both the War Powers Resolution and the Joint Resolution passed by Congress on September 14, 2001.

The President has constitutional power not only to retaliate against any person, organization, or State suspected of involvement in terrorist attacks on the United States, but also against foreign States suspected of harboring or supporting such organizations.

The President may deploy military force preemptively against terrorist organizations or the States that harbor or support them, whether or not they can be linked to the specific terrorist incidents of September 11

..seee the rest via the link

Fact Sheet: Domestic Intelligence Wiretaps

Fact Sheet on Domestic Intelligence Wiretaps December 17, 2005

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was enacted in 1978 to provide a statutory framework for eavesdropping on individuals within the United States, including U.S. citizens, who are not suspected of having committed a crime but who are likely to be spies or members of terrorist organizations.

FISA established a secret court that could issue wiretap orders if the government showed probable cause that the individual to be tapped is an “agent of a foreign power,” meaning he or she is affiliated with a foreign government or terrorist organization. This is an easier standard to meet than the criminal wiretap standard, which requires that there be: (1) probable cause that the individual to be tapped has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime, and (2) probable cause that communications concerning that crime will be obtained through the electronic surveillance.

In the 27 years since it was established, the FISA court has turned down only a handful of applications for wiretap orders. The number of approved FISA wiretap orders has jumped since September 11, 2001, with 1,754 FISA orders issued last year, up from 934 such orders in 2001.

FISA already addresses emergency situations where there is not time to get pre-approval from the court. It includes an emergency exception that permits government agents to install a wiretap and start monitoring phone and email conversations immediately, as long as they then go to the FISA court and get a court order within 72 hours.

FISA makes it a crime, punishable by up to five years in prison, to conduct electronic surveillance except as provided for by statute. The only defense is for law government agents engaged in official duties conducting “surveillance authorized by and conducted pursuant to a search warrant or court order.” [50 U.S.C. § 1809]

Congress has specifically stated, in statute, that the criminal wiretap statute and FISA “shall be the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance . . . and the interception of domestic wire, oral, and electronic communications may be conducted.” [18 U.S.C. § 2518(f)]

The target of a FISA wiretap is never given notice that he or she was subject to surveillance, unless the evidence obtained through the electronic surveillance is ultimately used against the target in a criminal trial.

check the time on this post

"I know many Americans have questions about the cost and direction of this war. So tonight I want to talk to you about how far we have come in Iraq, and the path that lies ahead..

This election will not mean the end of violence. But it is the beginning of something new: constitutional democracy at the heart of the Middle East. And this vote - 6,000 miles away, in a vital region of the world - means that America has an ally of growing strength in the fight against terror.


Some look at the challenges in Iraq, and conclude that the war is lost, and not worth another dime or another day. I don't believe that. Our military commanders do not believe that. Our troops in the field, who bear the burden and make the sacrifice, do not believe that America has lost. And not even the terrorists believe it. We know from their own communications that they feel a tightening noose and fear the rise of a democratic Iraq.


It is also important for every American to understand the consequences of pulling out of Iraq before our work is done. We would abandon our Iraqi friends and signal to the world that America cannot be trusted to keep its word. We would hand Iraq over to enemies who have pledged to attack us and the global terrorist movement would be emboldened and more dangerous than ever before."

Let's see if I got a good source...

Terrorism 101

Perhaps we should all remember some basic tenets:

The purpose of terrorism first and foremost is to create a state of anarchy which forces the governing body to tighten laws to the point of pushing aside the "rule of law". In essense, forcing the ruling body to create a totalitarian police state whereby the common people rise up to overthrow the state and take up the cause of the terrorists because they get sick and tired of the loss of freedom, real or imagined.

it is a fine line between protecting the public and overstepping the fourth amendment.

I am continuely amazed that all these people missed poly sci 101

10 December 2005

Understanding 4th Generation Warfare

Politics today are not simple. Many changes are taking place across a broad sprectrum of issues and technological developments.

Back in October 1989 an articel appeared in the Marine Corp Gazette Entitled:

"The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation"

The link is above in the title. As you read through the article I think you will find that all the current issues related to the outsourcing of propaganda to folks like the Lincoln Group are more than likely a necessary component of the new 4th Generation of warfare, albiet, combining it with the current trend of outsourcing it from the a controlled organization like the DIA, CIA, or State, who all take an OATH, and are bound to an ideological ideal, to a COMPANY whose' motivation is the creation of wealth for it's owners, is probably not a good idea. Let's keep this stuff with the warfighters who take an oath and have a basic sense of duty to one another... basic psy ops about how guys in a trench fight for each other an dnot an ideal... companies move where the money is... the more the money the less ethics play a role.

Perhaps this is also why I have a dislike for Rummy. It seems from my rudiemantary understanding that mor espec ops guys are needed. and not just ground pounder spec ops guys. I'm talking about spec ops teams that act like the special rapid-response teams in hospitals. These innovative teams have be proven to cut death rates by 20%! Applying this to military units who examine every aspect of national security, from how to maintain US defense manufacturing capacity if the H5N1 Virus removes 40% of the labor force, to understanding how regular citizens, just doing their jobs can be brought to play a role in observation of potential threats to national security whether it be on wall street in a trading house or at ....
well, I blathered on a bit here just trying to get across a bunch of different concepts at once...

The Universtiy of Pittsburgh Medical Cneter is testing the type of system I am describing with a new protocal called "Condition H"

wow, I think this is the most I have opined thus far on my blog....

after you read one the outline in the link above you might want to click over to the article entitled:
On War #141: "It Ain’t Fair", By William S. Lind:

an excerpt:

"If we look at this practice from a Fourth Generation picture, what do we see? On the surface, it looks as if Islamic non-state elements are making a major blunder. Fourth Generation war theory, drawing from John Boyd, argues that the moral level of war is the most powerful, the physical level is the weakest and the mental level lies somewhere in between. It would seem obvious that when Islamic elements set off bombs that kill other Islamics, they work against themselves at the moral level. To some degree, this is certainly the case. Bombings such as those in Jordan do turn some Moslems against al Qaeda in other similar groups."

Now, back to Rummy... perhaps he wanted to use smaller forces to win in Iraq. He did. But no one questioned that that was going ot happen. Winning 4th gen warfare is a longer slog. By conventional warfare standards in 1st or 2nd gen we won about 3 months after we crossed the border into Iraq.

What we have to understand is that nation building, although part of our national defense, is a different problem...


alright, now I wrote something. I'm open to comment...

The Gulf Dialogue

click the link... lots of good stuf from the meeting 4-7 December 2005


"I keep on my desk under a glass a satellite photograph of the Korean peninsula taken at night. You can see very clearly that light covers most, if not all, of the peninsula’s southern half, below the demilitarized zone, reflecting a nation with energy, a thriving economy and a vibrant democracy. And then you look to the north of the demilitarized zone, where all you see is darkness -- except for a single pinprick of light in Pyongyang, the capital. The same people in the north and the south. The same resources in the north and the south. The difference is freedom -- political freedom and economic freedom."

JUNE 4, 2005, 9:00 AM

The Hon Donald Rumsfeld
US Secretary of Defense

...and some otehr noteworthy quotes from the same speech:
"The U.S. Congress requires that the U.S. Department of Defense report annually on China’s perceived military strategy and its military modernization. The Department’s 2005 report is scheduled to be released soon.

Among other things, the report concludes that China’s defense expenditures are much higher than Chinese officials have published. It is estimated that China’s is the third largest military budget in the world, and clearly the largest in Asia.

China appears to be expanding its missile forces, allowing them to reach targets in many areas of the world, not just the Pacific region, while also expanding its missile capabilities within this region. China also is improving its ability to project power, and developing advanced systems of military technology.

Since no nation threatens China, one must wonder:

* Why this growing investment?
* Why these continuing large and expanding arms purchases?
* Why these continuing robust deployments?"

The Lincoln site that is no More

With all the hubbub about Iraqex and Lincoln Group and I thought it might be intertesting to take a peek at what the OLD website for the company looked like. You won't be finding this stuff any time soon folks:


or howza 'bout this one:

Enough of the Waiting Game

Enough of the Waiting Game
It does not follow, however, that if the Republicans have lost the confidence of the country, the Democrats have won it.
By Anna Quindlen
Dec. 12, 2005 issue - The Iowa caucuses are currently scheduled for Jan. 21 a little more than two years from now, and the New Hampshire primary rolls around soon after

Who cares?

The date of the next presidential election is Nov. 4, 2008.

So what?

The leadership vacuum is here now. The president's job-approval rating is skidding south, and there's a constant, roiling sense of dismay among people of all stripes. Those who think the administration has gone awry are looking for someone to strongly, intelligently articulate an opposing point of view on a broad range of troublesome problems.

But the Democrats are waiting.

Not all of them, of course. The reason that Vietnam vet John Murtha's passionate denunciation of the Iraq war stirred people so was that he was clearly calling on conscience, not listening to the click-click of political calculus. That sort of principled response, without fear or favor, has become the exception, not the rule, in the country and the Democratic Party.

The rule is reaction, not action. The Democrats have become the party that waits. The plan seems to be to wait until the Republicans falter, then to move in for the kill. It's not pretty, it's not inspiring and it's not working.

The president has lost the country. I know this not only because nearly two in three Americans say they disapprove of what passes for policy in Iraq. I know it because when I wrote that the effort was driven now mainly by ego—not gonna back down, not gonna pull out, you're doing a heckuva job, Rummy!—I got hundreds of responses from the like-minded. But many of these weren't from liberal Democrats. They were from people who identified themselves as lifelong Republicans, or former Bush supporters, or Vietnam vets, or even veterans of the Iraq conflict.

It does not follow, however, that if the Republicans have lost the confidence of the country, the Democrats have won it.

This is the perfect time for someone strong and smart and unafraid to step to the podium, to give eloquent, unequivocal speeches wherever a forum exists. For those who have become addicted, like fast-food junkies, to the fat and starch of pragmatic political calculation, it's the perfect time for the Democrats to step up and speak out. There is an enormous constituency, and they are waiting too.

There are the millions of teachers and parents who think that No Child Left Behind is an empty exercise in mindless testing. There are the millions of environmentalists and interested citizens whose intelligence has been insulted by the suggestions that global warming is a myth. There are the displaced residents of the gulf who watched the president congratulate an inept FEMA director who'd gotten his job through cronyism.

There are the researchers and the women who discovered that the FDA had morphed from a scientific body to a political one after the agency refused to approve over-the-counter emergency contraception in deference to the right wing. There are the taxpayers who are flabbergasted that the Republicans style themselves the party of fiscal conservatism and yet have driven both the deficit and government spending into the stratosphere.

Right now all those people are talking to themselves. Who will speak for them?

The most demoralizing thing I've read in a long time is Doris Kearns Goodwin's best seller about Lincoln's inner circle, "Team of Rivals." The action of the book seems to take place not only in another time but on another planet, a planet on which some dare to take strong positions on incendiary issues and to justify those positions through deep and serious thought, and rhetoric of their own making. It is a planet on which the president chooses as his advisers not a coterie of yes men but those who had hoped to have his job, a cabinet of opponents. "I had looked the party over and concluded that these were the very strongest men," Lincoln said later. "Then I had no right to deprive the country of their services."

That is extraordinary leadership. But ordinary leadership would do at the moment. What would it be like to have a public figure brave enough to spell out a competing national agenda, an alternate universe, just because it was right and not because each pronouncement was a calculated paving stone on the road to the presidency? Instead we have political leaders who parse their every word as assiduously as any grammarian.

Instead we exist on a different planet, one in which leadership has been traded for strategy, which is nothing like it, not even a distant cousin. Instead there is the waiting game: how many months to the election, how many dollars to be raised, where to run the commercials, what will corral the most votes and turn off the fewest voters? Too many Americans wait, in vain, for someone to echo their concerns and fears. The body clock of the body politic is set to primary season. What about our time? The alarm is ringing.

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc

The Man Who Sold the War

The Man Who Sold the War
Meet John Rendon, Bush's general in the propaganda war

The road to war in Iraq led through many unlikely places. One of them was a chic hotel nestled among the strip bars and brothels that cater to foreigners in the town of Pattaya, on the Gulf of Thailand.
On December 17th, 2001, in a small room within the sound of the crashing tide, a CIA officer attached metal electrodes to the ring and index fingers of a man sitting pensively in a padded chair. The officer then stretched a black rubber tube, pleated like an accordion, around the man's chest and another across his abdomen. Finally, he slipped a thick cuff over the man's brachial artery, on the inside of his upper arm.

Strapped to the polygraph machine was Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, a forty-three-year-old Iraqi who had fled his homeland in Kurdistan and was now determined to bring down Saddam Hussein. For hours, as thin mechanical styluses traced black lines on rolling graph paper, al-Haideri laid out an explosive tale. Answering yes and no to a series of questions, he insisted repeatedly that he was a civil engineer who had helped Saddam's men to secretly bury tons of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. The illegal arms, according to al-Haideri, were buried in subterranean wells, hidden in private villas, even stashed beneath the Saddam Hussein Hospital, the largest medical facility in Baghdad.

It was damning stuff -- just the kind of evidence the Bush administration was looking for. If the charges were true, they would offer the White House a compelling reason to invade Iraq and depose Saddam. That's why the Pentagon had flown a CIA polygraph expert to Pattaya: to question al-Haideri and confirm, once and for all, that Saddam was secretly stockpiling weapons of mass destruction.

There was only one problem: It was all a lie. After a review of the sharp peaks and deep valleys on the polygraph chart, the intelligence officer concluded that al-Haideri had made up the entire story, apparently in the hopes of securing a visa.

The fabrication might have ended there, the tale of another political refugee trying to scheme his way to a better life. But just because the story wasn't true didn't mean it couldn't be put to good use. Al-Haideri, in fact, was the product of a clandestine operation -- part espionage, part PR campaign -- that had been set up and funded by the CIA and the Pentagon for the express purpose of selling the world a war. And the man who had long been in charge of the marketing was a secretive and mysterious creature of the Washington establishment named John Rendon.

Rendon is a man who fills a need that few people even know exists. Two months before al-Haideri took the lie-detector test, the Pentagon had secretly awarded him a $16 million contract to target Iraq and other adversaries with propaganda. One of the most powerful people in Washington, Rendon is a leader in the strategic field known as "perception management," manipulating information -- and, by extension, the news media -- to achieve the desired result. His firm, the Rendon Group, has made millions off government contracts since 1991, when it was hired by the CIA to help "create the conditions for the removal of Hussein from power." Working under this extraordinary transfer of secret authority, Rendon assembled a group of anti-Saddam militants, personally gave them their name -- the Iraqi National Congress -- and served as their media guru and "senior adviser" as they set out to engineer an uprising against Saddam. It was as if President John F. Kennedy had outsourced the Bay of Pigs operation to the advertising and public-relations firm of J. Walter Thompson.

"They're very closemouthed about what they do," says Kevin McCauley, an editor of the industry trade publication O'Dwyer's PR Daily. "It's all cloak-and-dagger stuff."

Although Rendon denies any direct involvement with al-Haideri, the defector was the latest salvo in a secret media war set in motion by Rendon. In an operation directed by Ahmad Chalabi -- the man Rendon helped install as leader of the INC -- the defector had been brought to Thailand, where he huddled in a hotel room for days with the group's spokesman, Zaab Sethna. The INC routinely coached defectors on their stories, prepping them for polygraph exams, and Sethna was certainly up to the task -- he got his training in the art of propaganda on the payroll of the Rendon Group. According to Francis Brooke, the INC's man in Washington and himself a former Rendon employee, the goal of the al-Haideri operation was simple: pressure the United States to attack Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein.

As the CIA official flew back to Washington with failed lie-detector charts in his briefcase, Chalabi and Sethna didn't hesitate. They picked up the phone, called two journalists who had a long history of helping the INC promote its cause and offered them an exclusive on Saddam's terrifying cache of WMDs.

For the worldwide broadcast rights, Sethna contacted Paul Moran, an Australian freelancer who frequently worked for the Australian Broadcasting Corp. "I think I've got something that you would be interested in," he told Moran, who was living in Bahrain. Sethna knew he could count on the trim, thirty-eight-year-old journalist: A former INC employee in the Middle East, Moran had also been on Rendon's payroll for years in "information operations," working with Sethna at the company's London office on Catherine Place, near Buckingham Palace.

"We were trying to help the Kurds and the Iraqis opposed to Saddam set up a television station," Sethna recalled in a rare interview broadcast on Australian television. "The Rendon Group came to us and said, 'We have a contract to kind of do anti-Saddam propaganda on behalf of the Iraqi opposition.' What we didn't know -- what the Rendon Group didn't tell us -- was in fact it was the CIA that had hired them to do this work."

The INC's choice for the worldwide print exclusive was equally easy: Chalabi contacted Judith Miller of The New York Times. Miller, who was close to I. Lewis Libby and other neoconservatives in the Bush administration, had been a trusted outlet for the INC's anti-Saddam propaganda for years. Not long after the CIA polygraph expert slipped the straps and electrodes off al-Haideri and declared him a liar, Miller flew to Bangkok to interview him under the watchful supervision of his INC handlers. Miller later made perfunctory calls to the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency, but despite her vaunted intelligence sources, she claimed not to know about the results of al-Haideri's lie-detector test. Instead, she reported that unnamed "government experts" called his information "reliable and significant" -- thus adding a veneer of truth to the lies.

Her front-page story, which hit the stands on December 20th, 2001, was exactly the kind of exposure Rendon had been hired to provide. AN IRAQI DEFECTOR TELLS OF WORK ON AT LEAST 20 HIDDEN WEAPONS SITES, declared the headline. "An Iraqi defector who described himself as a civil engineer," Miller wrote, "said he personally worked on renovations of secret facilities for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in underground wells, private villas and under the Saddam Hussein Hospital in Baghdad as recently as a year ago." If verified, she noted, "his allegations would provide ammunition to officials within the Bush administration who have been arguing that Mr. Hussein should be driven from power partly because of his unwillingness to stop making weapons of mass destruction, despite his pledges to do so."

For months, hawks inside and outside the administration had been pressing for a pre-emptive attack on Iraq. Now, thanks to Miller's story, they could point to "proof" of Saddam's "nuclear threat." The story, reinforced by Moran's on-camera interview with al-Haideri on the giant Australian Broadcasting Corp., was soon being trumpeted by the White House and repeated by newspapers and television networks around the world. It was the first in a long line of hyped and fraudulent stories that would eventually propel the U.S. into a war with Iraq -- the first war based almost entirely on a covert propaganda campaign targeting the media.

By law, the Bush administration is expressly prohibited from disseminating government propaganda at home. But in an age of global communications, there is nothing to stop it from planting a phony pro-war story overseas -- knowing with certainty that it will reach American citizens almost instantly. A recent congressional report suggests that the Pentagon may be relying on "covert psychological operations affecting audiences within friendly nations." In a "secret amendment" to Pentagon policy, the report warns, "psyops funds might be used to publish stories favorable to American policies, or hire outside contractors without obvious ties to the Pentagon to organize rallies in support of administration policies." The report also concludes that military planners are shifting away from the Cold War view that power comes from superior weapons systems. Instead, the Pentagon now believes that "combat power can be enhanced by communications networks and technologies that control access to, and directly manipulate, information. As a result, information itself is now both a tool and a target of warfare."

It is a belief John Rendon encapsulated in a speech to cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1996. "I am not a national-security strategist or a military tactician," he declared. "I am a politician, a person who uses communication to meet public-policy or corporate-policy objectives. In fact, I am an information warrior and a perception manager." To explain his philosophy, Rendon paraphrased a journalist he knew from his days as a staffer on the presidential campaigns of George McGovern and Jimmy Carter: "This is probably best described in the words of Hunter S. Thompson, when he wrote, 'When things turn weird, the weird turn pro.'"

John Walter Rendon Jr. rises at 3 a.m. each morning after six hours of sleep, turns on his Apple computer and begins ingesting information -- overnight news reports, e-mail messages, foreign and domestic newspapers, and an assortment of government documents. According to Pentagon documents obtained by Rolling Stone, the Rendon Group is authorized "to research and analyze information classified up to Top Secret/SCI/SI/TK/G/HCS" -- an extraordinarily high level of clearance granted to only a handful of defense contractors. "SCI" stands for Sensitive Compartmented Information, data classified higher than Top Secret. "SI" is Special Intelligence, very secret communications intercepted by the National Security Agency. "TK" refers to Talent/Keyhole, code names for imagery from reconnaissance aircraft and spy satellites. "G" stands for Gamma (communications intercepts from extremely sensitive sources) and "HCS" means Humint Control System (information from a very sensitive human source). Taken together, the acronyms indicate that Rendon enjoys access to the most secret information from all three forms of intelligence collection: eavesdropping, imaging satellites and human spies.

Rendon lives in a multimillion-dollar home in Washington's exclusive Kalorama neighborhood. A few doors down from Rendon is the home of former Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara; just around the corner lives current Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. At fifty-six, Rendon wears owlish glasses and combs his thick mane of silver-gray hair to the side, Kennedy-style. He heads to work each morning clad in a custom-made shirt with his monogram on the right cuff and a sharply tailored blue blazer that hangs loose around his bulky frame. By the time he pulls up to the Rendon Group's headquarters near Dupont Circle, he has already racked up a handsome fee for the morning's work: According to federal records, Rendon charges the CIA and the Pentagon $311.26 an hour for his services.

Rendon is one of the most influential of the private contractors in Washington who are increasingly taking over jobs long reserved for highly trained CIA employees. In recent years, spies-for-hire have begun to replace regional desk officers, who control clandestine operations around the world; watch officers at the agency's twenty-four-hour crisis center; analysts, who sift through reams of intelligence data; and even counterintelligence officers in the field, who oversee meetings between agents and their recruited spies. According to one senior administration official involved in intelligence-budget decisions, half of the CIA's work is now performed by private contractors -- people completely unaccountable to Congress. Another senior budget official acknowledges privately that lawmakers have no idea how many rent-a-spies the CIA currently employs -- or how much unchecked power they enjoy.

Unlike many newcomers to the field, however, Rendon is a battle-tested veteran who has been secretly involved in nearly every American shooting conflict in the past two decades. In the first interview he has granted in decades, Rendon offered a peek through the keyhole of this seldom-seen world of corporate spooks -- a rarefied but growing profession. Over a dinner of lamb chops and a bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape at a private Washington club, Rendon was guarded about the details of his clandestine work -- but he boasted openly of the sweep and importance of his firm's efforts as a for-profit spy. "We've worked in ninety-one countries," he said. "Going all the way back to Panama, we've been involved in every war, with the exception of Somalia."

It is an unusual career twist for someone who entered politics as an opponent of the Vietnam War. The son of a stockbroker, Rendon grew up in New Jersey and stumped for McGovern before graduating from Northeastern University. "I was the youngest state coordinator," he recalls. "I had Maine. They told me that I understood politics -- which was a stretch, being so young." Rendon, who went on to serve as executive director of the Democratic National Committee, quickly mastered the combination of political skulduggery and media manipulation that would become his hallmark. In 1980, as the manager of Jimmy Carter's troops at the national convention in New York, he was sitting alone in the bleachers at Madison Square Garden when a reporter for ABC News approached him. "They actually did a little piece about the man behind the curtain," Rendon says. "A Wizard of Oz thing." It was a role he would end up playing for the rest of his life.

After Carter lost the election and the hard-right Reagan revolutionaries came to power in 1981, Rendon went into business with his younger brother Rick. "Everybody started consulting," he recalls. "We started consulting." They helped elect John Kerry to the Senate in 1984 and worked for the AFL-CIO to mobilize the union vote for Walter Mondale's presidential campaign. Among the items Rendon produced was a training manual for union organizers to operate as political activists on behalf of Mondale. To keep the operation quiet, Rendon stamped CONFIDENTIAL on the cover of each of the blue plastic notebooks. It was a penchant for secrecy that would soon pervade all of his consulting deals.

To a large degree, the Rendon Group is a family affair. Rendon's wife, Sandra Libby, handles the books as chief financial officer and "senior communications strategist." Rendon's brother Rick serves as senior partner and runs the company's Boston office, producing public-service announcements for the Whale Conservation Institute and coordinating Empower Peace, a campaign that brings young people in the Middle East in contact with American kids through video-conferencing technology. But the bulk of the company's business is decidedly less liberal and peace oriented. Rendon's first experience in the intelligence world, in fact, came courtesy of the Republicans. "Panama," he says, "brought us into the national-security environment."

In 1989, shortly after his election, President George H.W. Bush signed a highly secret "finding" authorizing the CIA to funnel $10 million to opposition forces in Panama to overthrow Gen. Manuel Noriega. Reluctant to involve agency personnel directly, the CIA turned to the Rendon Group. Rendon's job was to work behind the scenes, using a variety of campaign and psychological techniques to put the CIA's choice, Guillermo Endara, into the presidential palace. Cash from the agency, laundered through various bank accounts and front organizations, would end up in Endara's hands, who would then pay Rendon.

A heavyset, fifty-three-year-old corporate attorney with little political experience, Endara was running against Noriega's handpicked choice, Carlos Duque. With Rendon's help, Endara beat Duque decisively at the polls -- but Noriega simply named himself "Maximum Leader" and declared the election null and void. The Bush administration then decided to remove Noriega by force -- and Rendon's job shifted from generating local support for a national election to building international support for regime change. Within days he had found the ultimate propaganda tool.

At the end of a rally in support of Endara, a band of Noriega's Dignity Battalion -- nicknamed "Dig Bats" and called "Doberman thugs" by Bush -- attacked the crowd with wooden planks, metal pipes and guns. Gang members grabbed the bodyguard of Guillermo Ford, one of Endara's vice-presidential candidates, pushed him against a car, shoved a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. With cameras snapping, the Dig Bats turned on Ford, batting his head with a spike-tipped metal rod and pounding him with heavy clubs, turning his white guayabera bright red with blood -- his own, and that of his dead bodyguard.

Within hours, Rendon made sure the photos reached every newsroom in the world. The next week an image of the violence made the cover of Time magazine with the caption POLITICS PANAMA STYLE: NORIEGA BLUDGEONS HIS OPPOSITION, AND THE U.S. TURNS UP THE HEAT. To further boost international support for Endara, Rendon escorted Ford on a tour of Europe to meet British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the Italian prime minister and even the pope. In December 1989, when Bush decided to invade Panama, Rendon and several of his employees were on one of the first military jets headed to Panama City.

"I arrived fifteen minutes before it started," Rendon recalls. "My first impression is having the pilot in the plane turn around and say, 'Excuse me, sir, but if you look off to the left you'll see the attack aircraft circling before they land.' Then I remember this major saying, 'Excuse me, sir, but do you know what the air-defense capability of Panama is at the moment?' I leaned into the cockpit and said, 'Look, major, I hope by now that's no longer an issue.'"

Moments later, Rendon's plane landed at Howard Air Force Base in Panama. "I needed to get to Fort Clayton, which was where the president was," he says. "I was choppered over -- and we took some rounds on the way." There, on a U.S. military base surrounded by 24,000 U.S. troops, heavy tanks and Combat Talon AC-130 gunships, Rendon's client, Endara, was at last sworn in as president of Panama.

Rendon's involvement in the campaign to oust Saddam Hussein began seven months later, in July 1990. Rendon had taken time out for a vacation -- a long train ride across Scotland -- when he received an urgent call. "Soldiers are massing at the border outside of Kuwait," he was told. At the airport, he watched the beginning of the Iraqi invasion on television. Winging toward Washington in the first-class cabin of a Pan Am 747, Rendon spent the entire flight scratching an outline of his ideas in longhand on a yellow legal pad.

"I wrote a memo about what the Kuwaitis were going to face, and I based it on our experience in Panama and the experience of the Free French operation in World War II," Rendon says. "This was something that they needed to see and hear, and that was my whole intent. Go over, tell the Kuwaitis, 'Here's what you've got -- here's some observations, here's some recommendations, live long and prosper.'"

Back in Washington, Rendon immediately called Hamilton Jordan, the former chief of staff to President Carter and an old friend from his Democratic Party days. "He put me in touch with the Saudis, the Saudis put me in touch with the Kuwaitis and then I went over and had a meeting with the Kuwaitis," Rendon recalls. "And by the time I landed back in the United States, I got a phone call saying, 'Can you come back? We want you to do what's in the memo.'"

What the Kuwaitis wanted was help in selling a war of liberation to the American government -- and the American public. Rendon proposed a massive "perception management" campaign designed to convince the world of the need to join forces to rescue Kuwait. The Kuwaiti government in exile agreed to pay Rendon $100,000 a month for his assistance.

To coordinate the operation, Rendon opened an office in London. Once the Gulf War began, he remained extremely busy trying to prevent the American press from reporting on the dark side of the Kuwaiti government, an autocratic oil-tocracy ruled by a family of wealthy sheiks. When newspapers began reporting that many Kuwaitis were actually living it up in nightclubs in Cairo as Americans were dying in the Kuwaiti sand, the Rendon Group quickly counterattacked. Almost instantly, a wave of articles began appearing telling the story of grateful Kuwaitis mailing 20,000 personally signed valentines to American troops on the front lines, all arranged by Rendon.

Rendon also set up an elaborate television and radio network, and developed programming that was beamed into Kuwait from Taif, Saudi Arabia. "It was important that the Kuwaitis in occupied Kuwait understood that the rest of the world was doing something," he says. Each night, Rendon's troops in London produced a script and sent it via microwave to Taif, ensuring that the "news" beamed into Kuwait reflected a sufficiently pro-American line.

When it comes to staging a war, few things are left to chance. After Iraq withdrew from Kuwait, it was Rendon's responsibility to make the victory march look like the flag-waving liberation of France after World War II. "Did you ever stop to wonder," he later remarked, "how the people of Kuwait City, after being held hostage for seven long and painful months, were able to get hand-held American -- and, for that matter, the flags of other coalition countries?" After a pause, he added, "Well, you now know the answer. That was one of my jobs then."

Although his work is highly secret, Rendon insists he deals only in "timely, truthful and accurate information." His job, he says, is to counter false perceptions that the news media perpetuate because they consider it "more important to be first than to be right." In modern warfare, he believes, the outcome depends largely on the public's perception of the war -- whether it is winnable, whether it is worth the cost. "We are being haunted and stalked by the difference between perception and reality," he says. "Because the lines are divergent, this difference between perception and reality is one of the greatest strategic communications challenges of war."

By the time the Gulf War came to a close in 1991, the Rendon Group was firmly established as Washington's leading salesman for regime change. But Rendon's new assignment went beyond simply manipulating the media. After the war ended, the Top Secret order signed by President Bush to oust Hussein included a rare "lethal finding" -- meaning deadly action could be taken if necessary. Under contract to the CIA, Rendon was charged with helping to create a dissident force with the avowed purpose of violently overthrowing the entire Iraqi government. It is an undertaking that Rendon still considers too classified to discuss. "That's where we're wandering into places I'm not going to talk about," he says. "If you take an oath, it should mean something."

Thomas Twetten, the CIA's former deputy of operations, credits Rendon with virtually creating the INC. "The INC was clueless," he once observed. "They needed a lot of help and didn't know where to start. That is why Rendon was brought in." Acting as the group's senior adviser and aided by truckloads of CIA dollars, Rendon pulled together a wide spectrum of Iraqi dissidents and sponsored a conference in Vienna to organize them into an umbrella organization, which he dubbed the Iraqi National Congress. Then, as in Panama, his assignment was to help oust a brutal dictator and replace him with someone chosen by the CIA. "The reason they got the contract was because of what they had done in Panama -- so they were known," recalls Whitley Bruner, former chief of the CIA's station in Baghdad. This time the target was Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and the agency's successor of choice was Ahmad Chalabi, a crafty, avuncular Iraqi exile beloved by Washington's neoconservatives.

Chalabi was a curious choice to lead a rebellion. In 1992, he was convicted in Jordan of making false statements and embezzling $230 million from his own bank, for which he was sentenced in absentia to twenty-two years of hard labor. But the only credential that mattered was his politics. "From day one," Rendon says, "Chalabi was very clear that his biggest interest was to rid Iraq of Saddam." Bruner, who dealt with Chalabi and Rendon in London in 1991, puts it even more bluntly. "Chalabi's primary focus," he said later, "was to drag us into a war."

The key element of Rendon's INC operation was a worldwide media blitz designed to turn Hussein, a once dangerous but now contained regional leader, into the greatest threat to world peace. Each month, $326,000 was passed from the CIA to the Rendon Group and the INC via various front organizations. Rendon profited handsomely, receiving a "management fee" of ten percent above what it spent on the project. According to some reports, the company made nearly $100 million on the contract during the five years following the Gulf War.

Rendon made considerable headway with the INC, but following the group's failed coup attempt against Saddam in 1996, the CIA lost confidence in Chalabi and cut off his monthly paycheck. But Chalabi and Rendon simply switched sides, moving over to the Pentagon, and the money continued to flow. "The Rendon Group is not in great odor in Langley these days," notes Bruner. "Their contracts are much more with the Defense Department."

Rendon's influence rose considerably in Washington after the terrorist attacks of September 11th. In a single stroke, Osama bin Laden altered the world's perception of reality -- and in an age of nonstop information, whoever controls perception wins. What Bush needed to fight the War on Terror was a skilled information warrior -- and Rendon was widely acknowledged as the best. "The events of 11 September 2001 changed everything, not least of which was the administration's outlook concerning strategic influence," notes one Army report. "Faced with direct evidence that many people around the world actively hated the United States, Bush began taking action to more effectively explain U.S. policy overseas. Initially the White House and DoD turned to the Rendon Group."

Three weeks after the September 11th attacks, according to documents obtained from defense sources, the Pentagon awarded a large contract to the Rendon Group. Around the same time, Pentagon officials also set up a highly secret organization called the Office of Strategic Influence. Part of the OSI's mission was to conduct covert disinformation and deception operations -- planting false news items in the media and hiding their origins. "It's sometimes valuable from a military standpoint to be able to engage in deception with respect to future anticipated plans," Vice President Dick Cheney said in explaining the operation. Even the military's top brass found the clandestine unit unnerving. "When I get their briefings, it's scary," a senior official said at the time.

In February 2002, The New York Times reported that the Pentagon had hired Rendon "to help the new office," a charge Rendon denies. "We had nothing to do with that," he says. "We were not in their reporting chain. We were reporting directly to the J-3" -- the head of operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Following the leak, Rumsfeld was forced to shut down the organization. But much of the office's operations were apparently shifted to another unit, deeper in the Pentagon's bureaucracy, called the Information Operations Task Force, and Rendon was closely connected to this group. "Greg Newbold was the J-3 at the time, and we reported to him through the IOTF," Rendon says.

According to the Pentagon documents, the Rendon Group played a major role in the IOTF. The company was charged with creating an "Information War Room" to monitor worldwide news reports at lightning speed and respond almost instantly with counterpropaganda. A key weapon, according to the documents, was Rendon's "proprietary state-of-the-art news-wire collection system called 'Livewire,' which takes real-time news-wire reports, as they are filed, before they are on the Internet, before CNN can read them on the air and twenty-four hours before they appear in the morning newspapers, and sorts them by keyword. The system provides the most current real-time access to news and information available to private or public organizations."

The top target that the pentagon assigned to Rendon was the Al-Jazeera television network. The contract called for the Rendon Group to undertake a massive "media mapping" campaign against the news organization, which the Pentagon considered "critical to U.S. objectives in the War on Terrorism." According to the contract, Rendon would provide a "detailed content analysis of the station's daily broadcast . . . [and] identify the biases of specific journalists and potentially obtain an understanding of their allegiances, including the possibility of specific relationships and sponsorships."

The secret targeting of foreign journalists may have had a sinister purpose. Among the missions proposed for the Pentagon's Office of Strategic Influence was one to "coerce" foreign journalists and plant false information overseas. Secret briefing papers also said the office should find ways to "punish" those who convey the "wrong message." One senior officer told CNN that the plan would "formalize government deception, dishonesty and misinformation."

According to the Pentagon documents, Rendon would use his media analysis to conduct a worldwide propaganda campaign, deploying teams of information warriors to allied nations to assist them "in developing and delivering specific messages to the local population, combatants, front-line states, the media and the international community." Among the places Rendon's info-war teams would be sent were Jakarta, Indonesia; Islamabad, Pakistan; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Cairo; Ankara, Turkey; and Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The teams would produce and script television news segments "built around themes and story lines supportive of U.S. policy objectives."

Rendon was also charged with engaging in "military deception" online -- an activity once assigned to the OSI. The company was contracted to monitor Internet chat rooms in both English and Arabic -- and "participate in these chat rooms when/if tasked." Rendon would also create a Web site "with regular news summaries and feature articles. Targeted at the global public, in English and at least four (4) additional languages, this activity also will include an extensive e-mail push operation." These techniques are commonly used to plant a variety of propaganda, including false information.

Still another newly formed propaganda operation in which Rendon played a major part was the Office of Global Communications, which operated out of the White House and was charged with spreading the administration's message on the War in Iraq. Every morning at 9:30, Rendon took part in the White House OGC conference call, where officials would discuss the theme of the day and who would deliver it. The office also worked closely with the White House Iraq Group, whose high-level members, including recently indicted Cheney chief of staff Lewis Libby, were responsible for selling the war to the American public.

Never before in history had such an extensive secret network been established to shape the entire world's perception of a war. "It was not just bad intelligence -- it was an orchestrated effort," says Sam Gardner, a retired Air Force colonel who has taught strategy and military operations at the National War College. "It began before the war, was a major effort during the war and continues as post-conflict distortions."

In the first weeks following the September 11th attacks, Rendon operated at a frantic pitch. "In the early stages it was fielding every ground ball that was coming, because nobody was sure if we were ever going to be attacked again," he says. "It was 'What do you know about this, what do you know about that, what else can you get, can you talk to somebody over here?' We functioned twenty-four hours a day. We maintained situational awareness, in military terms, on all things related to terrorism. We were doing 195 newspapers and 43 countries in fourteen or fifteen languages. If you do this correctly, I can tell you what's on the evening news tonight in a country before it happens. I can give you, as a policymaker, a six-hour break on how you can affect what's going to be on the news. They'll take that in a heartbeat."

The Bush administration took everything Rendon had to offer. Between 2000 and 2004, Pentagon documents show, the Rendon Group received at least thirty-five contracts with the Defense Department, worth a total of $50 million to $100 million.

The mourners genuflected, made the sign of the cross and took their seats along the hard, shiny pews of Our Lady of Victories Catholic Church. It was April 2nd, 2003 -- the start of fall in the small Australian town of Glenelg, an aging beach resort of white Victorian homes and soft, blond sand on Holdback Bay. Rendon had flown halfway around the world to join nearly 600 friends and family who were gathered to say farewell to a local son and amateur football champ, Paul Moran. Three days into the invasion of Iraq, the freelance journalist and Rendon employee had become the first member of the media to be killed in the war -- a war he had covertly helped to start.

Moran had lived a double life, filing reports for the Australian Broadcasting Corp. and other news organizations, while at other times operating as a clandestine agent for Rendon, enjoying what his family calls his "James Bond lifestyle." Moran had trained Iraqi opposition forces in photographic espionage, showing them how to covertly document Iraqi military activities, and had produced pro-war announcements for the Pentagon. "He worked for the Rendon Group in London," says his mother, Kathleen. "They just send people all over the world -- where there are wars."

Moran was covering the Iraq invasion for ABC, filming at a Kurdish-controlled checkpoint in the city of Sulaymaniyah, when a car driven by a suicide bomber blew up next to him. "I saw the car in a kind of slow-motion disintegrate," recalls Eric Campbell, a correspondent who was filming with Moran. "A soldier handed me a passport, which was charred. That's when I knew Paul was dead."

As the Mass ended and Moran's Australian-flag-draped coffin passed by the mourners, Rendon lifted his right arm and saluted. He refused to discuss Moran's role in the company, saying only that "Paul worked for us on a number of projects." But on the long flight back to Washington, across more than a dozen time zones, Rendon outlined his feelings in an e-mail: "The day did begin with dark and ominous clouds much befitting the emotions we all felt -- sadness and anger at the senseless violence that claimed our comrade Paul Moran ten short days ago and many decades of emotion ago."

The Rendon Group also organized a memorial service in London, where Moran first went to work for the company in 1990. Held at Home House, a private club in Portman Square where Moran often stayed while visiting the city, the event was set among photographs of Moran in various locations around the Middle East. Zaab Sethna, who organized the al-Haideri media exclusive in Thailand for Moran and Judith Miller, gave a touching tribute to his former colleague. "I think that on both a personal and professional level Paul was deeply admired and loved by the people at the Rendon Group," Sethna later said.

Although Moran was gone, the falsified story about weapons of mass destruction that he and Sethna had broadcast around the world lived on. Seven months earlier, as President Bush was about to argue his case for war before the U.N., the White House had given prominent billing to al-Haideri's fabricated charges. In a report ironically titled "Iraq: Denial and Deception," the administration referred to al-Haideri by name and detailed his allegations -- even though the CIA had already determined them to be lies. The report was placed on the White House Web site on September 12th, 2002, and remains there today. One version of the report even credits Miller's article for the information.

Miller also continued to promote al-Haideri's tale of Saddam's villainy. In January 2003, more than a year after her first article appeared, Miller again reported that Pentagon "intelligence officials" were telling her that "some of the most valuable information has come from Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri." His interviews with the Defense Intelligence Agency, Miller added, "ultimately resulted in dozens of highly credible reports on Iraqi weapons-related activity and purchases, officials said."

Finally, in early 2004, more than two years after he made the dramatic allegations to Miller and Moran about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, al-Haideri was taken back to Iraq by the CIA's Iraq Survey Group. On a wide-ranging trip through Baghdad and other key locations, al-Haideri was given the opportunity to point out exactly where Saddam's stockpiles were hidden, confirming the charges that had helped to start a war.

In the end, he could not identify a single site where illegal weapons were buried.

As the war in Iraq has spiraled out of control, the Bush administration's covert propaganda campaign has intensified. According to a secret Pentagon report personally approved by Rumsfeld in October 2003 and obtained by Rolling Stone, the Strategic Command is authorized to engage in "military deception" -- defined as "presenting false information, images or statements." The seventy-four-page document, titled "Information Operations Roadmap," also calls for psychological operations to be launched over radio, television, cell phones and "emerging technologies" such as the Internet. In addition to being classified secret, the road map is also stamped noforn, meaning it cannot be shared even with our allies.

As the acknowledged general of such propaganda warfare, Rendon insists that the work he does is for the good of all Americans. "For us, it's a question of patriotism," he says. "It's not a question of politics, and that's an important distinction. I feel very strongly about that personally. If brave men and women are going to be put in harm's way, they deserve support." But in Iraq, American troops and Iraqi civilians were put in harm's way, in large part, by the false information spread by Rendon and the men he trained in information warfare. And given the rapid growth of what is known as the "security-intelligence complex" in Washington, covert perception managers are likely to play an increasingly influential role in the wars of the future.

Indeed, Rendon is already thinking ahead. Last year, he attended a conference on information operations in London, where he offered an assessment on the Pentagon's efforts to manipulate the media. According to those present, Rendon applauded the practice of embedding journalists with American forces. "He said the embedded idea was great," says an Air Force colonel who attended the talk. "It worked as they had found in the test. It was the war version of reality television, and for the most part they did not lose control of the story." But Rendon also cautioned that individual news organizations were often able to "take control of the story," shaping the news before the Pentagon asserted its spin on the day's events.

"We lost control of the context," Rendon warned. "That has to be fixed for the next war."

James Bamford is the best-selling author of "A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies" (2004) and "Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency" (2001). This is his first article for Rolling Stone.

NOTE: This story has been updated to make two clarifications to the original, published version