Jasper Johns - Flag - 1954-55

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"As Bush leads the nation toward a confrontation with Iraq and his party into battle in midterm elections, his rhetoric has taken some flights of fancy in recent weeks."
"At a hearing before the congressional intelligence committees to examine the events leading up to September 11 he (CIA director George Tenet) said: 'The threat environment we find ourselves in today is as bad as it was last summer, the summer before 9/11. It is serious, they've reconstituted, they are coming after us, they want to execute attacks.'"
"President Bush said today that the United States was trying diplomacy 'one more time' to disarm Saddam Hussein 'peacefully' and suggested that if the Iraqi leader complied with every United Nations mandate it would 'signal the regime has changed.'"
"A possible US plan for a long occupation of Iraq under a military administration has triggered concern inside the British government as it examines strategic options for the aftermath of Saddam Hussein's regime."
"Russian officials are reported to have voiced disappointment with a new US draft resolution on Iraq, saying it is not very different from previous proposals aimed at compelling Baghdad to disarm."
"A senior US defence official has told the BBC that expanded training being planned for Iraqi opponents of Saddam Hussein could take place in around half a dozen countries."
"By one estimate, the number of civilians killed per bomb dropped may have been four times as high in Afghanistan as in Yugoslavia."
"Fight may have been a tactic to buy time for bin Laden to escape"
"The American military is training furiously and polishing a plan for attacking Baghdad that calls for isolating the city and then taking control of it by seizing or destroying Saddam Hussein's pillars of power ó but avoiding house-to-house combat in its hostile streets."
"Used to taunts from the North, some people in Seoul worry more about American overreaction."
"The Czech president, Vaclav Havel, has quietly told the White House he has concluded that there is no evidence to confirm earlier reports that Mohamed Atta, the leader in the Sept. 11 attacks, met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague just months before the attacks on New York and Washington, according to Czech officials."

See also: Anatomy of a Rumor
"A United States-led attack on Iraq would probably devastate its tattered and already overwhelmed infrastructure, severing power to hospitals and water treatment plants, cutting off drinking water almost immediately to millions in Baghdad and possibly elsewhere, and pouring raw sewage into the streets within hours, aid workers and specialists say."
"A US-led attack on Iraq would probably devastate the country's tattered and already overwhelmed infrastructure, shutting down power to hospitals and water treatment plants, cutting off drinking water almost immediately to millions of residents in Baghdad and possibly elsewhere, and pouring raw sewage into the streets within hours, aid workers and specialists say."
"BRITAINíS top war planners are to take part in an American exercise in the Gulf that will be a dry run for any invasion of Iraq."
"In high-tech gear, soldiers prep for weapons that could be merely irksome Ė or incapacitating."

See also: Why Stop With Iraq?
"Secretary of State Colin Powell, who has spoken of 'regime change' in Iraq for at least 18 months, said Sunday that the United States might not seek to remove Saddam Hussein if he abandoned his weapons of mass destruction."
"The Bush administration, anticipating approval of a United Nations Security Council resolution that falls short of what it was seeking, is now pressing harder than ever for inspections of Iraq's weapons program to be carried out quickly and forcefully. Administration officials say the goal is to prevent months of delay that could postpone retaliation for Iraq's noncompliance."
"... members of the palace guard, charged with protecting President Hamid Karzai, say the construction sits above an aging bunker complex and that U.S. forces from the 769th Engineer Battalion are refashioning it for the President. 'We're building an underground bunker for Karzai,' a member of the battalion told TIME."
"About four million people in rural areas of Afghanistan will need food aid in the coming year due to the country's long-running drought, the World Food Program said Sunday."
"The Pentagon is scaling back its role in the 'war on drugs' in what amounts to a tacit admission of failure in countering the narcotics trade. Senior military officials claim they must cut back drugs operations to concentrate on the war on terror."
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"Some Bush administration officials have become concerned that the rash of attacks in Indonesia, Yemen and Kuwait in the past week could undermine public support for a confrontation with Iraq by reminding Americans that the country still faces a long struggle in the war on terrorism."

and this:

"To date, the administration has provided little proof of any links between Hussein and al Qaeda. Chas Freeman, the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War in 1991, said that the idea that a secular leader such as Hussein would link up with 'religious diehards' who despise his government is 'a very strange notion indeed.'

But Freeman said the administration's assertions might become a self-fulfilling prophecy if the United States does launch an attack. In that case, he said, Hussein might 'make an alliance with the devil' and promote terrorist attacks if he had nothing to lose."
"U.S. troops are giving confiscated weapons and ammunition to warlords in Afghanistan, a practice that critics say strengthens private militias and undermines attempts to establish a national army."
"Undermined by the defense minister and short on weapons, the Afghan Army is struggling."
"Pyongyang says it has fostered a secret nuclear weapons programme despite having agreed a ban in 1994, reports say."
"United States said on Wednesday it was seeking to peacefully resolve differences with North Korea after revelations that Pyongyang had acknowledged a secret nuclear weapons program."
"The United States, showing signs of impatience in seeking United Nations backing for action against Iraq, intends to submit a new U.N. draft resolution shortly, diplomats said late on Wednesday.

Facing opposition from most countries in the world, including key members of the U.N. Security Council, the Bush administration has softened some language in its original draft but still seeks authorization to use force, the envoys said."
"AMERICA and its key allies were in open dispute over Iraq last night after President Bush warned the world that it could be held hostage by President Saddam Husseinís weapons of mass destruction.

He faced a humiliating rebuff, however, from European leaders and from a growing majority of members of the United Nations, who are refusing to give America a mandate to use force against Iraq."
"The Bush administration's push for an early American-led war against Iraq drew broad opposition today in an unusual open debate in the Security Council. Many countries backed weapons inspections, and Arab states said they would not support an attack without United Nations endorsement, considering an attack only as a last resort."
"The Bush administration's efforts to cut off funds for international terrorism are destined to fail until it confronts Saudi Arabia, whose leaders have tolerated some of its wealthy citizens raising millions of dollars a year for al Qaeda, according to a new report from an influential foreign policy organization."
"Saddam Hussein wants to use al-Qaida as his 'forward army' against the West, President Bush warned, pointing to the Indonesian car bombing as fresh evidence of the need to stamp out the terror network.

'We need to think about Saddam Hussein using al-Qaida to do his dirty work, to not leave fingerprints behind,' Bush said Monday at a rally for Michigan's GOP candidates.

'This is a man who we know has had connections with al-Qaida. This is a man who, in my judgment, would like to use al-Qaida as a forward army,' Bush said later at a Dearborn, Mich. fund-raiser.
"Indeed, nearly two dozen current and former top officers and civilian officials said in interviews that there is a huge discrepancy between the outside perception of Rumsfeld -- the crisp, no-nonsense defense secretary who became a media star through his briefings on the Afghan war -- and the way he is seen inside the Pentagon. Many senior officers on the Joint Staff and in all branches of the military describe Rumsfeld as frequently abusive and indecisive, trusting only a tiny circle of close advisers, seemingly eager to slap down officers with decades of distinguished service. The unhappiness is so pervasive that all three service secretaries are said to be deeply frustrated by a lack of autonomy and contemplating leaving by the end of the year."
"The vice president blocks an independent commission to investigate 9-11"
"France, Russia and China and several other members of the U.N. Security Council remain opposed to a U.S.-backed resolution on the best way to disarm Iraq despite renewed negotiations and concessions by the Americans."
"A dozen Kuwaiti captives have mounted the first organized legal and diplomatic effort by prisoners at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay to challenge U.S. policy that holds terrorism suspects indefinitely without court hearings or charges being filed against them."
"The commander of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp - who was criticised in the US press for being too soft on the inmates - has been dismissed, it emerged yesterday."
"But there's no denying that access to oil has long been the chief US strategic interest in the Gulf region. And Iraq, seen in this context, is immensely interesting. Its millions of barrels of petroleum could fund Iraqi national reconstruction, change the balance of power in the region, and perhaps help stabilize gas prices for a generation."
Costs:

The war in Afghanistan: $12.6 billion in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2002.

War estimates for the 2003 fiscal year: $600 million to $750 million per month.

Amount of Pentagon budget committed to civil works or humanitarian aid projects in Afghanistan: $10 million.

Amount of Pentagon budget actually committed, through July 2002: $5.2 million.
"Afghanistan's alliance with the United States could make it a prime target for terrorists if President Bush orders an invasion of Iraq, the country's foreign minister said."
"The Afghan government, which owes its existence to the U.S.-led military campaign, said it wouldn't support a U.S. strike against Iraq without United Nations approval."
"The Pentagon is preparing and positioning U.S. forces in ways that suggest they soon will be able to move swiftly against the Iraqi regime, although President Bush says war is neither imminent nor inevitable."
"Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said Monday his country opposed war on Iraq and would not participate in any possible U.S. strike against the kingdom's northern neighbor."
"US troops in northern Kuwait have been fired at from two unidentified civilian vehicles, the US embassy in Kuwait said."
"A surge in al Qaeda activity will force Washington and European governments to think seriously not only about how -- and whether -- to move forward with campaigns against both Iraq and al Qaeda, but also about strategies for dealing with intractable political problems that continue to fuel al Qaeda's activity."
"The president says the US has to act now against Iraq. The trouble is, his own security services don't agree."
"The impasse between the United States and France over military action in Iraq has deepened in recent days after an effort to reach a compromise stalled, with the French insisting that the Americans must come back to the United Nations Security Council before they can use force, diplomats said today."
"Hard-line Islamic parties that have emerged as potential coalition partners after a general election in Pakistan said Monday they would seek to impose Islamic law in the country and ask U.S. troops to leave."
"While anti-Americanism has long had deep roots here, Western diplomats and Pakistani analysts all insisted that there was no great cause for concern because Pakistan's wealthy elite and urban middle class would never support the country's Islamic religious parties.

That changed on Thursday, when residents of Islamabad, with the richest and most well-educated population in Pakistan, backed the local candidate of a coalition of religious parties bent on expelling American forces from Pakistan, ending corruption and imposing Taliban-style Islamic law."
"Pakistan's masses have sent a clear signal of simmering resentment over the US war on terror which is playing out in their own backyard."
"The White House is developing a detailed plan, modeled on the postwar occupation of Japan, to install an American-led military government in Iraq if the United States topples Saddam Hussein, senior administration officials said today."
"The former U.S. military commander for the Middle East came out against a U.S.-led invasion of Iraq yesterday, saying that he believes the policy of containing President Saddam Hussein has been working."
"Estimates are as high as $200 billion. But while some lawmakers ask about the monetary impact, the questions go mainly unanswered."
"Americans still are welcomed here, but feelings on the street are notably less enthusiastic and universal than they were a decade ago, according to Kuwaitis and longtime American residents. Many Kuwaitis say that while they remain grateful to the United States, they are outraged by what they perceive as growing U.S. bias toward Israel and against the Palestinians."
"A coalition of pro-Taliban parties won control of a provincial legislature near the Afghan border Friday, the first solid results from Pakistan's election."
"OSAMA bin Laden is alive, travelling with his lieutenant, Egyptian Ayman Al Zawahri, living in Afghanistan and plotting more attacks, according to a satellite telephone conversation reportedly intercepted over the weekend by US and Afghan intelligence."
"US government officials last night tentatively confirmed the authenticity of a recording in which Osama bin Laden's most senior deputy -- Ayman al-Zawahiri -- apparently speaking in the past few weeks, warns of more attacks against America and its allies."
"A letter to Congress from the director of central intelligence has brought into public view divisions within the administration over what intelligence shows about Iraq's intentions and its willingness to ally itself with Al Qaeda."
"The United States is bracing for the possibility of continued attacks against American forces overseas after a second shooting in two days involving troops in Kuwait."
"President Bush's case against Saddam Hussein, outlined in a televised address to the nation on Monday night, relied on a slanted and sometimes entirely false reading of the available US intelligence, government officials and analysts claimed yesterday."

'Basically, cooked information is working its way into high-level pronouncements and there's a lot of unhappiness about it in intelligence, especially among analysts at the CIA,' said Vincent Cannistraro, the CIA's former head of counter-intelligence.

More from Cannistraro:

"CIA assessments are being put aside by the defence department in favour of intelligence they are getting from various Iraqi exiles. Machiavelli warned princes against listening to exiles. Well, that is what is happening now."

Also, wondering about that "very senior" Al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad? See A chink in the link.
"Should Saddam conclude that a U.S.-led attack could no longer be deterred, he probably would become much less constrained in adopting terrorist action," it continued. It noted that Mr. Hussein could use either conventional terrorism or a weapon of mass destruction as "his last chance to exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him."
"The credibility gap between Bush administration higher-ups and their own intelligence advisers is deeply unsettling."
"Tuesday's shooting of two US Marines in Kuwait stirs doubts about American troops' safety, even in friendly states."
"Any one of these explanations makes more sense than far-fetched claims that Saddam is planning attacks on the most powerful nation in the history of the world, attacks that would certainly be traced back to him and would result in his utter annihilation."
"President Bush warned that Saddam Hussein could strike without notice and inflict "massive and sudden horror" on America, offering a new rationale for pre-emptive military action against Iraq."
"A majority of Americans say that the nation's economy is in its worst shape in nearly a decade and that President Bush and Congressional leaders are spending too much time talking about Iraq while neglecting problems at home, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll."
"Congressional leaders said Sunday a resolution authorizing war against Iraq, expected to pass with little dissent, will strengthen the U.S. hand at the United Nations and increase pressure on Saddam Hussein to disarm."
"Secretary of State Colin Powell forged an agreement Friday with the chief U.N. weapons inspector to defer searching for illicit arms in Iraq until tough new rules are imposed."
"Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would likely be ousted by members of his inner circle before US forces launch a major ground attack, according to American intelligence experts."
"Iraq may soon announce it is prepared to drop restrictions covering Saddam Hussein's eight presidential sites, in the face of a United Nations Security Council resolution that will call for any-time and any-place inspections, UN and United States officials say."
"Few people paid a higher price when America's military machine launched its war in Afghanistan a year ago today than Orfa. She was away visiting relatives when the American fighter jet dropped out of the clear midday sky and dived towards her village in the hills outside Kabul. When she returned home a few days later it was left to her neighbours to explain the inexplicable.

They told her that the aircraft, almost certainly an F-16, had mistakenly fired a precision Mk 82 500lb bomb directly at her small mud and stone house, killing her husband, carpet weaver Gul Ahmad, his second wife, five of their daughters and one son. Two children from the house next door also died."
"At least 3,600 Afghan civilians are believed to have been killed since the conflict began a year ago."
"The Arab satellite station al-Jazeera broadcast an audiotape Sunday in which a male voice attributed to Osama bin Laden said the 'youths of God' are planning more attacks against the United States."
gywo
A year later, funnier than ever.
"Momentum is swinging the president's way after he and Gephardt cut a deal."
"A top al-Qaeda operative was in Baghdad about two months ago, and U.S. officials suspect his presence was known to the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, a defense official said Wednesday."
"The former chief weapons inspector in Iraq Richard Butler has lashed out at United States 'double standards', saying even educated Americans were deaf to arguments about the hypocrisy of their stance on nuclear weapons. Mr Butler, an Australian, told a seminar at the University of Sydney's Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies that Americans did not appreciate they could not claim a right to possess nuclear weapons but deny it to other nations."
"Government officials said that the agency's response also strongly suggested that Mr. Bush had already made important decisions on how to use the C.I.A. in a potential war with Iraq. One senior government official said it appeared that the C.I.A. did not want to issue an assessment of the Bush strategy that might appear to be 'second-guessing' of the president's plans."
"A day after Iraq opened the door to weapons inspections with some limits, a tough U.S. proposal seeking 'all necessary means' to force full compliance with past U.N. resolutions appeared to be in trouble Wednesday in the Security Council."
"In the largest ground operation in Afghanistan in six months, up to 2,000 U.S. Army troops are searching the mountains of southeastern Afghanistan for Taliban and al-Qaida holdouts."
"About 1,900 U.S. Marines and Navy sailors are taking part in a ground, air and naval training exercise with the military of their Kuwaiti hosts, the American Embassy said Wednesday."
"Washington last night revealed its intention to use UN weapons inspections as a possible first step towards a military occupation of Iraq by sending in troops, sealing off 'exclusion zones' and creating secure corridors throughout the country."
"As President Bush seeks to mount an anti-Iraq coalition, his rhetoric against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is raising questions about the degree to which personal enmity is driving his desire for a 'regime change' in Baghdad."
"The inspectors can go anywhere, including President Saddam Hussein's eight presidential sites. They can interview any scientist or government official in private and even provide transport out of the country for them and their families, a provision some diplomats say is an invitation to defect.

The inspection teams can remove or destroy any weapons or components, records, materials and equipment. They have the right to 'unrestricted voice and data communications, including encrypted communications,' the text says.

The inspectors can have security guards to protect them at their base, such as new offices they want to open in Mosul and Basra and declare no-flight or no-drive exclusion zones in areas they are operating. Still in dispute is whether such zones should be enforced by U.N. guards or outside troops.

The United States has left room for their entry into Iraq, well before any declaration of war.

The draft resolution allows any of the five permanent members of the council, such as the United States, to add representatives to the inspection teams, recommend to the inspectors who they can interview, set conditions for the interviews and 'receive a report on the results.'"
"Hours after Iraq agreed with United Nations officials that weapons inspectors could return in two weeks, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said tonight that any search of Saddam Hussein's arsenals should be delayed until the Security Council approves a 'new, strong, tough resolution' setting terms."
"Hussein stays a step ahead, cutting U.S. efforts to persuade allies."
"The lawmakers' four-day visit has prompted sharp criticism from Republicans. Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi said over the weekend that McDermott should 'come home and shut up.'"
"U.S. troops are at risk of needless deaths in a chemical or biological attack because of inadequate training or protective gear, congressional and Defense Department investigators told a House panel Tuesday."
"THE White House urged disaffected Iraqis yesterday to assassinate President Saddam Hussein and avoid war. President Bush's spokesman said that the cost of a conflict would be far greater than 'the cost of one bullet the Iraqi people take on themselves'."
"US and British warplanes enforcing 'no-fly' zones over Iraq are performing 'aerial' weapons inspections under a United Nations resolution, according to the United States Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld. Mr Rumsfeld's statement expands the stated mission of the air patrols, which had previously been justified as necessary to protect Iraqi Shi'ites and Kurds from air attacks by the Iraqi military."
"hile endorsing 'regime change' and democracy in Iraq, the Bush administration is stumbling in its efforts to forge a cohesive opposition to Saddam Hussein. According to Iraqi opposition leaders and experts on Iraq, its approach remains plagued by differences over who should lead the dissidents and who would rule the country most effectively if Mr. Hussein were overthrown."
"Invoices included in the documents read like shopping lists for biological weapons programs. One 1986 shipment from the Virginia-based American Type Culture Collection included three strains of anthrax, six strains of the bacteria that make botulinum toxin and three strains of the bacteria that cause gas gangrene. Iraq later admitted to the United Nations that it had made weapons out of all three."
"American troops in Afghanistan have been told to adopt a softer approach after a torrent of complaints about their heavy-handedness.

The CIA and special forces officers have joined Afghan officials and diplomats in protesting to Washington about the behaviour of the 8,000 troops in the country."
"war against terror in Afghanistan has come to ground level, with soldiers going door-to-door in villages, looking for holdout Taliban and al Qaeda fighters."