Saturday, April 02, 2005

Columbia, WMD Report, Ritter Op-Ed, Oil, Falujah

www.truthtalkz.blogspot.com
www.truthtalkziraq.blogspot.com



1) Here's the link to the Columbia University report
concerning alleged "anti-semitism" on campus:

http://www.columbia.edu/cu/news/05/03/ad_hoc_grievance_committee_report.html



2) NYT article concerning the Columbia report:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/31/education/31columbia.html?ex=1112936400&en=1e797fe806367574&ei=5070



3) AP Article on same:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-4904675,00.html

Columbia Finds No Anti-Semitic Remarks

Thursday March 31, 2005 6:01 PM


By VERENA DOBNIK

Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - A special committee found no evidence
that professors at Columbia University made
anti-Semitic statements to intimidate Jewish students
in classes, according to a university report released
Thursday.

But the five-member panel did identify one instance in
which a professor ``exceeded commonly accepted
bounds'' of behavior when he angrily implied a student
should leave his classroom after she defended Israel's
conduct toward Palestinians.


4) www.countingthecost.org


5) The Final Report of The Commission on the
Intelligence Capabilities of the United States
Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, 30 March 2005

[otherwise known as the presidential committee to
absolve the presidency of all responsibility for
misrepresenting the threat posed by GOI weapons
capabilities in 2002-2003. Amazingly, one of their
conclusions is that the intelligence services over
relied on (unreliable) secret information at the
expense of (reliable) open source information. Put
another way, all those months that those of us who
cared to check KNEW that GOI was no threat to the US
militarily had more reliable source information than
those hacks who claimed to have special knowledge that
they weren't at liberty to share. Those same hacks --
instead of facing war crimes trials at the Hague --
have instead since been promoted to Secretary of
State, World Bank Chief, National Director of
Intelligence, US Ambassador to the United Nations,
Attorney-General, and Director of Homeland Security.
Well, some of us haven't forgotten your crimes...]:

http://www.wmd.gov/report/index.html

Here is the original (unclassified version) National
Intelligence Estimate, issued October 2002.

http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB129/nie_first%20release.pdf

Note Opening Paragraph:

"Iraq has continued its weapons of mass destructions
(WMD) programs in defiance of UN resolutions and
restrictions. Baghdad has chemical and biological
weapons as well as missiles with ranges in excess of
UN restrictions; if left unchecked, it will probably
have a nuclear weapon within the decade."

You get the gist. THIS is why the US public agreed to
the hostile invasion of a neutral country halfway
around the world. It is this report which the new
report has declared is "dead wrong".


6) Scott Ritter Comments on the coming raid on Iran:

Al Jazeera, March 30...2005

Sleepwalking to disaster in Iran
By Scott Ritter

Late last year, in the aftermath of the 2004
Presidential election, I was contacted by someone
close to the Bush administration about the situation
in Iraq.

There was a growing concern inside the Bush
administration, this source said, about the direction
the occupation was going.

The Bush administration was keen on achieving some
semblance of stability in Iraq before June 2005, I was
told.

When I asked why that date, the source dropped the
bombshell: because that was when the Pentagon was told
to be prepared to launch a massive aerial attack
against Iran, Iraq's neighbour to the east, in order
to destroy the Iranian nuclear programme.

Why June 2005?, I asked. 'The Israelis are concerned
that if the Iranians get their nuclear enrichment
programme up and running, then there will be no way to
stop the Iranians from getting a nuclear weapon. June
2005 is seen as the decisive date.'

To be clear, the source did not say that President
Bush had approved plans to bomb Iran in June 2005, as
has been widely reported.

The President had reviewed plans being prepared by the
Pentagon to have the military capability in place by
June 2005 for such an attack, if the President
ordered.

But when Secretary of State Condi Rice told America's
European allies in February 2005, in response to press
reports about a pending June 2005 American attack
against Iran, she said that 'the question [of a
military strike] is simply not on the agenda at this
point -- we have diplomatic means to do this.'

President Bush himself followed up on Rice's statement
by stating that 'This notion that the United States is
getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous.' He
quickly added, 'Having said that, all options are on
the table.'

There is always the unspoken 'twist': what if the
United States does not fully support European
diplomatic initiatives, has no interest in letting
IAEA inspections work? In short, both the President
and the Secretary of State were being honest, and
disingenuous, at the same time.

Truth to be told, there is no American military strike
on the agenda; that is, until June 2005.

It was curious that no one in the American media took
it upon themselves to confront the President or his
Secretary of State about the June 2005 date, or for
that matter the October 2004 review by the President
of military plans to attack Iran in June 2005.

The American media today is sleepwalking towards an
American war with Iran with all of the incompetence
and lack of integrity that it displayed during a
similar path trodden during the buildup to our current
war with Iraq.

On the surface, there is nothing extraordinary about
the news that the President of the United States would
order the Pentagon to be prepared to launch military
strikes on Iran in June 2005 .

That Iran has been a target of the Bush
administration's ideologues is no secret: the
President himself placed Iran in the 'axis of evil'
back in 2002, and has said that the world would be a
better place with the current Iranian government
relegated to the trash bin of history.

The Bush administration has also expressed its concern
about Iran's nuclear programmes - concerns shared by
Israel and the European Union, although to different
degrees.

In September 2004, Iran rejected the International
Atomic Energy Agency's call for closing down its
nuclear fuel production programme (which many in the
United States and Israel believe to be linked to a
covert nuclear weapons programme).

Iran then test fired a ballistic missile with
sufficient range to hit targets in Israel as well as
US military installations in Iraq and throughout the
Middle East.

The Iranian response triggered a serious
re-examination of policy by both Israel and the United
States.

The Israeli policy review was driven in part by the
Iranian actions, and in part by Israel's own
intelligence assessment regarding the Iranian nuclear
programme, made in August 2004 .

This assessment held that Iran was 'less than a year'
away from completing its uranium enrichment programme.
If Iran was allowed to reach this benchmark, the
assessment went on to say, then it had reached the
'point of no return' for a nuclear weapons programme.
The date set for this 'point of no return' was June
2005.

Israel's Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz, declared that
'under no circumstances would Israel be able to
tolerate nuclear weapons in Iranian possession'.

Since October 2003 Israel had a plan in place for
a pre-emptive strike against Iran's major nuclear
facilities, including the nuclear reactor facility in
Busher (scheduled to become active in 2005).

These plans were constantly being updated, something
that did not escape the attention of the Bush White
House.

The Israeli policy toward Iran, when it comes to
stopping the Iranian nuclear programme, has always
been for the US to lead the way.

'The way to stop Iran', a senior Israeli official has
said, 'is by the leadership of the US, supported by
European countries and taking this issue to the UN,
and using the diplomatic channel with sanctions as a
tool and a very deep inspection regime and full
transparency.'

It seems that Tel Aviv and Washington, DC aren't too
far removed on their Iranian policy objectives, except
that there is always the unspoken 'twist': what if
the United States does not fully support European
diplomatic initiatives, has no interest in letting
IAEA inspections work, and envisions UN sanctions as a
permanent means of containment until regime change is
accomplished in Tehran, as opposed to a tool designed
to compel Iran to cooperate on eliminating its nuclear
programme?

Because the fact is, despite recent warm remarks by
President Bush and Condi Rice, the US does not fully
embrace the EU's Iran diplomacy, viewing it as a
programme 'doomed to fail'.

The IAEA has come out with an official report, after
extensive inspections of declared Iranian nuclear
facilities in November 2004, that says there is no
evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons programme; the
Bush administration responded by trying to oust the
IAEA's lead inspector, Mohammed al-Baradei.

And the Bush administration's push for UN sanctions
shows every intention of making such sanctions deep,
painful and long-lasting.

Curiously, the date for the Bush administration's move
to call for UN sanctions against Iran is June 2005.

According to a US position paper circulated in Vienna
at the end of last month, the US will give the EU-Iran
discussions until June 2005 to resolve the Iranian
standoff.

'Ultimately only the full cessation and dismantling of
Iran's fissile material production efforts can give us
any confidence that Iran has abandoned its nuclear
weapons ambitions,' the US draft position paper said.

Iran has called such thinking 'hallucinations' on the
part of the
Bush administration.

The American media today is sleepwalking towards an
American war with Iran
Economic sanctions and military attacks are not one
and the same. Unless, of course, the architect of
America's Iran policy never intends to give sanctions
a chance.

Enter John Bolton, who, as the former US
undersecretary of state for arms control and
international security for the Bush administration, is
responsible for drafting the current US
policy towards Iran.

In February 2004, Bolton threw down the gauntlet by
stating that Iran had a 'secret nuclear weapons
programme' that was
unknown to the IAEA. 'There is no doubt that Iran has
a secret nuclear weapons production programme', Bolton
said, without providing any source to back up his
assertions.

This is the same John Bolton who had in the past
accused Cuba of having an offensive biological weapons
programme, a
claim even Bush administration hardliners had to
distance themselves from.

John Bolton is the Bush official who declared the
European Union's engagement with Iran 'doomed to
fail'. He is the Bush administration official who led
the charge to remove Muhammad al-Baradai from the
IAEA.

And he is the one who, in drafting the US strategy to
get the UN Security Council to impose economic
sanctions against Iran, asked the Pentagon to be
prepared to launch 'robust' military attacks against
Iran should the UN fail to agree on sanctions.

Bolton understands better than most the slim chances
any US-brokered sanctions regime against Iran
has in getting through the Security Council.

The main obstacle is Russia, a permanent member of the
Security Council who not only possesses a veto, but
also is Iran's main supporter (and supplier) when it
comes to its nuclear power programme.

Since October 2003 Israel had a plan in place for
a pre-emptive strike against Iran's major nuclear
facilities
John Bolton has made a career out of alienating the
Russians. Bolton was one of the key figures who
helped negotiate a May 2002 arms reduction treaty
signed by Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin
in Moscow.

This treaty was designed to reduce the nuclear
arsenals of both America and Russia by two thirds over
a 10 year period.

But that treaty - to Russia's immense displeasure -
now appears to have been made mute thanks to a
Bolton-inspired legal loophole that the Bush
administration had built into the treaty language.

John Bolton knows Russia will not go along with UN
sanctions against Iran, which makes the military
planning being
conducted by the Pentagon all the more relevant.

John Bolton's nomination as the next US Ambassador to
the United Nations is as curious as it is worrying.
This is the man who, before a panel discussion
sponsored by the World Federalist Association in 1994,
said 'There is no such thing as the United Nations.'

For the United States to submit to the will of the
Security Council, Bolton wrote in a 1999 Weekly
Standard article, would mean that 'its discretion in
using force to advance its national interests is
likely to be inhibited in the future.'

But John Bolton doesn't let treaty obligations, such
as those incurred by the United States when it signed
and ratified the UN Charter, get in the way.
'Treaties are law only for US domestic purposes', he
wrote in a 17 November 1997 Wall Street Journal Op Ed.
'In their international operation, treaties are simply
political obligations.'

John Bolton believes that Iran should be isolated by
United Nations sanctions and, if Iran will not back
down from its nuclear programme, confronted with the
threat of military action.

And as the Bush administration has noted in the past,
particularly in the case of Iraq, such threat must be
real and meaningful, and backed by the will and
determination to use it.

And the Bush administration's push for UN sanctions
shows every intention of making such sanctions deep,
painful and long-lasting. John Bolton and others in
the Bush administration contend that, despite the lack
of proof, Iran's nuclear intentions are obvious.

In response, the IAEA's Muhammad al-Baradai has
pointed out the lack of a 'smoking gun' which would
prove Iran's involvement in a nuclear weapons
programme. 'We are not God', he said. 'We cannot read
intentions.'

But, based upon history, precedent, and personalities,
the intent of the United States regarding Iran is
crystal clear: the Bush administration intends to bomb
Iran.

Whether this attack takes place in June 2005, when the
Pentagon has been instructed to be ready, or at a
later date, once all other preparations have been
made, is really the only question that remains to be
answered.

That, and whether the journalists who populate the
mainstream American media will continue to sleepwalk
on their way to facilitating yet another disaster in
the Middle East.

Scott Ritter former UN Chief Weapons inspector in
Iraq, 1991-1998 author of 'Iraq Confidential: The
Untold Story of America's Intelligence Conspiracy',
published by I.B.


The opinions expressed here are the author's and do
not necessarily reflect the editorial position or have
the endorsement of Aljazeera.
Aljazeera



7) FBI Investigation of AIPAC Speculated Upon by an
unknown source. I received this at my email account
without attribution, but I'm posting it anyway. I am
not the source, it is effectively anonymous:


Now that the AIPAC Two are being prepared to take the
rap for whatever it is the FBI thinks AIPAC has done,
the whole matter will be swept under the rug and the
apparent complete control of Israel over American
politics will be allowed to continue in its normal
course. We will never know what information the FBI
was able to present to the Grand Jury, and will never
know even the tip of the iceberg of AIPAC shenanigans.
But we can speculate.

One of the difficulties in guessing what AIPAC might
have done is that recent past history has proven that
it is impossible for Israeli spies to create any
consternation whatsoever in official Washington. They
can drive white vans wherever they want, hang around
military installations and power plants to their
heart's content, set up hundreds (?) of fake moving
companies to do God knows what, send 'art students' to
every office in the country, including into the
offices of the DEA, conduct industrial espionage, film
rural Oklahoma, fill all the shopping malls with
agents selling cheap children's toys, assist in the
Israeli manufacture and distribution of illegal drugs,
follow the alleged 19 9-11 hijackers around all over
the country without saying boo about it to the U. S.
government, and even film and cheer the destruction of
the World Trade Center, all without the tiniest
concern from American officials. The worst that
happens is that the spies are quietly - very quietly -
deported. So what is left that AIPAC could have done
that would provoke the FBI to investigate?

The two word answer is: Jonathan Pollard. If you are
an Israeli spy you can do just about anything, but you
can't do what Jonathan Pollard did. That's the apple
you can't eat, or you are thrown out of the Garden of
Eden. Pollard and his Israeli handlers sent important
American strategic secrets to a real American enemy,
in this case Russia, in return for emigration favors
from the Russians. The American Powers That Be remain
so furious about this that Clinton was not allowed to
pardon Pollard - they had to settle for the
consolation prize of Marc Rich - and even the
Israel-lovin' Bush Administration has been able to
resist the unrelenting Israeli pressure to let him go.
Of course, the issue of Pollard has become symbolic
for Israel. The Israelis know that if they can pry
Pollard free they will then officially own the United
States. As the Israelis chose to play power politics
over this issue, Pollard remains in jail.

If AIPAC did something so wrong it would lead to a
Grand Jury, it would have had to have been a
Pollard-level crime, i. e., turning strategically
important American secrets over to a real enemy. The
Americans treat the whole world as an enemy these
days, but the only real enemies are China and the Axis
of Evil. While we can't rule China out, particularly
as Israel is clearly moving to make China its new best
friend after the United States ruins itself helping
the Zionists build Greater Israel, I think it is more
likely that the enemy in question is in the Axis of
Evil. Iran is the most likely subject. What could the
Israelis offer Iran, and what could Iran offer in
return?

The Americans have admitted that their intelligence in
Iran is terrible, as the Iranians manage to find and
execute all their agents. The obvious reason for this
is that the Iranians are getting information on who
these agents are. Do you think it possible that AIPAC
was caught assisting Israel in betraying American spy
networks in Iran? The Iranians could offer in return
to free captured Israeli spies. The deal would
essentially be to destroy American spies and the
American ability to gather intelligence in return for
the lives of Israeli spies and the continued ability
of Israel to gather intelligence. I'm obviously just
guessing, but my guess tracks the cover story printed
in the Jerusalem Post, that the information in the
'entrapment' related to the lives of Israeli spies in
Kurdistan (a cover story important enough that they
decided to admit they had agents in Kurdistan,
something they had previously denied). If this is
indeed a spy story, Iran is the most likely country
being spied upon, particularly as both Israel and the
United States want to know where to bomb. Betraying an
American spy network in a country considered to be a
real enemy would be a Pollard-type crime, and at a
Pollard-level of importance. It would be enough to get
AIPAC into some serious trouble. Does Israel already
own the United States to the extent it can pull AIPAC
out of trouble?


8) Iraq Oil Ministry Intrigues:

IAS Memo - Iraq: Oil Ministry Control Key to Coalition
Formation

Published by the Market Intelligence Service, 3/30/05

Iraq: Oil Ministry Control Key to Coalition Formation
Coalition talks between the Islamist Shia-led United
Iraq Coalition (UIC) and the Kurdish Alliance (KA)
remain bogged down by disputes over a variety of key
issues, including control over the Oil Ministry. Both
sides want the post of Oil Minister, believing it is
the key to their political ambitions. Disagreement
between the two sides is likely to persist for some
days if not weeks, paralyzing the administration of
the country and possibly delaying the drafting of a
new constitution by months. Battle Over the Oil
Portfolio Rages

Two months since national elections, talks between the
UIC and KA”the main groups in the new Transitional
National Assembly (TNA)”over forming a new government
remain deadlocked. The TNA has met only twice during
the intervening period, most recently on March 29,
when efforts to select a parliamentary Speaker ended
in acrimony, with various parties blaming each other
for the delay in a set of heated exchanges. The TNA
is scheduled to meet again on April 3, when it is
hoped that a Speaker will be appointed. Announcing a
three-man Presidency Council, and more importantly a
new Cabinet, is likely to take longer.

A variety of issues have dogged the discussions. The
UIC”which holds 140 seats in the 275-seat assembly”has
attempted to ensure that its electoral victory is
translated into control over the policy agenda of the
new government. For their part, the Kurds, with 77
seats, have sought to take advantage of their
negotiating position—which because of their
effective veto power over the formation of a
government is stronger than at any time in Iraq's
modern history—to secure their political and
economic autonomy under the new regime, and to extend
their territorial control over the oil-rich town of
Kirkuk. The debate between the two sides has
manifested itself in competition over appointment to
the main ministries of state, with the battle over the
Oil portfolio being particularly hard fought. Indeed,
this appointment is one of the main issues dividing
the two sides, and a resolution has proven beyond them
thus far:

The UIC insists that the Oil Ministry, the financial
and political importance of which is universally
recognized, must be controlled by one of its own, not
only because they hold a parliamentary majority but
also because it is the only way to ensure that the
Shia-dominated southern regions of Iraq, which were
neglected during the later period of the Saddam
Hussein regime, receive due investment in the new
Iraq. Some UIC members and other Shia personalities
have even appealed to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani,
regarded as the single most powerful voice in Iraq at
present, to ensure the Oil Ministry stays in Shia
hands. Sistani is reported to be sympathetic, but is
reluctant to get involved in day-to-day political
affairs.

The Kurds argue that controlling the ministry is the
only way that they can guarantee equitable
distribution of oil revenue from the central
government. They have made it clear that they do not
trust Arab Iraqis to give them their due, alleging
delays and shortfalls in revenue transfer from the
Allawi government. KDP leader Masoud Barzani and some
of his party's officials have been particularly
vociferous on this point, with his nephew, Kurdistan
Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan
Barzani, going so far as to claim the Kurds got a
better share of revenue under Saddam Hussein's regime.

But the Kurdish argument masks two other major
concerns that are driving their demands. The main one
is that they see control over the Oil Ministry as a
vehicle in their efforts to consolidate formal KRG
authority over Kirkuk and its oil reserves. Equally
importantly, it would ensure regional government
autonomy to explore for and develop natural resources
in the Kurdistan area, something that Baghdad has
attempted to block under the CPA and the Allawi
government.


Complicating the discussions further is the fact that
PUK head and prospective Iraqi President Jalal
Talabani believes that he was promised the ministry in
May 2004 when the CPA was choosing the Allawi
government, only subsequently to be denied. There is
some truth to Talabani's claim: US officials briefly
flirted with the idea as a sweetener to encourage PUK
support for and participation in an Allawi
Administration. But the proposal was never an
official one. Nonetheless, it has fuelled Talabani's
determination to reclaim what he believes should have
been his already. Politicization of the Oil Ministry
Inevitable

At present, it is not clear how the debate will turn
out. Two options are possible:

The UIC could remain steadfast in their demand to
assume the portfolio, but agree to a Kurdish Deputy
Minister and allow a Kurd to become head of the
Northern Oil Company, which operates the Kirkuk and
northern fields. A deal could also be done over
revenue transfers to the KRG and local resource
management, promising the KA the 25% of oil income the
group is presently demanding and allowing them to
pursue deals in the Kurdistan region independently
with international oil companies. The leading UIC
candidate to become minister appears to be the former
incumbent Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum, who held the
portfolio from September 2003 to May 2004, although
his former adviser, the current Deputy Minister Abd
al-Sahab al-Qutub, is a possible contender.

A deal could be brokered giving the KA the portfolio
(outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih seems to
be the top choice), while a UIC member is given the
role of Deputy PM for Economic Affairs, thereby
effectively becoming a policy tsar overseeing all the
main strategic economic portfolios (Finance, Trade,
Planning and International Development and Oil).
Ahmed Chalabi, who has sought to control Iraqi
financial institutions in the past, has reportedly
been proposed for the Deputy Premier post. The UIC
will almost certainly insist on one of its own
becoming a powerful Deputy Oil Minister as well, but
NOC could still go to a Kurd under these
circumstances.

Both these scenarios depend on the UIC and the KA
eventually reaching an agreement on a coalition.

The Chalabi-Salih partnership offers an obvious
compromise, but it is not one the UIC have been
willing to accept so far, even though the issue has
delayed forming a government and led to growing
popular frustration with the Iraq's new political
leaders. It is possible that the UIC will remain
steadfast in their demand for the portfolio: they are
particularly wary of giving the Kurds any control over
oil resources in the south, or allowing the Kurds to
use the Oil Minister as a cover to extend Peshmerga
security involvement nationwide under the guise of
being an Oil Security Force.

If the two sides fail to reach an agreement over a new
cabinet, one possible alternative is that Iyad Allawi
could be kept on as a caretaker Prime Minister, with
his mandate limited to managing the day-to-day affairs
of the country while the TNA focuses on drafting a new
constitution and preparing for new elections. A
cabinet reshuffle is likely under these circumstances,
but it is conceivable that the present Oil Minister
Thamir Ghadhban could hold onto his post, although he
would be saddled with political appointees at the
Deputy Minister, and possibly even the Director
General, level.


Under any circumstances, the politicization of the Oil
Ministry looks inevitable. Run by the very able and
respected Ghadhban, the ministry has gradually
improved its efficiency and transparency (including
oil sales via the State Oil Marketing Organization)
over the past nine months, and has done a good job of
promoting technocratic competence over political
concerns. However, all the parties presently
competing to control the portfolio recognize that it
is a cash-cow, and the temptation to use it to bolster
their own party fortunes may prove too much to resist.
Certainly the introduction of politicians at senior
levels in place of technocrats will undermine the
administrative efficiency of the ministry in the short
term, and potentially could lead to renewed tension
with the technocrats, as was witnessed during the Bahr
al-Uloum tenure. Given the challenges faced by the
sector, this suggests that production could suffer in
the medium term.



9) IAS Alert - Parliamentary Session Fails To Resolve
Inter-Party Dispute Over Government:

30/03/2005 17:08

Parliamentary Session Fails To Resolve Inter-Party
Dispute Over Government

Yesterday's meeting of the Transitional National
Assembly (TNA), only the second since the 30 January
elections, failed yet again to resolve differences
that have blocked the formation of a new Iraqi
government, and further tarnished the image of Iraq's
dominant political parties. Last minute pre-meeting
talks between the Kurdish Alliance and United Iraqi
Coalition (UIC), which hold a majority of
parliamentary seats, could not even reach agreement on
a Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Assembly. The
former position is destined for a Sunni, but the two
sides could not agree on a common candidate after the
outgoing President, Ghazi al-Yawer, declined the
position. Amid angry scenes in the chamber, TNA
members swapped accusation over who was to blame for
the delay, and both the two main groups came in for
criticism for their ongoing political haggling. The
situation got so heated that the acting Speaker,
Sheikh Dhari al-Fayadh, abruptly dismissed the press
from the gallery and halted television coverage of the
proceedings, a move that apparently prompted the
walk-out of some senior political leaders in protest,
including incumbent Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.

The difficulties in reaching an agreement on a Speaker
reflect the deep-seated differences among the main
parliamentary players that have also blocked the
selection of a Presidency Council and the formation of
a new Cabinet. The UIC would like to appoint Sheikh
Fawaz Jarba, a Shammari tribal leader who ran for
parliament on its electoral list. However, other
groups in the TNA, including the Kurdish alliance, are
wary of seeing the UIC extend its control of state
institutions further (the premier, one of the two vice
presidents and a majority of cabinet ministers will
likely be UIC representatives). Instead, they have
proposed Adnan al-Janabi as Speaker. Janabi, a tribal
sheikh and presently a Minister without Portfolio, is
close to Allawi, which is one of the main reasons that
he has won the backing of the Kurds, who are still
seeking to include the outgoing premier in the new
government as a means of diluting the power of the
predominantly Islamist Shia UIC.

However, Janabi is a controversial choice,
particularly among the UIC. A former Communist, he was
a member of the National Assembly under Saddam
Hussein's regime, where he served on the parliament's
Energy Committee. Moreover, his late brother headed
the Presidential Office in the early 1980s, a fact
that almost cost him his present portfolio when the
CPA selected the current cabinet in May 2004. Much
like Allawi, Janabi has been a vociferous critic of
clerical interference in government and the dangers of
Iranian meddling in Iraqi domestic affairs, both of
which he has hinted would rise under a UIC-led
government. Islamist Shia leaders have privately
accused Janabi of corruption and collusion with the
former regime, although these allegations have not
been substantiated. Janabi's selection as an
alternative to Jarba was not simply a calculated
attempt to anger the UIC, however. Rather, it reflects
the dearth of prominent Sunni leaders in the TNA.

Talks to agree on a speaker are set to drag on for a
few more days at least (the TNA is set to meet again
next weekend). A compromise will be reached
eventually, but nevertheless, yesterday's events did
nothing to improve the image of the new Assembly”and
more especially of the Kurdish and UIC leaderships”in
popular eyes. According to Iraqi and foreign press
reports, a growing number of Iraqis are becoming
frustrated that the two groups cannot agree on a new
government, especially as insurgency violence has
increased since the elections while the provision of
personal security and services has continued to
decline. Ministry officials have added to the sense of
malaise, complaining that policy-making and the
implementation of large-scale projects are being
stymied by the deadlock. The differences separating
the UIC and the Kurds are real ones, and reaching a
compromise was always going to be a lengthy process
given what was at stake. However, as has been shown in
the past, Iraqi popular opinion is less concerned with
the finer points of the political process than it is
with improving its standard of living.

In Arab parts of Iraq, much of the popular ire
resulting from the delay has been directed at the
Kurds, whose uncompromising stance over issues such as
the autonomy of the Peshmerga militia and control over
specific strategic ministries”particularly oil, which
Kurdish leaders insist they must control to ensure
equitable revenue sharing but which UIC leaders
suspect is linked to Kurdish aspirations in Kirkuk”has
been regarded as unreasonable. Such is the growing
antipathy that PUK chief and Presidential candidate
Jalal Talabani felt the need to give a long interview
yesterday to the popular local satellite channel
al-Sharqiya denying that the Kurds were responsible
for the delay. In reality, KDP leader Masoud Barzani,
who has been especially rigid, has come in for more
criticism than Talabani, and his stance is testing
Kurdish unity. But the Kurds see the current talks as
an historic opportunity to consolidate the political
gains they have made over the past 12 years, and
believe that their negotiating strength is at its
zenith. They suspect "probably correctly”that they
will be able to make fewer gains if they leave key
issues such as the territorial, political and economic
extent of their sovereignty to future constitutional
negotiations, and are therefore seeking to determine
the outcome in advance, when deals can be struck
behind closed doors. The overall effect, however, has
been to sharpen ethnic tensions and popular misgivings
on both sides, and the likelihood that the gridlock
will delay the drafting of a constitution (senior TNA
members suggested yesterday that the deadline for
completing the document may need to be pushed back six
months, which is permissible under the Transitional
Administrative Law but was originally seen as a last
resort) will keep these divisions lingering longer.

Perhaps more damaging is the impact the political
deadlock will have on the standing of the government
which eventually emerges. Allawi's government enjoyed
only a brief honeymoon period after it assumed office.
Within two months popular sentiment had turned
critical, with a majority of Iraqis in opinion polls
criticizing its performance. The next government has
certainly squandered a lot of the goodwill that
elections would have brought it given the main
parties' very public haggling over portfolios, but how
much support it has lost is not clear. One thing is
certain: it will have to meet popular expectations for
better security and services quickly if it is to
bolster its popular base, and that will require a
certain amount of harmony within the cabinet.

An immediate casualty of the ongoing stalemate has
been Ibrahim Jaafari, the UIC candidate for Prime
Minister. In actual fact, the failure to reach an
agreement cannot be laid wholly at Jaafari's
door”negotiations with the Kurds have been conducted
in part by a UIC committee of which he has not been
part, and the delay in reaching a deal has largely
been due to Barzani's refusal to budge over key issues
and his desire to bring Allawi and his secular party
into government, rather than Jaafari's inability to
broker a compromise. Nonetheless, the premiership
candidate's leadership skills have been questioned as
the talks have dragged on, and it has provided ample
opportunity for his political rivals inside the UIC
and outside to begin a whispering campaign against
him, which has become increasingly public. Jaafari
still remains the front-runner for the post, and the
fallout of yesterday's debacle in the TNA could spur
both the UIC and Kurds to reach a deal. But if talks
were to drag on for the next two or three weeks, his
position will become increasingly untenable. At that
point, the UIC will either propose a compromise
candidate”even though this could tear the UIC apart”or
a decision may be reached to keep Allawi on as head of
a caretaker (and politically hamstrung) cabinet while
the TNA parties focus on drafting a constitution.

Raad Alkadiri
Director
Markets & Countries Group
+1 202 721 0313

ralkadiri@pfcenergy.com


10) The Ministry of Health confirms that the
Occupation Forces have used internationally prohibited
weapon to strike Fallulah [internet source]:

Translated by Dijla Waheed

Islam memo. 1 March 2005

Dr. Khalid Al-Sheikhly, a representative of the Iraqi
Ministry of Health and who has been appointed to
evaluate the health situation in Fallujah following
the end of hostilities in that ravaged city; has
declared that the results of surveys and researches
reported to the Ministry of Health by a medical team
confirm the utilization by the American Occupation
Forces of internationally prohibited materials such as
mustard gas and nerve agents and other burning
materials during their assault on Fallujah.

In the beginning of his speech, in the press
conference which was held on Tuesday in the building
of the Ministry of Health at Bab Al-Muadham in
Baghdad, Dr. Al-Sheikhly has talked about the final
results of the Truth Searching (Finding) Committee on
the situation and plight of the Fallujah inhabitants.
He said that the city is still situated under the
influence of chemical agents and other materials which
cause in the long run dangerous and debilitating
diseases for the civilian population.

About the truth of the usage of limited nuclear
explosives, Dr. Al-Sheikhly said: what I have seen
during our research in Fallujah made me to believe
about all what had been mentioned about that battle,
and I never exclude their usage of nuclear and
chemical materials, hence, all natural forms and
diversities have been obliterated and finished in that
city. We have seen tens if not hundreds of wild dogs,
cats and birds died because of those gases.

Dr. Al-Sheikhly pledged in the press conference which
was attended by 20 Iraqi and Arab journalists that he
will send the results of the studies conducted in
Fallujah to the responsible authorities whether it
were Iraqi or international bodies. The press
conference was also attended by the news
correspondents of the Iraqi Al-Sharqia television
station, the Iraqi government satellite television
station, the Al-Somaria channel, the Iraqi Al-Sabah
news paper as well as journalist representing other
television and foreign news papers such as the
Washington Post, the American Nightrider and the Islam
Memo.

This proclamation is considered the most important and
most serious declaration so far following the end of
the military operations in Fallujah which lasted for
about four months or less. The Islam memo was the
first to point out the use by the occupation forces of
gases and other burning chemical agents during the
first day of the onslaught on Fallujah.


11) Nation: Now Bush is Picking on Kids...US Candidate
for UNICEF:

The Nation, NY.....March 27, 2005.

Neo-cons for top UNICEF post...

Think of Ann Veneman as the Paul Wolfowitz of food
policy.

Just as Wolfowitz used his position as the Bush
administration's deputy secretary of defense to spin
whacked-out neoconservative theories into the
justification for an illegal and unnecessary war, so
Veneman used her position as the administration's
secretary of agriculture to spin equally whacked-out
theories about the genetic modification of food and
free trade into disastrous policies for farmers and
consumers.

And, just as Wolfowitz is being rewarded for his
missteps and misdeeds with a prominent new position as
president of the World Bank, so Veneman is also moving
onto the world stage, as the likely nominee to be the
next executive director of the United Nations
Children's Fund (UNICEF).

When Veneman was nominated to serve as George W.
Bush's first secretary of agriculture, this column
detailed the many reasons why that was a horrible
idea. A militant advocate for the genetic engineering
of food and an unblinking proponent of the North
American Free Trade Agreement, U.S. entry into the
World Trade Organization, and other trade policy moves
that were designed by agribusiness conglomerates to
benefit agribusiness conglomerates, Veneman was on the
wrong side of every issue that mattered to working
farmers in the United States and abroad. And as a
veteran beneficiary of agribusiness largesse - as a
lobbyist, corporate board member and industry insider
- she was not about to start listening to reason
simply because she was briefly leaving the private
payroll to take a government check.

Veneman lived up to the most dire expectations
regarding her nomination, creating a record of service
to the interests of multinational corporations at the
expense of farmers and consumers. She drew the boos of
farmers on her rare visits to rural America. And for
good reason. She turned the Department of Agriculture
into an echo chamber for the advocates of free trade
agreements that have dramatically undermined the
income and long-term viability of U.S. farmers, and
for Monsanto and other firms that are seeking to force
farmers to plant genetically modified crops and inject
cows with bovine growth hormones.

Worst of all, on issues such as the discovery of mad
cow disease in the United States and Canada, she
seemed at every turn to be more interested in the
business and trade impacts of those revelations than
the very real public health issues that they raised.

Veneman has stepped down as secretary of agriculture
but, in what has now become a pattern for the Bush
administration, her years of disservice have been
rewarded with selection to serve as the new executive
director of UNICEF, the U.N. agency that is
responsible for protecting children's health, welfare
and rights.

Veneman is expected to get the job because of the
defining role that the Bush administration plays in
the selection process, just as U.S. pressure set up
Wolfowitz for the World Bank position.

The notion that Veneman would be placed in a position
to decide how to feed and care for the planet's most
destitute children is every bit as alarming as the
notion that Wolfowitz would be charged with providing
aid to developing countries.

Indeed, as Ravi Narayan, coordinator for the global
secretariat of the People's Health Movement, wrote in
a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the
members of the executive board of UNICEF: "Ms.
Veneman's training and experience as a corporate
lawyer for agribusiness do not qualify her for the
substantial task of leading the agency most
responsible for the rights of children worldwide.
There is no evidence in her tenure as U.S. secretary
of agriculture, secretary of the California Department
of Food and Agriculture, or deputy undersecretary for
international affairs of the USDA of her interest in
the world's children or their health and well-being.

"Indeed, her performance in these positions has been
characterized by the elevation of corporate profit
above people's right to food (U.N. Declaration of
Human Rights, Article 25). Such a philosophy and
practice would reverse almost six decades of UNICEF's
proud humanitarian history and prove disastrous for
the world's children."

Just as it is vital for responsible Americans to
object to the selection of Paul Wolfowitz to serve as
president of the World Bank, so it is equally vital
that we object to the selection of Ann Veneman to lead
UNICEF.


12) No Student Database Left Behind:

Student information bank considered
Educators take sides on huge database
Thursday, March 31, 2005
By Miles Benson
Newhouse News Service

WASHINGTON -- A proposal to build a centralized
database of detailed dossiers on every college and
university student in the nation is under study by the
Education Department and the congressional committees
that oversee $80 billion in federal spending on
post-secondary education.

The idea has split the ranks of educators. Some see a
threat to student privacy. Others applaud the plan,
saying it would let them correct misleading and
incomplete information about graduation rates, and
improve policy at the federal and state levels, where
another $70 billion a year is spent on higher
education.

A feasibility study sent this month to Congress
described how the database could be assembled
technically, but warned that the real issue is whether
it should be done in the face of concerns about
privacy, civil liberties and student rights to control
personal information.

The study, by the National Center for Education
Statistics, theorized that the government would gather
information on all post-secondary students -- 16
million people this year -- whether or not they are
receiving federal aid.


Personal information

All colleges and universities would be required to
provide each student's name, Social Security number or
taxpayer identification number, birthday, address,
race and ethnicity, gender, citizenship status,
academic record -- including number of courses and
credits attempted, and major field of study --
attendance record, and information on degree
completions, participation in varsity sports, tuition
and fees paid, and any financial aid from federal,
state or institutional sources.

If Congress approves the plan this year in the
reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, the study
said, it could be field tested in 2006-07 with as many
as 1,500 schools. Full implementation would be in
2007-08.

"The central defining question of the feasibility (of
the system) is not a 'could' question," the study
said. "It is a 'should' question, asking whether the
federal government should develop a system that is
based on individually identifiable information about
enrollment, financial aid and attainment."

The study noted that "under the Patriot Act, the
attorney general and the Department of Justice could
conceivably obtain access to (the) data in order to
fight terrorism."

The need for a new tracking system in a more mobile
society where 40 percent of students change schools
during their progress toward a degree was explained by
Grover Whitehurst, director of the Education
Department's Institute of Education Sciences.

"The only way to accurately account for students who
stop out, drop out, graduate at a later date or
transfer out is with a system that tracks individual
students across and within post-secondary
institutions," Whitehurst said.

Capitol Hill review

On Capitol Hill, the study is being reviewed by the
House Committee on Education and the Workforce and the
Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and
Pensions.

"The committee staff is aware of the study and
tracking its progress and it will be considered when
we bring up the Higher Education Authorization Act
sometime later this year," said Ryan Taylor, a
spokesman for Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., chairman of the
Senate panel.

The original impetus for the proposal is unclear. The
Education Department said the feasibility report was
prepared "in response to growing interest within the
post-secondary education community" and a "growing
congressional desire to hold post-secondary
institutions accountable for student outcomes."

In response to "persistent congressional pressure" for
better information on student graduation rates and
performance, three major educational organizations
urged that the feasibility study be done, said Paul
Lingenfelter, executive director of the State Higher
Education Executive Officers Association.

Lingenfelter's group, consisting of the chief
education officials in each of the 50 states, was one
organization; the others were the American Council on
Education, an umbrella group of presidents of private
and public colleges and universities, and the American
Association of State Colleges and Universities.

But a fourth group, the National Association of
Independent Colleges and Universities, is voicing
strong objections.

"The plan essentially creates a giant national
database of all students who enter any college and
university, containing private information that could
be abused," said David Warren, NAICU president. "The
idea that students would enter a federal registry by
going to college, and could be tracked for the rest of
their lives, is chilling."



13) BBC Report on Iraqi Malnutrition [Commentary below
from a list reader]:

"So much for Blair's 'humanitarian' (sic)
justification for the war - that if we didn't let Bush
invade, sanctions would continue and we
wouldn't want that, no would we, what with all the
harm it was doing to innocent little kiddies. Even at
the time, it struck me as a mafiosi's argument":

** Children 'starving' in new Iraq **
Malnutrition rates in Iraqi children under five have
almost doubled since the US-led war, a UN report says.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/em/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/4395525.stm
> 


14) Scientific American recants on Darwinism:

Date: Thu, 24 Mar 2005 20:49:07 +0000

An editorial to appear in the April issue, Scientific
American:

OK, We Give Up
----------------------

"There's no easy way to admit this. For years, helpful
letter writers told us to stick to science. They
pointed out that science and politics don't mix. They
said we should be more balanced in our presentation of
such issues as creationism, missile defense and global
warming. We resisted their advice and pretended not to
be stung by the accusations that the magazine should
be renamed Unscientific American, or Scientific
Unamerican, or even Unscientific Unamerican. But
spring is in the air, and all of nature is turning
over a new leaf, so there's no better time to say: you
were right, and we were wrong.

In retrospect, this magazine's coverage of socalled
evolution has been hideously one-sided. For decades,
we published articles in every issue that endorsed the
ideas of Charles Darwin and his cronies. True, the
theory of common descent through natural selection has
been called the unifying concept for all of biology
and one of the greatest scientific ideas of all time,
but that was no excuse to be fanatics about it.

Where were the answering articles presenting the
powerful case for scientific creationism? Why were we
so unwilling to suggest that dinosaurs lived 6,000
years ago or that a cataclysmic flood carved the Grand
Canyon? Blame the scientists. They dazzled us with
their fancy fossils, their radiocarbon dating and
their tens of thousands of peer-reviewed journal
articles. As editors, we had no business being
persuaded by mountains of evidence.

Moreover, we shamefully mistreated the Intelligent
Design (ID) theorists by lumping them in with
creationists. Creationists believe that God designed
all life, and that's a somewhat religious idea. But ID
theorists think that at unspecified times some unnamed
superpowerful entity designed life, or maybe just some
species, or maybe just some of the stuff in cells.
That's what makes ID a superior scientific theory: it
doesn't get bogged down in details.

Good journalism values balance above all else. We owe
it to our readers to present everybody's ideas equally
and not to ignore or discredit theories simply because
they lack scientifically credible arguments or facts.
Nor should we succumb to the easy mistake of thinking
that scientists understand their fields better than,
say, U.S. senators or best-selling novelists do.
Indeed, if politicians or special-interest groups say
things that seem untrue or misleading, our duty as
journalists is to quote them without comment or
contradiction. To do otherwise would be elitist and
therefore wrong. In that spirit, we will end the
practice of expressing our own views in this space: an
editorial page is no place for opinions.

Get ready for a new Scientific American. No more
discussions of how science should inform policy. If
the government commits blindly to building an
anti-ICBM defense system that can't work as promised,
that will waste tens of billions of taxpayers' dollars
and imperil national security, you won't hear about it
from us. If studies suggest that the administration's
antipollution measures would actually increase the
dangerous particulates that people breathe during the
next two decades, that's not our concern. No more
discussions of how policies affect science either. So
what if the budget for the National Science Foundation
is slashed? This magazine will be dedicated purely to
science, fair and balanced science, and not just the
science that scientists say is science. And it will
start on April Fools' Day. "

Okay, We Give Up

MATT COLLINS THE EDITORS
editors@sciam.com
COPYRIGHT 2005 SCIENTIFIC
AMERICAN, INC."



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