Article 43


Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Bad Moon Rising Part 8 - Stupid Americans

The Thick Of Denial

How many GAS GUZZLING SUVs do you see as you drive down the road?  How many believe the ECONOMY is just FINE? How did Bush win a SECOND ELECTION? Are we in DENIAL, or just DUMB?


Global Warming: A Self-Inflicted, Very Serious Problem, According to More Than Half the World’s Online Population

January 29, 2007
Oxford, United Kingdom

Freak weather patterns that have caused droughts, hurricanes and wildfires have made GLOBAL WARMING an issue that the world can no longer ignore.

It has taken EXTREME and life threatening weather patterns to finally drive the message home that global warming is happening and is here to stay unless a concerted, GLOBAL EFFORT is made to reverse it,” said Patrick Dodd, President, ACNielsen Europe.  ACNielsen, the world’s largest market information company, recently conducted a global online survey on consumer attitudes towards global warming.

The good news is that nine out of 10 people globally are aware of global warming. The bad news is that only over half of them (57%) consider it a ‘very serious problem’, said Dodd.

The ACNielsen Global Online Consumer Opinion Survey, the largest half-yearly survey of its kind, was conducted in late October/early November, surveying 25,408 internet users in 46 markets from Europe, Asia Pacific, North America, the Baltics and Middle East.

In Europe, 95% of consumers say they are aware of global warming and 57% consider it a very serious problem.

The countries that are most aware and most concerned about global warming are, not surprisingly, “those who have experienced firsthand and directly suffered from the effects of global warming in the past few years,” observed Dodd.

Globally, Czechs are the most aware about global warming, with 99% saying they know about this issue, followed by 98% of Chinese, Portuguese, Russian and Thai consumers.

In August 2002, Prague - one of the worlds most beautiful and well-preserved medieval cities Ԓ became submerged as flash floods caused 40,000 residents to leave their homes and caused devastation throughout the city.

A year later, in August 2003, Europe recorded its hottest summer ever on record which resulted in an estimated 35,000 deaths across Europe, with 14,804 people perishing in France from heatwave-related deaths. Frances recent experience with global warming three years ago prompted French consumers (80%) along with Brazilians (81%) to top the world for thinking that global warming is a very serious problem.

Most Aware and Most Concerned - Latin Americans and Europeans

Latin Americans, who live in a region that scientists predict will be one of the worst hit by global warming in the next twenty years, are the most aware and concerned group about global warming.

North America Least Aware and Least Concerned

In North America, which is the world’s largest producer of carbon dioxide emissions, 84% say they are aware of global warming, but less than half of them (43%) consider it a very serious problem. More worrying, 12% of North Americans said they had never heard or read anything about global warming and one in ten consumers said it was not a serious problem at all.֓

North Americans consistently ranked least aware and least concerned about global warming,” said Dodd. North Americas apathy towards global warming was likely to be a major reason for Al Gore to make his controversial environmental film documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” which was described by critics as “the most important movie made in 2006.”

The three lowest countries globally in terms of awareness were the UAE, where 16% of respondents said that they had not heard of global warming, followed by the US (13%) and Malaysia (11%).

Global Warming - A Result of Human Actions?

Half the worlds population (50%) said global warming is a result of human actions and 43% believe itԒs a combination of both natural changes in the climate and human actions.  Again, Latin Americans lead the world for believing global warming is a direct result of human actions 62% of Latin Americans compared to 32% of North Americans say global warming is a direct result of our actions.

ҖThose who believe global warming is a result of human actions are more likely to make changes to save the environment, said Dodd. ӔIn this case, its gratifying to see that those who most believe that global warming is caused by human activities are the Chinese (73%) followed by 70% of Brazilians two of the world’s largest developing economies.”

One out of eight North Americans (12%), the highest percentage globally, thought global warming is caused by natural changes in the climate.

46 Markets Covered

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam.


Bad Moon Rising
Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5
Part 6 - Part 7 - Part 8 - Part 9 - Part 10
Part 11 - Part 12 - Part 13 - Part 14 - Part 15
Part 16 - Part 17 - Part 18 - Part 19 - Part 20
Part 21 - Part 22 - Part 23 - Part 24 - Part 25
Part 26 - Part 27 - Part 28 - Part 29 - Part 30
Part 31 - Part 32 - Part 33 - Part 34 - Part 35
Part 36 - Part 37 - Part 38 - Part 39 - Part 40
Part 41 - Part 42 - Part 43 - Part 44 - Part 45
Part 46 - Part 47 - Part 48 - Part 49 - Part 50
Part 51 - Part 52 - Part 53 - Part 54

Posted by Elvis on 01/30/07 •
Section Bad Moon Rising
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Becoming Illegal

From a Maryland resident to his senator

The Honorable Paul S. Sarbanes
Senate Office Building
309 Hart
Washington DC, 20510

Dear Senator Sarbanes,

As a native Marylander and excellent customer of the Internal Revenue Service, I am writing to ask for your assistance. I have contacted the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to determine the process for becoming an illegal alien and they referred me to you.

My primary reason for wishing to change my status from U.S. Citizen to illegal alien stem from the bill which was recently passed by the Senate and for which you voted. If my understanding of this bill’s provisions is accurate, as an illegal alien who has been in the United States for five years, all I need to do to become a citizen is to pay a $2,000 fine and income taxes for three of the last five years. I know a good deal when I see one and I am anxious to get the process started before everyone figures it out.

Simply put, those of us who have been here legally have had to pay taxes every year so I’m excited about the prospect of avoiding two years of taxes in return for paying a $2,000 fine. Is there any way that I can apply to be illegal retroactively? This would yield an excellent result for me and my family because we paid heavy taxes in 2004 and 2005. Additionally, as an illegal alien I could begin using the local emergency room as my primary health care provider. Once I have stopped paying premiums for medical insurance, my accountant figures I could save almost $10,000 a year. Another benefit in gaining illegal status would be that my daughter would receive preferential treatment relative to her law school applications, as well as “in-state” tuition rates for many colleges throughout the United States for my son. Lastly, I understand that illegal status would relieve me of the burden of renewing my driver’s license and making those burdensome car insurance premiums. This is very important to me given that I still have college age children driving my car.

If you would provide me with an outline of the process to become illegal (retroactively if possible) and copies of the necessary forms, I would ben most appreciative.

Thank you for your assistance.
Your Loyal Constituent,

Credit: Florida Jobs

Posted by Elvis on 01/30/07 •
Section Dying America
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Monday, January 29, 2007

DRM, Vista, And Your Rights


Fight DRM While There’s Still Time
By Borys Musielak
Polish Linux
January 23, 2007

In this article I would like to explain the PROBLEM OF DIGITAL RIGHTS MANAGEMENT, especially in the version PROMOTED BY MICROSOFT with the new WINDOWS VISTA release. Not everyone is familiar with the DANGERS of the new standard for the whole computer industry. Yes, the whole industry because it goes way beyond the software produced by the giant from Redmond and its affiliates.


Digital Rights Management (generally abbreviated to DRM) is an umbrella term that refers to any of several technologies used by publishers or copyright owners to control access to and usage of digital data or hardware, and to restrictions associated with a specific instance of a digital work or device. The term is often confused with copy protection and technical protection measures; these two terms refer to technologies that control or restrict the use and access of digital content on electronic devices with such technologies installed, acting as components of a DRM design.

A similar (but a bit more specialized) term to DRM is TRUSTED COMPUTING. The term is intentionally misleading. It does not try to improve the security of the user, but rather wants to ensure that the user can be trusted. Obviously its not about the trust, it’s about the money. The companies that deliver content (specially multimedia, but its not restricted to media only) to the client want to be able to control the way it is used. For example, they want the content to be displayed on approved media only, banning all the “illegal applications” (illegal does not mean that it violates the law, but rather the agreement between the client and the company that sells the media).

So, what’s wrong with the practice? Why shouldn’t the companies be able to control their content? The idea of DRM has two aspects that are important (and may be dangerous) for computer users. First aspect is technological, the second is ethical. We are going to cover both.

In a nutshell, the technological aspect is that DRM implies that the software, or even worse - hardware should be manufactured not for the highest stability and performance, but rather for the BEST COPYRIGHT PROTECTION possible. This means, that we - the users are supposed to pay more money for a product that is defective (does not allow certain functionality for non-technical reasons) and provides an inferior performance.

ETHICAL ASPECT is even more dangerous. In the world of DRM, it turns that we cannot do whatever we want with the legally purchased products (like software, music, videos or text documents). What we can and what we cannot do is decided the provider, not by ourselves. For example, a DRM-protected product can be disabled at any time by the producer if he believes that we violate the terms of the agreement. This means that your collection of דprotected music can be rendered useless (e.g. by decreasing the quality or even deleting the content) in a matter of seconds, without your approval. It that some horrible vision of a sick and evil overlord? Nope. This is an upcoming, terrifying era of DRM.

DRM by example

So, what does DRM look like? Can we see it or is it hidden? Actually, quite a lot of famous companies have already decided that DRM is the way to go. Below we present only a short list of the most popular formats that are affected (tainted) by the rights protection:

* DVD the disk itself does not contain any hardware DRM, but a lot of providers decided to use the restrictions recommended by the DVD CCA organization, such as CSS (content scrambling by using encryption mechanisms) or RPC(region codes).

* HD DVD - the new standard that will probably replace DVDs has been unfortunately tainted by DRM since its creation. The main restriction used is AACS, a modern version of CSS.

* AAC - audio file format invented and promoted by Apple and its iTunes Music Store. In the version with FairPlay (sic!) protection system, it contains DRM-type restrictions (encrypting) aimed at making it impossible for competitive portable players to support this format (AAC works flawlessly only on Apple products like iTunes player or iPod and a few other players approved by Apple)

* Windows Media - each of the media formats of the Windows Media pack (WMV, WMA, WMP or ASF) has been tainted by some kind of DRM, usually meaning that the content is symmetrically encrypted and if the keys are not accessible, the user can watch/listen to only the scrambled version of the content (very low quality).

What is interesting and not widely known, DRM is not restricted to media only. It can be used to secure any other digital goods, especially the software. The idea to restrict access to proprietary software using hardware DRM technology is getting more and more popular around major SOFTWARE vendors, like Microsoft and Apple. If this gets implemented, the software producer will be able to, for example, block the use certain programs if they recognize it harmful or illegal. This could mean blocking programs of competitors if they violate the company’s internal rules (e.g. enable the user to play encrypted DVDs or AAC files, even though it is not illegal to do it in the users country). Blocking Peer2Peer clients, like eMule or Gnutella (nevermind if used legally or not) could be another option. And there are many more options available, provided that DRM is publicly accepted.

The price of DRM, or what says Gutmann

Peter Gutmann in his recent PUBLICATION analyzed the cost of Windows Vista Content Protection [PDF version by Max Moritz Sievers] with emphasis on the actual cash to be spent for the computer user if these recommendations are implemented by the hardware vendors. The article is interesting, but long and very technical, so I decided to summarize the main points here. If you prefer to read the original article, we strongly recommend you doing so. Otherwise, you can read our short summary, so that you know what we are talking about.

So, what will happen if the Microsoft vision comes true?

* If you have recently bought a high-end sound card you may be surprised, since in Windows Vista you won’t be able to play any protected content due to the incompatibility of interfaces (S/PDIF).

* Significant loss of quality of the audio may be common due to the need to test every bit of streaming media for the use of protected contentӔ

* The idea of open-source drivers will be abandoned since the whole DRM thing is based on the fact that the content decrypting takes place in a black box and only a few selected corporations may have a look at it. Security through obscurity, thats what it’s called. Open source stands in complete opposition to this concept.

* Removing any standards from the hardware world is one of the Microsoft goals. According to the Microsoft theory, each device will need to communicate with the operating system in a unique way in order for DRM work as required. This will enforce the incompatibility of the devices, killing the existing interface standards.

* Denial of Service attacks will be a common place. The new era of DoS attacks will be more harmful than ever before. This is connected with the tilt bits introduced in Windows Vista. The malicious code will be able to use the DRM restrictions in any suitable way and the detection of this activity will be almost impossible if not illegal (sic!) thanks to the infamous DMCA act that prohibits the use of any reverse engineering techniques used to either understand or break DRM.

* The stability of the devices will be decreased due to the fact that the devices will not only have to do their job but also protect (who? obviously not the user) against the illegal use of the audio and video streams. This protection requires a lot of additional processing power and of course a lot of programmers man days. Who’s gonna pay for that? Of course us the customers.

* Issuing the specification by Microsoft seems to be the first case in the history when the software producer dictates the hardware producers how their hardware should be designed and work. Seems dangerous, especially when we all realize the intentions of Microsoft.

The conclusions are rather sad. If the major hardware vendors like Intel, NVidia and ATI take these recommendations seriously and implement them in their products, it may occur that the client will not only get an inferior product (defective by design), but will also have to pay the extra cost of implementing DRM restrictions (the vendors wonגt be probably willing to spend the extra costs for something that does not give them any profits).

Update: there has already been a Microsoft response to the Gutmanns paper: Windows Vista Content Protection - Twenty Questions (and Answers). The advocacy is however very poor. The Lead Program Manager for Video (Dave Marsh) confirmed most of the Gutmann’s conclusions, but presented them as inevitable and providing additional functionality. The OSNews readers seem to agree that Marshs response was basically the act of admitting the guilt.

What we have covered so far are only the technical costs of DRM/Trusted Computing in the form proposed by the Redmond giant. The ethical costs of the ғinnovation are even more interestingԅ or rather depressing. Read on.

DRM and freedom, or what says Richard Stallman and FSF

According to Stallman,

DRM is an example of a malicious feature - a feature designed to hurt the user of the software, and therefore, its something for which there can never be toleration.

Stallman is not the only person respected in the IT world who believes that DRM is pure evil. Another known DRM-fighter is John Walker, the author of the famous article ғDigital imprimatur: How big brother and big media can put the Internet genie back in the bottle. Walker compares the Digital imprimatur with DRM in the Internet and computing in general.

In Windows Vista it has been decided that the most restrictive version of DRM ever known will be implemented. If the Redmond dreams come true and the large hardware producers also decide to implement the DRM bits in their chipsets, it may lead to the situation in which we - the users, practically wont be able to decide about our own software of legally purchased media. And this is actually only the beginning of what we can expect if a massive consumer protest against DRM does not begin. In the near future it may turn out that we will not be able to run any programs that violates one of the absurd software patents in the US or any kind of so-called intellectual property (just as if the ideas could have an owner!). And almost everything will be patented or owner in some way by that time.

I have a science-fiction vision of the IT underground, where the only hardware not tainted with DRM is made in China and using it is illegal in most of the civilized countries. And the only software that allows users to do anything they want with it is (also illegal) the GNU software, developed in basements by so-called IT terrorists - Linux kernel hackers, former Novell and Red Hat employees and sponsored by the Bin Laden of the IT Mark Shuttleworth. Sounds ridiculous? Well, hopefully so. But I don’t think Microsoft and Apple would be protesting when this ridiculous and insane vision comes true.

What is it all about and how can you protect yourself?

So, where is this all heading to? It seems that, for Microsoft, controlling the desktop software market is not enough anymore. Now they try take control of the hardware market as well. Currently only by recommending their solutions to external hardware companies. But in the future, if the current pro-DRM lobbying proves successful, it may happen that Microsoft and other big software companies will be dictating how the hardware is designed. And all this - of course in their argumentation only for securing the end user and protecting the intellectual property of the artists and programmers. This situation is rather paranoid. The hypothetical pact between the software vendors, hardware vendors and the content providers (RIAA, MPAA) could slow down the innovation in the entire IT industry for many years. This would be also one of the first times in the history where certain new technology is introduced not based on the customers’ demands, but rather on the need of large and influential companies. The customers (those aware of their rights) cannot be satisfied by this kind of agreement by no means.

So, how can you protect yourself from this pact of evil?

1. First of all ignore the hardware and software using DRM techniques to restrict the rights of the user. Do not purchase music, movies and other content secured by DRM mechanisms. Instead, use alternative services recommended by the Defective By Design campaign - these are the tools and services DRM-free.

2. Secondly talk, talk and once again, talk - make your family, friends, co-workers aware of the dangers connected with the use of DRM in the products. This is the best way to educate people what DRM really is and why they should care. Nobody wants to be restricted. When people become aware of the restrictions, they will not buy the products that restrict them. Simple enough.

Breaking the DRM it’s easy

OK, and what if we have already legally purchased some content (like multimedia or text document) secured by some kind of DRM? Do not worry. Most of them has been broken a long time ago. For example, in order to play an CSS-encrypted DVD under GNU/Linux, you can use almost any player like VLC, MPlayer or XINE with libdvdcss2 enabled (this is a non-licenced library used to decrypt DVDs encrypted with CSS). If you posses music in AAC format (e.g. purchased at iTunes), you can easily convert them to a friendly format using JHymn without losing quality. The story repeats with each and every new introduced DRM technology, like encrypted PDFs, Windows Media, or recently HD-DVD (see the muslix64 post on BackupDVD) and BluRay.

Breaking the DRM restrictions is hard but always possible, due to the fact that all DRM mechanisms need to use symmetric encryption in order to work. This kind of encryption requires the keys to be hidden either in the hardware or software - in both ways its possible to access them by the hacker, analyze and find the way to decrypt the data streams. If you are interested in the details of DRM hacking, read the lecture of Cory Doctorow for Microsoft Research about the nonsense of DRM.

OK, but is it legal?

We know that we can break almost any DRM restriction using easily available open source software. But what about the legal part? Is it legal to do this at home? Well, this depends҅ Depends on where you live actually. For instance, if you have the misfortune of being located in the United States or France, you are prohibited by law to play your legally purchased music or films (sic!) that are secured by DRM if you dont buy an approved operating system (like MS Windows or MacOS) with an approved media player (like PowerDVD or iTunes). In the US this has been enforced by the DMCA act. In France, a similar act called DADVSI.

Fortunately, in most other countries, it is still completely legal to use free software to break any DRM restrictions, like DeCSS to play your DVDs. What we, as the free software supporters, need to do is to constantly watch the law-makers in our own countries so that they do not try to introduce similar restrictions as in France or US. In Poland, for instance, a protest led by one of the big pro-Linux portals and thousands of computer users made the leading party to abandon the project to introduce a DMCA-like law in Poland. Free-software supporters in other countries, like the United Kingdom go even further and try to completely ban the use of DRM in the British law system.

Of course, breaking the restrictions is fighting the results, not the causes. The real problem is the pure fact that DRM exists and is widely accepted by the (unaware) majority. If the computer users do not unite and protest against including DRM in more and more products, nobody will, and the DRM will become our every-day experience which we will need to fight just like viruses or malware. This year may be the one in which the major decision will be made both by the industry (whether or not to apply DRM in the products) and by the customers (whether or not accept DRM as is). If we miss this fight, we may have to accept what we get. I don’t think we can afford missing it. Do you?



Posted by Elvis on 01/29/07 •
Section Privacy And Rights • Section Microsoft And Windows
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Democracy Hollowed Out Part 14

Bloggers Who Criticize Government May Face Prison

Bill would allow rounding up and imprisoning of non-registered political writers.
By Steve Watson
Thursday, January 18, 2007

You’d be forgiven for thinking that it was some new restriction on free speech in Communist China. But it ISN’T. The U.S. Government WANTS TO FORCE BLOGGERS and online grassroots activists to register and regularly report their activities to Congress in the latest astounding attack on the internet and the FIRST AMENDMENT.

Richard A. Viguerie, Chairman of GRASSROOTS FREEDOM, a website dedicated to fighting efforts to silence grassroots movements, states:

“Section 220 of S. 1, the lobbying reform bill currently before the Senate, would require grassroots causes, even bloggers, who communicate to 500 or more members of the public on policy matters, to register and report quarterly to Congress the same as the big K Street lobbyists. Section 220 would amend existing lobbying reporting law by creating the most expansive intrusion on First Amendment rights ever. For the first time in history, critics of Congress will need to register and report with Congress itself.”

In other words Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats may redefine the meaning of lobbying in order that political communications to and even between citizens falls under the same legislation.

Under current law any ‘lobbyist” who ‘knowingly and willingly fails to file or report.” quarterly to the government faces criminal charges including a possible jail term of up to one year.

The amendment is currently ON HOLD.

This latest attack on bloggers comes hot on the heels of Republican Senator John McCain’s proposal to introduce legislation that would fine blogs up to $300,000 for offensive statements, photos and videos posted by visitors on comment boards.

McCain’s proposal is presented under the banner of saving children from sexual predators and encourages informants to shop website owners to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, who then pass the information on to the relevant police authorities.

Despite a total lack of any evidence that children are being victimized en mass by bloggers or people who leave comments on blog sites, it seems likely that the proposal will become legislation in some form. It is well known that MCCAIN HAS A DISTASTE for his blogosphere critics, causing a definite conflict of interest where any proposal to restrict blogs on his part is concerned.

In recent months, a chorus of propaganda intended to demonize the Internet and further lead it down a path of strict control has spewed forth from numerous establishment organs:

During an appearance with his wife Barbara on Fox News last November, GEORGE BUSH SENIOR slammed Internet bloggers for creating an “adversarial and ugly climate.”

- The White House’s own recently DE-CLASSIFIED STRATEGY for “winning the war on terror” targets Internet conspiracy theories as a recruiting ground for terrorists and threatens to “diminish” their influence.

- The Pentagon recently announced its effort to INFILTRATE THE INTERNET AND PROPAGANDIZE for the war on terror.

- In a speech last month, Homeland Security director MICHAEL CHERTOFF IDENTIFIED THE WEB AS A TERROR TRAINING CAMP, through which “disaffected people living in the United States” are developing “radical ideologies and potentially violent skills.” Chertoff pledged to dispatch Homeland Security agents to local police departments in order to aid in the apprehension of domestic terrorists who use the Internet as a political tool.

- A landmark legal case on behalf of the Recording Industry Association of America and other global trade organizations seeks to CRIMINALIZE ALL INTERNET FILE SHARING of any kind as copyright infringement, effectively shutting down the world wide web - and their argument is supported by the U.S. government.

- A landmark legal ruling in Sydney goes further than ever before in setting the trap door for the destruction of the Internet as we know it and the end of alternative news websites and blogs by creating the precedent that simply LINKING TO OTHER WEBSITES IN BREAH OF COPYRIGHT and piracy.

- The European Union, led by former Stalinist and potential future British Prime Minister John Reid, has also vowed to shut down “terrorists” who use the Internet to spread propaganda.

- The EU also recently proposed legislation that would prevent users from UPLOADING ANY FORM OF VIDEO without a license.

- We have also previously exposed how moves are afoot to CLAMP DOWN on INTERNET NEUTRALITY and even to designate a highly restricted new form of the internet known as INTERNET 2.

Make no mistake, the internet, one of the greatest outposts of free speech ever created is under constant attack by powerful people who cannot operate within a society where information flows freely and unhindered. All these moves mimic stories we hear every week out of State Controlled Communist China, where the internet is STRICTLY REGULATED and virtually exists as its own entity away from the rest of the web.

The phrases “Chinese government” and “Mao Zedong” have even been CENSORED on China’s official Web sites because they are “Sensitive phrases”. Are we to allow our supposedly Democratic governments to implement the same type of restrictive policies here?

Under section 220 of the lobbying reform bill, bloggers could be required to seek a license in order to bring this information to you. IF we were granted a license we would then have to report our activities to the government four times per year in order to bring you this information. Does that sound more like FREE SPEECH or more like TOTALITARIANISM?

Democracy Hollowed Out
PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3 - PART 4 - PART 5
PART 6 - PART 7 - PART 8 - PART 9 - PART 10
PART 11 - PART 12 - PART 13 - PART 14 - PART 15
PART 16 - PART 17 - PART 18

Posted by Elvis on 01/29/07 •
Section Privacy And Rights • Section News • Section Dying America
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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Bush’s War on the Republic

FROM THE BEGINNING of the war on terror, George W. Bush has lied to the American people about the GOALS, motivation and even the identity of the enemy a propaganda exercise that continued through his 2007 STATE OF THE UNION Address and that is sounding the death knell for the Republic.
By Robert Parry
Consortium News
January 24, 2007

Since 2001, rather than focusing on the al-Qaeda Sunni fundamentalist terrorists behind the 9/11 attacks, Bush has expanded the conflict exponentially tossing in unrelated enemies such as Iraq’s secular dictator Saddam Hussein, Shiite-led Iran, Syria and Islamic militants opposed to Israel, like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

In effect, Bush has transformed what began as a definable military objective the defeat of “terrorist groups with global reach” into an endless war against what he regards as evil, a conflict so vague that it is claiming as collateral damage Americas “unalienable rights and the Founders’ checks and balances on the powers of the Executive.

In Bushs State of the Union speech on Jan. 23, there could be heard a requiem for the Republic.

“The evil that inspired and rejoiced in 9/11 is still at work in the world. And so long as thats the case, America is still a nation at war,” Bush told Congress.

But that evil will always be at work in the world, so America will always be a nation at war and thus, under Bush’s theories of unlimited Commander-in-Chief powers, the American Republic will be banished permanently.

Bluntly put, Bush and his neoconservative legal advisers don’t believe in the unalienable rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, including ones as fundamental as the habeas corpus right to a fair trial and protections against warrantless searches and seizures.

The Bush administration may make grudging concessions in these areas when faced with determined opposition in the courts or from the public, but they hold these liberties to be subordinate to Bush’s plenary or unlimited powers as Commander in Chief.

Beyond this disdain for fundamental American liberties, Bush has contempt for any meaningful public debate. Though he talks about compromise and consultation, his view of national unity is to have everyone shut up and get in line behind him, “the Decider.”

Since the 9/11 attacks, Bush has overseen a bare-knuckled political strategy of bullying anyone who disagrees with him and marginalizing their voices. From the Dixie Chicks to former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, from France to United Nations weapons inspectors, those who have dared to cross the President have faced ridicule and reprisals.

These ugly attacks have become so much a part of the American political landscape that the news media treats them as unexceptional, as if its normal for a President to coordinate with powerful media allies to silence dissent.

For instance, there was no media outcry in April 2003 when Bush gave a wink and a nod to a retaliatory boycott against the three-woman Dixie Chicks band because the lead singer, Natalie Maines, had criticized the President.

“They shouldnt have their feelings hurt just because some people don’t want to buy their records when they speak out,” Bush said. Freedom is a two-way street.

So, instead of encouraging a full-and-free debate about an issue as important as war and peace, Bush made clear that he saw nothing wrong with his followers punishing Americans who disagree with him.

Democrat Party

While Bush may have softened his belligerent style slightly since the Republican defeat in the November 2006 elections, he still couldn’t muster enough politeness to refer to the Democratic Party in his State of the Union.

For years, tough-talking Republicans have made it a point of insult to drop the ice and use Democrat as the adjective. This phrasing has become a mark of the swaggering Republicans who have dominated this era of U.S. politics. It’s the partisan equivalent of willfully mispronouncing the foreign-sounding name of a disliked neighbor.

So, even as Bush was supposedly trying to be gracious to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he couldnt stop himself from congratulating the ֒Democrat majority.

More significantly, however, Bush continues to demean the Constitution. Despite having sworn Ӕto preserve, defend and uphold the Constitution as his preeminent duty, Bush keeps insisting that the highest obligation of government is to keep the people safe.

He repeated that mantra in his State of the Union. “For all of us in this room, there is no higher responsibility than to protect the people of this country from danger,” he said.

In other words, Bush believes security - or at least his view of security trumps everything, including constitutional rights.

But that concept turns upside down more than two centuries of U.S. history and tradition. Instead of Patrick Henry’s exhortation of give me liberty or give me death,ӓ the Bush dictum could be summed up as just make sure Iԓm safe driving to the mall.

Bush apparently sees the American people as a pudgy bunch of consumers as soft in the head as in their bellies. In the State of the Union, the President didn’t hesitate to again lay out his distortion of the threat the nation faces.

To heighten the fears of Americans, he again misrepresented the goals, capabilities and even the identities of the enemy. He blurred diverse and even antagonistic Muslim Sunni and Shiite groups, shoving them under the umbrella of Ҕthe Islamist radical movement.

ӔThe Shia and Sunni extremists are different faces of the same totalitarian threat, Bush said. ӔWhatever slogans they chant, when they slaughter the innocent they have the same wicked purposes. They want to kill Americans, kill democracy in the Middle East, and gain the weapons to kill on an even more horrific scale.

But this depiction is a continuation of Bush’s tendency to misstate the key question of what’s motivating Islamic militancy.

In September 2001, Bush claimed that the motive behind the 9/11 attacks and other manifestations of anti-Americanism in the Middle East was that Islamic extremists Ӕhate our freedoms. Now, he says they want to Ӕkill Americans, democracy and anything else that gets in their way.

However, this distortion of what drives the swelling anti-Americanism in the Middle East is not only wrong, itӔs dangerous. It guarantees an expensive, bloody and endless war. It also could ensure eventual defeat for legitimate U.S. interests in the region.

Diverse Motives

The truth is that the motives of Islamic militants are much more complicated and diverse than Bush wants the American people to know.

In Iraq, Sunni insurgents are killing Americans because the United States invaded their country and handed the reins of power over to rival Shiites, while Shiites are using “death squads” to consolidate their authority by killing Sunnis. Along the Mediterranean, other Islamic militants have fought against Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and Lebanese land.

Some Middle Eastern militants are resentful of U.S.-backed autocrats like those governing Egypt and Saudi Arabia; many object to the corruption that has surrounded the region’s oil wealth; others want a return to more traditional Islamic religious values; some actually favor democratic elections because they expect to win and want to unseat corrupt pro-American leaders.

In the Palestinian territories, Hamas did win an election. In Lebanon, Hezbollah is a powerful political force. In Iran, radical president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gained office through a limited democratic process.

Even al-Qaeda has far more limited objectives than Bush has claimed. Despite Bushs oft-stated assertion that Ғ if the United States retreats al-Qaeda will form a caliphate stretching from Spain to Indonesia, no credible analyst believes that.

Intercepted al-Qaeda documents actually reveal leaders fretting about how fragile their position in Iraq would be if the United States withdrew. According to one captured letter, ֖Atiyah, a senior aide to Osama bin Laden, stressed the need to exploit the continued American presence so al-Qaeda can put down roots in Iraq.

ӔIndeed, prolonging the war is in our interest, Atiyah wrote.

Yet, even as Bush’s Iraq War strategy plays into the hands of al-Qaeda, the President told Congress and the American people that he intends to confront radical Shiite movements in the region with determination equal to that aimed at Sunni extremists. Bush said:

ӔIn recent times, it has also become clear that we face an escalating danger from Shia extremists who are just as hostile to America, and are also determined to dominate the Middle East. Many are known to take direction from the regime in Iran, which is funding and arming terrorists like Hezbollah a group second only to al-Qaeda in the American lives it has taken.Ӗ

But Bush left out the history about those American deaths. He was referring primarily to the 241 U.S. soldiers who died in 1983 when a suicide bomber destroyed the Marine barracks in Beirut, after the Reagan administration had intervened in Lebanon and taken sides in the civil war.

By definition, terrorism is a violent attack on civilians to achieve a political end. Hezbollahs attack in 1983, therefore, was not an act of terrorism as lamentable as the military deaths were. Bush, however, blurs the point by associating the bombing with al-QaedaԒs 9/11 attacks on civilian targets inside the United States.

Although the U.S. and Israeli governments list Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, the European Union does not. While some of its actions such as its missile attacks on Israel in summer 2006 could be categorized as terrorism because of the loss of civilian life, Hezbollah also is a broad-based political and social movement.

Guaranteeing Defeat

Lumping Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, Iraqi insurgents and others together with al-Qaeda underscores the risks and almost certain futility Җ of Bushs expanding ֒war on terror. With anti-Americanism across the Middle East often registering in the 90 percentiles, BushӔs strategy is more likely to accelerate Islamic extremism than put a brake on it.

Bush also finds himself caught in a contradiction between his rhetorical embrace of Middle East democracyғ and his reliance on moderateԓ i.e. autocratic Ԗ regimes that engage in political repression and have defied popular sentiment to cooperate with Bush.

At one point in his State of the Union speech, Bush denounced extremists who seek to overthrow moderate governments֓ but returned to his lofty rhetoric about democracy and freedom as vital components in defeating the extremists.

To prevail, we must remove the conditions that inspire blind hatred,ԓ Bush said. What every terrorist fears most is human freedom. ԓ The great question of our day is whether America will help men and women in the Middle East to build free societies and share in the rights of all humanity. And I say, for the sake of our own security, we must.

Though a surefire applause line, BushŔs praise of liberty represents possibly the most insidious lie from his “war on terror.” As U.S. intelligence is well aware, free democratic elections in countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia would represent a disaster for U.S. foreign policy by likely putting into power Islamic militants like the Muslim Brotherhood.

As was obvious during Secretary of State Condoleezza Rices trip to the Middle East, the U.S. diplomatic position is precariously dependent on kings, princes and despots who favor regional stability for reasons of their own self-interest.

BushҒs exhortations about human freedom therefore are galling to many in the world who see Bush himself as the worlds most notorious autocrat, violating international law at his personal whim and overriding the constitutional liberties of Americans at home.

Bush is the personification of what recent polls of global opinion have registered as a leading complaint about America Ғ hypocrisy, espousing concepts of liberty while denying even basic human rights to suspects swept up in the war on terror.֓

There is also no end in sight, Bush made clear.

The war on terror we fight today is a generational struggle that will continue long after you and I have turned our duties over to others,ԓ Bush told Congress. And thatԓs why its important to work together so our nation can see this great effort through.Ғ

But the bottom line for Bushs Ԓwar on terror is that it won’t just cost countless lives and hundreds of billions of dollars; it also is doomed to fail, at least as presently constituted. If it lasts much longer, it is certain, too, to deliver a death blow to the noble American Republic.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered HERE. It’s also available at, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth.’


Posted by Elvis on 01/28/07 •
Section Revelations
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