Saturday, June 4, 2005

More Abu Ghraib Photos?

Looks like we'll soon see the remaining of the now-infamous Abu Ghraib photos:
Army Told to Release Abuse Videos
The Associated Press

Friday 03 June 2005

ACLU prevails in lawsuit over Abu Ghraib images.

New York - A judge has ordered the government to release four videos from Abu Ghraib prison and dozens of photographs from the same collection of photos that touched off the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal a year ago.

The federal judge issued the order late Wednesday requiring the Army to release the material to the American Civil Liberties Union to comply with the Freedom of Information Act.

The ACLU said the material would show that the abuse was "more than the actions of a few rogue soldiers."

Judge Alvin Hellerstein said the 144 pictures and videos can be turned over in edited form to protect the victims' identities. He gave the Army one month to release them.

The judge ordered the release after he viewed eight of the photos last week. They were given to the Army by a military policeman assigned to Abu Ghraib.

In October 2003, the ACLU filed a lawsuit seeking information on treatment of detainees in US custody and the transfer of prisoners to countries known to use torture. The ACLU contends that prisoner abuse is systemic.

"These images may be ugly and shocking ... (but) the American public deserves to know what is being done in our name," said Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU.

So far, 36,000 pages of documents and the reports of 130 investigations, mostly from the FBI and Army, have been turned over to the ACLU.

The group is seeking documents from the CIA and the Department of Defense as well.

The judge said last week that he believed photographs "are the best evidence the public can have of what occurred" at the prison.

Government lawyer Sean Lane had argued that releasing pictures, even in redacted form, would violate Geneva Convention rules by subjecting the detainees to additional humiliation.

Lane did not immediately return a telephone message for comment Thursday. Link

The photos emerging from Abu Ghraib last spring were painful to look at, especially for those of us who wish to hang on to any shred of hope that the US can be a great nation and leader in the area of human rights, rather than just another rogue nation with imperial ambitions. Those photos, instead, became the defining images of the Bush-Blair war on Iraq in much the same manner that the picture of the screaming napalmed girl became a defining image of the Vietnam war.

Friday, June 3, 2005

A pattern is emerging - ya think?

Jailers splashed Koran with urine - Pentagon
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - American jailers at the Guantanamo prison for foreign terrorism suspects splashed a Koran with urine, kicked and stepped on the Islamic holy book and soaked it with water, the U.S. military said on Friday.

U.S. Southern Command, responsible for the prison at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, described for the first time five cases of "mishandling" of a Koran by U.S. personnel confirmed by a newly completed military inquiry, officials said in a statement.

In the incident involving urine, which took place this past March, Southern Command said a guard left his post and urinated near an air vent and "the wind blew his urine through the vent" and into a cell block.

It said a detainee told guards the urine "splashed on him and his Koran." The statement said the detainee was given a new prison uniform and Koran, and that the guard was reprimanded and given duty in which he had no contact with prisoners.

Southern Command said a civilian contractor interrogator, who was later fired, apologized in July 2003 to a detainee for stepping on his Koran. In August 2003, prisoners' Korans became wet when night-shift guards had thrown water balloons in a cell block, the statement said. In February 2002, guards kicked a prisoner's Koran, it added.

In the fifth "confirmed incident" of mishandling a Koran, Southern Command said a prisoner in August 2003 complained that "a two-word obscenity" had been written in English in his Koran. Southern Command said it was "possible" a guard had written the words but "equally possible" the prisoner himself had done it.

Southern Command released its findings on a Friday night.

Of course I always love how our government does these news dumps on Friday night - I suppose in the hope that the story will disappear so that we can focus on those things that truly matter: I'm talking, of course about the outcome of the Michael Jackson trial. Surely mere prisoner abuse and Quran desecration pales in comparison to the all-important outcome of the Jackson trial jury deliberation. I'm simply on the edge of my seat!

But I digress. Once again, we see a pattern emerging: a pattern that right-wing extremists undoubtedly embrace, and one in which a fair number of my fellow Americans would prefer to pretend doesn't exist. Wishing it away will not make it go away. Only by confronting our government's involvement in human rights abuses can we hope to begin to make our government better. Ignorance, in this case, is neither blissful nor is it an excuse. We must do better.

This looks interesting:

A Tattoo on my Heart: The Warriors of Wounded Knee 1973

Today's Column By Gary Leupp

Some Clips:

But here you have the president and vice president of the United States dissing AI [Amnesty International] big time, arguing in effect that

(a) the U.S. is the biggest liberator of human beings ever, and that therefore ipso facto

(b) it can't possibly have tortured abused and humiliated prisoners from Guantanamo to Afghanistan. Isn't it simple and obvious? And

(c): those making charges are freed detainees, who hate America, and

(d) they have been trained to "disassemble," which preacher man Bush tells us means to lie.


Actually, those in the reality-based community know that "disassemble" means to take something apart, which I am doing now as we speak. The president meant "dissemble"...

[...]

"Dissemble" means to put on a false appearance. In Poe's story, the madman thinks the police officers visiting his apartment know that he's murdered his landlord and deposited the body under the floor planks. He sees their quiet chitchat as a provocation. Actually the cops in the story seem perfectly honest and straightforward, but the murderer haunted by guilt imagines that they must be out to get him.

Bush and Cheney see the released detainees as men out to attack America and themselves and to dissemble in order to achieve that purpose. It's madness, of course. The International Red Cross concluded many months ago that most detainees in Iraq were innocent people mistakenly imprisoned. ("Absurd!" some will say. The U.S. is a country that promotes freedom, so that can't be right, right? Just can't be. America! Good people.) People who report after their release that they were beat up, tortured, mocked for their religion and sexually humiliated while in U.S. custody are probably not dissembling. But those whose very release presumably confirms their innocence, even if the government justifies their earlier confinement on the grounds they might have produced some information servicing U.S. goals, in the madmen's tortured minds have to be lying about their confinement. But these people should ask themselves: "Haven't any released detainees spoken well of the fairness and humanity of their captors?"

[...]

And for Amnesty to peddle these people's lies well, "What villains!" shriek the world's maddest murderers, tearing up and disassembling the planks of international order and revealing exactly who they are. Deconstructing their dissembling is fairly easy, for those of us on this side of reality. For those on the other side, such dissembling is God's truth. "And so it was an absurd report," their president assures them, closing discussion with the smugly pontifical, "It just is."

It all depends on what is is. The madman's is is a product of his imagination, ours an ontology of discernible reality in which U.S. imperialism seeks to conquer and dominate Southwest Asia using bald-faced lies, fascistic brainless nationalism, religious intolerance and racism at every step. The madman's dismissal of Amnesty's report is an appeal to the Bush base to more thoroughly fortress its bovine mind against questions and criticisms. America---Freedom. America-haters---Liars, Disassemblers.

William Schultz, head of Amnesty's U.S. section responds that it is "worth noting that this administration never finds it 'absurd' when we criticize Cuba or China, or when we condemned the violations in Iraq under Saddam Hussein." Indeed U.S. administrations routinely reference AI reports when they want to attack some foreign foe. But the fascistic epistemology current in ruling circles dictates that truth cannot negatively affect the USA. Facts and intelligence must be fixed around U.S. interests. So the Cheney-friendly Wall Street Journal lashes out at the "moral degradation" of Amnesty International, debased so low as to compare the U.S.'s global network of detention centers including those in allied countries that routinely employ torture, with a "gulag." Neocons David Rivkin and Lee Casey condemn AI's "extravagant and unfounded claims" in the National Review without attempting to refute any particular claim. "Groups like Amnesty persistently state that American policy at Guantanamo Bay is illegal," they declare, "even though this is simply not true." It just is, in the disassembler's words, not true.

But from the reality-based camp a muezzin cries, "Yes! what AI says is true." The battle to determine what is slowly takes shape, as the implications of the lies so plainly spelled out in the Downing Street Memo and so many other documents impact those still awake among us. The Bush administration knowingly and willfully attacked a sovereign country, illegally, unprovoked, on the basis of deliberately manufactured lies, using the emotions produced by 9-11, general ignorance, and a compliant press to promote the cause. Seizing control of a country whose population responded to occupation with sullen caution or natural, predictable resistance, the occupiers rounded up thousands of people doing what people typically do under such circumstances. Of course kids with Kalashnikovs are going to shoot at the invaders. (What would kids in Texas do if confronted with analogous events?) Hated, opposed, ill-prepared by their own brainwashing process as to why any decent person would dislike them, the fine American troops treat these kids as "terrorists," cousins of the 9-11 attackers. Why not make them excrete on themselves, and smear them with menstrual blood, and force them to masturbate and simulate homosexual acts on camera so their neighbors can see, since they hate America so much?

These are the questions raised implicitly by Bush and Cheney and their defenders in the press. How can anyone dispute the reason and justice of the heroic plan to conquer the Greater Middle East, through a combination of military and psy-war tactics, noble lies and if possible a fascistic crackdown on dissent at home? Only people who hate America, people trained in some instances to disassemble, would wish that. So say the fascists. But they are in trouble as thinking people lock horns with their brain-dead supporters, who can only endlessly echo "United We Stand" as they stand against anybody Bush wants to smite in his ongoing imperialist Crusade. Link

Thursday, June 2, 2005

Fallujah: The Day After

via Jaun Cole, there's a link to a film posted on Diario's website. The film (shot in January of this year) captures footage of the decimation of Fallujah. The description in English:
This video has been recorded in Falluja in early Janury, 2005, when the city was reopened to civilians after the American attack of November 8th, 2004 (“Operation Al-Fajr”, i. e. “the dawn”).

It’s an important document since the city was closed to reporters at that moment. This video was handed over to the Italian weekly magazine Diario by the Studies Center of Human Rights and Democracy of Falluja. Diario issued a broad enquire on Falluja battle on May 27th, 2005.

“Falluja-The day After” shows the total devastation of the Iraqi town, the corpses of the victims, the mass graves, the exhumation of many corpses by local rescue teams in order to try to recognize some of the victims. The last corpse shown in this video belongs to a 14 year old girl.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

The Other Side of Mark Felt (aka "Deep Throat")

Since his coming out, I've seen this guy cannonized on a number of liberal blogs. It is probably worth mentioning that whatever motivated Felt to leak information that eventually brought down the Nixon administration, it likely had little to do with respect for democratic insitutions. In fact, as Eli notes, Felt was convicted of crimes associated with his work for COINTELPRO - for which he was pardoned by Reagan:
"Two agents, W. Mark Felt and Edward Miller, admitted to a grand jury that they had authorized illegal break-ins and burglaries against friends and relatives of Weather Underground fugitives. A 25-year FBI veteran, M. Wesley Swearingen, claimed that the FBI routinely lied to Congress about the number of break-ins and wiretaps: 'I myself actually participated in more than 238 while assigned to the Chicago office, [which] conducted thousands of bag jobs.' Swearingen charged that agents had lied to a Washington grand jury about the number, locations, and duration of illegal practices in pursuit of the Weather Underground. FBI director William Webster disciplined only six of the 68 agents referred to him by the Justice Department. Felt and Miller were convicted in 1980, and a few months later were pardoned by President Reagan [before they had served a day in prison]."

The Weather Underground was a pretty nasty bunch to be sure. As Eli notes, and as I've read elsewhere, much of COINTELPRO's focus was on groups that were peaceful, including socialist organizations, peace groups, black nationalist groups, the American Indian Movement, etc. In the process of "neutralizing" these organizations, COINTELPRO did manage to effectively break the back of any sort of viable leftist movement - thus ensuring that "democracy" and "freedom" would only be practiced within a very narrow set of boundaries here in the USA.

"Western Civ Has Got to Go!"

That seems to be what the right-wing pc crowd is chanting these days, judging from this latest offering from Human Events Online: Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries. A quick perusal of the list of books that made the top ten and the books receiving an honorable mentioned certainly confirmed a few things for me. First, and foremost, it should be very obvious that a number of books considered to be classics of European and American thought are offensive to the sensibilities of the right-wing's purveyors of political correctness. Someone else mentioned that "Marx (both works), Nietzche, Keynes, Mill, Darwin (both works) and Freud are all included in the "Great Books of the Western World" set." In other words, these are books considered essential reading for a broad liberal arts education - and I suspect a fair number are required reading (if not as part of a general ed curriculum, then as part of the reading list within a particular specialty area). Second, it also becomes fairly clear from both the commentary accompanying each book in the top ten list along with a couple glaring gaffes regarding authorship that the panel either hasn't bothered to read the books in question or at bare minimum didn't quite understand what it was that they were reading. The panel cannot seem to spell the name Friedrich (both with regards to Engels and Nietzsche) - added humor value: the names appear correctly on the pictures of the book covers that appear on the website for The Communist Manifesto and Beyond Good and Evil, respectively. Also the panel lists The Authoritarian Personality in their honorable mention section and attribute the book to Adorno, when in fact he was merely one of the co-authors of the book (the others were Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson, & Sanford) and in fact was only minimally involved in the research and preperation of the manuscript. The commentary is hilarious, and given that many on the panel hold PhDs, I am now more convinced than ever that almost any idiot can apparently "earn" a doctorate these days. Third, I'm left wondering what the criteria were for deeming a book "harmful." What were these people thinking when they concocted this list? Finally, I noticed that these goons provided Amazon.com links to each of the books that made the top ten. Not only that, but you were to click one of those links and then proceed to purchase one of those books, Human Events Online will actually get a cut from that purchase. Hypocrisy must ooze out of every orifice on these people. If a book is "harmful" wouldn't it seem a matter of principle to NOT encourage people to buy the book and also to try to make money off those book sales? The mind boggles.

For the record, I've read quite a number of the books that made both the top ten and the honorable mention list and thus far have remained a productive citizen. I would highly recommend these "harmful" books as a means of getting a bead on where we've been and where we're heading as a society. Also, for the record, I tend to be a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to higher education - I've found a reading list heavy on "the classics" of literature, philosophy, and science to be invaluable to this day and would gladly advise today's generation of students to do likewise. I'm sure that's not a particularly fashionable stance and one that would be abhorrent to the right-wing pc thought police, but then again I have never been interested in either being fashionable nor politically correct and don't plan to change at this late stage in life.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Ooooooooookay...

Apparently some dude wants to date Natalie Portman and believes that this website will help out his cause. Um, good luck?

"Recruit has reasonable cause to believe that the wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq were illegal."


Judge Klant kept a tight rein on the Defense's questioning of Marjorie Cohn; allowing only that which spoke to the reasonableness of Pablo's belief that the Iraq war is illegal. But when the attorney for the government began his cross-examination, the judge gave him plenty of rope with which to hang himself - and hang himself he did.

First he carefully elicited from Marjorie the legal basis, grounded in both international and domestic law, of her conclusion that not only is the war in Iraq illegal and Pablo's conclusions to that effect thereby reasonable, but that Pablo was actually duty bound to refuse to board his ship. Next he extrapolated out to "any seaman recruit's" ability to draw the same conclusions. Clearly of the belief that Marjorie's agreement was conjuring up visions of mass mutiny in the judge's mind, and assuming that such visions would convince the judge that harsher, rather than lighter, sentencing was in order; the prosecutor did not stop with the example of Iraq. He triumphantly referenced other published works of Marjorie's concerning the illegality of the wars on Afghanistan and Yugoslavia and again demanded that she specify if she believed that any seaman recruit would be justified in refusing orders due to his/her belief that these wars were illegal as well. In all three cases, Marjorie complied with a detailed explanation of why the war in question was illegal and why the seaman recruit would be obligated to refuse to participate in them once he found them as such.

After a 20-30 minute eternity that left us all in a stupor of disbelief that the war's legality had just been debated in a military court, on the record, and had lost, badly, the attorney for the prosecution sat down.

And then the judge said, "I believe the government has just successfully proved that any seaman recruit has reasonable cause to believe that the wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq were illegal."

We were stunned, beyond ecstatic. Moments later the judge asked if the prosecution would like to reserve the right to recall Dr. Cohn. The pitiful tone of the attorney’s "no, your honor" caused a spontaneous eruption of laughter -which the judge chose to allow, reportedly chuckling himself.

[...]

Pablo's sentence was like the non-judicial punishment that someone whose only offense was missing movement would be expected to receive. The judge chose not to punish Pablo's political speech. He sentenced Pablo to 2 months of restriction to base and busted him down to the Navy's lowest rank. The 3 months 'hard labor' appears largely to be a bone thrown to the media-all it amounts to is extra duty and runs concurrently with the 2 months' restriction.
Link

An interview with Pablo Paredes at Democracy Now may be found here.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Dehumanizing your enemy

From the blog, Under the Same Sun:


That man in the picture is "accused of having too much ammunition for a licensed weapon." For that crime, he is blindfolded, marked, and taken away while "while his mother, seated, and sisters plead with U.S. Marines through a translator, right, for his release." (This in a country where we know it is customary for most households to have a weapon.)

That picture where that unnamed man’s furrowed forehead is marked "K2" by the marine captures the fundamental process of dehumanization that you will find if you scratch the surface of all major 20th century atrocities. That man is no longer a man for those soldiers: he is a detainee, a number, a representation of the enemy, of the people who shoot at them, the people who they hate, people who they are scared of, people that aren’t people. He can be blindfolded, marked, humiliated before his heartbroken family, taken away at will.

Once you cross that line, some of those soldiers will eventually abuse, torture and kill some of those “non-people.” This isn’t even an indictment of American culture, rather, this is the fundamental lesson of a bloody century: dehumanization is the first step towards atrocity. The particular way in which we do this may be influenced by our culture --and where else have you seen such a pornographic interest in the victims-- but we are hardly unique or immune. In fact, reading about that very disturbing account of Dilawar’s death in Bagram, Afghanistan published last week in the New York Times made me think that we seem to have arrived somewhere between Chile and Argentina during the military dictatorships in terms of systematization of the torture.

And some of those humiliated, dehumanized people will indeed drop their licensed weapons and pick up homemade explosive devices and rocket-propelled grenade launchers aimed at us. We will round up even larger numbers of the people from whom those insurgents are drawn, detain, mark, humiliate and dehumanize more of them.

The question facing us is whether we will stop before magic markers turn into tattoos.

Indeed an uncomfortable question, to be sure. It's a question that requires our attention.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Right-wing political correctness, circular reasoning, etc.

One of my commenters recently made the point that humans are supposedly "genetically programmed to conquer and crush." While I'll give that writer some credit for rational discussion, I think that such thinking is quite wrong. Part of the problem is that such individuals cannot produce an answer to the obvious first question: where is this "conquer and crush" gene located in the human genome? As far as I am aware, these folks cannot produce the genetic marker that would presumably exist if they were correct. This brings me to another problem: in the absence of evidence of a genetic marker, how are we to evaluate the assertion? My guess is that the response would amount to, "well, the fact that conquering and crushing others occurs is proof that such a gene exists." There has to be conquering and crushing because such a gene exists, so the reasoning goes; and such a gene exists because there is conquering and crushing. What we have is a simple logical fallacy called circular reasoning. In essence, what my commenter did was to use a warmed-over version of an argument that was posited back in the 19th century when various forms of social Darwinism were all the rage. Such explanations for human behavior fell out of favor for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that they were circular and simply did not permit a science of human behavior to advance.

So, if the genetic explanation fails, what are our alternatives? I would suggest that one possible explanation to why we see various societies conquer others has to do with basic variations in cultural patterns. Cultures vary in terms of their level of aggression and violence permitted and also vary in terms of how they deal with interactions with members of out-groups (e.g., other tribes, villages, nations, etc.). We can glean some details that might support a cultural explanation by looking at some of the historical record. For example, one reason why European nations settling the North America were able to so readily conquer and ultimately extinguish established indigenous nations had to do with an interesting difference between the Europeans and the members of indigenous tribes. If one begins to look at warfare among indigenous tribes one finds that typically warfare was very limited in nature with relatively low casualties and in which the killing or torture of noncombatants would not be permitted (or even conceptualized). Early European settlers found this particular quirk in indigenous military disputes to be "amusing" and hardly what they considered as warfare. The Europeans on the other hand, perhaps already with a tradition of crusades, etc., in their historical backround tended to view mass casualties - civilian and combatant alike - to be perfectly acceptable, along with of course the decimation of the means for the survival of their presumed enemies. Additionally, the Europeans tended to view their indigenous rivals as subhuman - something that apparently indigenous peoples were less likely to do with their rivals - and hence expendable. Hence, the indigenous tribes tended to treat the Europeans with a great deal of respect initially and attempted to make peace with the early settlers, whereas the early settlers had no intention to make peace with the indigenous tribes. By the time tribes would figure out that they and the settlers ware simply not on the same page with regard to conflict, it was already too late.

Now the above is certainly not 100% absolute proof that cultural variations will lead to variations in tendencies to "conquer and crush" but it is certainly suggestive and worthy of further exploration. The cultural hypothesis is also a non-circular one: we can in principle falsify that hypothesis assuming sufficient contrary evidence is produced. Assuming that the cultural hypothesis is a sound one, we could then start to attack some of the "how and why questions" such as how and why such cultural variations evolved in the first place and so forth.

I've often suspected that the hereditary or genetic explanation for violence and warfare is one used by right-wingers more as a crutch to support their own political agendas - primarily as a means of preserving orthodoxy regarding aggressive foreign policy postures and so forth, rather than as a legitimate intellectual principle. And in fact we can find that often right-wingers will pick and choose hereditary or genetic explanations depending upon the issue (I can practically guarantee that these same right-wingers are not rushing to embrace heredity explanations for such things as homosexual behavior, for example). In other words, what we're seeing is right-wing political correctness [1] in action.

I've used this blog as a vehicle to question and challenge various facets of American orthodoxy, and I've certainly been neither surprised nor disappointed at the reaction of those bound and determined to preserve political correctness at all costs. If one points out, for example, that our government is responsible for gross human rights violations, the right-wing pc crowd flips out and accuses one of "running down America." Or, these pc-types flip out and resort to pejoratives aimed at the messengers rather than to actually examine the point being made or the evidence presented. Hate to burst the pc crowd's bubble but I'm not interested in blind obedience to orthodoxy or dogma of any sort. I blog to present the truth from my perspective - believing that it is my duty as a patriot and as a human being to do so.

Footnote [1] I am increasingly convinced that the right-wing flap about political correctness a few years ago amounts to little more than projection on their part. Projection is a term used by clinical and counseling psychologists and is defined as the act of seeing traits or inclinations in others which are harbored by oneself. Projection is a type of ego defense mechanism used potentially when one's sense of self is threatened (maybe at a conscious level, but most likely at an unconscious level). By projecting the tendency toward rigid orthodoxy on others, right-wingers can maintain a fantasy world in which they don't have to look at their own behaviors. Quite convenient, really.

A postscript to the previous blog entry

I've discussed previously the fact that following the presumed "end" to the Gulf War the regular bombings of Iraq targets continued unabated throughout the 1990s and early 2000s - at which point begins the official "beginning" of the war that our government is currently perpetrating. These airstrikes, conducted under the pretext of preventing the Evil Saddam from engaging in further hostilities with his neighbors, actually served the purposes of preventing efforts to rebuild the infrastructure (and worked in tandem with economic sanctions serving the same end). These strikes included, among other targets, the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq on Sept. 3 & 4, 1996 (ostensibly to "protect" the Kurds) ordered by none other than Bill Clinton (see, e.g., Ward Churchill's On the Justice of Roosting Chickens for a more thorough treatment of the US posture towards Iraq during this period). Of course, there were periodic spikes in bombing activity including - as it turns out - a noticeable escalation in airstrikes during the latter half of 2002:
THE RAF and US aircraft doubled the rate at which they were dropping bombs on Iraq in 2002 in an attempt to provoke Saddam Hussein into giving the allies an excuse for war, new evidence has shown.

The attacks were intensified from May, six months before the United Nations resolution that Tony Blair and Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, argued gave the coalition the legal basis for war. By the end of August the raids had become a full air offensive.

The details follow the leak to The Sunday Times of minutes of a key meeting in July 2002 at which Blair and his war cabinet discussed how to make "regime change" in Iraq legal.

Geoff Hoon, then defence secretary, told the meeting that "the US had already begun `spikes of activity' to put pressure on the regime".

The new information, obtained by the Liberal Democrats, shows that the allies dropped twice as many bombs on Iraq in the second half of 2002 as they did during the whole of 2001, and that the RAF increased their attacks even more quickly than the Americans did. Link

Keep in mind what both Bush and Blair were saying both to their respective constituencies and to the rest of the world: they lied when they contended that they were still pursuing diplomatic avenues. The above makes John Conyers' efforts to pressure the White House to be forthright about their justifications for war even more critical. Thousands of our own men and women in uniform have been killed or injured as a consequence of the decisions made by Bush and Blair, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed and injured as well. These individuals' families deserve an honest account. What was already a continued effort at genocide was ramped up to gargantuan proportions - and we are going to pay the price, bigtime.