Sunday, October 21, 2007

Gore climate film's nine 'errors'

I'm all in favor of reducing pollution, but I'm sure about Al Gore's theories about global warming. This article is from the BBC.

A High Court judge who ruled on whether climate change film, An Inconvenient Truth, could be shown in schools said it contains nine scientific "errors".

Al Gore's film was sent to schools
in England, Wales and Scotland

Mr Justice Burton said the government could still send the film to schools - if accompanied by guidance giving the other side of the argument.

He was ruling on an attempt by a Kent school governor to ban the film from secondary schools.

The Oscar-winning film was made by former US Vice-President Al Gore.

Mr Justice Burton said he had no complaint about Gore's central thesis that climate change was happening and was being driven by emissions from humans. However, the judge said nine statements in the film were not supported by mainstream scientific consensus.

In his final verdict, the judge said the film could be shown as long as updated guidelines were followed.

These say teachers should point out controversial or disputed sections.

Without the guidance, updated after the case was launched, the government would have been breaking the law, the judge said.

The government has sent the film to all secondary schools in England, and the administrations in Wales and Scotland have done the same.

The film won two Oscars.

'Landmark victory'

Mr Justice Burton told London's High Court that distributing the film without the guidance to counter its "one-sided" views would breach education laws.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families was not under a duty to forbid the film, provided it was accompanied by the guidance, he said.

"I conclude that the claimant substantially won this case by virtue of my finding that, but for the new guidance note, the film would have been distributed in breach of sections 406 and 407 of the 1996 Education Act", he said.

The nine errors alleged by the judge included:

  • Mr Gore's assertion that a sea-level rise of up to 20 feet would be caused by melting of ice in either West Antarctica or Greenland "in the near future". The judge said this was "distinctly alarmist" and it was common ground that if Greenland's ice melted it would release this amount of water - "but only after, and over, millennia".
  • Mr Gore's assertion that the disappearance of snow on Mount Kilimanjaro in East Africa was expressly attributable to global warming - the court heard the scientific consensus was that it cannot be established the snow recession is mainly attributable to human-induced climate change.
  • Mr Gore's reference to a new scientific study showing that, for the first time, polar bears had actually drowned "swimming long distances - up to 60 miles - to find the ice". The judge said: "The only scientific study that either side before me can find is one which indicates that four polar bears have recently been found drowned because of a storm."
  • The case was brought by school governor Stewart Dimmock, from Dover, a father of two, who is a member of the New Party.

    His lawyers described the ruling as a "landmark victory".

    Mr Dimmock said: "I am elated with today's result, but still disappointed that the film is able to be shown in schools.

    "If it was not for the case brought by myself, our young people would still be being indoctrinated with this political spin."

    The judge awarded Mr Dimmock two-thirds of his estimated legal costs of more than £200,000, against the government.

    BBC environment analyst Roger Harrabin said the ruling would be "embarrassing for Mr Gore" but would not affect the government, which said it was happy that the judge did not dismiss the film's mainstream argument.

    Mount Kilimanjaro has had its snow
    reduce in recent years

    But, he added, this controversy could encourage the public to think there was scientific doubt about the facts of climate change.

    Children's Minister Kevin Brennan had earlier said: "It is important to be clear that the central arguments put forward in An Inconvenient Truth, that climate change is mainly caused by man-made emissions of greenhouse gases and will have serious adverse consequences, are supported by the vast weight of scientific opinion.

    "Nothing in the judge's comments today detract from that."

    He had previously said the updated guidance made "it clearer for teachers as to the stated IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] position on a number of scientific points raised in the film".

    Notes to teachers on the guidance, on the government's Teachernet website, say: "An Inconvenient Truth is a film that has had a big impact. Its aim is to make the science and the arguments about global warming and climate change and its effects accessible to all audiences. It also presents a powerful case in favour of one particular type of political response to climate change.

    "However, in parts of the film, Gore presents evidence and arguments which do not accord with mainstream scientific opinion. This guidance points out, on a scene by scene basis, the areas where further input will be required from teaching staff. This guidance is designed to help teaching staff encourage their pupils to assess the validity and credibility of different information sources and explore different points of view so as to form their own opinions."

    Shadow Environment Secretary Peter Ainsworth said: "This is further evidence of the Government being all over the place on climate change.

    "Instead of grabbing the first thing they could think of and then shooting it out to schools, the Government should put together a proper, up to-date, education pack about climate change - based on current evidence."

    Friday, October 19, 2007

    Businessman robbed, beaten to death in Curepe, Trinidad

    Businessman robbed, beaten to death in Curepe


    Police are now searching for a former employee of a Curepe businessman, after the businessman was found murdered in his upholstery shop.

    Ricky Mohammed, of Cunupia, was one of two people killed over the last 24-hours, the other being the slaying of Cocorite resident Kelvin “Kello” Holder.

    The killings brought the murder toll for the year to 273.

    In the first incident, when phone calls to 53-year-old Mohammed went unanswered Wednesday night, little did his relatives know he had been beaten and left for dead.

    It was only after they went to his Southern Main Road, Curepe, businessplace did they find his battered body.

    Mohammed, of Cunupia, was found murdered at his Rishaad’s upholstery shop around 7.15 pm that night.

    Investigators believe the upholsterer was robbed as several items had been taken from the shop, along with his car, a Toyota Corolla.

    Now investigators are calling on anyone who may have seen the white PBH 7189 Corolla to come forward and assist in apprehending the perpetrator.

    Sources said a suspect resembling a former employee was seen driving off with the man’s car.

    Mohammed’s business was sandwiched between two adjoining businesses.

    Investigators could not confirm what time he was killed.

    Visiting the scene were a team of Western Division officers, including Supt Badal and Insp Henry Dann; Homicide detectives ASP Denoon, acting Insp Jayson Forde and acting Sgt Michael Veronique; and officers of the Western Division Task Force.

    —Anyone with information in either of the murders can call Crime Stoppers at 800-TIPS.

    Businessman killed, car stolen
    Family makes gruesome discovery
    Gyasi Gonzales

    A businessman was beaten repeatedly over the head on Wednesday morning, his car taken and he was left dying on the floor of his Southern Main Road, Curepe, upholstery shop.

    Rasheed Mohammed's family was none the wiser, as calls to his cell phone went unanswered for the entire day. They eventually made the grim discovery of his body when they broke open the door to his businessplace around seven o' clock that night.

    Police investigators believe that Mohammed, 53, of Rishaad Avenue, Munroe Road, Cunupia, may have been ambushed by men posing as probable buyers of his 1991 Toyota Corolla, which he was selling. His attackers left with the car.

    bad news: Relatives of Rasheed Mohammed
    console one another in front of his business
    place at Southern Main Road, Curepe, on
    Wednesday night.

    Mohammed was one of three people killed Wednesday night into yesterday, pushing the murder toll to 274. The other people killed were Aneela Persad and Kevin Holder. (See other story)
    At the scene on Wednesday night, one of Mohammed's relatives, who asked not to be named, said the last time they saw him was sometime around 7 a.m. on Wednesday, when he dropped his daughter off to work at the Tunapuna Administrative Complex.

    It is assumed he then went straight to his upholstery shop, Rishad's Upholstery, which is adjacent to a United National Congress' constituency office. Police speculate that his killers came some time after 7.30 a.m.

    Around 6 p.m. Wednesday, Mohammed's daughter got home. She spoke with her mother and brother, and her mother told her she could not get her father all day. They also spoke about one of Mohammed's sisters going over to the shop to collect a cushion, but she too could not get him.
    The daughter and a neighbours went to the Curepe shop. The car was not there and the gate of the businessplace was locked. They then went to the St Joseph police and returned to the shop with the officers, broke open the door and found his body lying next to a work bench. Besides his head injury, Mohammed also had bruises about his body.

    Mohammed's relative described him as a dedicated family man.

    "For years, he struggled with the business and was only now beginning to see his way. Why would they want to kill him? They could have taken the car and go ... they didn't have to kill him."
    An autopsy on Mohammed's body was unable to be performed at the Forensic Sciences Centre in St James yesterday, as there was no pathologist available.

    The autopsy is expected to be done today, after which he would be buried.


    Thursday, October 18, 2007

    Research Beyond Google: 119 Authoritative, Invisible, and Comprehensive Resources

    This is a really informative article. There's more to online researching than just Google.

    Published on Thursday 26th of October, 2006
    Got a research paper or thesis to write? Want to research using the Internet? Good luck. There's a lot of junk out there — outdated pages, broken links, and inaccurate information. Using Google or the Wikipedia may lead you to some results, but you can rarely be sure of accuracy. And what's more, you'll only be searching a fraction of all of the resources available to you.
    Google, the largest search database on the planet, currently has around eight billion web pages indexed. That's a lot of information. But it's nothing compared to what else is out there. Google can only index the visible web, or searchable web. But the invisible web, or deep web, is estimated to be 500 times bigger than the searchable web. The invisible web comprises databases and results of specialty search engines that the popular search engines simply are not able to index.
    Do you think your local or university librarian uses Google? Sure, but certainly not exclusively. In order to start researching like a librarian, you'll need to explore more authoritative resources, many of which are invisible. Note: Although some of the following resources are visible and indexed, they have all been included here because of their authoritative nature.
    $ = Available only by subscription.
    Topics Covered in this Article
    Deep Web Search Engines Art Books Online Business Consumer Economic and Job Data Finance and Investing General Research Government Data International Law and Politics Library of Congress Medical and Health Science Transportation
    Deep Web Search Engines
    To get started, try using a search engine that specializes in scouring the invisible web for results. None of these can search the entire invisible web, but they make some inroads that Google has not as of yet.
    Clusty — A metasearch engine that combines the results of several top search engines.
    Intute — A searchable database of trusted sites, reviewed and monitored by subject specialists.
    INFOMINE — A virtual library of Internet resources relevant to university students and faculty. Built by librarians from the University of California, California State University, the University of Detroit-Mercy, and Wake Forest University.
    Librarians' Internet Index — A search engine listing sites deemed trustworthy by actual human librarians, not just a Googlebot.
    Internet Archive — A database of tens of thousands of movies, live music, audio, texts, and home of the Wayback Machine that allows you to find old versions of web pages, over 55 billion.
    direct search — A list of hundreds of specialty databases and search engines. No longer maintained, but still perhaps the most complete list of the deep web.
    Hundreds of other museums all over the world have their own databases. This is just a list of the databases for a few of the most popular. Within these databases are descriptions of the work, its location, and an image of the work.
    Musée du Louvre — One of the oldest and most famous art galleries in the world. Contains Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and Alexandros de Antioch's Venus de Milo.
    Guggenheim Museum — A collection of over 160 classical and new artists, searchable by artist name, title, date, movement, medium, concept, and museum.
    Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery — A searchable database of more than 80,000 portrait records.
    The National Gallery of Art — A searchable catalog of all of the museum's 110,000 objects, with images of more than 6,000 available online.
    Books Online
    There are tens of thousands of classic books with full text available online for free. Some authors whose books are available in full text online include Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Fyodor Dostoevsky.
    The Online Books Page — A searchable database of more than 25,000 English works with full text available for free online.
    Bibliomania — A searchable database of free online literature from more than 2,000 classic texts.
    Project Gutenberg — A searchable online catalog of more than 19,000 free books with full text available online.
    The National Academies Press — A searchable directory of 3,000 free books online and 900 for-sale PDFs.
    ebrary — A searchable database of more than 20,000 full-text books.
    The most accurate quantitative business knowledge often comes from specialty search engines and business directories/databases.
    Explorit Now! — A portal allowing searchable access to numerous business journals and databases. — A searchable database of advertising agencies from the American Association of Advertising Agencies.
    Agency ComPile — A searchable database of advertising and other marketing agencies.
    Kompass — A business to business search engine.
    GPO Access Economic Indicators — A portal to economic indicators from January 1998 to present.
    CBDNet — A searchable database of materials published by the US Department of Commerce.
    Hoover's — A searchable database of businesses.
    ThomasNet — An industrial product search directory.
    SBA Loan Data — A database of loan program approval activity from the Small Business Administration. — A searchable database of non-profit organizations.
    For consumers, authoritative product reviews and pricing information often times are hidden in the deep web or among subscription-based reports.
    US Consumer Products Safety Commission Recalled Products — A database of recalled products, sortable by company name.
    Melissa Data — A directory of complete demographic data, sortable by ZIP code.
    Kelley Blue Book — A guide to pricing new and used vehicles.
    Edmunds — Another guide to pricing new and used vehicles.
    Consumer Reports $ — A guide to consumer product reviews, including cars, appliances, electronics, computers, personal finance, travel, and more.
    Economic and Job Data
    A wealth of information regarding microeconomic and macroeconomic data is available from government sources and other organizations.
    EUROPA Press Release Database — A searchable database of press releases distributed by the European Union. — A searchable directory of free economic data.
    Bureau of Labor Statistics — A directory of job-based and consumer economic data from the US Department of Labor.
    Salary Wizard Calculator — A tool that shows national average salaries adjusted by location for different jobs.
    Economagic — A free economic data directory containing over 200,000 data files.
    Penn World Tables — A database of purchasing power parity and national income data for 179 countries for the years 1950-2000.
    America's Job Bank — A searchable database of jobs and resumes.
    USAJOBS — A searchable database of federal government jobs.
    Regional Economic Conditions (RECON) — A database of economic data available by state, county, and MSA.
    Finance and Investing
    A variety of web-based investment analysis tools and financial statistics can only be found in the deep web. — A directory of interest rates for different types of loans, mortgages, and savings accounts.
    InvestIQ — A database of market data from different world regions.
    BigCharts — A searchable database of quotes and performance charts for different stocks and mutual funds. Tools — A portal of different stock analysis tools.
    NASDAQ Trader — A database of trading data from the NASDAQ stock exchange.
    SEC Info — A searchable database of EDGAR SEC filings searchable by name, industry, business, SIC code, area code, topic, CIK, accession number, file number, date, ZIP code, and more.
    EDGAR Online — A database of EDGAR SEC filings searchable by ticker or company name.
    General Research
    These are good places to start researching for background knowledge on any topic. The subscription-based databases will help intensify any research by scouring numerous scholarly journals.
    GPO's Catalog of US Government Publications — A searchable database of federal publications, with links to those available online.
    Smithsonian Institution Libraries — A collection of 20 libraries from the world's largest museum complex.
    The National Archives — A list of all of the National Archives' research tools and databases.
    HighWire Press — A searchable catalog of the largest repository of free full-text, peer-reviewed content, from over 900 different journals.
    Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) — A catalog of more than 1.2 million bibliographic records, providing links to the full text where available. Sponsored by the US Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences.
    Encyclopædia Britannica — The authoritative encyclopedia searchable with full text online. — A news search engine.
    Internet Public Library — The Internet's public library. Fully searchable.
    San Francisco Public Library - A list of all of the databases offered to SFPL library card holders. Not a California resident? This is just one example of many such local public libraries that offer similar services.
    Xrefer $ — A searchable database of 236 titles and over 2.8 million entries.
    LexisNexis $ — The world's largest collection of public records, unpublished opinions, forms, legal, news, and business information. Over 35,000 individual sources are searchable with full-text available online.
    Forrester Research $ — An independent technology and market research company, publishing in-depth research reports on a variety of subjects.
    Factiva $ — A searchable collection of over 10,000 individual sources.
    Government Data
    The United States government publishes data on a variety of subjects, some of which is derived from census data or CIA findings.
    Copyright Records (LOCIS) — A database of copyright records, searchable by documents, serials, and multimedia (including books, music, films, sound recordings, maps, software, photos, and art).
    American FactFinder — A repository of aggregate census bureau data searchable by city, county, or ZIP code.
    FedStats — A gateway to statistics from over 100 US federal agencies.
    United States Patent and Trademark Office — A database of patent full-text and full-page images.
    Historical Census Browser — A data bank of historical US census data dating back to 1790 compiled by the University of Virginia.
    Geospatial One Stop — A searchable database of geographic data, displayable on maps. — A database of grant opportunities, searchable by keyword, funding opportunity number, or CFDA number.
    Technology Opportunities Program Grants Database — A database of technology grants, searchable by keyword, state, and year.
    United States Government Printing Office (GPO) — A search engine for mutliple government databases, including US budgets, campaign reform hearings, code of federal regulations, congressional bills, unified agendas, and more.
    CIA Electronic Reading Room — A searchable database of declassified CIA documents.
    POW/MIA Databases and Documents — A datbase of POWs and MIAs information.
    ZIP+4 Lookup — A database of US ZIP codes and ZIP+4 codes, searchable by city or address.
    Data on international economic indicators and demographics are available from US government agencies and international organizations such as World Bank.
    International Data Base (IDB) — A computerized data bank of statistical tables and demographic information for 228 countries and areas.
    FIRST — A database of military aggression and weapons holdings.
    Economics of Tobacco Control — A database of information regarding tobacco usage and policy in over 180 countries.
    Country Indicators for Foreign Policy — A directory of statistical tables indicating different countries' foreign policies.
    World Bank Data — A database of key development data and statistics for different countries and worldwide groups.
    CIA Factbook — A reference material published by the CIA, containing information on every country in the world.
    US International Trade Statistics — A database of international trade statistics, searchable by country or type of good.
    US Foreign Trade Highlights — A database of information on US international trade in goods and services.
    Energy Information Administration International Energy Data and Analysis — A data bank of energy balances sorted by country.
    Law and Politics
    Information on Congressional law and other legal and political matters are available online from universities, independent organizations, and the US federal government.
    THOMAS (Library of Congress) — A searchable database of legislative information from the Library of Congress.
    Law Library of Congress — The largest collection of legal materials in the world, containing over 2 million volumes.
    Global Legal Information Network — A searchable public database of laws, regulations, judicial decisions, and other legal sources.
    FindLaw — A free legal database with searchable collections of cases and codes, legal news, and an online career center.
    Office of Postsecondary Education Security Statistics — A searchable database of college campus crime statistics, sortable by institution type, instructional program, or campus.
    Bureau of Justice Statistics — A directory of legal and judicial statistics, ranging from crime to law enforcement to courts and sentencing.
    The Avalon Project at Yale Law School — A searchable database of documents in law, history, and diplomacy.
    US Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774–1873 (Library of Congress) — A directory of historical Congressional records, bills, statutes, journals, and debates from LOC's American Memory.
    Lobbying Database — A searchable database of firms who have spent lobbying money from 1998.
    Legislative Activities — A directory of the House of Representatives' bill summary, status, and text, public laws, and roll call votes.
    Project Vote Smart — A database of government officials and election candidates, searchable by last name or ZIP code.
    Library of Congress
    The Library of Congress (LOC) is the largest library in the world and offers catalog descriptions and some full text and images of many of its 130 million items.
    Library of Congress — A searchable catalog of the world's largest library, containing over 130 million items.
    Library of Congress Digital Collections — A searchable database of the LOC's items that have been digitized and fully available online.
    Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Reading Room — A searchable catalog of the Library of Congress' prints and photographs. Results include thumbnails of the items.
    Library of Congress Online Catalog — The LOC catalog, searchable by title, author, subject, keyword, call number, ISBN, and more.
    American Memory — The LOC's digital record of American history.
    Sound Online Inventory and Catalog (SONIC) — A portion of the LOC's audio collection, searchable by name, title, subject, and keyword.
    Medical and Health
    Scholarly medical journals as well as government agencies and independent organizations offer a variety of statistical data and other information regarding medicine and health.
    PubMed *NEW ADDITION* — A service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine that includes over 16 million citations from MEDLINE and other life science journals for biomedical articles back to the 1950s. Includes links to full-text articles and related resources.
    Department of Health National Research Register — A searchable database of records of ongoing or completed project funded by or of interest to the UK's NHS.
    National Institutes of Health — A searchable encyclopedia of health topics.
    American Hospital Directory — A free searchable directory of US hospital information. — A data bank of world health information, sortable by country, disease, condition, program, or demographic.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Data and Statistics — A data bank of statistical health information compiled by the CDC.
    New England Journal of Medicine $ — A scholarly medical journal with full text of current and past issues available online.
    Science journals and databases are searchable through specialty search engines, while real-time geological data is available from the USGS. — A portal allowing searchable access to numerous scientific journals and databases. — A searchable gateway to authoritative science information provided by US government agencies.
    WebCASPAR — A database of science and engineering statistical data resources.
    The Complete Work of Charles Darwin — All of Charles Darwin's published texts, fully searchable and available online.
    USGS Real-Time Water Data — A map of the United States showing real-time streamflow and water quality data of the nation's rivers and reservoirs.
    USGS Earthquake Hazards Program — Maps of California, Nevada, the United States, and the World, showing real-time earthquake data. Recent Earthquake Activity — An interactive map of the world, showing real-time earthquake data.
    IEEE Publications $ — For engineers, this is a database of over 1.4 million documents from the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers.
    Real-time aviation data as well as historical and current transportation safety information is available from different US federal government agencies.
    FAA Flight Delay Information — A map of the United States with flight delay information from the nation's largest airports.
    NTSB Accident Database and Synopses — The National Transportation Safety Board's database of aviation accidents, ranging from 1962 to present.
    NTSB Aviation Accident Statistics — A directory of aggregate aviation accident statistics from the National Transportation Safety Board
    National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — A database of car and car part defects, searchable by item number or car make and model. — A database of crash test safety ratings for all automobiles since 1990. — A real-time flight tracking service, with support for Google Earth.
    FlightAware — Another free flight tracking service, complete with history, graphs, and maps.

    A special thanks to Gary Price at ResourceShelf for his thoughtful suggestions.

    Saturday, October 06, 2007

    Advanced US Preparations For War On Iran


    By Peter Symonds

    04 October, 2007

    A lengthy article by veteran journalist Seymour Hersh published in the New Yorker on Sunday provides further confirmation of the Bush administration’s well-developed military and political preparations for attacking Iran. According to Hersh, the Pentagon has drawn up new war plans, the CIA has allocated substantial extra resources and the White House has already sounded out US allies, including Israel, Britain and Australia, for support in any military strike.

    The article “Shifting Targets: The Administration’s plan for Iran” focusses on the changing pretext for war: from allegations that Tehran is building a nuclear bomb to a new propaganda campaign claiming that Iran is arming, training and supporting insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan who are killing US troops. The cynical ease with which the White House has switched from one unsubstantiated claim to another underscores the fact that a US attack will have nothing to do with any threat posed by Iran, but will aim at furthering US ambitions for the domination of the resource-rich region.

    Like the lies that were used to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration is casting around for a casus belli to try to stampede public opinion behind an attack on Iran. At the same time, however, the White House confronts deep-seated suspicion, hostility and opposition—in the US and internationally—to any new US military adventure.

    Hersh told CNN on Sunday: “The name of the game used to be, they’re a nuclear threat... Sort of the same game we had before the war in Iraq. And what’s happened is in the last few months, they’ve come to the realisation they’re not selling it. It isn’t working... So they switched really.”

    According to Hersh, the new bombing plan targets the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC), which Washington alleges has been assisting Shiite militias in Iraq. “The strategy calls for the use of sea-launched cruise missiles and more precisely targetted ground attacks and bombing strikes, including plans to destroy the most important Revolutionary Guard training camps, supply depots, and command and control facilities,” he wrote in the New Yorker.

    A former senior American intelligence official told Hersh: “[Vice President Dick] Cheney’s option is now for a fast in and out—for surgical strikes. The Navy’s planes, ships, and cruise missiles are in place in the Gulf and operating daily. They’ve got everything they need—even AWACS are in place and the targets in Iran have been programmed. The Navy is flying FA-18 missions every day in the Gulf.”

    Hersh also cited a Pentagon consultant who explained that the air war would be accompanied by “short, sharp incursions” by Special Forces units against suspected Iranian training sites. “Cheney is devoted to this, no question,” he said. Ominously, the consultant also explained that while the initial bombing campaign might be limited, there was an “escalation special” that could also include attacks on Iran’s ally Syria, as well as against the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon. “[A]dd-ons are always there in strike planning,” he said.

    In the early northern summer, Hersh reports in the New Yorker, President Bush told Ryan Crocker, the US ambassador to Iraq, via a secure videoconference that he was thinking of attacking Iranian targets across the border and that the British “were on board”. Bush concluded by instructing Crocker to tell Iran to stop interfering in Iraq or it would face American retribution. In a separate interview with DemocracyNow, Hersh admitted that Bush had been even blunter. “The President was very clear that he is interested in going across the border and whacking the Iranians,” he said.

    The New Yorker article presents the new war plans as limited, precision strikes against specific IRGC targets, but such acts of aggression always entail the danger of rapid escalation into all-out war for which military planners prepare. Moreover, other recent articles in the British press have pointed to a discussion in Washington of a far more extensive “shock and awe” bombardment aimed at levelling Iran’s military, industrial capacity, transport and communications.

    As Hersh acknowledged in an interview with DemocracyNow, a limited military strike appeared to be a tactical factional compromise in the White House between Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has previously advocated extended diplomatic moves. “She [Rice] favours a limited bombing, so I hear,” Hersh said. “If you want to really get a dark scenario, Cheney has gone along with the limited bombing. Basically, they call the limited bombing the third option, because there’s one option to do nothing, the other is to bring in the Air Force and rake...everything.”

    Not only the military, but the CIA has now made Iran the top priority. A recently retired CIA official explained: “They’re moving everybody to the Iran desk. They’re dragging in a lot of analysts and ramping up everything. It’s just like the fall of 2002 [prior to the invasion of Iraq]... The guys now running the Iranian program have limited direct experience with Iran. In the event of an attack, how will the Iranians react? They will react, and the Administration has not thought it all the way through.”

    Hersh told CNN that the CIA has established “something called the Iranian Operations Group. We had the same kind of a group for the Iraq war... It’s suddenly exploded in manpower. And they have been going around, just dragging a dozen people here, a dozen there. They built it up into a large, large operational group.” He also explained that “the National Security Council inside the White House is focussed much more on attacking Iran and what’s going on in Iran than it has been before.”

    Diplomatic feelers have already been put out to a number of countries. But as Hersh explained, even among close US allies there is scepticism and resistance. One of the reasons for scaling back the attack plans and shifting emphasis is to secure backing in Europe in particular, where few believe that Iran will have the capacity to construct a nuclear bomb, even if it wanted to, in less than five years. Plans for a strike have received the “most positive reception” from the British government. Hersh explained to CNN that the White House had received “expressions of interest” from Australia and other countries. While backing the strikes, Israel is still insisting on a more extensive war that includes the destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

    The new casus belli

    The Bush administration’s new justification for war is just as riddled with holes as the previous one. Beyond repeated bald assertions that Iran is helping to kill US troops and lurid stories fed to a compliant American media about the sinister activities of the IRGC’s elite Quds Force in Iraq, the only publicly presented “evidence” has been the occasional display of Iranian manufactured weapons. No attempt has been made to rule out other obvious sources for such arms, including the region’s extensive blackmarket in weapons and the huge stockpiles of arms that existed in Iraq prior to the 2003 invasion.

    In his interview with DemocracyNow, Hersh pointed to the scepticism in US military and intelligence circles over the Bush administration’s claims. “There is a tremendous dispute about all of those assertions inside the American government. There’s just a lot of questions about it inside the government. They don’t see the case as being nearly as strong as the White House is saying in public,” he said.

    Some of the most telling comments have been those of David Kay, former CIA adviser, UN weapons inspector and the man who headed the large US team hunting for evidence of WMDs following the 2003 invasion. Even though he was a vigorous proponent of the pre-invasion lies about Iraqi WMDs, Kay was forced to conclude that Saddam Hussein’s regime had no biological, nuclear or chemical weapons, their precursors or any plans for their future construction. To deflect attention from the lies concocted by the Bush administration, Kay attributed his findings to a massive “intelligence failure”.

    Kay told Hersh that his inspection teams had been astonished, in the aftermath of the two Iraq wars, by “the huge amounts of arms” it had found. “He recalled seeing stockpiles of explosively formed penetrators, as well as charges that had been recovered from unexploded cluster bombs. Arms also had been supplied years ago by the Iranians to their Shiite allies in southern Iraq,” Hersh explained. The existence of “stockpiles of explosively formed penetrators” or EFPs, is particularly significant as one of the Pentagon’s chief accusations is that Tehran is currently supplying EFPs to Iraqi insurgents. It raises the possibility that these weapons were looted during the US invasion and obtained by militias, either directly or through the blackmarket.

    Commenting on Bush’s campaign, Kay told Hersh: “When the White House started its anti-Iran campaign six months ago, I thought it was all craziness.” Even as he repeats the current White House line, Kay is cautious in his assessment: “Now it looks like there is some selective smuggling by Iran, but much of it has been in response to American pressure and American threats—more a shot across the bow sort of thing, to let Washington know that it was not going to get away with its threats so freely. Iran is not giving the Iraqis the good stuff—the anti-aircraft missiles that can shoot down American planes and its advanced anti-tank weapons.”

    Well aware of public scepticism, Patrick Clawson, from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, advised the Bush administration to provide some evidence for its increasingly improbable claims. “If you are going to attack, you have to prepare the groundwork, and you have to be prepared to show some evidence,” he told Hersh. Clawson also cautioned that an attack on Iran could compound US problems in Iraq, where it relies on a government headed by Shiite parties with longstanding ties to Tehran. “What is the attitude of Iraq going to be if we hit Iran? Such an attack would put a strain on the Iraqi government,” he said.

    Hersh noted that the Bush administration would not be deterred from war by the potential impact on the Republican Party. A former intelligence official explained: “There is a desperate attempt by Cheney et al. to bring military action to Iran as soon as possible. Meanwhile the politicians are saying, ‘You can’t do it, because every Republican is going to be defeated, and we’re only one fact from going over the cliff in Iraq.’ But Cheney doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the Republican worries, and neither does the President.”

    The New Yorker article explained that the Bush administrated planned to counter any objections from the Democrats by pointing to the record of the Clinton administration in unilaterally bombing Afghanistan, Sudan and Iraq during the 1990s. But there is already ample evidence that the Democrats would support a new war on Iran. The main Democratic presidential candidates—Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards—have already declared that all options are on the table. A majority of Democrats supported a Senate amendment last week calling on the administration to provocatively declare the entire 125,000-strong Iranian Revolutionary Guard to be a “terrorist organisation”.

    Even the support of the Democrats, however, will not halt the eruption of mass antiwar opposition. To energise its own rightwing base, the Bush administration desperately needs to goad the Iranian regime into a confrontation, or, failing that, to concoct an incident that can be blamed on Tehran. Asked about his assessment of the new US war plans, a retired four-star general candidly told Hersh that the revised bombing plan “could work—if it’s in response to an Iranian attack. The British may want to do it to get even, but the more reasonable people are saying, ‘Let’s do it if the Iranians stage a cross-border attack inside Iraq.’ It’s got to be ten dead American soldiers and four burned trucks.”

    All of Hersh’s sources stressed that the President had not yet issued a final, formal “execute order”. But in emphasising that the US military is not about to attack Iran tomorrow, their comments only confirm that the administration’s plans for war are far advanced and can be executed at short notice.

    The Next Leap for Linux

    From the New York Times
    October 4, 2007

    LINUX runs the Google servers that manage billions of searches each day. It also runs the TiVo digital video recorder, the Motorola Razr cellphone and countless other electronic devices.

    But why would anyone want to use Linux, an open-source operating system, to run a PC? “For a lot of people,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, “Linux is a political idea — an idea of freedom. They don’t want to be tied to Microsoft or Apple. They want choice. To them it’s a greater cause.”

    That’s not the most compelling reason for consumers. There is the price: Linux is free, or nearly so.

    Unlike Windows from Microsoft and OS X from Apple, Linux is not owned, updated or controlled by a single company. Thousands of developers around the world work on Linux, making improvements and issuing new versions several times a year. Because the core Linux software is open source, these developers have the right — some would say responsibility — to borrow from one another’s work, constantly looking for enhancements.

    But Linux has always had a reputation of being difficult to install and daunting to use. Most of the popular Windows and Macintosh programs cannot be used on it, and hand-holding — not that you get that much of it with Windows — is rare. But those reasons for rejecting Linux are disappearing.

    Until recently, major PC makers shied away from Linux. Now the industry is watching as Dell is selling two Linux-equipped desktop models ($549 and $870, including a monitor) and a $774 notebook PC. (Hewlett-Packard offers Linux systems to businesses, and Lenovo, the Chinese company that bought I.B.M.’s PC division, sells Linux machines in China and says it will soon offer Linux-based computers in the United States.)

    The Ubuntu version of Linux runs the Dell computers. Because Dell does not have to pay a licensing fee for the operating system, the computers are $80 cheaper than PCs with Windows Vista Home Premium or $50 cheaper than the stripped-down Vista Basic edition.

    Ubuntu is generally regarded as one of the more consumer-friendly versions of Linux, so the Linux PC experience is similar to what you would get with a Windows-equipped Dell. When you start the machine, the screen looks familiar; preinstalled applications can easily be found and run from an Applications menu at the top left of the screen. A “Places” menu lets you search for files, and a System menu is there for setting preferences and finding help.

    And there is a lot more than just an operating system. Ubuntu, like some other Linux distributions, comes with a lot of free software, including OpenOffice, an alternative to the Microsoft Office suite with a full-featured word processor, spreadsheet, database and presentation program. It also comes with the popular Firefox Web browser as well as an e-mail program, an instant messaging program, a graphic image editor, music player and a photo manager.

    Thanks to open source developers, there are thousands more free programs. An Add/Remove function actually makes finding programs easier with Linux than it is for Mac and Windows. Without having to go to Web sites, it lets you browse through categories of software. It took me only seconds to find several additional music players, a PDF reader and other programs. In addition to downloading the software, this feature installs it and finds any necessary additional files.

    You do not have to buy a new Dell PC to try Linux. You can order a free CD or download a copy of Ubuntu at The Ubuntu CD can be used to install Linux on a PC’s hard drive, or you can boot from the CD to test-drive the operating system on a Windows machine or an Intel-based Mac, without having to install or delete anything. Running Ubuntu from a CD is considerably slower than from a machine’s hard drive but all the functions are there, so it’s a good way to get a feel for how it works.

    One challenge for Linux users is finding media players that work with encrypted music and DVDs. Ubuntu comes with a movie player, but it is not automatically configured to play copy-protected commercial DVDs. To watch a movie, the Linux user must install necessary codecs, or decoders. One way to do that is to first download a program called Automatix from

    When you run that program you get an ominous warning that downloading and installing “non-free codecs without paying a fee to the concerned authorities constitutes a CRIME in the United States of America.” Users in the United States are advised: “please do not install option AUD-DVD.” Users who ignore that legal warning can then configure Ubuntu to play commercial DVDs.

    There is no iTunes for Linux, but the Banshee Music Player is one of several programs that will let you sync unprotected music files from a Linux machine to an iPod or other MP3 player. It will not work with copy-protected music bought from iTunes or other online music stores. You can find it in the Sound & Video section of the Add/Remove utility or download it from

    The hardest way to get Linux is to download the installation files. It is often difficult to figure out what files to download and in many cases you will have to burn those files to a CD or DVD. Windows users will need a commercial CD burning program or the free BurnCDCC (available at

    Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux, acknowledged that “there are a few dark spots but they really tend to be fairly rare, and in practice quite often the biggest hurdle is simply that Linux mostly doesn’t come preinstalled and set up for you.” He also says that the easiest way to get Linux is to buy the DVD (or CD) from one of the most common sources. One way to ease the transition to Linux is to buy a support contract. For $50 you can download Novell’s version of Suse Linux with a year of support. For $35 more you get a CD.

    After using the operating system for writing, Web surfing, graphic editing, movie watching and a few other tasks, it is easy to conclude that Linux can be an alternative to the major operating systems. But since common tasks like watching a movie or syncing an iPod require hunting for and installing extra software, Linux is best for technically savvy users or for people whose needs are so basic that they will never need anything other than the bundled software.

    However, trying Linux — especially if you boot it from a CD — is a great way to find out what a lot of open-source adherents are so excited about.

    And with prices starting as low as free, you certainly cannot complain about the price.

    Labels: ,

    Tuesday, October 02, 2007

    Seymour Hersh interviewed on DemocracyNow!

    From The Vineyard of the Saker blog.

    Tuesday, October 2, 2007

    Seymour Hersh was interviewed today by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez on DemocracyNow!

    JUAN GONZALEZ: The Bush administration is approaching its last year in the White House. As the clock ticks toward 2008, speculation grows over whether President Bush and Vice President Cheney will indeed launch a widely feared attack on Iran.

    The latest report from the investigative journalist Seymour Hersh says war planning is intensifying. Writing in the New Yorker, Hersh reveals that the White House recently requested the Joint Chiefs of Staff to redraw longstanding plans for a possible attack. According to Hersh, the Bush administration’s rationale for bombing Iran has shifted from Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program to Iran's role in Iraq. Hersh writes, "What had been presented primarily as a counter-proliferation mission has been reconceived as counterterrorism.” The focus is no longer a broad bombing attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, but strikes on Revolutionary Guard Corps facilities in Tehran and elsewhere.

    On Sunday, John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations, called for the US to attack Iran and overthrow Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Bolton said, "If we were to strike Iran, it should be accompanied by an effort at regime change...The US once had the capability to engineer the clandestine overthrow of governments. I wish we could get it back."

    AMY GOODMAN: Seymour Hersh joins us now from Washington, D.C. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Sy. Lay out what you have learned.

    SEYMOUR HERSH: Yeah, well, actually, it’s funny. The plans have both intensified and they're less intense, in this sense: the new plan that they're talking about is much more limited, not a thousand points of light. It doesn’t involve massive Air Force bombing attacks. Most of the Iranian nuclear facilities that were the initial target are -- many of them are underground, one in particular, Natanz, where the centrifuges are located, where Iran is enriching uranium, seventy-five very hard feet underground. And the bombing plans were extreedingly -- you had to put one bomb after another with no guarantee of knocking down the facility.

    So what they’ve done -- and what happened, really, is this government finally realized that they had not been able to sell the American people on their view of the Iranian nuclear threat. In other words, it simply wasn’t working. Unlike in 2003, when we were sort of mushroom cloud into going along with the Iraqi war, the American public did not respond in any noticeable way to a fear. They didn’t share the fear of the leadership in the White House and many in the Israeli government of a nuclear-armed Iran. Maybe it was just a question of American credibility. You know, we cried wolf once before.

    And so, what happened is that -- you could see it over the summer, Amy and Juan -- you could see the conversation with the White House grow more and more intense about -- not about nuclear weapons in Iran, but the Iranians coming across the border, the Revolutionary Guard, the al-Quds Brigade, one of its commando units, coming across the border and killing American -- or helping to kill American and coalition -- that is, British -- soldiers. So that was the new sort of mantra for this summer.

    And underneath it lay a notion that, well, if we can’t sell the notion that Iran is a nuclear threat, we can certainly sell the American people on the notion that Iran is responsible for killing Americans and others and that any action we take -- limited action, less intense in terms of a kinetic force -- any limited action would be more saleable, would be accepted more readily by the American people, and, more significantly, or most significantly, really, the international community might not go ape over it. And the Brits, for example, I write, expressed interest. Nobody’s saying anything; nobody is committing to it, and there’s been certainly no order to do this. This is just a new plan that has one great advantage: it’s something that could be sold, not only to us, but also to some of the allies, and therefore it becomes much more arguable inside the government.

    JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Sy Hersh, what’s been the impact on all of this of the apparent refusal of the International Atomic Energy Agency to go along with the Bush administration’s picturing of the nuclear development and research in Iran? In your old paper, the New York Times, several articles recently are questioning Mohamed ElBaradei's role in all of this.

    SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, look, there’s nothing but bad blood between ElBaradei, the Egyptian who runs the -- who's the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency -- basically the position there in Vienna, as I see it or as I’m told by the people I know there, is this, that Iran has not been very successful in enriching uranium. In the last report they filed -- I think August the 30th -- they made the point -- the IAEA reported that Iran had only been able to enrich uranium, after all these years, to 3.67% enrichment, even below the 4% or 5% you need to run a peaceful atomic reactor, a non-military reactor, well below the 90% you need. That doesn’t mean Iran doesn’t have nuclear weapons ambitions. It doesn’t mean that it won’t eventually get to 90% if it keeps on working on it. But it does mean that there’s no near threat at all.

    And it just so happens that in the White House they have finally come to terms in the Vice President's office, and I assume in the President's office -- I don’t know much about what goes on with Bush -- but in the Vice President's office, they’ve come to terms with the more or less general consensus with the American intelligence community and most of the European Community that Iran is a minimum of five years away. Iran has been five years away from the bomb, oh, for fifteen or twenty years. I wrote a story about Iran in late 2001 that said then five years away. It’s always been five years away.

    There’s no evidence that Iran is significantly into weapons fabrication or that Iran has done any of the kind of testing it needs to do to develop an actual warhead. And so, they are enriching, and they may have ambitions, but there’s no rush. And ElBaradei has been saying that. And he’s getting -- I wrote some pretty harsh things in the magazine about his view. He believes that the United States has essentially been lying and misrepresenting the data. And he feels that they’ve really been doing -- playing fast and loose with some very important information -- you know, that is, where the Iranians are for their own short-term political goals, the goals sort of that are articulated by Bolton.

    AMY GOODMAN: Sy Hersh, I wanted to go to the reaction of the White House to your piece. White House spokesperson Dana Perino was asked about your article at Monday's news briefing.

    REPORTER: This weekend, the New Yorker magazine came out with an article claiming that this summer the President, or at least the White House, in general, asked the Joint Chiefs to redraw plans to attack Iran. Is that true?

    DANA PERINO: Look, you know, I'm glad you brought it up. Every two months or so, Sy Hersh writes an article in the New Yorker magazine, and CNN provides him a forum in which to talk about his article and all the anonymous sources that are quoted in it.

    REPORTER: So the President --

    DANA PERINO: The President has said that he believes that there is a diplomatic solution that we can use to solve the Iranian problem. And that's why we're working with our allies to get there.

    REPORTER: That's what he said before we went to Iraq, too.

    REPORTER: But what's the -- can you answer actually on the substance of whether or not the White House asked -- I mean, if it's not true, then you can say Sy Hersh is wrong and CNN was wrong to air it. You could say that, but --

    DANA PERINO: We don't discuss such things, Ed.

    REPORTER: -- what about the substance of whether we --

    DANA PERINO: We don't discuss such things. What we have said and what we are working towards is a diplomatic solution in Iran. What the President has also said is that as a President, as a commander-in-chief -- and any commander-in-chief -- would not take any option off the table. But the option that we are pursuing right now is diplomacy.

    REPORTER: But the article very specifically said that this summer in a video conference -- secure video conference with Ambassador Crocker, the President said that he was thinking about "hitting Iran" and also --

    DANA PERINO: I'm not going to comment on -- one, I don't know. I wouldn't have been at any -- at that type of a meeting. I don't know. I'm not going to comment on any possible -- any possible scenario that an anonymous source, you know, continues to feed into Sy Hersh. I'm just not going the do it.

    REPORTER: Why should anybody believe that the President wants diplomatic solutions? He said that before going into Iraq.

    DANA PERINO: The President sought a diplomatic solution in Iraq, and Saddam Hussein defied the UN Security Council seventeen times.

    REPORTER: Some of the history we've learned since suggests otherwise.

    DANA PERINO: That the President didn't -- that Saddam Hussein defied seventeen UN Security Council resolutions?

    REPORTER: No, that the President was intent on going to war in Iraq in any case.

    DANA PERINO: No, the President pursued a diplomatic option. He went to the UN Security Council, and then we proceeded.

    HELEN THOMAS: Did he consult -- would he tell Congress before attacking Iran -- before he attacks Iran?

    DANA PERINO: Helen, we are pursuing a diplomatic solution with Iran.

    HELEN THOMAS: I'm asking you, does he feel committed to ask Congress for permission?

    DANA PERINO: We are pursuing a diplomatic solution in Iran.

    AMY GOODMAN: White House spokesperson Dana Perino. Your response, Seymour Hersh?

    SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, obviously, look, there's a lot of responses to make. One, the most obvious one is if he really -- if they are pursuing a diplomatic solution, why not talk to the Iranians, why not talk to the Syrians, why not talk to Hamas, why not talk to Hezbollah? He doesn’t talk to people he doesn’t like. And all of those people, those four groups, are in the sites, are in the targets, of this White House right now, along with, of course, Iraq.

    And so, it’s real simple. If he’s really interested in diplomacy, this game they have going now -- the game right now, the American and British and German, the allied game, the Western game, with Iraq -- the situation with Iraq is this -- Iran, rather: they’re enriching uranium. Our position to the Iranians is: when you stop enriching uranium, shut it down, we will then start talking to you about your enrichment. That’s the American -- that is absolutely the bargaining position. We will not talk to them until they stop. And it’s sort of -- it’s real simple, if you really are talking. And so, the rest of the stuff is chit-chat.

    I don’t think she -- you know, I just -- I don’t, you know -- there was a video conference, and it was even more explicit than we in the New Yorker wrote it. The President was very clear that he is interested in going across the border and whacking the Iranians.

    And in the belief -- and I do believe this President believes it, just like I still believe the President believed there were WMDs there -- and, you know, I actually listen to George Bush, always have listened to him, and I take him at his word, which, of course, scares the hell out of me. But I think he really believes that the Iranians are responsible for training terrorists, not only Shia terrorists, Iran’s Shia, some of the southern -- the government now that controls Iraq is a Shia government -- but he also believes, and the American administration has said, that the Iranians are supporting the Sunnis, the insurgency, and also even al-Qaeda, which is another Sunni -- the jihadist al-Qaeda. And there’s just -- I can tell you, as I write in this article, indeed, Iran may be doing all of that, but there’s a tremendous dispute about all of those assertions inside the American government. There’s just a lot of questions about it inside the government. They don’t see the case as being nearly as strong as the White House is saying in public.

    AMY GOODMAN: Seymour Hersh, we have to break, but we’re going to come back to you. Seymour Hersh, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, has a major expose about the administration’s plan for Iran in the latest New Yorker. Back with him in a minute.


    AMY GOODMAN: Our guest, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, his latest piece in the New Yorker, “Shifting Targets: The Administration’s Plan for Iran.” Juan?

    JUAN GONZALEZ: Sy Hersh, I’d like to ask you -- that clip that we played just a few minutes ago about the White House in the press conference there, it sounded like it was Helen Thomas asking whether President Bush would notify Congress before taking action or not. Your sense of what you heard from your sources? Is this likely to be, in essence, a surprise attack, that the President notifies the Congress afterwards?

    SEYMOUR HERSH: I actually -- since I’m so used to believing that they don’t deal with Congress at all, it’s nothing I’ve focused on, except the Congress is -- in general, one could say the Congress is the last thought. In this case, I think they will probably, on the day of the morning of a raid, brief Congress, you know, call on the leadership as the raid is in progress. That’s been done. And my understanding is when the Israelis hit Syria the other week -- remember, I think September the 6th, the raid in Syria -- the Israelis actually told some of their allies, the Jordanians and the Egyptians, just an hour before the raid, and us, too. Of course, we were deeply involved, as we always are. But I think that kind of notification, we're talking about.

    There’s -- look, there wasn’t much use for the Congress when it was Republican-run; now it’s Democratic-run. You can imagine how little -- the President thinks he has this whole notion we’ve been struggling with for seven-six years now, the Unitarian -- you know, the notion of the neoconservatives that the President has all power. This is a Cheney notion that’s very dominant Dick Cheney, that he has -- the executive powers of the presidency were diminished under Clinton, and they’ve been restored under Bush.

    AMY GOODMAN: Sy Hersh, what do you know about the raid on Syria, Israeli raid that has not gotten a lot of attention? Was it a test run to see how Syria would respond if they flew over?

    SEYMOUR HERSH: Let me write about it, Amy.

    AMY GOODMAN: Well, let me play a clip of General David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq. In his report to Congress last month, he accused Iran of fighting a proxy war inside Iraq.

    GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS: In the past six months, we have also targeted Shia militia extremists, capturing a number of senior leaders and fighters, as well as the deputy commander of Lebanese Hezbollah Department 2800, the organization created to support the training, arming, funding and, in some cases, direction of the militia extremists by the Iranian Republican Guard Corps Quds Force. These elements have assassinated and kidnapped Iraqi governmental leaders, killed and wounded our soldiers with advanced explosive devices provided by Iran and indiscriminately rocketed civilians in the international zone and elsewhere. It is increasingly apparent to both coalition and Iraqi leaders that Iran, through the use of this Quds Force, seeks to turn the Iraqi special groups into a Hezbollah-like force to serve its interests and fight a proxy war against the Iraqi state and coalition forces in Iraq.

    AMY GOODMAN: General David Petraeus. Seymour Hersh?

    SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, that’s way over the top. He made a lot of assertions that are really seriously questioned by the intelligence community, and, again, in the article, I deal with that, that particular -- some of that statement, making the point that, look, Iran -- the Shia inside Iraq under Saddam were beaten down, were really humiliated. He had his foot on their neck constantly. And their only support they had, the Iranian -- the Shias in Iran -- Iran was dominated by the Sunnis and by the Baath Party and by Saddam, who had -- and so, their only support they had for three decades has been Iran.

    And if you remember the history, after the first Gulf War that ended in early 1992 at that horrible massacre along the highway of death, this Bush and Cheney -- Cheney was then the Secretary of Defense, and Bush’s father was the President -- we decided not to go take the war all the way to Baghdad, dethrone Saddam. And more significantly, we allowed Saddam and the Sunni leadership to conduct -- use helicopters to overcome a Shia revolt, in which the stories are just thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Shia were slaughtered by Saddam as we stood aside right after the war. And the Shia were very bitterly disappointed with us, because they thought we had sort of set it up for them to do an overthrow and then didn’t support them, in fact aided the Sunni leadership. Iran was the only country that supported the Shia then.

    Most of the Shia leadership right now, Prime Minister Maliki, lived in exile for many years in Iran. The relationship between Iran and the Prime Minister and his office and the Shia leadership of Iraq is very intense. And the idea that they're running a proxy war against the -- Iran is running a proxy war against the Iraqi people, the truth is that Iran is there with the Iraqi people. Iraqi people, that is, the Shia. There’s no proxy war, as he describes it. Iran is simply a big simple player.

    And we have basically -- the strategic mistake of the White House in this whole process was, we were so anxious to overthrow the Sunnis and the Baath Party and make sure none of them got into office, we delegated the country to the Shiites, and they believed -- the neocons -- and this was a great debate in ’03 -- the neocons were absolutely insistent that the Iraqi Shia would be nationalists and support Iraq and not defer to Iran. And that’s not true. They're much closer to Iran than to the Sunnis or to the Kurds or to the Americans.

    JUAN GONZALEZ: Sy Hersh, I’d like to ask you -- those of us who are old enough to remember Vietnam see some parallels between what’s going on now and -- is Iran the new Cambodia, in essence, a failed war being expanded by an administration that remains intransigent in its view of what needs to be done?

    SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, it’s much bigger than Cambodia and much more potentially destabilizing. Iran is right now-- look, this is a government, American government, that’s losing a war. Nothing is going right. If you want to believe the surge, I’ve got a bridge I want to sell you. The surge is simply another example of ethnic cleansing. It’s not going to go anywhere. Yes, things are safer in Anbar Province where the surge is going on, because all of the Shiites, 100,000 or so, who live there are gone. There’s been ethnic cleansing. So basically the President is into ethnic cleansing, although he’s not saying it. That’s probably one way we’re going to creep in the next four or five years, if it goes that long.

    But, you know, the real problem with this analogy is this: in Vietnam, we lost 58,000 Americans. It was a much -- we’ve got, what, almost 3,800 -- 7%, 6%-7% -- deaths.

    And yet, Vietnam was always a strategic war. When the war ended, we were driven off. Four years later, they’re inviting us back, the leadership of the unified Vietnam, to play monopoly, build hotels and do tourism business, and we were doing it. Everything is peaceful now.

    This war in Iraq with the Muslims that we're into and this sort of hostility we have to the Shia world and to Hamas and to Syria, this is strategic. We are putting ourselves into a situation where, for the next twenty, thirty years, we could be in a serious free-for-all, particularly if we go into Iran. It would be -- the war would spread. There’s no question, the Iranians will respond asymmetrically. By that, I mean they won’t necessarily hit Israel or hit targets in America; they might just do things in the Gulf; they certainly would do things inside Iraq and inside Afghanistan. If they start doing things inside Afghanistan, they have to protect their borders. We control the countries on both sides of Iran: Afghanistan and Iraq. If they start doing things in Afghanistan to protect their position, Pakistan may come in. You’re looking at unbelievably strategic issues here. And Vietnam never crossed the tactical barrier. It was stupid, stupid, stupid, and killer, killer, killer, but nothing as potentially devastating to the lives of all of us as what this President is doing now and, if he expands the war, what he will do.

    And why, Juan and Amy, why the American public isn’t saying in heated tones: Why doesn't this President talk to people? Why isn't he talking to the Iranians and to the -- the Iranians have been telling us in these various conferences -- you know, Ambassador Crocker has had three meetings now, I think, with his counterpart, his ambassador from Iraq in Baghdad, and the video conference I quote in the article, the one that was mentioned in the White House press statement where Bush was bragging about what he wants to do -- braggadocio, really -- in those conferences, the Iranians have never asked for our troops to be gone, get out. What they keep on saying is, “We can help you.”

    There is no incentive for Syria, for Iran, for Jordan, Kuwait, all of whom flooded with refugees coming out of Iraq, there’s no incentive for them to want the kind of destabilization they have inside Iraq. I mean, we now have a new refugee crisis that’s going to be probably worse than the Palestinian crisis. If you remember, after the Israelis invaded Israel in ’48, we generated a million or so refugees in Syria, in Lebanon, elsewhere in the world. They’re still in camps in as fetid positions, you know, a horrible situation. But now we have -- right now, Syria has anywhere from 1.6 million to 2 million refugees -- Syria is a country of 17 million, led by Alawites, a sort of derivative faction of Shiism -- mostly Sunni. And now they have 1.6 million or 2 million Sunni refugees in their country. I mean, that’s very destabilizing to Syria. Same in Jordan, same in Kuwait. It’s a mess that nobody wants to talk about in this country.

    AMY GOODMAN: Sy Hersh, can you talk about the role of Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Dick Cheney? And is Dick Cheney in the ascendancy, because so many of President Bush’s inner circle have deserted him, have left?

    SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, that’s always a great question. You know, there's a great debate. I had somebody from inside call me about a meeting that took place. Rumsfeld was back at the White House the other day. I have no idea what for. But he was there, maybe --

    AMY GOODMAN: Maybe he was fleeing the protesters at Stanford, where he is coming to be a fellow at the Hoover Institute.

    SEYMOUR HERSH: No, I think he was there talking about this situation. But, anyway, it was interesting that he was back. Somebody called me, and he said he was talking about a German official who came to town to get a briefing, among other things, on this issue, the new targeting, and he said, “Well, he may have seen Hadley,” who is the -- Steve Hadley, the National Security Adviser, “and I hear he saw POTUS” -- the President -- “and also Darth Vader.” And he knew I understood that to mean Cheney. This is somebody inside the government.

    Cheney is very powerful. I think the most powerful aspect of Cheney includes the fact that he’s very, very bright. He singled out Elliott Abrams, who is the President's National Security Adviser, the refugee from Iran-Contra, who is a big -- a very super neoconservative -- his father-in-law is Norman Podhoretz -- very pro-Israel in the sense that he believes that as Israel goes, so goes the American policy, I would think up to a great length. And Abrams is a key player.

    Condoleezza Rice, my friend says it’s always a chronic debate: where is she? She favors a limited bombing, so I hear. If you want to really get a dark scenario, Cheney has gone along with the limited bombing. Basically, they call the limited bombing the third option, because there’s one option to do nothing; the other one is to bring in the Air Force and rake -- you know, rake everything; the third option being this one. And, by the way, the Air Force would not be a big player in this. The Navy would be a player in this limited option: cruise missiles, Navy F-18s doing some attacks, some Marines, some Special Forces, etc. Not inconsiderable, but nothing like the Air Force plan. And I understand that’s a plan that she would agree to if negotiations fail. But right now, her position is negotiations in public. I don’t know where she stands.

    JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Sy Hersh, I’d like to ask you, the role of the commercial media here in the United States, in terms of what -- you were raising the issue of where the American people are in terms of any Iran assault -- the whole furor that arose at the United Nations over the visit of Ahmadinejad and his speech at Columbia?

    SEYMOUR HERSH: Well, you know, look, we have to have our Hitlers. America seems to thrive on Hitlers after Hitler went out. You know, we had Khrushchev. We had Stalin. We had Mao. We had Zhou Enlai. We had Gaddafi for a little while. We had Khomeini. We just bounce along from Hitler to Hitler. So he became the hit guy, Ahmadinejad.

    Look, he says terrible things. It’s very stupid, what he says about the Holocaust. It’s counterproductive. He’s obviously very stubborn, but he’s not stupid. I wish the American press would have published some of his speech to the UN, because it was a pretty interesting speech, the actual speech, what he said. There were a lot of elements in it that were of great interest, and not at all irrational. And I asked somebody about the famous line about homosexuality, because it seemed so inept. And the Arab view is, if you talk to -- I'm talking about American Arabs and international, my friends overseas and those who know Farsi, what he said was -- and I’m not defending him; I’m just telling you what they say he said: “Homosexuality is not a problem in Iraq.” In other words, it’s just not a problem.

    AMY GOODMAN: In Iran.

    SEYMOUR HERSH: In Iran, rather. They don’t -- it’s just not a problem. He didn’t mean -- I don’t know whether the translation was flat, you know, when translations are always pretty bad, as any of you know. I’ve given speeches in foreign countries, and getting the translation back is always pretty comical. It’s never very good.

    AMY GOODMAN: Sy Hersh, I wanted to switch gears for the last question, and this has to do with it not just being Republicans who are sounding a drumbeat for war. The three leading Democratic presidential candidates -- Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards -- have all declared no options off the table. This is a clip from last week’s Democratic debate. It was the day the Senate approved a controversial resolution calling on the State Department to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization. At the debate, Democratic presidential hopeful Mike Gravel bitterly criticized Hillary Clinton for voting in favor.

    MIKE GRAVEL: This is fantasy land. We're talking about ending the war. My god, we’re just starting a war right today. There was a vote in the Senate today. Joe Lieberman, who authored the Iraq resolution, has authored another resolution, and it is essentially a fig leaf to let George Bush go to war with Iran. And I want to congratulate Biden for voting against it, Dodd for voting against it, and I’m ashamed of you, Hillary, for voting for it. You're not going to get another shot at this, because what’s happened, if this war ensues, we invade, and they're looking for an excuse to do it. And Obama was not even there to vote.

    TIM RUSSERT: Senator Clinton, I want to give you a chance to respond.

    SEN. HILLARY CLINTON: [laughter]

    AMY GOODMAN: That was Hillary Clinton laughing. Fifteen seconds, Seymour Hersh. Your response?

    SEYMOUR HERSH: Money. A lot of the Jewish money from New York. Come on, let's not kid about it. A significant percentage of Jewish money, and many leading American Jews support the Israeli position that Iran is an existential threat. And I think it’s as simple as that. When you’re from New York and from New York City, you take the view of -- right now, when you’re running a campaign, you follow that line. And there’s no other explanation for it, because she’s smart enough to know the downside.

    AMY GOODMAN: And Obama and Edwards?

    SEYMOUR HERSH: I -- you know, it’s shocking. It’s really surprising and shocking, but there we are. That’s American politics circa 2007.

    AMY GOODMAN: Seymour Hersh, thank you very much for being with us, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist. His piece in the New Yorker is called “Shifting Targets: The Administration’s Plan for Iran.”

    website page counter