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Friday, April 21, 2006

War Against Iran

Biological Threat and Executive Order 13292

by Jorge Hirsch
April 1, 2006

H istory repeats itself, but always with new twists. We are back to the good old days when a Declaration of War preceded the start of a war. Such declaration occurred on March 16th, 2006. Reversing the old order, we are now in the "Sitzkrieg", to be followed shortly by an aerial "Blitzkrieg" in the coming days.

In the old days, Congress declared war, and directed the Executive to take action. In the new millenium, the Executive declared war last March 16th, then Congress will pass H.R. 282, "To hold the current regime in Iran accountable for its threatening behavior and to support a transition to democracy in Iran." This bill and previous ones like it are in direct violation of the legally binding Algiers Accords[pdf] signed by the United States and Iran on January 19, 1981, that states "The United States pledges that it is and from now on will be the policy of the United States not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran's internal affairs"; however, this is clearly of no interest to the 353 policymakers sponsoring the bill.

The US promised Russia and China that the UN Security Council statement just approved will not be a trigger for military action after 30 days; true to its promise, the US will attack before the 30-day deadline imposed by the UNSC for Iran to stop its nuclear enrichment activity, i.e. before the end of April. The "justification" is likely to be an alleged threat of imminent biological attack with Iran's involvement.

The Declaration of War against Iran

I n the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, the Congressional Declaration of December 8, 1941 stated:
"Whereas the Imperial Government of Japan has committed unprovoked acts of war against the Government and the people of the United States of America: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the state of war between the United States and the Imperial Government of Japan which has thus been thrust upon the United States is hereby formally declared; and the president is hereby authorized and directed to employ the entire naval and military forces of the United States and the resources of the Government to carry on war against the Imperial Government of Japan."

Similarly, the formal war declaration against Iran, the National Security Strategy of March 16, 2006, stated:

· "We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran."
· "The Iranian regime sponsors terrorism; threatens Israel; seeks to thwart Middle East peace; disrupts democracy in Iraq; and denies the aspirations of its people for freedom."
· "[T]he first duty of the United States Government remains what it always has been: to protect the American people and American interests. It is an enduring American principle that this duty obligates the government to anticipate and counter threats, using all elements of national power, before the threats can do grave damage."
· "The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction – and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack. There are few greater threats than a terrorist attack with WMD."
· "To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively."
· "When the consequences of an attack with WMD are potentially so devastating, we cannot afford to stand idly by as grave dangers materialize."
· "[T]here will always be some uncertainty about the status of hidden programs."
· "Advances in biotechnology provide greater opportunities for state and non-state actors to obtain dangerous pathogens and equipment."
· "Biological weapons also pose a grave WMD threat because of the risks of contagion that would spread disease across large populations and around the globe."
· "Countering the spread of biological weapons .... will also enhance our Nation's ability to respond to pandemic public health threats, such as avian influenza."

This has to be combined with the 2005 U.S. State Department "FINDING. The United States judges that, based on all available information, Iran has an offensive biological weapons program in violation of the BWC."

In addition, the March 16 declaration makes it clear that the US will use nuclear weapons in the war against Iran:

· ."..using all elements of national power..."
· "Safe, credible, and reliable nuclear forces continue to play a critical role. We are strengthening deterrence by developing a New Triad composed of offensive strike systems (both nuclear and improved conventional capabilities)."

This is further reinforced by the just released"National Military Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction"[pdf] that states "Offensive operations may include kinetic (both conventional and nuclear) and/or non-kinetic options (e.g. information operations) to deter or defeat a WMD threat or subsequent use of WMD."

There is of course also the claim that Iran is a threat because it intends to develop nuclear weapons. The sole purpose of that claim, which flies in the face of all available evidence, is to generate a diplomatic stalemate at the UN that will allow Bush to state that other nations share the US concern but not the resolve to act. However the actual trigger for the bombing to begin will not be the long-term and by now discredited nuclear threat, rather it is likely to be the threat of an imminent biological attack.

Casus Belli

There is no casus belli against Iran based on its nuclear program. The IAEA has found no evidence that in the 20 years of its development there has been any diversion of nuclear material to military applications. The Bush administration now officially acknowledges that the issue with Iran arises from a "loophole" in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, that allows non-nuclear countries to pursue uranium enrichment. However it is not a loophole, the right to a full civilian nuclear program is an integral part of the compromise, that made non-nuclear countries agree to it. For the US to call it a loophole means to abrogate the treaty unilaterally and propose a different treaty that non-nuclear countries will have no motivation to agree to.

The Bush administration declares that a civilian nuclear program that gives Iran "knowledge" or "capability" to build a nuclear weapon is unacceptable. It could apply exactly the same logic to biotechnology. The State Department says that "Iran is expanding its biotechnology and biomedical industries by building large, state-of-the-art research and pharmaceutical production facilities. These industries could easily hide pilot to industrial-scale production capabilities for a potential BW program, and could mask procurement of BW-related process equipment." Why isn't the US demanding that Iran stops its biotechnology research and development, and that it transfers all biotech related activities to Russia?

The key lies in Executive Order 13292, which made information on "weapons of mass destruction" and on "defense against transnational terrorism" classified. If concrete details about Iran's alleged biological weapons programs were made public, they would be subject to public scrutiny and they would be discredited, as the allegations on Iran's "nuclear weapons program" have been. The US is likely to have "assembled" classified information on Iran's biological weapons programs and shared it with selected individuals, including members of Congress, under the constraint that classified information cannot be made public. For example, at the June 25, 2004 House subcommittee "MEMBERS ONLY CLASSIFIED BRIEFING on Iran, Middle East Proliferation and Terrorist Capabilities." The unclassified portion of that briefing states "It is time for Iran to declare its biological weapons program and make arrangements for its dismantlement."

There is likely to be a team of "experts" lined up by the administration that will support its claims that Iran had a biological weapons program representing an imminent threat. There is always room in science for differing opinions, and if an open scientific debate is not possible because information is classified, any outlandish claim can find some supporters in the scientific community. The most likely biological threat to be invoked, because it has a natural time element associated with it, is the threat of a bird flu pandemic caused by a deliberately mutated H5N1 virus carried by migrating wild birds.

The Biological Threat

Consider for example Dr. Ward Casscells, a renowned cardiologist that has of late become an "expert" in bioterrorism. Even more recently, Dr. Casscells joined the Army as a colonel . According to the US Defense Department, "his years of research on now-spreading avian flu are now deemed cutting edge." However, I know of no independent credible scientific body that makes the same assessment: Dr. Casscells has written a total of four papers on the effect of influenza on cardiac disease which have been cited by no other scientists. His paper "Influenza as a bioweapon" has a grand total of 5 citations, meaning a mere 5 other papers refer to it; "cutting edge" scientific papers have hundreds or thousands of citations. His only other paper on the subject, "Influenza as a bioterror threat: the need for global vaccination" has zero citations.

Nonetheless, Dr. Casscells' outstanding credentials as a scientist will be invoked by the administration if he vouches for the credibility of "intelligence" indicating that a dangerous mutated bird flu virus has been developed in an Iranian underground bioweapons laboratory. Dr. Casscells has been surveilling the Middle East to "scope out the possibility for a widespread outbreak" of bird flu. Because he has been advocating the view that "Bird flu is poised to be an explosive problem" and has predicted the use of influenza as a bioweapon, he is likely to be inclined to believe such claims. Similarly his scientific colleagues at the "Defense of Houston" committee, that work on anticipating bioterrorism threats and are highly lauded by the administration and very well funded by Army grants.

The Bush administration has spent vast sums of money in combating bioterrorism threats, reportedly over $7 billion per year, without any evidence or precedent for bioterrorism attacks. Nevertheless there will always be plenty of scientists that will flock to where the grant money is and devote efforts to validate conclusions that are valued by the organizations giving the grants, and news media duly publicize the hyped threat of bioterrorism. Still, last year over 700 scientists including 2 Nobel laureates signed a petition objecting to the diversion of funds from projects of high public-health importance to biodefense, calling it a "misdirection" of priorities. Dr. Richard H. Ebright, a renowned molecular biologist, states that "A majority of the nation's top microbiologists – the very group that the Bush administration is counting on to carry out its biodefense research agenda – dispute the premises and implementation of the biodefense spending."

On the supposed threat of bird flu, while it is continuously being hyped by the administration [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], expert opinion is that it is not a serious threat [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6]and is politically motivated. The blaming of bird flu spread on wild birds is also highly questionable [1], [2].

On March 15th, right before the disclosure of the new National Security Strategy, I suggested the bird flu casus belli against Iran, that would "necessitate" bombing of Iranian facilities before the bird migration season begins in the Spring. Several elements emphasized in the March 16 NSS appear to support that scenario, as discussed above. In a March 20 press conference concerning federal preparedness for avian flu, Secretary Michael Leavitt (who also warned a few weeks ago to store tuna and milk under the bed to prepare for bird flu ) stated "Think of the world if you will as a vast forest that is susceptible to fire. A spark if allowed to burn will emerge as an uncontainable fire. That's a pandemic. If we are there when the spark happens, it can be squelched. But if allowed to burn for a time it begins to spread uncontrollably." An aerial attack on Iranian installations may be touted as the "squelching" of the bird flu pandemic spark.

Does Bush need congressional authorization to bomb Iran?

The answer is contained in the Statement by the president of October 16, 2002, in signing into law the congressional authorization to use force against Iraq. It states:

"...I sought an additional resolution of support from the Congress to use force against Iraq, should force become necessary. While I appreciate receiving that support, my request for it did not, and my signing this resolution does not, constitute any change in the long-standing positions of the executive branch on either the president's constitutional authority to use force to deter, prevent, or respond to aggression or other threats to U.S. interests or on the constitutionality of the War Powers Resolution."

In other words: "I appreciate Congress' authorization but didn't need it and will not need it next time with Iran."

The War Powers Resolution encourages the president to consult with Congress "in every possible instance", yet allows the president to introduce Armed Forces into hostilities without Congressional authorization; it simply compels him to terminate hostilities within 60 to 90 days unless Congress authorizes an extension. Plenty time enough.

The Attack

I t is unlikely that there will be a public announcement of the impending attack before it starts, since it would generate opposition. Allies do not want to be implicated and will deny any knowledge. Who will be officially notified that an attack is about to take place? Most likely, Iran itself.

Direct conversations between the US and Iran are about to start, nominally on the subject of Iraq only. They will also provide the only direct conduit for the US to communicate with Iran without intermediaries. An "ultimatum" unacceptable to Iran, as was delivered publicly to Iraq on March 17th, 2003, could be delivered privately to Iran through that route.

The reasons for our actions will be clear, the force measured, and the cause just.

The initial US attack on Iranian facilities is likely to be "measured": a highly accurate strike on selected facilities "suspected" of bioweapons work, with cruise missiles launched from submarines or ships in the Persian Gulf. That is a component of the CONPLAN 8022 Global Strike mission, which recently became operational and also includes nuclear preemptive strikes.

The "clear" reasons and "just" cause for the administration to attack can be stated as follows:
If a bird flu pandemic can cause 150 million deaths and there is even a one percent probability that the "intelligence" is right, i.e. even if there is a 99% "uncertainty about the status of hidden programs", the expected number of deaths that would be prevented by bombing the Iranian facilities is the product of those two numbers, i.e. 1.5 million, vastly larger than the few thousand Iranian casualties due to "collateral damage."

Any military reaction by Iran to the attack, perhaps even a verbal reaction, will be construed as "aggression" by Iran towards the US and Israel, and result in large scale bombing of Iranian missile, nuclear and other facilities. Does that sound absurd? Recall that the US and Britain bombed Iraq's no-fly zones well before the Iraq invasion, and Iraqi response was labeled "aggression toward planes of the coalition forces."

Nuclear earth penetrating weapons may be used in the initial attack, and certainly will be used in the large scale attack that will follow.

Why will this happen? Because it was "pencilled in" a long time ago. The actions of the US against Iran in recent years have been clearly directed towards a confrontation, to suppress the rise of Iran as a strong regional power that does not conform to US interests.

Can it be Prevented?

A small group of thugs is about to lead America across a line of no return. On the other side of this line there is no nuclear taboo, no restraint on preemptive nuclear attacks on non-nuclear nations, and no incentive for non-nuclear nations to remain non-nuclear. A global nuclear war and the destruction of humanity will be a distinct possibility.

Americans are largely unaware of what is about to happen. Half a million people go to the streets on immigration law, yet nobody is demonstrating against the Iran war that will radically change the life f Americans for generations to come. The more informed sectors of society, scientists, arms control organizations, the media, the political establishment, the military, are not taking a strong stand against the impending war.

Congress is silent.

Only people in the know can stop this. Resigning from the job is not good enough [1], [2], [3]. People in the know have to come forward with information that brings the impending attack to the forefront of attention of Congress and the American public and thwarts it. Not doing so is being complicit in a plan that will bring tragic consequences to America and the world.

Else, all that will be left is to bring the perpetrators to justice. Danton, Robespierre, Mussolini, Petain, Ribbentrop, Goering, Ceausescu also occupied positions of power and prominence at some point in their careers.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Rumsfeld Linked to Guantanamo Torture

Haider Rizvi
OneWorld US
Apr 17, 2006

NEW YORK (OneWorld) - A leading international human rights group is calling for the Bush administration to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the alleged involvement of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior Pentagon officials in the torture of a prisoner at Guanatanamo Bay some three years ago.

Rumsfeld could be criminally liable under federal or military law for the abuse and torture of detainee Mohammad al-Qahtani in late 2002 and early 2003, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said this week as some Democratic lawmakers demanded that Rumsfeld step down as Pentagon chief.

The rights group's demand comes in light of findings by a major Internet publication that indicate Rumsfeld might have been fully aware of the abuses inflicted on al-Qahtani, a prisoner held at Guantanamo Bay on terrorism charges.

Last week, a military report obtained by included a statement by Lt. Gen. Randall Schmidt that raises serious questions about the conduct of the Pentagon chief and other officials concerning al-Qahtani's interrogation. In the report, Gen. Schmidt says Rumsfeld was "talking weekly" with Gen. Geoffrey Miller, a senior commander at Guantanamo in early 2003, about the al-Qahtani interrogation, and that he was "personally involved in the interrogation of (this) one person."

Schmidt's statement also signals that Rumsfeld maintained a high level of knowledge of and supervision over al-Qahtani's treatment, although he did not specifically order more abusive methods used in the interrogation.

Al-Qahtani, who is suspected of being a "20th hijacker" in connection with the September 11 attacks, was denied entry to the United States in August 2001. He is seen by the military as an "al-Qaeda terrorist," who provided a "treasure trove" of information during his interrogation.

The Pentagon admits that al-Qahtani's interrogation was systematic and well-planned. "(His) interrogation was guided by a very detailed plan, conducted by trained professionals in a controlled environment, and with active supervision and oversight," Jeffery Gordon, a Pentagon spokesman, told in an e-mail.

"Nothing was done randomly," he said about al-Qahtani's interrogation.

Human Rights Watch says it has obtained an unedited copy of al-Qahtani's interrogation log, which suggests that the techniques used on him during the interrogation were "so abusive that they amounted to torture."

The log reveals that al-Qahtani was subjected to various methods of physical and mental mistreatment from mid-November 2002 to early January 2003. For six weeks, he was deprived of sleep, forced into painful physical positions, and subjected to forced exercises, standing, and sexual humiliation.

Al-Qahtani was forced to accept an intravenous drip for hydration and on several occasions was refused trips to the latrine so that he urinated on himself at least twice, according to the log, which also reveals that the prisoner was forced to undergo an enema.

"A six-week regime of sleep deprivation, forced exercises, stress positions, white noise, and sexual humiliation amounts to acts that were specifically intended to cause severe physical pain and suffering and mental pain," said Joanne Mariner, HRW's director of terrorism and counter terrorism.

"That's the legal definition of torture," she added.

Last year, the Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps also made similar observations on the al-Qahtani case. He told the Senate Committee on Armed Services that the interrogation techniques used on al-Qahtani violated the U.S. Army Field Manuel on Intelligence Interrogation.

For its part, the U.S. State Department considers such techniques to be torture and has condemned their use in other countries such as Iran and North Korea in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights.

In a February report, United Nations investigators on torture called on the U.S. government to close down Guantanamo and "refrain from any practice amounting to torture, or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment."

In response, Washington slammed the UN report, noting that the UN experts had declined an invitation to visit Guantanamo because they would not be allowed to interview prisoners.

Independent legal experts say Rumsfeld could be liable under the doctrine of "command responsibility," the legal principle that holds a superior responsible for crimes committed by his subordinates when he knew or should have known that they were being committed but failed to take responsible steps to stop them.

Human Rights Watch's Mariner says a special prosecutor is needed because Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was himself "deeply involved" in the policies leading to the abuse of prisoners, a conflict of interest that is likely to prevent a proper investigation

"The question at this point is not whether Rumsfeld should resign," said Joanne Mariner, "it's whether he should be indicted. A special prosecutor should look carefully at what abuses Rumsfeld either knew of or condoned."

The Pentagon admits that in December 2002, Rumsfeld approved 16 interrogation techniques for al-Qahtani and other prisoners, including the use of forced nudity, stress positions, and "using detainees' individual phobia (such as using dogs)."

However, the military has refused to release the full version of Gen. Schmidt's report on abuses, according to Mariner and others who note with dismay that in July last year Gen. Bantz Craddock dismissed claims that the al-Qahtani interrogation violated military laws.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Israel: The Dead Roach
in America's Salad

April 15, 2006
by Charley Reese

The Israeli lobby and the neoconservatives are beating the drums for war with Iran. I hope the president is not that dangerously stupid. The betting on whether he is that stupid is about even.

The neocons – who, being self-centered, seemingly have no concept of human nature – are advancing the premise that a military attack on Iran will cause the people to lose faith in their government and result in regime change.

A military attack on Iran will have the opposite effect. The people will rally to their government, and any hope of regime change will be dead. That people will rally around their existing leaders in the face of an attack by a foreign power is as certain as sunrise. Neither Israel nor the U.S. could do a greater favor for the ruling mullahs and Iran's president than to launch an attack. It would cement their hold on power.

The neocons' fallacious premise has already been disproved. In the first Gulf War, the first Bush administration confidently incited the Shi'ites and the Kurds to rebel after Saddam Hussein's forces were expelled from Kuwait. The administration thought that Saddam, embarrassed by a crushing military defeat, would fall from power in Iraq easily. Instead, he rallied his forces and crushed both the Shi'ites in the south and the Kurds in the north. Oops.

In the first place, it is not embarrassing for a Third World country with obsolete equipment to be defeated by the world's No. 1 military superpower. In the second place, the Sunnis, however much they might have disliked Saddam, disliked even more the thought of being ruled by Kurds or Shi'ites. In the third place, by President George H.W. Bush's decision to not go to Baghdad, Saddam could say he duked it out with the world's superpower and was still standing after the fight. That, in most eyes, could be counted as a victory.

Some months ago, an Iranian human-rights advocate pleaded with the current Bush administration to cease its rhetorical attacks on the Iranian government. She said, quite accurately, that such attacks make life impossible for Iranian reformers. Needless to say, the blockheads in Washington ignored her.

What did we do when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked? We rallied behind George W. Bush – Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives. That's the natural reaction of normal human beings, and the Iranians are normal human beings. Attack their country and they will rally round the flag.

The Iranians still insist they are not seeking nuclear weapons, and there's not a scrap of evidence to contradict that claim. They still adhere to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. They have often called for a nuclear-free Middle East.

Once again, the dead roach in America's salad is Israel. The U.S. hypocritically opposes a nuclear-free Middle East because Israel has nuclear weapons. We hypocritically claim the Iranians are in violation of international law when, in fact, it is Israel that refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and refuses international inspections. Given our craven obedience to Israel, we have exactly zero credibility in the Arab and Muslim world.

As I have said before, I don't care if the Iranians do develop nuclear weapons. My whole adult life was lived with 30,000 Soviet nuclear weapons aimed at me. I can certainly live with the six or seven Iran might be able to scrape together in the next five to 10 years. In the meantime, the U.S. government should kick the Israeli lobby out of the country and support Iran and the Arab League in pushing for a nuclear-free Middle East.

The Israeli lobby pushing America to fight yet another war for Israel reminds me of what the French ambassador to Great Britain said at a party: "Why does the world allow this (expletive deleted) little country to cause so much trouble?"

Why indeed? You should ask your politicians that question.

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Friday, April 14, 2006

Dark Times

[Note: Generally I wouldn't post a letter like this but lately I've seen quite a few newsgroups with similar postings warning of an American terrorist incident, I thought I'd share one that was the most coherent of the lot.]

By Mitch Merriam

I was born and raised in the United States, and, like the majority of U.S. citizens, I have often been led to believe things about our history, government and economic system that are simply not true. Just as many governments throughout the history of the world have done, the U.S. Government has intentionally told us many things that are false. I cannot convince you of what is true and what is not, nor can I convince you to seek the truth on your own, but I can share some simple, verifiable facts.

If you look at any piece of U.S. paper money, you will see that it is identified as a Federal Reserve Note. Most of us are under the impression that the Federal Reserve, which controls our money and interest rates, is part of the U.S. Government. The fact is that the Federal Reserve is private. The Federal Reserve is controlled by the richest banking families in the world, headed by the Rothschild family, which controls the Bank of England. Ever since 1913, when the Federal Reserve was established, it has controlled when and in what amounts the U.S. Treasury Department prints and distributes paper money. These amounts of money are then owed by the U.S. Government to the private Federal Reserve. Note that very recently, in late March of 2006, the Federal Reserve ordered the U.S. Treasury to print two trillion dollars to add to circulation. This has not been publicly announced and may well indicate trouble ahead.

Next subject: For over four years, the U.S. government has continually promoted a conspiracy theory that absolutely cannot be true. This theory states that, on 9/11, Arab hijackers with box cutters took over four planes and expertly piloted three of them into buildings, killing over 3,000 people. The possibility that this theory is true is zero.

It is impossible that the fires from planes crashing into the World Trade Center caused the towers to fall down. It is impossible that the World Trade Center towers and the 47-story Building 7 were brought down by anything other than controlled demolitions using powerful explosives. It is impossible that a Boeing 757 crashed into the Pentagon; the evidence clearly indicates that it was a missile. It is a fact that at least seven of the nineteen supposed hijackers were known to be alive after 9/11. Also, there are many facts that prove that the official story regarding Flight 93, which we are told crashed in Pennsylvania, is impossible.

9/11 was an inside job. It is an inescapable fact, backed up by mountains of factual evidence. Those who control the actions of our government required a horrifying event on American soil that could be blamed on so-called Muslim terrorists, in order to justify war against the people of Afghanistan and Iraq, and to institute unprecedented control over the rights of US citizens via the Patriot Act and the Department of Homeland Security. Regardless of how loudly or vehemently anyone argues that the official version of 9/11 events is correct, the facts I mentioned, which are just the tip of the iceberg, are impossible to dispute.

I will now address a concern that might be very close to becoming a reality. This growing concern, as stated by various independent researchers, is that factions within or associated with the U.S. Government, under direction from those who control them, will stage one or more nuclear attacks on American soil, in order to justify war against Iran and/or other countries. According to various sources, one possible scenario is a nuclear explosion in or near Texas City, Texas, which is just south of Houston, perhaps on this Easter Sunday, 4/16/2006. I cannot say how viable this threat is, but if I lived in that area, I would spread the word, and not risk staying there. Another possible scenario involves the destruction of the Sears Tower in Chicago, perhaps on June 6 (yes, 6/6/6).

While I cannot vouch for the likelihood of either of these scenarios occurring, I can certainly understand why such an attack or a series of attacks would benefit those who seek to expand our military operations. Just as 9/11 has been used over and over to justify war against innocent people, particularly Muslims, here and abroad, a staged nuclear attack could be used to justify a military draft, impose martial law, and facilitate an economic collapse that would enable banks, corporations and wealthy individuals to drastically increase their control over the lower and middle classes. Also, as more and more people are becoming aware of the truth about 9/11, the war on the people of Iraq, and the illegal actions of the Bush administration, those in control need something really big to distract the attention of the public and justify U.S. policy at home and abroad.

It has also been suggested that, in the event of a nuclear explosion or some other type of disaster in the U.S., access to money in personal bank accounts may be restricted, as well as access to safe deposit boxes. I recommend that you hope for the best and plan for the worst, and that you share this information with as many people as you can.

If you would like to do some further reading, here are two Google searches to get you started: 911 truth research cover-up Federal Reserve private secret

Also, here is part of a press release issued by The Scientific Panel Investigating Nine-Eleven (SPINE), which consists of over thirty experts in the fields of science, engineering, architecture, intelligence, the military, medicine, Islamic studies and other disciplines.

April 5th, 2006: The evidence is in, the analyses have been made, and conclusions have been drawn by scientists, engineers and other experts: the so-called terror attacks of September 11, 2001 were faked. There is, moreover, independent evidence from multiple and credible sources that Al Qaeda is the creation of western intelligence agencies. If you have any questions concerning these assertions,

Memo Source:;article=100491;title=APFN

Source for 911 info:

Monday, April 10, 2006

Third Retired General Wants Rumsfeld Out

The three-star Marine Corps general who was the military's top operations officer before the invasion of Iraq expressed regret, in an essay published Sunday, that he did not more energetically question those who had ordered the nation to war. He also urged active-duty officers to speak out now if they had doubts about the war.

The New York Times
April 10, 2006

Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, who retired in late 2002, also called for replacing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and "many others unwilling to fundamentally change their approach." He is the third retired senior officer in recent weeks to demand that Mr. Rumsfeld step down.

In the essay, in this week's issue of Time magazine, General Newbold wrote, "I now regret that I did not more openly challenge those who were determined to invade a country whose actions were peripheral to the real threat — Al Qaeda."

The decision to invade Iraq, he wrote, "was done with a casualness and swagger that is the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions — or bury the results."

Though some active-duty officers will say in private that they disagree with Mr. Rumsfeld's handling of Iraq, none have spoken out publicly. They attribute their silence to respect for civilian control of the military, as set in the Constitution — but some also say they know it would be professional suicide to speak up.

"The officer corps is willing to sacrifice their lives for their country, but not their careers," said one combat veteran who says the Pentagon's civilian leadership made serious mistakes in Iraq, but has declined to voice his concerns for attribution.

Many officers who served in Iraq also say privately that regardless of flawed war planning or early mistakes by civilian and military officers, the American public would hold the current officer corps responsible for failure in Iraq. These officers do not want to discuss doubts about the mission publicly now. General Newbold acknowledged these issues, saying he decided to go public only after "the encouragement of some still in positions of military leadership" and in order to "offer a challenge to those still in uniform."

A leader's responsibility "is to give voice to those who can't — or don't have the opportunity to — speak," General Newbold wrote. "Enlisted members of the armed forces swear their oath to those appointed over them; an officer swears an oath not to a person but to the Constitution. The distinction is important."

General Newbold served as director of operations of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2000 through the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the war in Afghanistan. He left military service in late 2002, as the Defense Department was deep into planning for the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

"I retired from the military four months before the invasion, in part because of my opposition to those who had used 9/11's tragedy to hijack our security policy," General Newbold wrote.

His generation of officers thought it had learned from Vietnam that "we must never again stand by quietly while those ignorant of and casual about war lead us into another one and then mismanage the conduct of it," General Newbold wrote.

The "consequence of the military's quiescence" in the current environment, he wrote, "was that a fundamentally flawed plan was executed for an invented war, while pursuing the real enemy, Al Qaeda, became a secondary effort."

A senior Pentagon official on Mr. Rumsfeld's staff said Sunday that the Pentagon leadership provided ample opportunity for senior officers to voice concerns.

"It is hard for the secretary and the rest of the policy leadership to understand the situation if they are not getting good, unvarnished advice from military commanders," the civilian official said.

While General Newbold said he did not accept the rationale for invading Iraq, he wrote that "a precipitous withdrawal would be a mistake" because it would tell the nation's adversaries that "America can be defeated, and thus increase the chances of future conflicts."

General Newbold's essay follows one on March 19, by another retired officer, Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton, who commanded the training of Iraqi security forces in the year after Baghdad fell. General Eaton wrote an Op-Ed article in The New York Times criticizing Mr. Rumsfeld's management of the war, adding, "President Bush should accept the offer to resign that Mr. Rumsfeld says he has tendered more than once."

When asked about that essay, President Bush rejected the call to dismiss Mr. Rumsfeld, repeating as he often has that he was satisfied with Mr. Rumsfeld's performance.

On April 2, Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, who previously led the military's Central Command, responsible for operations in the Middle East, said in a television interview that Mr. Rumsfeld, among others, should be held accountable for mistakes in Iraq and that he should step down.

General Newbold has been quoted previously describing his concerns about Iraq planning, including in "Cobra II," a book by Michael R. Gordon, chief military correspondent for The New York Times, and Bernard E. Trainor, a retired Marine lieutenant general who is a former military correspondent for the newspaper. In the book General Newbold is described telling fellow officers that he considered the focus on Iraq to be a strategic blunder and a distraction from the real counter terror effort. He is also quoted as expressing concern about Mr. Rumsfeld's influence on war planning, in particular his emphasis on assigning fewer troops to the invasion.


Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Pitchfork Rebellion

Country folk wage an uphill battle against herbicides sprayed on private forestland.

March 16, 2006

Drive west along Oregon's Highway 36, past Triangle Lake into the Blachly-Greenleaf-Deadwood area, and you'll find yourself in coastal mountain country. Cows amble on green pastures; barns set down next to wooden houses; farmers and loggers pick fights in roadside bars.

It should be pretty. But the clear-cut hills that rise steeply from the highway are an eyesore, like ill-placed hair plugs on the balding scalp of a beautiful man. Families own the lowlands, but city-based timber companies hold deeds to most of the hilltops. They manage them for short-term profit, clear cutting swaths of forest on 15-year rotations, then dousing the naked slopes with herbicides to regenerate neat rows of Douglas fir. You'll likely pass more logging trucks than cars on the highway. The sound of helicopters is as regular as birdsong.

It's been this way for decades. As more than a few loggers'll tell ya, it's a living.

But something snapped in Blachly recently, and it wasn't just a tree under the weight of a mudslide. You could see it on the side of the highway on Feb. 11, at the base of a particularly homely clearcut. About 50 folks in jeans and baseball hats held hand-printed cardboard signs reading "No Spray" and "Health is Wealth." They took turns at a staticky microphone, lambasting big timber and pesticide companies for poisoning them for profit, politicians for failing to pass substantive laws to protect their farms and families, and media for not noticing. Their mantra: "We're mad as hell, and we're not gonna take it anymore."

This, they announced, was the beginning of something big. An uphill battle, but one absolutely necessary to protect their land and their families.

This was the launch of the Pitchfork Rebellion.

Rebels with a cause

If Lane County's major timber companies — Weyerhaeuser, Roseburg, Rosboro, Swanson — are Goliath, then it's not hard to imagine David Owen's role. Two years ago, he left his natural food store in Veneta to move to Blachly with his wife Neila and her two school-aged children. They raised up a home and a small organic farm, complete with chickens and goats, and he became the minister of a country church. Wearing his trademark denim overalls, with a long white beard and small sharp blue eyes, he resembles a farmer Santa.

Last fall, Owen began hosting monthly meetings for neighbors concerned about the herbicide operations. He invited expert guests to lecture on the science of herbicides, the laws governing their use and citizens' tools for reform.

Then the stories started percolating in, like groundwater into a mountain creek. The neighbors noted that one local man breaks out in sores every time there's a nearby spray. A young father told how he had bad stomach pains, and his dog lost half of its fur, after a timber company doused the hill behind his house. A mother noted that two Triangle Lake High graduates died of testicular cancer in their 20s and 30s. Several locals said they feel depressed, aggressive or moody during the spraying season. Organic farmers noticed changes in their crops and wondered if they were being contaminated by chemical drift.

Cheryl Smith, a goat rancher, said her animals had a "freakish year" of miscarriages and birth defects. Pam Benson, a self-described recluse, said she once inhaled a lungful of herbicide out the car window; her throat began to bleed, one of her lungs filled up with fluid, and she was incapacitated for several weeks.

Nancy Weiler, the owner of a country diner off Highway 36, said she noticed customers with the same medley of symptoms — sore throat, dry mouth, itchy eyes — around spraying time. "I'm selling food here and they spray right behind me," she said. "You can't tell me it's not dropping down right onto us."

Governing Goliath

It's hard for the state of Oregon to say which ailments of the body or mind are caused by herbicide exposure. But one thing's for sure: Timber companies spray the bejeezus out of West Lane County. In just one section, where Highway 36 meets Nelson Mountain Road in Blachly, timber companies sprayed more than 1,000 acres of forestland with few dozen herbicides between January 2005 and March 2006.

So when Blachly folks come down with sore throats and stomachaches, there's no easy way to pinpoint what exactly caused it. They can't likely look to state forester Paul Clements, the West Lane Oregon Department of Forestry's unlucky spokesman, for quick answers. Clements, who talks with a slight drawl and wears jeans to work at the ODF's Veneta office, manages to come across as blunt while talking circles around direct questions.

When people call the West Lane ODF to ask herbicide-related questions — What're they spraying above my land right now? Will it get into my creek? Is it unhealthy? — Clements navigates them through a maze of rules, regulations and agencies that govern private forestry practices in Oregon.

The 1971 Oregon Forest Practices Act (FPA) was the nation's first law regulating private forest operations. But 35 years after its creation, Oregon's FPA has fallen behind neighboring states' to become the weakest forestry law in the Pacific Northwest. It allows landowners to clearcut forested patches up to 120 acres, provided they leave two trees standing per acre, and spray herbicides to within 10 feet of streams if applied from the ground, or 60 feet if applied by helicopter. They can log steep slopes bare, but must spare 100-foot buffers next to streams and a "visual corridor" of trees next to scenic highways.

The FPA assumes that when timber operators follow these rules, they'll be in compliance with federal laws such as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. The FPA also charges the ODF with ensuring that forest operators follow rules from other state agencies, such as the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Timber companies reserve the right to spray any EPA-approved herbicide in whatever quantity and frequency they choose, so long as they follow the pesticide's label. And if they submit a written plan, they can ask state foresters to waive any of those pesky Forest Practices Act restrictions.

Spokesmen from Weyerhaeuser and Rosboro (Roseburg wouldn't return our calls) insist that their forest operators follow the FPA to a tee, and even take additional voluntary precautions to protect people and the environment.

"We use procedures that are so exact," said Weyerhaeuser spokesman Mike Moskovitz. "It's all computerized in terms of measuring the wind, distance, everything."

"We do use approved chemicals and herbicides, so hopefully the scientists and the people who are smarter than me have determined that they are not a problem," said Rosboro Lumber spokesman Jim Enright.

Judging by the ODF's enforcement records, West Lane forest operators must be just about perfect. Or something. Thousands of forestry operations occur in West Lane County every year, but the Veneta ODF office has issued exactly 30 penalties — totaling $13,362 — between January 2002 and March 2006. Only four of the penalties were to assessed to big timber companies. Weyerhaeuser got the highest fine: $2,225.

Safe as they wanna be

Timber reps and industry lobbyists insist that when forestry herbicides are used correctly, there's no cause for alarm. But they can't prove that the 'cides are safe any better than Blachly-area farmers can prove that they're dangerous. The state's data has more holes than the cheese in Swiss Home.

The state DEQ has 30 years of water quality data on Lake Creek, a protected chinook salmon run and the domestic water source for hundreds of Highway 36-area residents. But the DEQ has never specifically tested the creek for herbicides, leaving that task to the ODF.

The ODF, for its part, has published a few studies that skirt the question of whether forestry herbicides are degrading the state's water sources. An April 2002 ODF report concluded that forest operators complied with 96 percent of the FPA rules and 98 percent of the state's chemical application rules. But the study's authors did no chemical testing of the water.

A 2000 ODF study analyzed water samples from 26 "volunteered" forestry herbicide and fungicide application sites, none of them in Lane County. The study reported that, on the whole, water contamination was minimal. But hexazinone and 2,4-D — two of the most toxic forestry herbicides — were found at trace levels in several of the samples.

"Chemical monitoring is a low priority for the Forest Practices Section," the study concluded. "[N]o changes are recommended to the forest practice laws."

And that seems to be that. The ODF hasn't studied the effects of herbicides on timberland communities since. "If we had more resources, we would do more monitoring and collect more data," said ODF policy analyst Brad Knotts. "We try to do what we can with the resources we have."

Clements said he takes about 12 "calls of concern" about herbicides per month. "I don't think they pose any risk to the public health beyond what is known of their effectiveness," he said. "Of course, there are people who aren't satisfied with the mechanisms that are available. Some people don't like handguns either."

Poison is as poison does

It might be easy to pass the Pitchfork Rebels off as hysterical country folk. But many of the symptoms that they describe match up with existing information on herbicide poisoning.

David Owen quickly made allies with Lynn Bowers, an activist who launched a campaign against herbicide spraying on south Eugene timberlands around 2003. Her group, Forestland Dwellers, interviewed dozens of herbicide exposure victims and compiled a list of the recurring symptoms, ranging from the annoying (coughs, rashes, headaches) to the disturbing (aggression, abnormal menstruation, hair loss) to the critical (infertility, attention deficit disorder, Parkinson's disease, a range of cancers).

The herbicides sprayed over the Blachly area span a wide arsenal of weed-killers, including hexazinone, glyphosate, sulfometuron methyl, triclopyr, imazapyr, atrazine and 2,4-D. Although the EPA allows these chemicals to remain on the market, their persistence, toxicity and health effects are still largely unknown.

According to the Pesticide Action Network's online database (, several of these forestry herbicides are particularly toxic. Hexazinone is a persistent water contaminant; atrazine is a suspected endocrine disrupter and carcinogen; both are toxic to aquatic organisms. 2,4-D, made infamous as one of the two active ingredients in Agent Orange, is a possible carcinogen and suspected endocrine disrupter that has been linked with a spectrum of sinister health effects.

The ODF points to studies indicating that herbicide use on private forests has practically no impact on water quality, but the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides cites studies showing the opposite. In 1996, U.S. Forest Service tests on streams and groundwater in the Stanislaus National Forest found that hexazinone can persist in water sources for up to a year after sprayings. In 2000, lab tests sponsored by the Alsea Citizens' Monitoring Committee detected atrazine and hexazinone from forestry operations in streams at levels dangerous to aquatic organisms.

Neither side is convinced by the other's data. But for Blachly's Nancy Weiler, the answer is right there on the herbicide label. "What happened to common sense?" she asked. "What about the fact that anything that says '-cide' means 'kill'?"

Symptoms? What symptoms?

In the absence of definitive soil and water data, the Pitchfork Rebels turn to health records. Do clusters of common symptoms appear after herbicide operations?

Enter Oregon's Pesticide Analytical Response Center (PARC), established by executive order in 1978 to assemble health data related to pesticide exposure. State law requires physicians to report cases in which they believe a patient was affected by pesticide exposure to the Department of Health, which passes the info along to PARC.

According to PARC's last annual report, in 2001, 15 Oregonians and 10 pets showed symptoms of poisoning after forestry-related herbicide sprayings. But the state, upon investigating, found herbicides to be the "possible" cause of only three cases. The rest were closed due to "insufficient information." The number of times that the ODF, following up, found timber operators to be in violation of state laws: zero.

Department of Health Services epidemiologist Michael Heumann, who sits on the PARC board, says that pesticide poisoning cases are probably under-reported. Only a fraction of people who are exposed to herbicides see a doctor; only a fraction of those doctors are able to recognize symptoms of pesticide poisoning; and only a fraction of them report those cases to the state. "Either the patient doesn't know it or the doctor doesn't recognize it," Heumann said. "The fact is that pesticide cases are seen so infrequently by doctors that it's easy for them to miss it."
PeaceHealth Medical Director Gary Young said his physicians report all pesticide-exposure cases to the state. But PeaceHealth doctors didn't file a PARC report after Jim Freire, a Greenleaf man who believed he'd been poisoned by herbicides, was checked in for cardiac arrest (see sidebar).

McKenzie-Willamette physician Ben Bronciel said that herbicide exposure cases are often too fuzzy to pin. "We don't have a protocol to deal with it," he said. "People will come in with respiratory complaints, and that's managed symptomatically. There's no individual test that can be done to detect if someone's been exposed to herbicides."

PARC has also been hobbled by internal meltdown. The Legislature stripped the agency of its funding in 2003 and restored it again in August 2005. PARC director Chris Kirby admitted that without the funding, PARC has a limited ability to assess the health impacts of pesticides.

"Documentation is needed, and without that, it's hard to make a reasonable conclusion," Kirby said. "At the same time, PARC is not funded to go out and do research. Perhaps folks would see that as a disconnect. But if there isn't data, then where are we?"

The Blachly town doctor, Richard Mentzer, hasn't reported any cases to PARC. "I really can't say I've seen disease that I can directly trace to herbicides, but over the years I've had a lot of people complaining that they get sick from it," he said. "I probably wouldn't know herbicide poisoning if I saw it. The only way for me to find out would be to drink a glass of it."

But that doesn't mean he's comfortable with the spraying. "I feel strongly that we can't keep pouring poisons on the earth and have a good outcome," Mentzer said.

So he and his brother Fred harvest and mill their own timber from 200 acres of forest that they cut selectively, without herbicides. The Mentzer brothers are certified for sustainable forestry and have been managing their forest for 30 years — longer, Fred noted, than Goracke-Templeton Timber Company has owned the bald hump across the highway.


On a drizzly March afternoon, five Pitchfork Rebels sat around a table at Nancy Weiler's diner, hashing out strategies for fighting the herbicide operations. A cardboard Betty Boop waitress stood beside them, waiting to take their order.

The Pitchfork Rebels made four demands. They want the ODF to review forestry herbicides for their safety and necessity, and investigate safer alternatives. They ask that elected officials not beholden to the timber industry hold public hearings on forestry practices. They demand an immediate halt to herbicide use within one mile of schools. And they call for the replacement of clearcutting with sustainable, selective logging practices.

It's an uphill battle. By and large, Owen explained, his neighbors don't trust the ODF any more than they trust Weyerhaeuser. They aren't inclined to subscribe for spraying notifications or submit written comments to the ODF, much less report their medical concerns to the state. "We don't even know who we're supposed to call to complain," Owen said. "The feeling is that these ODF guys are in the pocket of the timber industry."

Owen said that funny things happen to folks who speak up against the timber industry: Water pipes get smashed, houses get torched, choppers spray homes directly, tax appraisers come knocking. The fear of retaliation is as real as the conviction that the sprayings make people sick. "Whether it's true or not, people believe it," Owen said.

But as the Forestland Dwellers of south Eugene have shown, it helps to be loud. In 2003, the Dwellers launched a campaign to get more neighbors to sign up with the ODF for spray notifications. They wrote letters to the editor and contacted their elected representatives. In March 2004, the Dwellers negotiated an agreement with Rosboro Lumber; the company committed to harvesting a nearby property without aerial herbicide applications. Rosboro then sold the property to local environmentalist Tom Lininger, who replanted it and now uses it as a demonstration site for herbicide-free forestry. "They know that we're watching 'em," Bowers said.

"They understood that we were the private landowners, and they weren't there to kick us out or call us bad guys," company spokesman Jim Enright said. "Once you come to the table with those understandings, you're more likely to work things out. And we did."

Bowers and the Oregon Toxics Alliance are now working with state Rep. Paul Holvey on several bills that would tighten restrictions on timber industries. "There have been a lot of complaints about spraying, and we're really worried about the effects this is having in our watersheds," Holvey said. "These bills would make us accountable for what kinds of herbicides we are spraying so we can monitor what's getting into our water."

Holvey says that public complaints and medical cases filed with the ODF, DEQ and PARC will help him build a case for legislative change. "I'm hoping to get a good arsenal of data to identify that there is a problem in our rivers, groundwater and rural areas," he said. "I need to hear these things and move forward."

Gary Kutcher, director of the Sustainable Forestry Network, isn't waiting for legislative reform. He wants to take the issue straight to the people of Oregon. He is proposing a ballot initiative that would require private timber companies to leave two-thirds of the trees on any given acre standing. Clearcutting and herbicide use would be banned.

It may be a long shot — Kutcher's last ballot initiative, in 1998, only got 20 percent of the vote after the timber industry outspent his campaign 100-to-1 — but he's undaunted. "Laws are meant to be changed," he said. Kutcher is also challenging Faye Stewart's seat on the Lane County Commission.

Meanwhile, off Highway 36 in Blachly, Fred and Richard Mentzer are harvesting and milling selectively cut, herbicide-free wood from their own timberlands. This is, after all, what the Pitchfork Rebels say they want: not an end to logging, but sustainable forestry that creates jobs and keeps wealth local while protecting the community's air, soil and water.

That gave Neila Owen, brainstorming with the Rebels at Eat at Joe's, an idea. "I feel a boycott of some sort is in order," she said. "We don't need to support the companies that poison us. Let's buy our wood from the Mentzers."

Danny Cross contributed to research for this report.

For information on herbicides applied to West Lane County forests, contact ODF's Veneta office at (541) 935-2283. To weigh in on Forest Practices Act rule changes, submit comments to ODF Rules Coordinator Gayle Birch, or (503) 954-7210. Rep. Holvey encourages West Lane residents concerned about spraying to contact him at or (541) 344-5636. For herbicide information and alternatives, visit the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides website at; and to learn about the Sustainable Forestry Network's proposed state initiative, visit

Chemical Refugees

Jim and Tammy Freire and their two youngest children lived for 10 years in a Greenleaf home off Highway 36. Tammy did the record-keeping for the town doctor and ran an herbal nursery; Jim installed home theater systems and grew cacti in a greenhouse. The Freires custom-designed their house with the notion that they would grow old there.

In 1999, after an electric company sprayed a utility pole in his yard, Jim went into cardiac arrest. He was rushed unconscious to PeaceHealth, his chest cracked open and an angiogram performed on his heart. He was diagnosed with arteritis (inflammation of the arteries) and had a triple bypass. He was 40 years old and uninsured. The family filed bankruptcy.

Less than a year later, Jim's oldest son Ryan, then 21 and in college at the UO, came home for a four-day visit. A helicopter flew overhead, just barely turning off its sprayers before swooping over the house. "The herbicides hit everything in our yard, including us," Tammy said. When Ryan returned to Eugene, he felt ill. Within an hour he was in the hospital in cardiac arrest.

"I broke Einstein's law getting to town," Jim said. "I looked at my son and he was the color of the walls — pale white with a blue tinge. He flatlined right in front of me and they had to paddle him back." Ryan recovered and was diagnosed with arteritis, like his dad.

Jim called the Oregon Department of Forestry to complain about the incident. Officers from the ODF and the Oregon Department of Agriculture took a few plant samples, found them free of herbicides and closed the case.

But the Freires' health problems continued during subsequent sprays. Jim realized that the herbicides from operations on the hills above them were sifting eastward, right into the little dell where they lived. Tammy kept getting a skin rash and irregular periods, and developed upper respiratory problems. Their daughter got stomach cramps and rashes. Their yard plants burned up. Their pet dove Hootie went from male to female. "If it can do that to the bird, what can it do to my kids?" Tammy asked. "I'd like to be a grandma someday!"

In early 2000, after a spray, Jim and Tammy's 8-year-old son started having chest pains. He grasped at his left arm and gasped for breath. He went into cardiac arrest and was rushed to Sacred Heart, where he was given an anti-inflammatory and recovered.

In March of this year, the Freires reluctantly pulled up their Greenleaf roots and moved to Springfield. "I knew that if I stayed out here much longer, I would get my wish — I'd be buried out here," Jim said. "But much sooner than I care to be."

When he spoke about leaving the home and the land where he'd hoped to retire, Jim choked up. "I'm really pissed that we have to leave," he said, sitting on the last piece of furniture in his Greenleaf home, hands gripping his knees. "But unless they make this a less toxic environment, we can't live here." — Kera Abraham


Geologists confirm that the coastal hills of West Lane are eroding. When heavy rains wash down their steep slopes, sooner or later they bring along cascades of mud. But Highway 36, edged by a long stretch of clearcuts, seems to have more than its share of mudslides: 12 happened this winter alone. The Oregon Department of Transportation cleans up the mess but doesn't determine the cause of the slides.

For many Blachly residents, it's common sense: When you log a steep slope, it's more likely to slide. But the state wasn't ready to make that leap, so the ODF commissioned a study. It grudgingly concluded that while mudslides on steep slopes are inevitable acts of nature, logging just might make them happen faster.

The forested hill above Rodney Brown's Highway 36 home was stable for the decades. But last winter, just few months after Roseburg Resources clearcut it — leaving, it should be noted, a lonesome patch of trees at the top of the hill — the earth came gushing down the mountain, through a scraggly line of trees left next to the road, across the highway, through Brown's fence and up to his front door. A geologist and an ODF forester visited the site and declared the slide "natural."

Roseburg fixed Brown's fence, but no fine was leveraged against the company. And that was just fine with Brown. "Roseburg's taken care of all the problems. They've done right by me," he said.

The Pitchfork Rebels have pressed Brown to sue, but he brushed them off. "I work for my money," he said. "I don't know who these rabble-rousers think they are, trying to get me to sue. They're blowing things way out of proportion. It's Roseburg's land. They can do with it what they want. And when the state gives 'em approval to log, who are you or I to say they can't?"

Even if Brown had tried to sue, he probably wouldn't have gotten very far. The 1993 Right-to-Farm and Forest Act holds landowners harmless from liability if their forestry operations are in compliance with the FPA, even if they cause mudslides or make people sick.