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Friday, September 29, 2006

In Case I Disappear

By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t Perspective
September 29, 2006

I have been told a thousand times at least, in the years I have spent reporting on the astonishing and repugnant abuses, lies and failures of the Bush administration, to watch my back. "Be careful," people always tell me. "These people are capable of anything. Stay off small planes, make sure you aren't being followed." A running joke between my mother and me is that she has a "safe room" set up for me in her cabin in the woods, in the event I have to flee because of something I wrote or said.

I always laughed and shook my head whenever I heard this stuff. Extreme paranoia wrapped in the tinfoil of conspiracy, I thought. This is still America, and these Bush fools will soon pass into history, I thought. I am a citizen, and the First Amendment hasn't yet been red-lined, I thought.

Matters are different now.

It seems, perhaps, that the people who warned me were not so paranoid. It seems, perhaps, that I was not paranoid enough. Legislation passed by the Republican House and Senate, legislation now marching up to the Republican White House for signature, has shattered a number of bedrock legal protections for suspects, prisoners, and pretty much anyone else George W. Bush deems to be an enemy.

So much of this legislation is wretched on the surface. Habeas corpus has been suspended for detainees suspected of terrorism or of aiding terrorism, so the Magna Carta-era rule that a person can face his accusers is now gone. Once a suspect has been thrown into prison, he does not have the right to a trial by his peers. Suspects cannot even stand in representation of themselves, another ancient protection, but must accept a military lawyer as their defender.

Illegally-obtained evidence can be used against suspects, whether that illegal evidence was gathered abroad or right here at home. To my way of thinking, this pretty much eradicates our security in persons, houses, papers, and effects, as stated in the Fourth Amendment, against illegal searches and seizures.

Speaking of collecting evidence, the torture of suspects and detainees has been broadly protected by this new legislation. While it tries to delineate what is and is not acceptable treatment of detainees, in the end, it gives George W. Bush the final word on what constitutes torture. US officials who use cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment to extract information from detainees are now shielded from prosecution.

It was two Supreme Court decisions, Hamdi v. Rumsfeld and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, that compelled the creation of this legislation. The Hamdi decision held that a prisoner has the right of habeas corpus, and can challenge his detention before an impartial judge. The Hamdan decision held that the military commissions set up to try detainees violated both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions.

In short, the Supreme Court wiped out virtually every legal argument the Bush administration put forth to defend its extraordinary and dangerous behavior. The passage of this legislation came after a scramble by Republicans to paper over the torture and murder of a number of detainees. As columnist Molly Ivins wrote on Wednesday, "Of the over 700 prisoners sent to Gitmo, only 10 have ever been formally charged with anything. Among other things, this bill is a CYA for torture of the innocent that has already taken place."

It seems almost certain that, at some point, the Supreme Court will hear a case to challenge the legality of this legislation, but even this is questionable. If a detainee is not allowed access to a fair trial or to the evidence against him, how can he bring a legal challenge to a court? The legislation, in anticipation of court challenges like Hamdi and Hamdan, even includes severe restrictions on judicial review over the legislation itself.

The Republicans in Congress have managed, at the behest of Mr. Bush, to draft a bill that all but erases the judicial branch of the government. Time will tell whether this aspect, along with all the others, will withstand legal challenges. If such a challenge comes, it will take time, and meanwhile there is this bill. All of the above is deplorable on its face, indefensible in a nation that prides itself on Constitutional rights, protections and the rule of law.

Underneath all this, however, is where the paranoia sets in.

Underneath all this is the definition of "enemy combatant" that has been established by this legislation. An "enemy combatant" is now no longer just someone captured "during an armed conflict" against our forces. Thanks to this legislation, George W. Bush is now able to designate as an "enemy combatant" anyone who has "purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States."

Consider that language a moment. "Purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States" is in the eye of the beholder, and this administration has proven itself to be astonishingly impatient with criticism of any kind. The broad powers given to Bush by this legislation allow him to capture, indefinitely detain, and refuse a hearing to any American citizen who speaks out against Iraq or any other part of the so-called "War on Terror."

If you write a letter to the editor attacking Bush, you could be deemed as purposefully and materially supporting hostilities against the United States. If you organize or join a public demonstration against Iraq, or against the administration, the same designation could befall you. One dark-comedy aspect of the legislation is that senators or House members who publicly disagree with Bush, criticize him, or organize investigations into his dealings could be placed under the same designation. In effect, Congress just gave Bush the power to lock them up.

By writing this essay, I could be deemed an "enemy combatant." It's that simple, and very soon, it will be the law. I always laughed when people told me to be careful. I'm not laughing anymore.

In case I disappear, remember this. America is an idea, a dream, and that is all. We have borders and armies and citizens and commerce and industry, but all this merely makes us like every other nation on this Earth. What separates us is the idea, the simple idea, that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are our organizing principles. We can think as we please, speak as we please, write as we please, worship as we please, go where we please. We are protected from the kinds of tyranny that inspired our creation as a nation in the first place.

That was the idea. That was the dream. It may all be over now, but once upon a time, it existed. No good idea ever truly dies. The dream was here, and so was I, and so were you.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

President Clinton blasts Chris Wallace

By: John Amato
September 22nd, 2006

I got us a rough transcript of Bill Clinton smacking down Chris Wallace as Wallace tried to sandbag him over Bin Laden that I reported on earlier today along with Duncan. Drudge is linking to a YouTube teaser video that looks to me purposefully out of sync to try and make President Clinton look crazed.

Shameless…The whole segment will air Sunday morning…

CW: When we announced that you were going to be on FOX News Sunday, I got a lot of email from viewers, and I’ve got to say, I was surprised most of them wanted me to ask you this question: Why didn’t you do more to put Bin Laden and al Qaeda out of business when you were President? There’s a new book out which I suspect you’ve read called The Looming Tower. And it talks about how the fact that when you pulled troops out of Somalia in 1993, Bin Laden said, "I have seen the frailty and the weakness and the cowardice of US troops." Then there was the bombing of the embassies in Africa and the attack on the USS Cole

WJC: Okay…

CW: …May I just finish the question, sir? And after the attack, the book says Bin Laden separated his leaders because he expected an attack and there was no response. I understand that hindsight is 20/20…

WJC: No, let’s talk about…

CW: …but the question is why didn’t you do more? Connect the dots and put them out of business?

WJC: Okay, let’s talk about it. I will answer all of those things on the merits, but I want to talk about the context (in) which this…arises. I’m being asked this on the FOX network…ABC just had a right-wing conservative on "The Path to 9/11" falsely claim that it was falsely based on the 911 Commission Report with three things asserted against me that are directly contradicted by the 9/11 Commission Report. I think it’s very interesting that all the conservative Republicans who now say that I didn’t do enough claimed (then) that I was obsessed with Bin Laden. All of President Bush’s neocons claimed that I was too obsessed with finding Bin Laden when they didn’t have a single meeting about Bin Laden for the nine months after I left office. All the right-wingers who now say that I didn’t do enough said (then) that I did too much. Same people.

They were all trying to get me to withdraw from Somalia in 1993, the next day after we were involved in Black Hawk Down. And I refused to do it and stayed six months and had an orderly transfer to the UN. Okay, now let’s look at all the criticisms: Black Hawk Down, Somalia. There is not a living soul in the world who thought that Bin Laden had anything to do with Black Hawk Down or was paying any attention to it or even knew al Qaeda was a growing concern in October of 1993.

CW: I understand…

WJC: No wait…no wait…don’t tell me. You asked me why I didn’t do more to Bin Laden. There was not a living soul…all the people who criticized me wanted to leave the next day. You brought this up, so you get an answer.

CW: I’m perfectly happy to. Bin Laden says…

WJC: And secondly…

CW: Bin Laden says…
WJC: Bin Laden may have said that…

CW: Bin Laden says it showed the weakness of the U.S. …

WJC: It would have shown the weakness if we left right away, but he wasn’t involved in that. That’s just a bunch of bull. That was about Mohammed Adid, a Muslim warlord murdering…thousand Pakistani Muslim troops. We were all there on a humanitarian mission. We had not one mission - none - to establish a certain kind of Somali government or to keep anybody out. He was not a religious fanatic.

CW: But Mr. President…
WJC: There was no al Qaeda…
CW: …with respect, if I may, instead of going through ‘93…
WJC: You asked, you. It (was) you (who) brought it up.
CW: May I ask a general question that you can answer? The 9/11 Commission, which you talk about–and this is what they did say–not what ABC pretended they said…

WJC: Wait, wait…

CW: …They said about you and 43 and I quote, "The U.S. government took the threat seriously, not in the sense of mustering anything like that would be….to confront an enemy of the first, second or third rank"…

WJC: That’s not true with us and Bin Laden…

CW: …the 9/11 Commission says…

WJC: Let’s look at what Richard Clarke says. You think Richard Clarke had a vigorous attitude about Bin Laden?

CW: Yes, I do.

WJC: You do?

CW: I think he has a variety of opinions and loyalties, but yes.

WJC: He has a variety of opinion and loyalties now but let’s look at the facts. He worked for Ronald Reagan; he was loyal to him. He worked for George H.W. Bush and he was loyal to him. He worked for me and he was loyal to me. He worked for President Bush; he was loyal to him. They downgraded him and the terrorist operation. Now, look what he said. Read his book and read his factual assertions - not opinions–assertions. He said we took "vigorous action" after the African embassies. We probably nearly got Bin Laden.

CW: [..]

WJC: Now, wait a minute…

CW: …cruise missiles…

WJC: I authorized the CIA to get groups together to try to kill him. The CIA was run by George Tenet, who President Bush gave the Medal of Freedom to and said he did a good job. The country never had a comprehensive anti-terror operation until I came to office. If you can criticize me for one thing, you can criticize me for this: after the Cole, I had battle plans drawn to go into Afghanistan, overthrow the Taliban, and launch a full scale attack/search for Bin Laden. But we needed basing rights in Uzbekistan, which we got (only) after 9/11. The CIA and the FBI refused to certify that Bin Laden was responsible while I was there. They refused to certify. So that meant I would have had to send a few hundred Special Forces in helicopters and refuel at night. Even the 9/11 Commission didn’t do (think we should have done) that. Now the 9/11 Commission was a political document, too? All I’m asking is if anybody wants to say I didn’t do enough, you read Richard Clarke’s book.

CW: Do you think you did enough, sir?

WJC: No, because I didn’t get him.

CW: Right…

WJC: But at least I tried. That’s the difference in me and some, includingall the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me fortrying. They had eight months to try and they didn’t. I tried. So I triedand failed. When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy andthe best guy in the country: Dick Clarke.

So you did FOX’s bidding on this show. You did you nice little conservative hit job on me. But what I want to know..

CW: Now wait a minute, sir…

WJC: [..]

CW: I asked a question. You don’t think that’s a legitimate question?

WJC: It was a perfectly legitimate question. But I want to know how manypeople in the Bush administration you’ve asked this question of. I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked ‘Why didn’t you do anything about the Cole?’ I want to know how many you asked ‘Why did you fire Dick Clarke?’ I want to know…

CW: We asked…

WJC: [..]

CW: Do you ever watch FOX News Sunday, sir?

WJC: I don’t believe you ask them that.

WJC: You didn’t ask that, did you? Tell the truth.

CW: About the USS Cole?

WJC: Tell the truth…

CW: I…with Iraq and Afghanistan, there’s plenty of stuff to ask.

WJC: Did you ever ask that? You set this meeting up because you were going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers because Rupert Murdoch is going to get a lot of criticism from your viewers for supporting my work on Climate Change. And you came here under false pretenses and said that you’d spend half the time talking about…

CW: [laughs]

WJC: You said you’d spend half the time talking about what we did out there to raise $7 billion plus over three days from 215 different commitments. And you don’t care.

CW: But, President Clinton…

WJC: [..]

CW: We were going to ask half the [interview time] about it. I didn’t think this was going to set you off on such a tear.

WJC: It set me off on such a tear because you didn’t formulate it in an honest way and you people ask me questions you don’t ask the other side.

CW: Sir, that is not true…

WJC: …and Richard Clarke…

CW: That is not true…

WJC: Richard Clarke made it clear in his testimony…

CW: Would you like to talk about the Clinton Global Initiative?

WJC: No, I want to finish this.

CW: All right…

WJC: All I’m saying is you falsely accuse me of giving aid and comfort to Bin Laden because of what happened in Somalia. No one knew al Qaeda existed then…

CW: Did they know in 1996, when he declared war on the U.S.? Did no one know in 1998…

WJC: Absolutely, they did.

CW: …when they bombed the two embassies?

WJC: [..]

CW: Or in 2000, when they hit the Cole?

WJC: What did I do? I worked hard to try and kill him. I authorized a finding for the CIA to kill him. We contracted with people to kill him. I got closer to killing him than anybody has gotten since. And if I were still President, we’d have more than 20,000 troops there trying to kill him. Now I never criticized President Bush, and I don’t think this is useful. But you know we do have a government that thinks Afghanistan is 1/7 as important as Iraq. And you ask me about terror and Al Qaeda with that sort of dismissive theme when all you have to do is read Richard Clarke’s book to look at what we did in a comprehensive, systematic way to try to protect the country against terror. And you’ve got that little smirk on your face. It looks like you’re so clever…

CW: [Laughs]

WJC: I had responsibility for trying to protect this country. I tried and I failed to get Bin Laden. I regret it, but I did try. And I did everything I thought I responsibly could. The entire military was against sending Special Forces into Afghanistan and refueling by helicopter and no one thought we could do it otherwise. We could not get the CIA and the FBI to certify that al Qaeda was responsible while I was President. [Not] until I left office. And yet I get asked about this all the time and they had three times as much time to get him as I did and no one ever asks them about this. I think that’s strange.

CW: Can I ask you about the Clinton Global Initiative?

WJC: You can.

CW: I always intended to, sir.

WJC: No, you intended to move your bones by doing this first. But I don’t mind people asking me. I actually talked to the 9/11 Commission for four hours and I told them the mistakes I thought I made. And I urged them to make those mistakes public because I thought none of us had been perfect. But instead of anybody talking about those things. I always get these clever little political…where they ask me one-sided question. It always comes from one source. And so…

CW: [..]

WJC: And so…

CW: I just want to ask you about the Clinton Global Initiative, but what’sthe source? You seem upset…

WJC: I am upset because…

CW: …and all I can say is, I’m asking you in good faith because it’s on people’s minds, sir. And I wasn’t…

WJC: There’s a reason it’s on people’s minds. That’s the point I’m trying to make. There’s a reason it’s on people’s minds because they’ve done a serious disinformation campaign to create that impression. This country only has one person who has worked against terror…[since] under Reagan. Only one: Richard Clarke. And all I’d say [to] anybody who wonders whether we did wrong or right; anybody who wants to see what everybody else did, read his book. The people on my political right who say I didn’t do enough, spent the whole time I was president saying ‘Why is he so obsessed with Bin Laden?’ And that was ‘Wag the Dog’ when he tried to kill him.

My Republican Secretary of Defense, - and I think I’m the only person since WWII to have a Secretary of Defense from the opposition party - Richard Clarke, and all the intelligence people said that I ordered a vigorous attempt to get Osama Bin Laden and came closer apparently than anybody has since.

CW: All right…

WJC: And you guys try to create the opposite impression when all you have to do is read Richard Clarke’s findings and you know it’s not true. It’s just not true. And all this business about Somalia – the same people who criticized me about Somalia were demanding I leave the next day. Same exact crowd.

CW: One of the…

WJC: So if you’re going to do this, for God’s sake, follow the same standards for everybody.

CW: I think we do, sir.

WJC: Be fair.

CW: I think we do. One of the main parts of the Global Initiative this year is religious reconciliation. President Bush says that the fight against Islamic extremism is the central conflict of the century and his answer is promoting democracy and reform. Do you think he has that right?

WJC: Sure. To advocate democracy and reform in the Muslim world? Absolutely. I think the question is: What’s the best way to do it? I think also the question is how do you educate people about democracy? Democracy is about way more than majority rule. Democracy is about minority rights, individual rights, restraints on power. And there’s more than one way to advance democracy. But do I think on balance, that in the end, after several bouts of instability, do I think it would be better if we had more freedom and democracy? Sure, I do. …[Do I think] the president has a right to do it? Sure, I do. But I don’t think that’s all we can do in the Muslim world. I think they have to see us try to get a just and righteous peace in the Middle East. They have to see us as willing to talk to people who see the world differently than we do.

CW: Last year at this conference you got $2.5 billion in commitments, pledges. How did you do this year?

WJC: Well, this year we had $7.3 billion, as of this morning.

CW: 7…Excuse me…

WJC: $7.3 billion, as of this morning. $3 billion of that is…that’s over a multi-year [commitment]. These are at most 10-year commitments. That came from Richard Branson’s commitment to give all his transportation profits to clean energy investments. But still that’s over $4 billion [raised excluding Branson’s donation]. And we will have another 100 commitments and probably raise another billion dollars. We have a lot of commitments still in process.

CW: When you look at the $3 billion from Branson, plus billions that Gates is giving and Warren Buffet, what do you make of this age of philanthropy?

WJC: I think that for one thing, really rich people have always given money away. They’ve endowed libraries and things like that. The unique thing about this age is first of all, you have a lot of people like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, who are interested in issues around the world that grow out of the nature of the 21st century and its inequalities - the income inequalities, the education inequalities, the health care inequalities. You get a guy like Gates who built Microsoft and he actually believes that he can help overcome all of the health disparities in the world.

That’s the first thing. Second thing, there are a lot of people with average incomes who are joining me because of the Internet. Take the tsunami, for example. We had $1.3 billion given….by [average income] households. The third things you have all these NGOs [non-governmental organizations] that you can partner with along with the government. So all these things together mean that people with real money [can contribute] in ways that help people that before would have been only the object of government grants and loans.

CW: I know we’re over, but can I ask you two political questions? Let’s talksome politics. In that same New Yorker article, you say you’re tired of KarlRove’s BS. I’m cleaning up what you said.

WJC: I also say I’m not tired of Karl Rove. I don’t blame Karl Rove. If you’ve got a deal that works, you just keep on doing it.

CW: So what is the BS?

WJC: Well, every even number year–right before an election–they come up with some security issue. In 2000, right before the election. In 2002, our party supported them in undertaking weapon inspections in Iraq and were 100% behind them in Afghanistan and they didn’t have any way to make us look like we didn’t care about terror. And so they decided they would [push] the Homeland Security bill that they opposed and they put some pill in it that we wouldn’t pass–like taking the job rights away from 170,000 people–and then [they could] say that we were weak on terror if we weren’t for it. This year I think they wanted to make the question of prisoner treatment and intercepted communications the same sort of issue until John Warner came and Lindsey Graham got in there and it turns out there were some Republicans who believe in the Constitution and their convictions…some ideas about how best to fight terror.

As long as the American people believe that we take this seriously and we may have our differences over Iraq, but I think we’ll do fine this election.

Even if they agree with us about the Iraq war, we could be hurt by Karl Rove’s new foray if we don’t make it clear that we care about the security of this country. We want to implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations, which they haven’t [done] in four years. We want to [..] Afghanistan against Bin Laden. We want to make America more energy-independent. If they want to talk about Iraq, say what they really want about Iraq.

But Rove is good and [that is] why I honor him. I’ve always been amused by how good he is. But on the other hand, this is perfectly predictable. We’re going to win a lot of seats if the American people aren’t afraid. If they’re afraid and we get divided again, then we’ll only win a few seats.

CW: Do you think the White House and the Republicans want to make the American people afraid?

WJC: Of course they do. They want another Homeland Security bill and they want to make it not about Iraq but some other security issue, where if we disagree with them, we are by definition endangering the security of the country. And it’s a big load of hooey. We’ve got nine Iraq war veterans running for House seats. President Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy is the Democratic candidate for Senate in Virginia. A three-star admiral who was on my NSC staff - who also fought terror, by the way - is running for the seat of Curt Weldon in Pennsylvania. We’ve got a huge military presence in this campaign and you can’t let them have some rhetorical device that puts us in a box that we don’t belong in.

That’s their job. Their job is to beat us. But our job is to not let them get away with it and if we don’t, we’ll be fine.

CW: Mr. President, thank you for one of the more unusual interviews.

WJC: I promise you, I was not trying to [..].


Monday, September 25, 2006

The March to War:
Iran Preparing for US Air Attacks

By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
September 21, 2006

Iran is bracing itself for an expected American-led air campaign. The latter is in the advanced stages of military planning.

If there were to be war between the United States and Iran, the aerial campaign would unleash fierce combat. It would be fully interactive on multiple fronts. It would be a difficult battle involving active movement in the air from both sides.

If war were to occur, the estimates of casualties envisaged by American and British war planners would be high.

The expected wave of aerial attacks would resemble the tactics of the Israeli air-war against Lebanon and would follow the same template, but on a larger scale of execution.

The U.S. government and the Pentagon had an active role in graphing, both militarily and politically, the template of confrontation in Lebanon. The Israeli siege against Lebanon is in many regards a dress rehearsal for a planned attack on Iran.1

A war against Iran is one that could also include military operations against Syria. Multiple theatres would engulf many of the neighbors of Iran and Syria, including Iraq and Israel/Palestine.

It must also be noted that an attack on Iran would be of a scale which would dwarf the events in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Levant. A full blown war on Iran would not only swallow up and incorporate these other conflicts. It would engulf the entire Middle East and Central Asian region into an extensive confrontation.

An American-led air campaign against Iran, if it were to be implemented, would be both similar and contrasting in its outline and intensity when compared to earlier Anglo-American sponsored confrontations.

The war would start with intense bombardment and attacks on Iran's infrastructure, but would be different in its scope of operations and intensity.

The characteristics of such a conflict would also be unpredictable because of Iran's capabilities to respond. And in all likelihood, Iran would launch its own potent attacks and extend the theatre of war by attacking U.S. and American-led troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Persian Gulf.

The United States must also take into account the fact that Iran unlike Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lebanon would be an opponent with the capability to resist the US sponsored attacks on the ground, but also on the sea and in the air.

Unlike the former opponents faced by the United States and its partners, Iran would be able to target the military launch pads used by the United States. Iran would also be able to attack the U.S. supply and logistical hubs in the Persian Gulf. American ships carrying supplies, troops, and warplanes would be vulnerable to Iranian counter-attacks by way of Iranian missiles, warplanes, and naval forces. It is no mere coincidence that Iran has been demonstrating its military capabilities during the “Blow of Zolfaqar” war games conducted in late August .2

Iranian Preparations for an American-led Air Campaign

The United States has continually threatened to attack Iran. These threats are made under the pretext of halting the development of nuclear weapons in Iran. The development of nuclear weapons by Iran is something the IAEA and its inspectors have refuted as untrue3, but the United States insists on continuing the charade as grounds for a military endgame with Iran.

The threat of an American-led attack against Iran with the heavy involvement of Israel and Britain, amongst others, has primed Iran to prepare itself for the anticipated moment. Over the years, this has led Iran to stride for self-sufficiency in producing its own advanced military hardware and the development of asymmetrical tactics to combat the United States.

Iranian defense planners have stated publicly that they have learned from the cases of neighbouring Afghanistan and Iraq. They are acutely aware of the U.S. military’s heavy reliance on aerial strikes.

August 2006 saw the start of the virtually unprecedented events of the Blow of Zolfaqar war games throughout Iran and its border provinces.4 These were similar to those conducted in April 2006.

The latter were also held during a period of tense confrontation between Iran and the United States.

April 2006 was a period that could have resulted in military conflict between both the United States and Iran. In April 2006, Iran had not only dismissed the deadline set on its nuclear program, but it announced in defiance to the United States that it had successfully enriched uranium for the first time.

Iran has taken the opportunity of the launching of both the April 2006 and Blow of Zolfaqar war games to display its preparedness and capability to engage in combat. Additionally, Iran has taken the occasion to fine tune its defenses and mobilize its military apparatus. This exhibition of Iranian military might is intended to deter America's intent to trigger another Middle Eastern war.

During the war games, the Iranian military has adjusted and modified its air defense shield for maximum dexterity and efficiency in preparation, to stop incoming missiles and invading aircraft..5

The war games have been an opportunity for testing of Iranian capacity to wage war in the air

The Iranian military has also reported the testing of laser-guided weaponry, advanced torpedoes, ballistic missiles, anti-ship missiles, bullets that pierce through bullet-proof vests, and electronic military hardware during the Blow of Zolfaqar war games.6

Surface-to-surface and ocean-to-surface missiles (submarine-to-surface missiles) in the Persian Gulf were also tested in late-August 2006. These included missiles that are invisible to radar and can use multiple warheads or carry multiple payloads to hit numerous targets simultaneously.

Iran has also tested a “2,000 pound guided-bomb with long-range capabilities.” This “2,000 pound bomb” is said to be a “special weapon developed for penetrating military, economic and strategic targets located deep underground or on the soil of the [impending] enemy.”7

In the case of war, this weapon could be directed against Anglo-American military infrastructure in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Persian Gulf. This guided bomb is an unmanned aircraft carrying an explosive warhead. Following the execution of the Blow of Zolfaqar war games, the Iranian Defense Minister stated that “Iran now joins the few countries that possess guided missile technology,”8

Iran has also been manufacturing its own warplanes,9 submarines, attack helicopters, tanks, torpedoes, and missiles. This includes remote-controlled modified Maverick Missiles.10

Brigadier-General Amini, the Deputy Commander of the Air Branch (Air Force) of the Regular Forces, has highlighted that Iran has starting the development and manufacturing of new types of warplanes besides the “Lighting fighter jets” that have been showcased in Northern Iran.11

To discourage the United States in its plans to attack Iran, the Iranian military has additionally been showcasing its abilities to dog fight in the air with its fighter jets.12 Iranian fighter and bomber jets have been progressively equipped with advanced software and hardware, developed in Iran or by way of technology transfers from China, the Russian Federation, and the republics of the former Soviet Union.

Iranian Commanders have also stated that Iran can track and hit warplanes without using conventional radar. Iran has also been showcasing its signal jamming devices and electronic military hardware, which it compares to NATO standards13.

Warnings to the United States To Stop Its War Plans

In Iran military commanders and state officials have also directly warned the United States to halt its march towards war in the Middle East. An account of a statement by Major-General Salehi, commander of the Iranian Army, sums up the generic view of Iranian military officials and planners in the advent of another Middle Eastern war initiated by the United States;

“Pointing to the joint maneuvers to be carried out by the U.S. army [meaning military] and some other countries in the regional waters in the coming days, the General said that the U.S. presence in the region [Middle East] is considered as a threat to the security of the regional countries, and further warned Washington that in case the U.S. dares to practice threats [by actually attacking], it will then have to face a defeat as bad as the one that the Zionists [Israel] had to sustain in Lebanon.”14

The Iranian Defence Minister has said “that his ministry is now equipping the border units of the army with modern military tools and weapons in a bid to increase their military capabilities,”15 and “that any possible enemy invasion of Iran will receive a severe blow, adding that failures of alien troops [meaning U.S., British, Coalition, and NATO forces] in Iraq and Afghanistan have taught trans-regional powers extreme caution.”16

Other examples of public warnings by Iranian military commanders directed at the United States and its partners include;

Acting Deputy Commander [Brigadier-General Ahmadi] of the Iranian Mobilized Forces (Basij), noting the intensification of the psychological operations and pressures against Iran, stressed that his troops are fully prepared to encounter “any stupid act by the enemies.”17 (September 9, 2006)

[Brigadier-General Mohammad Hejazi] advised the U.S. to relinquish the idea of invading Iran, stressing that as soon as the U.S. dares to make such a big mistake, it will lose its forged reputation due to its [the U.S. military’s] frequent and shocking defeats from the Iranian troops.18 (September 10, 2006)

[Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Major-General Safavi has warned that Revolutionary Guard] ground troops form a defensive force, but meantime warned that in case any foreign threats are posed to Iran, [assured that the] IRGC adopts an aggressive strategy and hits enemy targets in strategic depth. He also described the southwestern province of Khuzestan as the most strategic region of the country, saying, “Considering that Khuzestan is a border province located at our sensitive borders with Iraq where British and American occupying troops aim at devising cultural and security plots for Khuzestani people through their intelligence organizations and bodies, IRGC and Basij troops should maintain their preparedness at [the] highest levels possible in order to confront and defuse any such measures by the enemies.”19 (September 13, 2006: Also See British Troops Mobilizing on the Iranian Border)

During the August war games, Iranian military commanders claimed, in a gesture directed towards the United States, Britain, and Israel, “that no air force of any power stationed in the Middle East is capable of confronting the Iranian military’s ground forces.”20

This might seem like a psychological tactic to influence morale on both sides and deter any possible aerial assaults against Iran. This statement cannot be easily overruled if a comprehensive analysis is made and studied. In this regard, one must look at Lebanon, where Hezbollah and the Lebanese Resistance were able to withstand Israeli air raids and overcome the Israeli military on the ground. The Lebanese Resistance is reported as being armed and trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. What would an Iranian defensive of a larger magnitude, with state resources and air capabilities, be like?

The anticipation of a conflict are also coming from Iraq. Iraqi leaders have been charging that the United States and Britain plan on attacking Iran from Iraqi territory. Government representatives of Anglo-American occupied Iraq have asked that Iraq not be turned into a theatre of war between the United States and Iran. “We do not want Iraq to become an arena where other states [i.e., the United States, Britain, and Iran] settle their accounts,”21 said the Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih while visiting the Iranian capital, Tehran. This message looked as if it was mainly directed at the United States, as well as Iran.

Iran Always a Military Objective for the United States Washington:
“Anyone can go to Baghdad! Real Men go to Tehran!”

According to Michel Chossudovsky (The Next Phase of the Middle East War, September, 2006), the war on Iran is another phase of a “military roadmap” which includes the invasions of Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003) and the Anglo-American sponsored Israeli siege of Lebanon (2006) as earlier stages.

In May, 2003 after the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the motto in Washington D.C. was

“Anyone can go to Baghdad! Real men go to Tehran!”

One should ask why "real" men would continue towards Tehran after the invasion of Iraq. This slogan demonstrates that Iran was an objective or a phase in a broader military operation. With that said, Washington would prefer some form of internal "non-violent" regime change in Iran leading to American control of the Iranian economy and oil resources rather than a high-risk and high cost military confrontation. The shape and nature of this conflict, however, is uncertain.

The possibility of conflict with Iran and a major aerial assault are widely known.

The United States has been planning to attack Iran for years. Colonel Sam Gardiner (Retired, U.S. Air Force) has stated that the campaign against Iran is one where “the issue is not whether the military option would be used, but who approved the start of operations already.”

The March to War with Iran and Syria

With time fleeting, the Iranian military is positioning itself in battle formations under the pretext of nationwide war games and other pretexts. Iran has been steadily strengthening its air defenses and air units in preparation for the possibility of strikes. Iranian and Syrian coordination is also intensifying with the passing of time.

An attack on Iran and Syria would be a combination of heavy air bombardment by the U.S. Air Force, including the U.S. Army’s air units. It would also include a ground offensive led by the U.S. Marines and Army from the American bases surrounding both Iran and Syria. The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard would predominately manage the theatre of war in the Persian Gulf, with a view to guaranteeing the unimpeded flow of oil through the strategic Straits of Hormuz.

The Israeli military would deal with military operations in the Levant. Both Israeli troops and Israeli public opinion are being prepared for the possibility of another Middle Eastern conflict. In this context, Israel would face the possibility of aerial assaults from Iran. Iran has threatened to retaliate if it is attacked, using its ballistic missiles.

British and Australian forces in southern Iraq would deploy with the strategic aim of occupying the Iranian province of Khuzestan and securing its oil. Khuzestan is where most of Iran’s oil fields are located. Meanwhile a naval build-up is developing in the Persian Gulf which also includes the U.S. Coast Guard and the Canadian Navy.

The United States and its partners meanwhile are continuing to marshal and siphon their forces into the Middle East and Afghanistan. Both the United States and Britain have promised troop reductions in Iraq, but are actually increasing their troop levels. It also seems that a muzzle is being placed on Lebanon to stop any attacks on Israel by the presence of troops from member states of NATO.

Syria also seems to be expecting a possible aerial campaign. A vessel sailing to Syria under the flag of Panama, the “Grigorio I,” has been reported to have been stopped off the coast of Cyprus transporting 18 truck-mounted mobile radar systems and three command vehicles for delivery to Syria. This equipment appears to be part of an air defence system.22

In Iran, the Intelligence Minister has warned that “enemies are seeking to create instability in Iran through different measures, including assassinations, explosions and extensive insecurities” and that “his forces, in cooperation and coordination with other governmental bodies, have defused enemies’ plots in different Iranian provinces, including Tehran.”23

Venezuela has also threatened to halt oil exports in the event of an Anglo-American aggression against Iran and Syria. Venezuela has gone on to caution that it will defend Iran “under threat of invasion from the United States.” This was a warning given to the United States by Venezuela during the Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement in Cuba.24

The United States has already started to target both Iran and Syria’s financial bodies and institutions in an act of economic warfare. Syria has in step with Iran taken “preventative steps” in early 2006 by switching from using the U.S. dollar to using the Euro for all its transactions. The head of the state-owned Syria Commercial Bank has said that such measures have been taken to protect Syria from American sanctions (economic warfare).25

Actions have been taken against the large, state-owned Bank Saderat of Iran by the United States.26 The Bank Saderat has been cut off from the U.S. financial system and its network(s). This is part of a deliberate objective to financially cut off Iran from the rest of the world. Three large Japanese banks, the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Mizuho Corporate Bank and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation have followed in step and will terminate business with Bank Saderat.27

1 Seymour H. Hersh, Washing Lebanon: Washington’s Interest in Israel’s War, The New Yorker, August 14 & 21, 2006
2 Iranian War Games: Exercises, Tests, and Drills or Preparation and Mobilization for War?, Global Research (CRG), August 21, 2006
3 IAEA: US report on Iran “Outrageous,” Aljazeera, September 15, 2006
4 Iranian War Games: Exercises, Tests, and Drills or Preparation and Mobilization for War?, Global Research (CRG), August 21, 2006
5 Iran 'successfully' tests new air defence system, People’s Daily, September 5, 2006
Iranian Missile Test; Xinhua News Agency, September 5, 2006
6 Iran tests laser-guided bomb during war games, The Hindu, September 5, 2006
7 Iran completes military exercise by testing 2,000-pound bomb, Pravada; September 7, 2006
8 Iran tests first-ever 2,000-pound guided bomb: Minister; IRNA, September 6, 2006
9 Karimi, Nasser; Iran deploys locally-manufactured warplane, Hindustan Times, September 6, 2006,00050004.htm, Originally published by the Associated Press
10 Enemy Targets Destroyed by Maverick Missiles, Fars News Agency, September 6, 2006,
Maverick missiles are American made or developed air-to-surface missiles which are conventionally used to attack armoured units, warships, air defences, military transport and logistics units, and military depots.
11 Iran to Manufacture a New Jet Fighter, Fars News Agency, September 12, 2006
12 Complicated Dogfight Tactics Exercised during 'Blow of Zolfaqar' War Games, Fars News Agency, September 4, 2006
Iranian F14s Carry Hawk Missiles Successfully, Fars News Agency, September 4, 2006
13 Iran says ready to combat electronic warfare, Iranmania, Sunday, March 05, 2006
14 Army Prepared to Force Back Trans-Regional Threats, Fars News Agency, September 6, 2006
Trans-regional powers mean non-Middle Eastern nations with substantial force in the Middle East (the region being talked about).
15 Defense Minister: Any Foreign Aggression Responded by Force; Fars News Agency; September 2, 2006
16 Defence Minister: Any Military Aggression against Iran Struck Back Heavily, Fars News Agency, September 4, 2006
17 Mobilize Forces Prepare to Encounter Enemies, Fars New Agency, September 9, 2006
18 Basij Comander: Enemies Awe Shattered Once they Err, Fars News Agency, September 10, 2006
19 Commander Warns o IRGC’s Aggressive Strategy in Case of Foreign Threats, Fars News Agency, September 13, 2006
20 No Air Force Capable of Confronting Iranian Army, Fars News Agency; August 19, 2006
21 Iraq Not a Place for Others to Settle Accounts, Fars News Agency, September 6, 2006
22 Cyprus finds air-defence systems on Syria-bond ship, Reuters, September , 2006
23 Intelligence Minister: Enemies Plots Defused in Tehran, Border Provinces, Fars News Agency, September 13, 2006
24 Chavez pledge support for Iran, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), September 15, 2006
25 Syria switches to euro amid sanctions threat, Xinhua News Agency, February 13-14, 2006
26 Lawder, David; US Treasury say Iran pressure can be unilateral, Reuters, September 12, 2006
27 Three big Japan banks decide not to deal with Iran's Bank Saderat, Forbes, September 16, 2006

Related articles, Centre for Research on Globalization:
The Next Phase of the Middle East War 2006-09-04
Baluchistan and the Coming Iran War 2006-09-01
British Troops Mobilizing on the Iranian Border 2006-08-30
Russia and Central Asian Allies Conduct War Games in Response to US Threats 2006-08-24
Beating the Drums of War: US Troop Build-up: Army & Marines authorize "Involuntary Conscription" 2006-08-23
Iranian War Games: Exercises, Tests, and Drills or Preparation and Mobilization for War? 2006-08-21
Triple Alliance": The US, Turkey, Israel and the War on Lebanon 2006-08-06
The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil 2006-07-26
Is the Bush Administration Planning a Nuclear Holocaust? 2006-02-22 The Dangers of a Middle East Nuclear War 2006-02-17 Nuclear War against Iran 2006-01-03
Israeli Bombings could lead to Escalation of Middle East War 2006-07-15
Iran: Next Target of US Military Aggression 2005-05-01
Planned US-Israeli Attack on Iran 2005-05-01

See also
Rogers, Paul; Iran: Consequences of a War, Oxford Research Group; February, 2006

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bush Rages:
“I am not Beelzebub, Lord of Sulfur”

By Mike Whitney
Information Clearinghouse

The devil is right at home…. The devil himself is right in the house. And the devil came here yesterday. Yesterday the devil came right here…And it still smells of sulfur today.” Hugo Chavez; address to the UN General Assembly 9-20-06

My oh my, has Hugo Chavez caused a furor. Looking at the news reports filed in the last 24 hours, one would think that he snuck a dirty-bomb into the United Nations rather than gave a speech. In fact, the plucky Chavez may have delivered the finest 30 minute presentation that august assembly has ever heard. In that short span of time he publicly throttled the Global Emperor in front of 6 billion people and left his bruised and bloodied carcass splattered across the canvas like Roberto Duran in Round 9 of the middleweight championship match…..

No mas, no mas no mas”…

And what about the performance? Is Chavez part of a theatre troupe or is he just earning his chops as a method actor?

Whatever it is; it seems to be working. After skewering Bush as “the devil” and sniffing around for sulfur (the traditional sign of Lucifer) Chavez performed his ablutions with a sign of the cross and an angelic expression worthy of Botticelli.

If you’re a lefty, it just doesn’t get any better than this.

Chavez should give lessons in public speaking. His appearance was like a clap of thunder; waving Chomsky with one hand and pummeling Bush with the other. He managed to heap more muck on “Guantanamo Nation” than anyone since Harold Pinter gave his blistering Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech on 12-7-05. That’s when Pinter said:

The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have ever talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised quite a clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It is a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”

Chavez matched Pinter word for word, exposing the hypocrisy, lies and brutality of an administration that never stops lecturing about freedom and liberation even though it grinds out mountains of carnage everywhere it goes.

And where was Bush when Chavez delivered his broadside ….hiding behind Karen Hughes skirts, picking out a new eye-liner for his next televised harangue against Muslims, retrieving his Yale pom-poms from the dry-cleaners?

Our benighted leader always seems to disappear whenever the prospect of danger arises. He skedaddled when his number came up for the Alabama National Guard and he lit-out for the safety of a Nebraska cornfield when the planes hit the towers. He even vamoosed at a trade summit in Argentina when Chavez threatened “to sneak up behind him and give him a bear-hug.” That really put a spring in old Bush’s step as he quickly scuttled to the safety of Airforce One.

One thing is certain, whenever there’s peril, President “gone-to-soon” will be speeding off in a trail of vapor.

In any case, Bush was not missed at the UN massacre yesterday. Chavez held-forth like a preacher at a brothel; scattering the bodies and kicking open the windows to let the sunlight in. He delivered one, ferocious roundhouse punch after another….

Boom, boom, boom…until the crowd rose in a thunderous 5 minute ovation. (which was carefully omitted from the TV coverage)

What would the people of the world tell (Bush) if they were given the floor?” Chavez asked. “What would they have to say? I have some inkling of what they would say, what the oppressed people think. They would say, ‘Yankee imperialist, go home.”

He spoke to the people of Lebanon,” Chavez added. “Many of you have seen, he said, how your homes and communities were caught in the crossfire. How cynical can you get? What a capacity to lie shamefacedly. The bombs in Beirut were delivered with laser precision….This is imperialist (and) genocidal; the empire and Israel firing on the people of Palestine and Lebanon. That is what happened. And now we hear, ‘We’re suffering because we see homes destroyed.’”

Ouch; no wonder Bush “high-tailed it” out of the UN before the ensuing bloodbath.

Chavez is like a battering ram punching holes in the wall of silence which surrounds King George. Right after his speech I checked in at CNN and, as I expected, Bush-apologist Wolf Blitzer was spinning in his wingtips frantically trying to stitch together the tattered image of the Dear Leader. A quick peek at Google News confirms that the entire arsenal of corporate media is now engaged in the hopeless task of salvaging Bush’s wretched presidency.

But the damage is done. Chavez played the match on Bush’s home turf and beat him like a drum. Bush is probably still quivering under his desk.

There are other ways of thinking,” Chavez opined. “There are young people who think differently and this has happened in a mere decade. It has been shown that ‘the end of history’ was a false assumption, and the same is true of Pax Americana and the establishment of a ‘capitalist neo-liberal world. The system has only generated more poverty. Who believes in it now?”

Yes, who believes it now? Who believes in a party which has only produced two ideas in its entire history; tax cuts and war? Who believes that endless bombardment and martial law can be passed off as democracy and liberation? Who believes that a rogue’s gallery of liars, war-profiteers and gangsters can work in the public’s interest?

We want ideas to save our planet from the imperialist threat. And, hopefully in this very century, in not to long a time, we will see a new era, and for our children and grandchildren, a world of peace based on the fundamental principles of the United Nations, but a renewed United Nations.”

Yes, Hugo, we want peace with our neighbors, peace with our friends, and peace with our enemies. We’re sick of war and the men who want war; and that includes every feckless politico in Congress, Democrat and Republican alike.

The hegemonistic pretensions of the American empire are placing at risk the very existence of the human species. We appeal to the people of the United States and of the world to halt this threat which is like a sword hanging over our heads.”

There’s no time to lose. We have to dump Bush NOW and get on with the pressing issues of global warming, peak oil, nuclear proliferation, poverty and AIDS.

Chavez is right; the present model for global rule is broken and corrupt. We need a change.

Capitalism is savagery,” Chavez boomed.

Viva Chavez.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Will the Next Election Be Hacked?

By Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Rolling Stone
October 5, 2006 Issue

Fresh disasters at the polls - and new evidence from an industry insider - prove that electronic voting machines can't be trusted.

Read Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?" in the June 15th, 2006, issue of "Rolling Stone," his investigation into how Republicans prevented more than 350,000 voters in Ohio from casting ballots or having their votes counted - enough to have put John Kerry in the White House.

The debacle of the 2000 presidential election made it all too apparent to most Americans that our electoral system is broken. And private-sector entrepreneurs were quick to offer a fix:

Touch-screen voting machines, promised the industry and its lobbyists, would make voting as easy and reliable as withdrawing cash from an ATM. Congress, always ready with funds for needy industries, swiftly authorized $3.9 billion to upgrade the nation's election systems - with much of the money devoted to installing electronic voting machines in each of America's 180,000 precincts. But as midterm elections approach this November, electronic voting machines are making things worse instead of better.

Studies have demonstrated that hackers can easily rig the technology to fix an election - and across the country this year, faulty equipment and lax security have repeatedly undermined election primaries. In Tarrant County, Texas, electronic machines counted some ballots as many as six times, recording 100,000 more votes than were actually cast. In San Diego, poll workers took machines home for unsupervised "sleepovers" before the vote, leaving the equipment vulnerable to tampering. And in Ohio - where, as I recently reported in "Was the 2004 Election Stolen?", dirty tricks may have cost John Kerry the presidency - a government report uncovered large and unexplained discrepancies in vote totals recorded by machines in Cuyahoga County.

Even worse, many electronic machines don't produce a paper record that can be recounted when equipment malfunctions - an omission that practically invites malicious tampering. "Every board of election has staff members with the technological ability to fix an election," Ion Sancho, an election supervisor in Leon County, Florida, told me. "Even one corrupt staffer can throw an election. Without paper records, it could happen under my nose and there is no way I'd ever find out about it. With a few key people in the right places, it would be possible to throw a presidential election."

Chris Hood remembers the day in August 2002 that he began to question what was really going on in Georgia. An African-American whose parents fought for voting rights in the South during the 1960s, Hood was proud to be working as a consultant for Diebold Election Systems, helping the company promote its new electronic voting machines. During the presidential election two years earlier, more than 94,000 paper ballots had gone uncounted in Georgia - almost double the national average - and Secretary of State Cathy Cox was under pressure to make sure every vote was recorded properly.

Hood had been present in May 2002, when officials with Cox's office signed a contract with Diebold - paying the company a record $54 million to install 19,000 electronic voting machines across the state. At a restaurant inside Atlanta's Marriott Hotel, he noticed the firm's CEO, Walden O'Dell, checking Diebold's stock price on a laptop computer every five minutes, waiting for a bounce from the announcement.

Hood wondered why Diebold, the world's third-largest seller of ATMs, had been awarded the contract. The company had barely completed its acquisition of Global Election Systems, a voting-machine firm that owned the technology Diebold was promising to sell Georgia. And its bid was the highest among nine competing vendors. Whispers within the company hinted that a fix was in.

"The Diebold executives had a news conference planned on the day of the award," Hood recalls, "and we were instructed to stay in our hotel rooms until just hours before the announcement. They didn't want the competitors to know and possibly file a protest" about the lack of a fair bidding process. It certainly didn't hurt that Diebold had political clout:

Cox's predecessor as secretary of state, Lewis Massey, was now a lobbyist for the company.

The problem was, Diebold had only five months to install the new machines - a "very narrow window of time to do such a big deployment," Hood notes. The old systems stored in warehouses had to be replaced with new equipment; dozens of state officials and poll workers had to be trained in how to use the touch-screen machines. "It was pretty much an impossible task," Hood recalls. There was only one way, he adds, that the job could be done in time - if "the vendor had control over the entire environment." That is precisely what happened. In late July, to speed deployment of the new machines, Cox quietly signed an agreement with Diebold that effectively privatized Georgia's entire electoral system. The company was authorized to put together ballots, program machines and train poll workers across the state - all without any official supervision. "We ran the election," says Hood. "We had 356 people that Diebold brought into the state. Diebold opened and closed the polls and tabulated the votes. Diebold convinced Cox that it would be best if the company ran everything due to the time constraints, and in the interest of a trouble-free election, she let us do it."

Then, one muggy day in mid-August, Hood was surprised to see the president of Diebold's election unit, Bob Urosevich, arrive in Georgia from his headquarters in Texas. With the primaries looming, Urosevich was personally distributing a "patch," a little piece of software designed to correct glitches in the computer program. "We were told that it was intended to fix the clock in the system, which it didn't do," Hood says. "The curious thing is the very swift, covert way this was done."

Georgia law mandates that any change made in voting machines be certified by the state. But thanks to Cox's agreement with Diebold, the company was essentially allowed to certify itself.

"It was an unauthorized patch, and they were trying to keep it secret from the state," Hood told me. "We were told not to talk to county personnel about it. I received instructions directly from Urosevich. It was very unusual that a president of the company would give an order like that and be involved at that level."

According to Hood, Diebold employees altered software in some 5,000 machines in DeKalb and Fulton counties - the state's largest Democratic strongholds. To avoid detection, Hood and others on his team entered warehouses early in the morning. "We went in at 7:30 a.m. and were out by 11," Hood says. "There was a universal key to unlock the machines, and it's easy to get access. The machines in the warehouses were unlocked. We had control of everything. The state gave us the keys to the castle, so to speak, and they stayed out of our way." Hood personally patched fifty-six machines and witnessed the patch being applied to more than 1,200 others.

The patch comes on a memory card that is inserted into a machine. Eventually, all the memory cards end up on a server that tabulates the votes - where the patch can be programmed to alter the outcome of an election. "There could be a hidden program on a memory card that adjusts everything to the preferred election results," Hood says. "Your program says, 'I want my candidate to stay ahead by three or four percent or whatever.' Those programs can include a built-in delete that erases itself after it's done."

It is impossible to know whether the machines were rigged to alter the election in Georgia: Diebold's machines provided no paper trail, making a recount impossible. But the tally in Georgia that November surprised even the most seasoned political observers. Six days before the vote, polls showed Sen. Max Cleland, a decorated war veteran and Democratic incumbent, leading his Republican opponent Saxby Chambliss - darling of the Christian Coalition - by five percentage points. In the governor's race, Democrat Roy Barnes was running a decisive eleven points ahead of Republican Sonny Perdue. But on Election Day, Chambliss won with fifty-three percent of the vote, and Perdue won with fifty-one percent.

Diebold insists that the patch was installed "with the approval and oversight of the state." But after the election, the Georgia secretary of state's office submitted a "punch list" to Bob Urosevich of "issues and concerns related to the statewide voting system that we would like Diebold to address." One of the items referenced was" Application/Implication of '0808' Patch."

The state was seeking confirmation that the patch did not require that the system "be recertified at national and state level" as well as "verifiable analysis of overall impact of patch to the voting system." In a separate letter, Secretary Cox asked Urosevich about Diebold's use of substitute memory cards and defective equipment as well as widespread problems that caused machines to freeze up and improperly record votes. The state threatened to delay further payments to Diebold until "these punch list items will be corrected and completed."

Diebold's response has not been made public - but its machines remain in place for Georgia's election this fall. Hood says it was "common knowledge" within the company that Diebold also illegally installed uncertified software in machines used in the 2004 presidential primaries - a charge the company denies. Disturbed to see the promise of electronic machines subverted by private companies, Hood left the election consulting business and became a whistle-blower.

"What I saw," he says, "was basically a corporate takeover of our voting system."

The United States is one of only a handful of major democracies that allow private, partisan companies to secretly count and tabulate votes using their own proprietary software. Today, eighty percent of all the ballots in America are tallied by four companies - Diebold, Election Systems & Software (ES&S), Sequoia Voting Systems and Hart InterCivic. In 2004, 36 million votes were cast on their touch-screen systems, and millions more were recorded by optical-scan machines owned by the same companies that use electronic technology to tabulate paper ballots.

The simple fact is, these machines not only break down with regularity, they are easily compromised - by people inside, and outside, the companies.

Three of the four companies have close ties to the Republican Party.

ES&S, in an earlier corporate incarnation, was chaired by Chuck Hagel, who in 1996 became the first Republican elected to the U.S. Senate from Nebraska in twenty-four years - winning a close race in which eighty-five percent of the votes were tallied by his former company. Hart InterCivic ranks among its investors GOP loyalist Tom Hicks, who bought the Texas Rangers from George W. Bush in 1998, making Bush a millionaire fifteen times over. And according to campaign-finance records, Diebold, along with its employees and their families, has contributed at least $300,000 to GOP candidates and party funds since 1998 - including more than $200,000 to the Republican National Committee.

In a 2003 fund-raising e-mail, the company's then-CEO Walden O'Dell promised to deliver Ohio's electoral votes to Bush in 2004. That year, Diebold would count the votes in half of Ohio's counties.

The voting-machine companies bear heavy blame for the 2000 presidential-election disaster. Fox News' fateful decision to call Florida for Bush - followed minutes later by CBS and NBC - came after electronic machines in Volusia County erroneously subtracted more than 16,000 votes from Al Gore's total. Later, after an internal investigation, CBS described the mistake as "critical" in the network's decision. Seeing what was an apparent spike for Bush, Gore conceded the election - then reversed his decision after a campaign staffer investigated and discovered that Gore was actually ahead in Volusia by 13,000 votes.

Investigators traced the mistake to Global Election Systems, the firm later acquired by Diebold. Two months after the election, an internal memo from Talbot Iredale, the company's master programmer, blamed the problem on a memory card that had been improperly - and unnecessarily - uploaded. "There is always the possibility," Iredale conceded, "that the 'second memory card' or 'second upload' came from an unauthorized source."

Amid the furor over hanging chads and butterfly ballots in Florida, however, the "faulty memory card" was all but forgotten. Instead of sharing culpability for the Florida catastrophe, voting-machine companies used their political clout to present their product as the solution. In October 2002, President Bush signed the Help America Vote Act, requiring states and counties to upgrade their voting systems with electronic machines and giving vast sums of money to state officials to distribute to the tightknit cabal of largely Republican vendors.

But according to recent e-mails obtained by Rolling Stone, Diebold not only failed to follow up on most of the recommendations, it worked to cover them up. Michael Wertheimer, who led the RABA study, now serves as an assistant deputy director in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. "We made numerous recommendations that would have required Diebold to fix these issues," he writes in one e-mail, "but were rebuffed by the argument that the machines were physically protected and could not be altered by someone outside the established chain of custody."

In another e-mail, Wertheimer says that Diebold and state officials worked to downplay his team's dim assessment. "We spent hours dealing with Diebold lobbyists and election officials who sought to minimize our impact," he recalls. "The results were risk-managed in favor of expediency and potential catastrophe."

During the 2004 presidential election, with Diebold machines in place across the state, things began to go wrong from the very start. A month before the vote, an abandoned Diebold machine was discovered in a bar in Baltimore. "What's really worrisome," says Hood, "is that someone could get hold of all the technology - for manipulation - if they knew the inner workings of just one machine."

Election Day was a complete disaster. "Countless numbers of machines were down because of what appeared to be flaws in Diebold's system," says Hood, who was part of a crew of roving technicians charged with making sure that the polls were up and running. "Memory cards overloading, machines freezing up, poll workers afraid to turn them on or off for fear of losing votes."

Then, after the polls closed, Diebold technicians who showed up to collect the memory cards containing the votes found that many were missing. "The machines are gone," one janitor told Hood - picked up, apparently, by the vendor who had delivered them in the first place. "There was major chaos because there were so many cards missing," Hood says. Even before the 2004 election, experts warned that electronic voting machines would undermine the integrity of the vote. "The system we have for testing and certifying voting equipment in this country is not only broken but is virtually nonexistent," Michael Shamos, a distinguished professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, testified before Congress that June. "It must be re-created from scratch."

Two months later, the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team - a division of the Department of Homeland Security - issued a little-noticed "cyber-security bulletin." The alert dealt specifically with a database that Diebold uses in tabulating votes. "A vulnerability exists due to an undocumented backdoor account," the alert warned, citing the same kind of weakness identified by the RABA scientists. The security flaw, it added, could allow "a malicious user [to] modify votes."

Such warnings, however, didn't stop states across the country from installing electronic voting machines for the 2004 election. In Ohio, jammed and inoperable machines were reported throughout Toledo. In heavily Democratic areas of Youngstown, nearly 100 voters pushed "Kerry" and watched "Bush" light up. At least twenty machines had to be recalibrated in the middle of the voting process for flipping Kerry votes to Bush. Similar "vote hopping" was reported by voters in other states.

The widespread glitches didn't deter Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell - who also chaired Bush's re-election campaign in Ohio - from cutting a deal in 2005 that would have guaranteed Diebold a virtual monopoly on vote counting in the state. Local election officials alleged that the deal, which came only a few months after Blackwell bought nearly $10,000 in Diebold stock, was a violation of state rules requiring a fair and competitive bidding process.

Facing a lawsuit, Blackwell agreed to allow other companies to provide machines as well. This November, voters in forty-seven counties will cast their ballots on Diebold machines - in a pivotal election in which Blackwell is running as the Republican candidate for governor.

Electronic voting machines also caused widespread problems in Florida, where Bush bested Kerry by 381,000 votes. When statistical experts from the University of California examined the state's official tally, they discovered a disturbing pattern: "The data show with 99.0 percent certainty that a county's use of electronic voting is associated with a disproportionate increase in votes for President Bush. Compared to counties with paper ballots, counties with electronic voting machines were significantly more likely to show increases in support for President Bush between 2000 and 2004." The three counties with the most discrepancies - Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade - were also the most heavily Democratic. Electronic voting machines, the report concluded, may have improperly awarded as many as 260,000 votes to Bush. "No matter how many factors and variables we took into consideration, the significant correlation in the votes for President Bush and electronic voting cannot be explained," said Michael Hout, a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Charles Stewart III, an MIT professor who specializes in voter behavior and methodology, was initially skeptical of the study - but was unable to find any flaw in the results. "You can't break it - I've tried," he told The Washington Post. "There's something funky in the results from the electronic-machine Democratic counties."

Questions also arose in Texas in 2004. William Singer, an election programmer in Tarrant County, wrote the secretary of state's office after the vote to report that ES&S pressured officials to install unapproved software during the presidential primaries. "What I was expected to do in order to 'pull off' an election," Singer wrote, "was far beyond the kind of practices that I believe should be standard and accepted in the election industry." The company denies the charge, but in an e-mail this month, Singer elaborated that ES&S employees had pushed local election officials to pressure the secretary of state to accept "a software change at such a last minute there would be no choice, and effectively avoid certification."

Despite such reports, Texas continues to rely on ES&S. In primaries held in Jefferson County earlier this year, electronic votes had to be recounted after error messages prevented workers from completing their tabulations. In April, with early voting in local elections only a week away, officials across the state were still waiting to receive the programming from ES&S needed to test the machines for accuracy. Calling the situation "completely unacceptable and disturbing," Texas director of elections Ann McGeehan authorized local officials to create "emergency paper ballots" as a backup. "We regret the unacceptable position that many political subdivisions are in due to poor performance by their contracted vendor," McGeehan added.

In October 2005, the government Accountability Office issued a damning report on electronic voting machines. Citing widespread irregularities and malfunctions, the government's top watchdog agency concluded that a host of weaknesses with touch-screen and optical-scan technology "could damage the integrity of ballots, votes and voting-system software by allowing unauthorized modifications." Some electronic systems used passwords that were "easily guessed" or employed identical passwords for numerous systems. Software could be handled and transported with no clear chain of custody, and locks protecting computer hardware were easy to pick. Unsecured memory cards could enable individuals to "vote multiple times, change vote totals and produce false election reports."

An even more comprehensive report released in June by the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan think tank at the New York University School of Law, echoed the GAO's findings.

The report - conducted by a task force of computer scientists and security experts from the government, universities and the private sector - was peer-reviewed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Electronic voting machines widely adopted since 2000, the report concluded, "pose a real danger to the integrity of national, state and local elections." While no instances of hacking have yet been documented, the report identified 120 security threats to three widely used machines - the easiest method of attack being to utilize corrupt software that shifts votes from one candidate to another.

Computer experts have demonstrated that a successful attack would be relatively simple. In a study released on September 13th, computer scientists at Princeton University created vote-stealing software that can be injected into a Diebold machine in as little as a minute, obscuring all evidence of its presence. They also created a virus that can "infect" other units in a voting system, committing "widespread fraud" from a single machine. Within sixty seconds, a lone hacker can own an election.

And touch-screen technology continues to create chaos at the polls. On September 12th, in Maryland's first all-electronic election, voters were turned away from the polls because election officials had failed to distribute the electronic access cards needed to operate Diebold machines.

By the time the cards were found on a warehouse shelf and delivered to every precinct, untold numbers of voters had lost the chance to cast ballots. It seems insane that such clear threats to our election system have not stopped the proliferation of touch-screen technology. In 2004, twenty-three percent of Americans cast their votes on electronic ballots - an increase of twelve percent over 2000. This year, more than one-third of the nation's 8,000 voting jurisdictions are expected to use electronic voting technology for the first time.

The heartening news is, citizens are starting to fight back.

Voting-rights activists with the Brad Blog and Black Box Voting are getting the word out. Voter Action, a nonprofit group, has helped file lawsuits in Arizona, New York, Pennsylvania, Colorado and New Mexico to stop the proliferation of touch-screen systems. In California, voters filed suit last March to challenge the use of a Diebold touch-screen system - a move that has already prompted eight counties to sign affidavits saying they won't use the machines in November.

It's not surprising that the widespread problems with electronic voting machines have sparked such outrage and mistrust among voters. Last November, comedian Bill Maher stood in a Las Vegas casino and looked out over thousands of slot machines. "They never make a mistake," he remarked to me. "Can't we get a voting machine that can't be fixed?" Indeed, there is a remarkably simple solution: equip every touch-screen machine to provide paper receipts that can be verified by voters and recounted in the event of malfunction or tampering. "The paper is the insurance against the cheating machine," says Rubin, the computer expert.

In Florida, an astonishing new law actually makes it illegal to count paper ballots by hand after they've already been tallied by machine. But twenty-seven states now require a paper trail, and others are considering similar requirements. In New Mexico, Gov. Bill Richardson has instituted what many consider an even better solution: Voters use paper ballots, which are then scanned and counted electronically. "We became one of the laughingstock states in 2004 because the machines were defective, slow and unreliable," says Richardson. "I said to myself, 'I'm not going to go through this again.' The paper-ballot system, as untechnical as it seems, is the most verifiable way we can assure Americans that their vote is counting."

Paper ballots will not completely eliminate the threat of tampering, of course - after all, election fraud and miscounts have occurred throughout our history. As long as there has been a paper trail, however, our elections have been conducted with some measure of public scrutiny.

But electronic voting machines are a hacker's dream. And today, for-profit companies are being given unprecedented and frightening power not only to provide these machines but to store and count our votes in secret, without any real oversight.

You do not have to believe in conspiracy theories to fear for the integrity of our electoral system: The right to vote is simply too important - and too hard won - to be surrendered without a fight. It is time for Americans to reclaim our democracy from private interests.


Thursday, September 21, 2006

President Ahmadinejad's address at the 61st annual session of the UN General Assembly

United Nations
New York
Sept 20, 2006

"In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Praise be to God and peace be upon Prophet Mohammad and His Infallible Household and chosen disciples. O God, hasten the reappearance of the Imam of the times and grant to us victory and prosperity. Include us among his followers and martyrs.

"Madam President,
"Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
"Distinguished Heads of Delegation,
"Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:
"I praise the Merciful, All-Knowing and Almighty God for blessing me with another opportunity to address this Assembly on behalf of the great nation of Iran and to bring a number of issues to the attention of the international community.

"I also praise the Almighty for the increasing vigilance of peoples across the globe, their courageous presence in different international settings, and the brave expression of their views and aspirations regarding global issues.

"Today, humanity passionately craves for commitment to the Truth, devotion to God, enforcement of justice and respect for the dignity of human beings, elimination of domination and aggression, defense of the oppressed. And a longing for peace constitutes the legitimate demand of the peoples of the world, particularly the new generations and the spirited youth, who aspire a world free from decadence, aggression and injustice, and replete with love and compassion. The youth have a right to seek justice and the Truth; and they have a right to build their own future on the foundations of love, compassion and tranquility. And, I praise the Almighty for this immense blessing.

"Madame President,
What afflicts humanity today is certainly not compatible with human dignity; the Almighty has not created human beings so that they could transgress on others and oppress them.

"By causing war and conflict, some are fast expanding their domination, accumulating greater wealth and usurping all resources, while others endure the resulting poverty, suffering and misery.

"Some seek to rule the world relying on weapons and threats, while others live in perpetual insecurity and danger.

"Some occupy the homeland of others, thousands of kilometers away from their borders, interfere in their affairs and control their oil and other resources and strategic routes, while others are bombarded daily in their own homes; their children murdered in the streets and alleys of their own country and their homes reduced to rubble.

"Such behavior is not consistent with the status of human beings and runs counter to the Truth, to justice and to human dignity. The fundamental question is that under such conditions, where should the oppressed seek justice? Who or what organization defends the rights of the oppressed, and suppresses acts of aggression and oppression? Where is the seat of global justice?

"A brief glance at a few examples of the most pressing global issues can further illustrate the problem.

"A. The unbridled expansion of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons:"Some powers proudly announce their production of second and third generation nuclear weapons. What do they need these weapons for? Is the development and stockpiling of these deadly weapons designed to promote peace and democracy? Or are these weapons, in fact, instruments of coercion and threat against other peoples and governments? How long should the people of the world live with the nightmare of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons? To what length can powers producing and possessing these weapons go? How can they be held accountable before the international community? And, are the inhabitants of these countries content with waste resulting from the use of their wealth and resources for the production of destructive arsenals?

Is it not possible to rely on justice, ethics and wisdom instead of on instruments of death? Aren't wisdom and justice more compatible with peace and tranquility than nuclear, chemical and biological weapons? If wisdom, ethics and justice prevail, then oppression and aggression will be uprooted, threats will wither away and no reason will remain for conflict. This is a solid proposition because most global conflicts emanate from injustice, and from the powerful not being content with their own rights and still strive to devour the rights of others.

"People across the globe embrace justice and are willing to sacrifice for its sake.

"Would it not be easier for global powers to ensure their longevity and win hearts and minds through the championing of real justice, compassion and peace than by continuing their production and proliferation of nuclear and chemical weapons and the threat of their use?

"The experience of the threat and the use of nuclear weapons is before us. Has it achieved anything for the perpetrators other than exacerbation of tension, hatred and animosity among nations?

"B. Occupation of countries and exacerbation of hostilities "Occupation of countries, including Iraq, has continued for the last three years. Not a day goes by without hundreds of people getting killed in cold blood. The occupiers are incapable of establishing security in Iraq. Despite the establishment of the lawful Government and National Assembly of Iraq, there are covert and overt efforts to heighten insecurity, magnify and aggravate differences within Iraqi society, and instigate civil strife.

"There is no indication that the occupiers have the necessary political will to eliminate the sources of instability. Numerous terrorists were apprehended by the Government of Iraq only to be let loose under various pretexts by the occupiers.

"It seems that intensification of hostilities and terrorism serves as a pretext for the continued presence of foreign forces in Iraq.

"Where can the people of Iraq seek refuge, and from whom should the Government of Iraq seek justice?

"Who can ensure Iraq's security? Insecurity in Iraq affects the entire region. Can the Security Council play a role in restoring peace and security in Iraq when the occupiers are themselves the permanent members of the Council? Can the Security Council adopt a fair decision in this regard?

"Consider the situation in Palestine:
"The roots of the Palestinian problem go back to the Second World War. Under the pretext of protecting some of the survivors of that war, the land of Palestine was occupied through war, aggression and the displacement of millions of its inhabitants; it was placed under the control of some of the war's survivors, bringing even larger population groups from elsewhere in the world who had not been even affected by the war; and a government was established in the territory of others with a population collected from across the world at the expense of driving millions of rightful inhabitants of the land into a diaspora and homelessness. This is a great tragedy with hardly a precedent in history. Refugees continue to live in temporary refugee camps and many have died still hoping to one day return to their homeland. Can any logic, law or legal reasoning justify this tragedy? Can any member of the United Nations accept such a tragedy occurring in their own homeland?

"The pretexts for the creation of the regime occupying Al-Qods Al-Sharif are so weak that its proponents want to silence any voice trying to merely speak about them as they fear that the shedding of light on the facts would undermine the raison d'etre of this regime as it already has.

"The tragedy does not end with the establishment of a regime in the territory of others. Regrettably, from its inception, the regime has been a constant source of threat and insecurity in the Middle East region, waging war and spilling blood and impeding the progress of regional countries, and has also been used by some powers as an instrument of division, coercion, and pressure on the people of the region.

"Reference to these historical realities may cause some disquiet among supporters of this regime. But these are sheer facts and not myth. History has unfolded before our eyes.

"Worst yet is the blanket and unwarranted support provided to this regime.

"Just watch what is happening in Palestinian lands. People are being bombarded in their own homes and their children murdered in their own streets and alleys. But no authority, not even the Security Council, can afford them any support or protection. Why?"At the same time, a government is formed democratically and through the free choice of the electorate in a part of Palestinian territory. But instead of receiving the support of the so-called champions of democracy, its ministers and members of parliament are illegally abducted and incarcerated in full view of the international community.

"Which council or international organization stands up to protect this brutally besieged government? And why can't the Security Council take any steps?

"Let me here address Lebanon:
"For thirty-three long days, the Lebanese lived under the barrage of fire and bombs and close to 1.5 million of them were displaced.

Meanwhile, some members of the Security Council practically chose a path that provided ample opportunity for the aggressor to achieve its objectives militarily. We witnessed the Security Council of the United Nations practically incapacitated by certain powers to even call for a ceasefire. The Security Council sat idly by for so many days witnessing the cruel scenes of atrocities against the Lebanese while tragedies such as Qana were persistently repeated. Why? "In all these cases, the answer is self-evident. When the power behind the hostilities is itself a permanent member of the Security Council, how then can this Council fulfill its responsibilities?

"C. Lack of respect for the rights of members of the international community

"Excellencies,"I now wish to refer to some of the grievances of the Iranian people and speak about the injustices against them.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is a member of the IAEA and is committed to the NPT. All our nuclear activities are transparent, peaceful and under the watchful eyes of IAEA inspectors. Why then are there objections to our legally recognized rights? Which governments object to these rights? Governments that themselves benefit from nuclear energy and the fuel cycle. Some of them have abused nuclear technology for non-peaceful ends, including the production of nuclear bombs, and some even have a bleak record of using them against humanity.

"Which organization or Council should address these injustices? Is the Security Council in a position to address them? Can it stop violations of the inalienable rights of countries? Can it prevent certain powers from impeding scientific progress of other countries? "The abuse of the Security Council, as an instrument of threat and coercion, is indeed a source of grave concern.

"Some permanent members of the Security Council, even when they are themselves parties to international disputes, conveniently threaten others in the Security Council and seek condemnation, even before any decision by the Council, their opponents by the Council.

The questions are:
What can justify such exploitation of the Security Council? Does this not erode the credibility and effectiveness of the Council? Can such behavior contribute to the ability of the Council to maintain security?"

"A review of the preceding historical realities would lead to the conclusion that regrettably, justice has become a victim of force and aggression.

"Many global arrangements have become unjust, discriminatory and irresponsible as a result of undue pressure from certain powers;

"Threats of nuclear weapons and other instruments of war by some powers have taken the place of respect for the rights of nations and the maintenance and promotion of peace and tranquility;

"For some powers, claims of promotion of human rights and democracy can only last as long as they can be used as instruments of pressure and intimidation against other nations. But when it comes to the interests of rightful claimants, concepts such as democracy, the right of self-determination of nations, respect for the rights and obligations of peoples, international law and justice have no place or value. This is blatantly manifested in the way the elected government of the Palestinian people is treated as well as in the support extended to the Zionist regime. It does not matter if people are murdered in Palestine, turned into refugees, captured, imprisoned or besieged -- these do not violate human rights.

"Nations are not equal in exercising their rights recognized by international law. Enjoyment of these rights is dependent on the whim of certain major powers.

"Apparently the Security Council can only be used to ensure the security and the rights of some big powers. When the oppressed are crushed by bombardment, the Security Council must remain aloof and not even call for a ceasefire. Is this not a tragedy of historic proportions for the Security Council which is charged with maintaining security for all countries?

"The prevailing order of contemporary global interactions is such that certain powers equate themselves with the international community, and consider their decisions superseding that of over 180 countries. They consider themselves the masters and rulers of the entire world and other nations as only second class in the world order.

"The question needs to be asked:

If the governments of the United States or the United Kingdom, who are permanent members of the Security Council, commit aggression, occupation and violation of international law, which of the organs of the UN can take them to account? Can a Council in which they are privileged members address their violations? Has this ever happened? In fact, we have repeatedly seen the reverse. If they have differences with a nation or state, they drag it to the Security Council and as claimants, arrogate to themselves simultaneously the roles of prosecutor, judge and executioner. Is this a just order? Can there be a more vivid case of discrimination and more clear evidence of injustice?

"Regrettably, the persistence of some hegemonic powers in imposing their exclusionist policies on international decision making mechanisms, including the Security Council, has resulted in a growing mistrust in global public opinion, undermining the credibility and effectiveness of this most universal system of collective security.

"How long can such a situation last in the world? It is evident that the behavior of some powers constitutes the greatest challenge before the Security Council, the entire organization and its affiliated agencies.

"The present structure and working methods of the Security Council, which are legacies of the Second World War, are not responsive to the expectations of the current generation and the contemporary needs of humanity.

"Today, it is undeniable that the Security Council, most critically and urgently, needs legitimacy and effectiveness. It must be acknowledged that as long as the Council is unable to act on behalf of the entire international community in a transparent, just and democratic manner, it will neither be legitimate nor effective.

Furthermore, the direct relation between the abuse of veto and the erosion of the legitimacy and effectiveness of the Council has now been clearly and undeniably established. We cannot, and should not, expect the eradication, or even containment, of injustice, imposition and oppression without reforming the structure and working methods of the Council.

"Is it appropriate to expect this generation to submit to the decisions and arrangements established over half a century ago? Doesn't this generation or future generations have the right to decide themselves about the world in which they want to live?"Today, serious reform in the structure and working methods of the Security Council is, more than ever before, necessary. Justice and democracy dictate that the role of the General Assembly, as the highest organ of the United Nations, must be respected. The General Assembly can then, through appropriate mechanisms, take on the task of reforming the Organization and particularly rescue the Security Council from its current state. In the interim, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the African continent should each have a representative as a permanent member of the Security Council, with veto privilege. The resulting balance would hopefully prevent further trampling of the rights of nations.

"Madame President,
"It is essential that spirituality and ethics find their rightful place in international relations. Without ethics and spirituality, attained in light of the teachings of Divine prophets, justice, freedom and human rights cannot be guaranteed.

"Resolution of contemporary human crises lies in observing ethics and spirituality and governance by righteous people of high competence and piety.

"Should respect for the rights of human beings become the predominant objective, injustice, ill-temper, aggression and war will fade away.

"Human beings are all God's creatures and are all endowed with dignity and respect.

"No one has superiority over others. No individual or states can arrogate to themselves special privileges, nor can they disregard the rights of others and, through influence and pressure, position themselves as the `international community'.

"Citizens of Asia, Africa, Europe and America are all equal. Over six billion inhabitants of the earth are all equal and worthy of respect.

"Justice and protection of human dignity are the two pillars in maintaining sustainable peace, security and tranquility in the world.

"It is for this reason that we state:"Sustainable peace and tranquility in the world can only be attained through justice, spirituality, ethics, compassion and respect for human dignity.

"All nations and states are entitled to peace, progress and security.

"We are all members of the international community and we are all entitled to insist on the creation of a climate of compassion, love and justice.

"All members of the United Nations are affected by both the bitter and the sweet events and developments in today's world.

"We can adopt firm and logical decisions thereby improving the prospects of a better life for current and future generations.

"Together, we can eradicate the roots of bitter maladies and afflictions and through promotion of universal and lasting values such as ethics, spirituality and justice allow our nations to taste the sweetness of a better future.

"Peoples, driven by their divine nature, intrinsically seek good, virtue, perfection and geauty. Relying on our peoples, we can take giant steps towards reform and pave the road for human perfection.

Whether we like it or not, justice, peace and virtue will sooner or later prevail in the world with the will of Almighty God. It is imperative, and also desirable, that we, too, contribute to the promotion of justice and virtue.

"The Almighty and Merciful God, who is the Creator of the Universe, is also its Lord and Ruler. Justice is His command. He commands His creatures to support one another in Good, virtue and piety, and not in decadence and corruption.

"He commands His creatures to enjoin one another to righteousness and virtue and not to sin and transgression. All Divine prophets from the Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) to the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), to the Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), to the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), have all called humanity to monotheism, justice, brotherhood, love and compassion. Is it not possible to build a better world based on monotheism, justice, love and respect for the rights of human beings, and thereby transform animosities into friendship?

"I emphatically declare that today's world, more than ever before, longs for just and righteous people with love for all humanity; and above all longs for the perfect righteous human being and the real savior who has been promised to all peoples and who will establish justice, peace and brotherhood on the planet.

"O, Almighty God, all men and women are your creatures and you have ordained their guidance and salvation. Bestow upon humanity that thirsts for justice, the perfect human being promised to all by you, and make us among his followers and among those who strive for his return and his cause.

Statements and Webcast