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While You Were Sleeping 

Khaled el-Masri was wrongly arrested and detained by the CIA for five months. (Image by Reuters).
  • Khaled el-Masri was wrongly arrested and detained by the CIA for five months. (Image by Reuters).
In the January issue of Vanity Fair, Richard Perle, co-founder of the neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century, and Kenneth Adelman, longtime neoconservative activist, lamented the incompetence with which the Bush administration executed the war in Iraq, an excursion Perle is often credited with conceiving.

Adelman, who famously described the impending liberation of Iraq as a “cakewalk,” in a Washington Post op-ed piece in February 2002, referred to the Bush Administration as “one of the most incompetent teams in the post-war era. Not only did each of them, individually, have enormous flaws, but together they were deadly, dysfunctional.” Despite his initial enthusiasm, Perle now says that he would not advocate the invasion if he could turn back the clock because of the administration’s waste, corruption, and mismanagement. Perle recalled a story he heard from an Iraqi cabinet minister about the American leadership within the Green Zone. Not wanting to store ice in Baghdad’s hot climate, they had it trucked in from Kuwait, 300 miles away, in regular convoys that frequently came under fire. “We were sending American forces in harm’s way, with full combat capability to support them, helicopters overhead, to move goddamn ice from Kuwait to Baghdad,” said Perle.
On November 2, an abridged version of the January article was posted on Vanity Fair’s website because the editors found the comments by Adelman and Perle unexpected and highly significant. Perle claimed that he was misled by the magazine because he believed that his comments wouldn’t be published before the November elections.
Source: Vanity Fair

Prosecutors in Munich have ordered the arrest of 13 CIA agents suspected of being involved in the extraordinary rendition of Khaled el-Masri (below), a German citizen who was seized in Macedonia on December 31, 2003, taken to a secret prison in Afghanistan for five months, and dumped in Albania on a deserted road when it was discovered that he was misidentified. The situation has cast light on the US practice of capturing terror suspects abroad and sending them to a third country. El-Masri’s lawyer said the issuing of arrest warrants was the first sign that German authorities were prepared to back his client against the CIA.
Source: Bloomberg.com; Reuters

Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell reported record annual profits for 2006. Exxon’s reported annual profit of $39.5 billion was its second consecutive annual company record and once again the largest reported by any American company in history. Perhaps sensitive to public perception, Shell did not announce that its annual profit was a company record. The growing profits at Exxon and Shell could make them bigger targets for the Democratically controlled Congress who want oil companies to pay higher taxes and help curb global warming. Since the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report in early February stressing that the planet is being warmed due to human actions, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a think tank funded by Exxon with close ties to the Bush administration, has offered $10,000 to scientists and economists in exchange for written articles that emphasize the shortcomings of the IPCC’s report. “It’s a desperate attempt by an organization who wants to distort science for their own political aims,” said David Viner of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.
Source: Common Dreams

According to the annual report from Reporters Without Borders, press freedoms were violated last year in both democracies and states with repressive governments. The most media workers worldwide since 1994 were killed in 2006: 81 journalists and 32 media assistants. “But beyond these figures is the alarming lack of interest (and sometimes even failure) by democratic countries in defending the values they are supposed to incarnate,” the report says.
According to the report, the worst case of press freedom violation by the US government was that of Sudanese Al-Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Haj, who has been imprisoned without charge at Guantanamo Bay since June 2002. He’s been interrogated roughly 150 times in hopes that he will confess the existence of links between al-Qaeda and the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera television network. During a rare visit last year with his British lawyer, who’s claimed that he has been threatened by the base authorities, al-Haj spoke of killing himself for the first time.

On February 6, freelance videographer Josh Wolf became the longest incarcerated journalist in modern American history—169 days and counting—for refusing to cooperate with a grand jury investigation of an anti-capitalist protest in 2005. Prosecutors have demanded that he hand over his videotape of the demonstration and testify about the protesters seen on the tape who could face various charges including arson. “This is one more example of the increasing attacks on confidentiality of sources in the United States, one more blow to investigative journalism and, eventually, to the right of American people to be informed,” says Lucie Morillon, a spokeswoman for Reporters Without Borders.
Source: Reporters Without Borders

Rush Limbaugh has been nominated for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Landmark Legal Foundation recommended the nationally syndicated radio talk show host, whose show reaches the ears of 20 million daily. “Rush Limbaugh is the foremost advocate for freedom and democracy in the world today,” says Landmark president Mark R. Levin. “Every day he gives voice to the values of democratic governance, individual opportunity and the just, equal application of the rule of law—and it is fitting that the Nobel Committee recognize the power of these ideals to build a truly peaceful world for future generations.” Landmark is the leading conservative public interest law firm in the United States and Limbaugh is an unpaid member of its Board of Advisors.
Source: Yahoo! News

The World Glacier Monitoring Service says that the melting of glaciers around the world continues to accelerate. In 2005, surveys of 80 glaciers worldwide showed an average loss of about two feet of thickness. Although comprehensive data from 2006 is not yet available, the acceleration is expected to continue since last year was one of the warmest on record. Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program, said that the evaporated ice is the result of human-induced global warming.
Source: New York Times

In his testimony on January 29 in the perjury trial of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr., former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer revealed that he was often given very little information from his superiors, particularly when it came to the administration’s official position regarding the infamous 16-word sentence in President Bush’s 2002 State of the Union address that asserted Iraq had attempted to acquire uranium for nuclear weapons in Niger. After months of defending the President’s claim, Fleischer was ordered to stop giving assurances that the information was correct. But he wasn’t given the administration’s revised opinion on the matter, either. When pressed on the issue by reporters, Fleischer avoided giving a solid answer. “You can’t say yes, and you can’t say no,” said Fleischer. “I basically punted.”
Source: Los Angeles Times

34,000 Iraqi civilians were killed last year and 1.8 million were driven from their homes. An additional two million have fled since the war began and now live in exile. Since 2003 only 466 Iraqi refugees have been admitted to the US.
Source: New York Times

The most recent figures given by the FBI indicate that in 2005, the largest number of people were arrested on marijuana charges—786,545—more than twice the amount arrested for the same charges in 1994. These arrests constitute 42.6 percent of all drug arrests in the US. Department of Justice data shows that taxpayers are spending more than $1 billion annually to imprison marijuana offenders. Self-reported pot use and the availability of marijuana on the black market remain virtually unchanged.
Source: Alternet

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