Thursday, May 31, 2007


Public Figures Express Regret For Disengagement

by Ezra HaLevi

( The Yesha Council of Judea, Samaria and Gaza communities has published a collection of statements by public figures who supported or helped implement the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria and have since expressed regret. The following are some of the statements:

Maj.-Gen (ret.) Yiftah Ron-Tal, IDF ground forces commander at the time of the Disengagement: In the year preceding the Disengagement, the army trained mostly for dismantling communities, and that prevented it from preparedness for the war in Lebanon. The training for the Disengagement not only prevented preparedness for such a war, but dragged it away from the consensus as a people’s army. It is nearly certain that the excitement of those who led the decision and implementation of this is directly tied to the big failure in Lebanon…I still cannot understand how Israel gave up parts of its land willingly and with abandon, and how the residents connected to that land were turned into criminals, instead of raising their dedication as a banner of preserving the Jewish identity of the state of Israel.
- Kfar Chabad weekly, October 6, 2006

Ilana Dayan, Journalist, Host of Popular ‘Uvda’(Fact) Program on Channel 2: How come nobody is standing up and asking where this rain of Kassams is coming from? Why didn’t we ask the deep questions? Why didn’t we wonder whether this was the right way – even for those of us who wanted to divide the land? Why did we only examine the Disengagement when ‘orange’ youth burned tires in the street? Why did [Sharon confidant and Disengagement architect] Dov Weisglas not tell us there would be a rain of Kassams on Sderot? Because this wasn’t popular and because there was a strong prime minister [Ariel Sharon] with a firm hold on the central hubs of the media.
- address at B’nai Brith journalism prize ceremony, June 22, 2006

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora Eiland, Chairman of the National Security Council and one of the Disengagement’s chief architects: There was no forward contemplation. The Disengagement contributed nothing to a solution to the conflict…There was no discussion of its merits. When I was tasked with planning it, all that existed was the word ‘Disengagement’ used by Sharon at the Herzliya Conference…I was given four months to plan, but Dov Weisglas was already committing to the Americans and leaking details of the withdrawal plans to the press…The paradigm of two states for two nations is not implementable. Perhaps the whole world agrees to it, but on the ground, it simply cannot be done.
- Haaretz, June 1, 2006

Avri Gilad, broadcaster and TV personality who supported Disengagement: I supported the Disengagement. I was mistaken. The way it was carried out was a crime.
-Maariv, January 23, 2007

From a practical perspective, pragmatic and seeing the situation for what it is – the orange public was right…Large segments of the public supported the plan out of general ideological reasons.
-Army Radio, HaMilah Acharona, June 26, 2006

Brig.-Gen. (Res.) Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Chief of Staff at the time the government decided to carry out the Disengagement: “There is no escaping the fact that the background leading to the decision was a political crisis – the decline in support for the prime minister, and added to that was a personal crisis – the investigations into corruption…Examining the Disengagement in hindsight opposite Israel’s interests, it was the worst possible…Israel withdrew from every millimeter, including evacuating settlements, received nothing in return, and thus created a very problematic precedent.”
- Maariv, February 24, 2006

Ron Ben Yishai, senior journalist for military affairs: The fact that they mixed the IDF up with the Disengagement, that the army was forced to do the job of the police, was a heavy blow to motivation. Not to mention that the IDF didn’t train for an entire year, during which it dealt only with evacuations. We have to put the IDF back in uniform.
- Army Radio, Ma Boer, February 14, 2007

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, a major backer of the Disengagement: The more we take the army out of the territories, the more terror nests develop.
- Address to the Center For Local Government, January 4, 2007

Professor Aaron Ciechanover, 2004 Nobel Prize Laureate for Chemistry, vocal Disengagement advocate: I supported the idea of Disengagement last year, which seemed to me an act of unilateral volunteerism toward the Palestinians. I hoped our kindness would be returned, but I was mistaken. After our unilateral withdrawal we received only terrorism and more terrorism. The unilateral idea is bankrupt and along with it the party soap bubble of a party that was established on its basis.
- Yediot Acharonot, October 27, 2006

Yoel Marcus, left-wing commentator for Haaretz and ardent Disengagement supporter: To my great sorrow, it now seems that the extremist and pessimistic settlers were those who were right. The Palestinians do not wish to recognize Israel and have not accepted its existence. And now, with the election of Hamas, they again are not missing any opportunity to miss an opportunity…They turned the communities of Gush Katif into launch sites against residents of the Negev and particularly the town of Sderot. The warnings of Ariel Sharon and Dan Halutz that ‘If they will fire Kassams after Gaza is evacuated, Israel’s response will be harsh’ has not really frightened them.
-Haaretz, November 21, 2006

Hillel Halkin, Author and political commentator: Indeed, splitting the Likud was a bad thing. But so, it is necessary to say two years later, was disengagement. Those who were for it, like myself, were wrong. Those who were against it, like Mr. Netanyahu, were right...At great economic cost and at the price of a deep inner rift in Israeli society that still has not healed, 8,000 Jewish settlers were uprooted from their homes in return for supposed benefits, none of which has materialized. Gaza has become more, not less, of a military menace to Israel; Palestinian politics and the Palestinian street have become more, not less, radicalized; Israel's public image as an occupying country has not significantly improved in the world; and further unilateral disengagement in the West Bank as a possible way of solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has turned out to be a chimera, in large measure because of the failure of what was supposed to be its Gazan first stage.
-New York Sun, May 29, 2007

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the first to float Ariel Sharon's Disengagement plan to the media: It must be said that that the experience we had in Lebanon and Gaza are not encouraging. We completely withdrew from Gaza, and every day they fire Kassam rockets on Israelis.
- Interview with Chinese media, January 8, 2007

Yaron London, Ynet commentator and host of Channel 10 London & Kirshenbaum Show, supported Disengagement: Nothing was built on the rubble except for terrorist training camps…The wall does not guarantee quiet: Kassams fly over it and terrorists dig under it.
- Ynet, June 26, 2006

Meirav Michaeli, TV anchor and radio personality identified with left-wing and feminist activism: The Disengagement left thousands of families without a home, escalated the situation in Gaza and did not advance the security situation at all.
- Ynet, February 19, 2007

Vice-Premier Shimon Peres, Oslo Accords architect and withdrawal proponent: The Disengagement idea is over. There will not be a repeat in Judea and Samaria of the Gaza withdrawal. There will not be a massive evacuation of settlements…Public opinion is against the idea of another unilateral Disengagement. Therefore, this won’t occur, at least in the next five year, or even the next decade.
- Yediot Acharonot, September 8, 2006

Yehoshua Sobol, author and prominent left-wing spokesperson and proponent of left-wing refusal to serve in the IDF: Nothing is being built there [in Gaza] these days. Nothing – nothing but destructive activities. This assumption, that it is enough or us to leave territory in order for the other side to stop its attacks has proven false…I do not want to see a situation where we once again fold, in Judea and Samaria, and the next day Kassam rockets begin to be fired on Kfar Saba, Raanana and Herzliya.
- Reshet Bet, July 27, 2006

Shabak (General Security Service) chief Yuval Diskin: The Disengagement was first and foremost a process of uprooting. There is in Israel a Laundromat of words. They call it an evacuation or all sorts of other things, but there was an uprooting here.
- Lecture at the pre-army academy in Eli, February 6, 2007

IDF Central Commander Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh: I claimed from the beginning that there was not [a single] security consideration in the Disengagement. This was a purely political decision whose motivations will perhaps someday be investigated.
- Maariv, April 19, 2007

Yair Lapid, popular TV personality and commentator: The Disengagement was not carried out despite the settlers but because of them. It never had anything to do with the Palestinians, with demographics, with a peace agreement, with the IDF or with any of the other explanations given and reviewed over and over. The drive was one thing: to teach the settlers a lesson in modesty. The Disengagement is now examined with other tools – political, strategic and demographic – and it doesn’t stand up to the test, especially while Kassams are falling on Sderot and Ashkelon.
- Yediot Acharonot, October 13, 2006

We left Lebanon and the Hizbullah attack us from Lebanon. We left Gaza and the terror groups attack us from Gaza. The region that is most quiet right now is Judea and Samaria. Even the biggest leftists are faced with the creeping heretical though: perhaps it wasn’t the occupation?
-Yediot Acharonot, column

MK Amira Dotan (Kadima), head of the Knesset committee for Gush Katif evacuees, supported the Disengagement: In hi-tech, when you do something, you examine it fully before you say it is OK. Here, we did something without examining what would happen afterward. There was no working model created beforehand.
- HaTzofeh, August 6, 2006

Absorption Minister Ze’ev Boim, who supported the Disengagement as Deputy Defense Minister in the Sharon government and left the Likud to join Kadima: From the beginning, the plan had some question marks which, after the fact, became clear were serious defects in the plan. We lost the Philadelphi Corridor [between Gaza and Egypt, though which weapons and explosives are smuggled –ed.]. It was a mistake to give up control of Philadelphi.
-Jerusalem Conference address, March 20, 2007

Senior TV newsanchor Dan Margalit, a strong supporter of Disengagement: Ehud Olmert has lost the mandate for a withdrawal from Judea and Samaria that he received when elected on the platform of such a withdrawal. When such a withdrawal is once again presented, I will think again before choosing it at the ballot box.
- Maariv, July 28, 2006

Maj.-Gen. Gershon HaCohen, who commanded the Disengagement and expressed his public agreement with it prior to implementation: What happened last year was a crime, and I was part of this crime against the Jewish nation. What is happening now – the Second Lebanon War – is the punishment for what happened last year.
- on visit to bereaved family, August 24, 2006

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


WND Exclusive Commentary
Bush makes power grab

Posted: May 23, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

President Bush, without so much as issuing a press statement, on May 9 signed a directive that granted near dictatorial powers to the office of the president in the event of a national emergency declared by the president.

The "National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive," with the dual designation of NSPD-51, as a National Security Presidential Directive, and HSPD-20, as a Homeland Security Presidential Directive, establishes under the office of president a new National Continuity Coordinator.

That job, as the document describes, is to make plans for "National Essential Functions" of all federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal governments, as well as private sector organizations to continue functioning under the president's directives in the event of a national emergency.

The directive loosely defines "catastrophic emergency" as "any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions."

(Column continues below)

When the president determines a catastrophic emergency has occurred, the president can take over all government functions and direct all private sector activities to ensure we will emerge from the emergency with an "enduring constitutional government."

Translated into layman's terms, when the president determines a national emergency has occurred, the president can declare to the office of the presidency powers usually assumed by dictators to direct any and all government and business activities until the emergency is declared over.

Ironically, the directive sees no contradiction in the assumption of dictatorial powers by the president with the goal of maintaining constitutional continuity through an emergency.

The directive specifies that the assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism will be designated as the National Continuity Coordinator.

Further established is a Continuity Policy Coordination Committee, chaired by a senior director from the Homeland Security Council staff, designated by the National Continuity Coordinator, to be "the main day-to-day forum for such policy coordination."

Currently, the assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism is Frances Fragos Townsend.

Townsend spent 13 years at the Justice Department before moving to the U.S. Coast Guard where she served as assistant commandant for intelligence.

She is a White House staff member in the executive office of the president who also chairs the Homeland Security Council, which as a counterpart to the National Security Council reports directly to the president.

The directive issued May 9 makes no attempt to reconcile the powers created there for the National Continuity Coordinator with the National Emergency Act. As specified by U.S. Code Title 50, Chapter 34, Subchapter II, Section 1621, the National Emergency Act allows that the president may declare a national emergency but requires that such proclamation "shall immediately be transmitted to the Congress and published in the Federal Register."

A Congressional Research Service study notes that under the National Emergency Act, the president "may seize property, organize and control the means of production, seize commodities, assign military forces abroad, institute martial law, seize and control all transportation and communication, regulate the operation of private enterprise, restrict travel, and, in a variety of ways, control the lives of United States citizens."

The CRS study notes that the National Emergency Act sets up congress as a balance empowered to "modify, rescind, or render dormant such delegated emergency authority," if Congress believes the president has acted inappropriately.

NSPD-51/ HSPD-20 appears to supersede the National Emergency Act by creating the new position of National Continuity Coordinator without any specific act of Congress authorizing the position.

NSPD-51/ HSPD-20 also makes no reference whatsoever to Congress. The language of the May 9 directive appears to negate any a requirement that the president submit to Congress a determination that a national emergency exists, suggesting instead that the powers of the executive order can be implemented without any congressional approval or oversight.

Homeland Security spokesperson Russ Knocke affirmed that the Homeland Security Department will be implementing the requirements of NSPD-51/ HSPD-20 under Townsend's direction.

The White House had no comment.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Soldier: We're just 'putting a Band-Aid' on Iraq until we leave

Raw Story | May 28, 2007

Many American soldiers who were once firm believers of the US mission in Iraq are starting to question why they are still in the country, reports the International Herald Tribune.

"In Mosul, in 2003, it felt like we were making the city a better place," describes Staff Sergeant David Safstrom. "There was no sectarian violence, Saddam was gone, we were tracking down the bad guys. It felt awesome."

But now on his third tour of duty, he has begun to question his mission. After killing a member of the Iraqi Army in the act of setting up a road side bomb, Safstrom began to wonder what he and his comrades were still doing in Iraq.

"We're helping guys that are trying to kill us. We help them in the day. They turn around at night and try to kill us," he said.

"In 2003, 2004, 100 percent of the soldiers wanted to be here, to fight this war," said Sergeant First Class David Moore, a self-described "conservative Texas Republican" and platoon sergeant who strongly advocates an American withdrawal. "Now, 95 percent of my platoon agrees with me."

With few reliable surveys of soldiers' attitudes, it is impossible to simply extrapolate from the small number of soldiers in Delta Company. But in interviews with more than a dozen soldiers over a one-week period, most said they were disillusioned by repeated deployments, by what they saw as the abysmal performance of Iraqi security forces and by a conflict that they considered a civil war, one they had no ability to stop.

They had seen shadowy militia commanders installed as Iraqi Army officers, they said, had come under increasing attack from roadside bombs - planted within sight of Iraqi Army checkpoints - and had fought against Iraqi soldiers whom they thought were their allies.

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Mainstream Media Still in Denial Over North American Union

JBS | May 22, 2007
Jim Capo

"Forget conspiracy theories about JFK's assassination, black helicopters, Sept. 11, 2001. This is the big one. We're talking about the secret plan to build a superhighway, a giant 10- to 12-lane production, from the Yucatán to the Yukon," snidely commented the Seattle Times.

While the mainstream media blackout remains essentially still in effect on the effort to merge the United States into a North American Union (except for the likes of the Seattle Times ), cracks in the system continue to propagate down into local media outlets.

Today, the number one morning talk show in Greensboro, North Carolina offered a case in point as to how those who are willing to keep chipping away at the system might eventually succeed. Going into their interview with Congressman Howard Coble this morning, Brad and Britt read a letter from Roxane Premont of the ad-hoc grassroots group North Carolinians to Stop the North American Union .

Roxane had complained that the screener for their show was not letting calls come through that were trying to link the pending amnesty sell-out by our U.S. Senate to the larger effort to effectively erase our borders with Canada and Mexico via the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) launched by the Bush administration in March of 2005. While it was an honorable gesture to read Roxane's letter on the air, Brad and Britt went on to say that trying to equate the SPP to a EU like North American Union sounds too much like a "conspiracy theory." The "C" word being employed, no further explanation was apparently necessary.

In defense of Brad and Britt's current opinion on the matter, I can concede this much: Yes, the effort to expose the North American Union scheme is rife with members and sympathizers of The John Birch Society as well as avid supporters of Ron Paul , who Sean Hannity and Michelle Malkin have on their black list. Peter Brimelow, who is supposedly on the Brad and Britt show's own black list, is also saying mean things about the North American Union scheme.

However, here are the facts that Brad and Britt continue to ignore for some reason or other:

* 18 states have introduced resolutions calling on their federal representatives to halt work on the North American Union (they include Virginia and South Carolina)
* 3 of these states (Idaho, Montana and Oklahoma) have passed their resolutions
* Oklahoma, which is in the path of the NAFTA superhighway component of the North American Union passed their resolution in the Senate 97-0. (see Basic Search Form link - top left - type in SCR10 )
* 22 U.S. Congressmen, including NC's Virginia Foxx and Walter Jones, along with all three Republican Congressmen running for President, have signed on as co-sponsors of HCR40, which calls on the executive branch to end all work on the North American Union and NAFTA superhighway
* Even the Sierra Club of Canada is sounding the alarm against the North American Union

I could go on, but I'll close on this: Lou Dobbs, who has been talking non-stop on the North American Union for almost two years, has watched his rating double over that time period. And, he has just landed an additional gig on CBS. Really, it is not like discussing this topic occasionally is going to sink the ratings of Brad and Britt in the Morning, or even the ongoing dwindling circulation of the Seattle Times .

Against all this though, Brad and Britt and the Seattle Times seem willing to stand their ground on nothing better than the arguments of fact vs. myth put out by the same Bush Administration apparatchiks who told us to trust them on WMD. They wouldn't being lying to us now, would they?

Friday, May 25, 2007


WND Exclusive
Mosques awarded Homeland Security grants
CAIR urges Muslim clerics to cash in on federal funds

Posted: May 25, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2007

Detroit mosque
While the European Union investigates mosques for ties to Islamic terrorism, the U.S. government is giving mosques security grants that are designed to protect churches, synagogues and other nonprofit groups from Islamic terror.

Most recently, the Islamic Society of Baltimore landed a $15,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security to upgrade security at its Maryland mosque.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations since April has been urging leaders of mosques and Islamic schools across the nation to apply for the DHS grants, even though the agency's program was set up to help protect nonprofit facilities that are at high risk for attacks by Islamic terrorists.

(Story continues below)

In a recent "Action Alert" posted on its website, CAIR encouraged its Muslim members to take advantage of $24 million in federal funds DHS has made available – specifically, DHS says, for nonprofit organizations "deemed high-risk for a potential international terrorist attack."

Organizations in 46 urban areas designated high risk for Islamic terror attack are eligible to participate in the new Nonprofit Security Grant Program.

The CAIR alert issued April 29 to Muslim members reads as follows: "ACTION REQUESTED: All eligible 501(c)(3) American mosques and other Islamic institutions are urged to begin the application process to receive training and to purchase equipment such as video cameras, alarm systems and other security enhancements."

Several Islamic institutions already have applied and are receiving government approval.

U.S. officials who spoke to WND on condition of anonymity expressed dismay that CAIR would drain limited federal funds away from higher risk targets for terrorism. They argue mosques are among the lowest risk for such attacks.

In fact, a number of mosques across the nation actually have promoted Islamic terrorism and have been tied to Islamic terrorists, including the large Dar al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Washington, where some of the 9/11 hijackers received spiritual guidance, as well as help obtaining housing and IDs.

Terrorism experts note some 80 percent of U.S. mosques are funded and controlled through the Saudi Arabian government.

"Mosques have tended to serve as safe havens and meeting points for Islamic terrorist groups," said terror expert Steve Emerson. "Of course, we are not referring to all mosques, but there are at least 40 episodes of extremists and terrorists being connected to mosques in the past decade."

Meanwhile, European Union security officials earlier this month announced they will analyze member-state mosques, examining the training and funding sources of imams, in a project to be completed by fall.

Even in the wake of 9/11, remarkably, U.S. authorities have yet to conduct any similar sweeping investigation of the nation's 2,000 mosques. There also has been no nationwide effort to identify Muslim clerics who preach terrorism, even as an alarming number of imams have been caught up in separate terrorism investigations.

Law enforcement sources blame the hesitancy on political pressure applied by Washington-based CAIR, which sits on the FBI's community advisory board and routinely lodges complaints about case agents who question mosque leaders and followers. The bureau seldom makes a raid in the Muslim community without first contacting CAIR officials.

CAIR claims mosques have been victims of "terrorist" attacks since 9/11, which the group says triggered a backlash of "Islamophobic" vigilantism. When pressed, the group cites only scattered cases of vandalism, however, many of which the FBI has investigated and ruled out as "hate crimes."

No mosque in America has suffered a bombing attack, and there are no examples of international Muslim terrorists attacking mosques in America – the whole point of DHS' target-hardening grant program.

CAIR itself has had ties to terrorism. The nonprofit lobby group is a foreign-funded spin-off of a Hamas front group, and it has seen several of its executives convicted of terror-related crimes since 9/11.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 9, 2007

National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive



Subject: National Continuity Policy


(1) This directive establishes a comprehensive national policy on the continuity of Federal Government structures and operations and a single National Continuity Coordinator responsible for coordinating the development and implementation of Federal continuity policies. This policy establishes "National Essential Functions," prescribes continuity requirements for all executive departments and agencies, and provides guidance for State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector organizations in order to ensure a comprehensive and integrated national continuity program that will enhance the credibility of our national security posture and enable a more rapid and effective response to and recovery from a national emergency.


(2) In this directive:

(a) "Category" refers to the categories of executive departments and agencies listed in Annex A to this directive;

(b) "Catastrophic Emergency" means any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions;

(c) "Continuity of Government," or "COG," means a coordinated effort within the Federal Government's executive branch to ensure that National Essential Functions continue to be performed during a Catastrophic Emergency;

(d) "Continuity of Operations," or "COOP," means an effort within individual executive departments and agencies to ensure that Primary Mission-Essential Functions continue to be performed during a wide range of emergencies, including localized acts of nature, accidents, and technological or attack-related emergencies;

(e) "Enduring Constitutional Government," or "ECG," means a cooperative effort among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government, coordinated by the President, as a matter of comity with respect to the legislative and judicial branches and with proper respect for the constitutional separation of powers among the branches, to preserve the constitutional framework under which the Nation is governed and the capability of all three branches of government to execute constitutional responsibilities and provide for orderly succession, appropriate transition of leadership, and interoperability and support of the National Essential Functions during a catastrophic emergency;

(f) "Executive Departments and Agencies" means the executive departments enumerated in 5 U.S.C. 101, independent establishments as defined by 5 U.S.C. 104(1), Government corporations as defined by 5 U.S.C. 103(1), and the United States Postal Service;

(g) "Government Functions" means the collective functions of the heads of executive departments and agencies as defined by statute, regulation, presidential direction, or other legal authority, and the functions of the legislative and judicial branches;

(h) "National Essential Functions," or "NEFs," means that subset of Government Functions that are necessary to lead and sustain the Nation during a catastrophic emergency and that, therefore, must be supported through COOP and COG capabilities; and

(i) "Primary Mission Essential Functions," or "PMEFs," means those Government Functions that must be performed in order to support or implement the performance of NEFs before, during, and in the aftermath of an emergency.


(3) It is the policy of the United States to maintain a comprehensive and effective continuity capability composed of Continuity of Operations and Continuity of Government programs in order to ensure the preservation of our form of government under the Constitution and the continuing performance of National Essential Functions under all conditions.

Implementation Actions

(4) Continuity requirements shall be incorporated into daily operations of all executive departments and agencies. As a result of the asymmetric threat environment, adequate warning of potential emergencies that could pose a significant risk to the homeland might not be available, and therefore all continuity planning shall be based on the assumption that no such warning will be received. Emphasis will be placed upon geographic dispersion of leadership, staff, and infrastructure in order to increase survivability and maintain uninterrupted Government Functions. Risk management principles shall be applied to ensure that appropriate operational readiness decisions are based on the probability of an attack or other incident and its consequences.

(5) The following NEFs are the foundation for all continuity programs and capabilities and represent the overarching responsibilities of the Federal Government to lead and sustain the Nation during a crisis, and therefore sustaining the following NEFs shall be the primary focus of the Federal Government leadership during and in the aftermath of an emergency that adversely affects the performance of Government Functions:

(a) Ensuring the continued functioning of our form of government under the Constitution, including the functioning of the three separate branches of government;

(b) Providing leadership visible to the Nation and the world and maintaining the trust and confidence of the American people;

(c) Defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and preventing or interdicting attacks against the United States or its people, property, or interests;

(d) Maintaining and fostering effective relationships with foreign nations;

(e) Protecting against threats to the homeland and bringing to justice perpetrators of crimes or attacks against the United States or its people, property, or interests;

(f) Providing rapid and effective response to and recovery from the domestic consequences of an attack or other incident;

(g) Protecting and stabilizing the Nation's economy and ensuring public confidence in its financial systems; and

(h) Providing for critical Federal Government services that address the national health, safety, and welfare needs of the United States.

(6) The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government. In order to advise and assist the President in that function, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (APHS/CT) is hereby designated as the National Continuity Coordinator. The National Continuity Coordinator, in coordination with the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (APNSA), without exercising directive authority, shall coordinate the development and implementation of continuity policy for executive departments and agencies. The Continuity Policy Coordination Committee (CPCC), chaired by a Senior Director from the Homeland Security Council staff, designated by the National Continuity Coordinator, shall be the main day-to-day forum for such policy coordination.

(7) For continuity purposes, each executive department and agency is assigned to a category in accordance with the nature and characteristics of its national security roles and responsibilities in support of the Federal Government's ability to sustain the NEFs. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall serve as the President's lead agent for coordinating overall continuity operations and activities of executive departments and agencies, and in such role shall perform the responsibilities set forth for the Secretary in sections 10 and 16 of this directive.

(8) The National Continuity Coordinator, in consultation with the heads of appropriate executive departments and agencies, will lead the development of a National Continuity Implementation Plan (Plan), which shall include prioritized goals and objectives, a concept of operations, performance metrics by which to measure continuity readiness, procedures for continuity and incident management activities, and clear direction to executive department and agency continuity coordinators, as well as guidance to promote interoperability of Federal Government continuity programs and procedures with State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure, as appropriate. The Plan shall be submitted to the President for approval not later than 90 days after the date of this directive.

(9) Recognizing that each branch of the Federal Government is responsible for its own continuity programs, an official designated by the Chief of Staff to the President shall ensure that the executive branch's COOP and COG policies in support of ECG efforts are appropriately coordinated with those of the legislative and judicial branches in order to ensure interoperability and allocate national assets efficiently to maintain a functioning Federal Government.

(10) Federal Government COOP, COG, and ECG plans and operations shall be appropriately integrated with the emergency plans and capabilities of State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure, as appropriate, in order to promote interoperability and to prevent redundancies and conflicting lines of authority. The Secretary of Homeland Security shall coordinate the integration of Federal continuity plans and operations with State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector owners and operators of critical infrastructure, as appropriate, in order to provide for the delivery of essential services during an emergency.

(11) Continuity requirements for the Executive Office of the President (EOP) and executive departments and agencies shall include the following:

(a) The continuation of the performance of PMEFs during any emergency must be for a period up to 30 days or until normal operations can be resumed, and the capability to be fully operational at alternate sites as soon as possible after the occurrence of an emergency, but not later than 12 hours after COOP activation;

(b) Succession orders and pre-planned devolution of authorities that ensure the emergency delegation of authority must be planned and documented in advance in accordance with applicable law;

(c) Vital resources, facilities, and records must be safeguarded, and official access to them must be provided;

(d) Provision must be made for the acquisition of the resources necessary for continuity operations on an emergency basis;

(e) Provision must be made for the availability and redundancy of critical communications capabilities at alternate sites in order to support connectivity between and among key government leadership, internal elements, other executive departments and agencies, critical partners, and the public;

(f) Provision must be made for reconstitution capabilities that allow for recovery from a catastrophic emergency and resumption of normal operations; and

(g) Provision must be made for the identification, training, and preparedness of personnel capable of relocating to alternate facilities to support the continuation of the performance of PMEFs.

(12) In order to provide a coordinated response to escalating threat levels or actual emergencies, the Continuity of Government Readiness Conditions (COGCON) system establishes executive branch continuity program readiness levels, focusing on possible threats to the National Capital Region. The President will determine and issue the COGCON Level. Executive departments and agencies shall comply with the requirements and assigned responsibilities under the COGCON program. During COOP activation, executive departments and agencies shall report their readiness status to the Secretary of Homeland Security or the Secretary's designee.

(13) The Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall:

(a) Conduct an annual assessment of executive department and agency continuity funding requests and performance data that are submitted by executive departments and agencies as part of the annual budget request process, in order to monitor progress in the implementation of the Plan and the execution of continuity budgets;

(b) In coordination with the National Continuity Coordinator, issue annual continuity planning guidance for the development of continuity budget requests; and

(c) Ensure that heads of executive departments and agencies prioritize budget resources for continuity capabilities, consistent with this directive.

(14) The Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy shall:

(a) Define and issue minimum requirements for continuity communications for executive departments and agencies, in consultation with the APHS/CT, the APNSA, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Chief of Staff to the President;

(b) Establish requirements for, and monitor the development, implementation, and maintenance of, a comprehensive communications architecture to integrate continuity components, in consultation with the APHS/CT, the APNSA, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Chief of Staff to the President; and

(c) Review quarterly and annual assessments of continuity communications capabilities, as prepared pursuant to section 16(d) of this directive or otherwise, and report the results and recommended remedial actions to the National Continuity Coordinator.

(15) An official designated by the Chief of Staff to the President shall:

(a) Advise the President, the Chief of Staff to the President, the APHS/CT, and the APNSA on COGCON operational execution options; and

(b) Consult with the Secretary of Homeland Security in order to ensure synchronization and integration of continuity activities among the four categories of executive departments and agencies.

(16) The Secretary of Homeland Security shall:

(a) Coordinate the implementation, execution, and assessment of continuity operations and activities;

(b) Develop and promulgate Federal Continuity Directives in order to establish continuity planning requirements for executive departments and agencies;

(c) Conduct biennial assessments of individual department and agency continuity capabilities as prescribed by the Plan and report the results to the President through the APHS/CT;

(d) Conduct quarterly and annual assessments of continuity communications capabilities in consultation with an official designated by the Chief of Staff to the President;

(e) Develop, lead, and conduct a Federal continuity training and exercise program, which shall be incorporated into the National Exercise Program developed pursuant to Homeland Security Presidential Directive-8 of December 17, 2003 ("National Preparedness"), in consultation with an official designated by the Chief of Staff to the President;

(f) Develop and promulgate continuity planning guidance to State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector critical infrastructure owners and operators;

(g) Make available continuity planning and exercise funding, in the form of grants as provided by law, to State, local, territorial, and tribal governments, and private sector critical infrastructure owners and operators; and

(h) As Executive Agent of the National Communications System, develop, implement, and maintain a comprehensive continuity communications architecture.

(17) The Director of National Intelligence, in coordination with the Attorney General and the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall produce a biennial assessment of the foreign and domestic threats to the Nation's continuity of government.

(18) The Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall provide secure, integrated, Continuity of Government communications to the President, the Vice President, and, at a minimum, Category I executive departments and agencies.

(19) Heads of executive departments and agencies shall execute their respective department or agency COOP plans in response to a localized emergency and shall:

(a) Appoint a senior accountable official, at the Assistant Secretary level, as the Continuity Coordinator for the department or agency;

(b) Identify and submit to the National Continuity Coordinator the list of PMEFs for the department or agency and develop continuity plans in support of the NEFs and the continuation of essential functions under all conditions;

(c) Plan, program, and budget for continuity capabilities consistent with this directive;

(d) Plan, conduct, and support annual tests and training, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, in order to evaluate program readiness and ensure adequacy and viability of continuity plans and communications systems; and

(e) Support other continuity requirements, as assigned by category, in accordance with the nature and characteristics of its national security roles and responsibilities

General Provisions

(20) This directive shall be implemented in a manner that is consistent with, and facilitates effective implementation of, provisions of the Constitution concerning succession to the Presidency or the exercise of its powers, and the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 (3 U.S.C. 19), with consultation of the Vice President and, as appropriate, others involved. Heads of executive departments and agencies shall ensure that appropriate support is available to the Vice President and others involved as necessary to be prepared at all times to implement those provisions.

(21) This directive:

(a) Shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and the authorities of agencies, or heads of agencies, vested by law, and subject to the availability of appropriations;

(b) Shall not be construed to impair or otherwise affect (i) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budget, administrative, and legislative proposals, or (ii) the authority of the Secretary of Defense over the Department of Defense, including the chain of command for military forces from the President, to the Secretary of Defense, to the commander of military forces, or military command and control procedures; and

(c) Is not intended to, and does not, create any rights or benefits, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by a party against the United States, its agencies, instrumentalities, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

(22) Revocation. Presidential Decision Directive 67 of October 21, 1998 ("Enduring Constitutional Government and Continuity of Government Operations"), including all Annexes thereto, is hereby revoked.

(23) Annex A and the classified Continuity Annexes, attached hereto, are hereby incorporated into and made a part of this directive.

(24) Security. This directive and the information contained herein shall be protected from unauthorized disclosure, provided that, except for Annex A, the Annexes attached to this directive are classified and shall be accorded appropriate handling, consistent with applicable Executive Orders.



WND Exclusive
North American union plan headed to Congress in fall
Powerful think tank prepares report on benefits of integration between U.S., Mexico, Canada

Posted: May 24, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2007

WASHINGTON – A powerful think tank chaired by former Sen. Sam Nunn and guided by trustees including Richard Armitage, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Harold Brown, William Cohen and Henry Kissinger, is in the final stages of preparing a report to the White House and U.S. Congress on the benefits of integrating the U.S., Mexico and Canada into one political, economic and security bloc.

The final report, published in English, Spanish and French, is scheduled for submission to all three governments by Sept. 30, according to the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

CSIS boasts of playing a large role in the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994 – a treaty that set in motion a political movement many believe resembles the early stages of the European Community on its way to becoming the European Union.

"The results of the study will enable policymakers to make sound, strategic, long-range policy decisions about North America, with an emphasis on regional integration," explains Armand B. Peschard-Sverdrup, director of CSIS' Mexico Project. "Specifically, the project will focus on a detailed examination of future scenarios, which are based on current trends, and involve six areas of critical importance to the trilateral relationship: labor mobility, energy, the environment, security, competitiveness and border infrastructure and logistics."

(Story continues below)

The data collected for the report is based on seven secret roundtable sessions involving between 21 and 45 people and conducted by CSIS. The participants are politicians, business people, labor leaders and academics from all three countries with equal representation.

All of this is described in a CSIS report, "North American Future 2025 Project."

"The free flow of people across national borders will undoubtedly continue throughout the world as well as in North America, as will the social, political and economic challenges that accompany this trend," says the report. "In order to remain competitive in the global economy, it is imperative for the twenty-first century North American labor market to possess the flexibility necessary to meet industrial labor demands on a transitional basis and in a way that responds to market forces."

As WND reported last week, the controversial "Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Reform Act of 2007," which would grant millions of illegal aliens the right to stay in the U.S. under certain conditions, contains provisions for the acceleration of the Security and Prosperity Partnership, a plan for North American economic and defense integration with remarkable similarities to the CSIS plan.

The bill, as worked out by Senate and White House negotiators, cites the SPP agreement signed by President Bush and his counterparts in Mexico and Canada March 23, 2005 – an agreement that has been criticized as a blueprint for building a European Union-style merger of the three countries of North America.

"It is the sense of Congress that the United States and Mexico should accelerate the implementation of the Partnership for Prosperity to help generate economic growth and improve the standard of living in Mexico, which will lead to reduced migration," the draft legislation states on page 211 on the version time-stamped May 18, 2007 11:58 p.m.

Since agreement on the major provisions of the bill was announced late last week, a firestorm of opposition has ignited across the country. Senators and representatives are reporting heavy volumes of phone calls and e-mails expressing outrage with the legislation they believe represents the largest "amnesty" program ever contemplated by the federal government.

Meanwhile, while many continue to express skepticism about a plot to integrate North America along the lines of the European Union, WND reported last week that 14 years ago, one of world's most celebrated economists and management experts said it was already on the fast track – and nothing could stop it.

Peter F. Drucker, in one of his dozens of best-selling books, "Post Capitalist Society," published in 1993, wrote that the European Community, the progenitor of the European Union, "triggered the attempt to create a North American economic community, built around the United States but integrating both Canada and Mexico into a common market."

"So far this attempt is purely economic in its goal," wrote the Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree. "But it can hardly remain so in the long run."

Drucker describes in his book the worldwide trends toward globalization that were evident back then – the creation and empowerment of transnational organizations and institutions, international environmental goals regarding carbon dioxide and agreements to fight terrorism long before 9/11.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


U.S. to Palestinians: Israel Will Stay Out of Gaza

One wonders, when will Israel start looking for new friends? Underneath a deadly rainfall of continuing rocket attacks, the nation is simultaneously reeling from a severe diplomatic and strategic wound—this one delivered by its greatest ally.

Yesterday, it was reported that Palestinian militants had launched an estimated 150 rockets
in the previous six days from locations inside Gaza. Ending a six-month period of limited operations, the Israeli Air Force responded by striking a number of targets inside the Gaza Strip, but it has been unable to slow the barrage. Israeli military leaders say that the only way to stop the attacks is to invade the Strip using ground forces.

Considering the predicament Israel finds itself in, with rockets still falling from a territory it ceded in a “land for peace”
deal, one would think Tel Aviv’s most important ally would be doing something.

It is.

In a “with friends like these …” moment, the U.S. State Department assured the Palestinian Authority (pa) earlier this month that Israel will stay out of the Gaza Strip. The World Tribune quoted a pa source as saying, “We’ve received assurances from the highest levels in the U.S. government that Israel would not launch a large-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip.”

The pa claims that the State Department sent a message directly to the pa stating that Israel had been told not to conduct the operations necessary to end the attacks.

Even before Israel could double-check the definition of “ally” in the English dictionary, it found itself in the midst of a weeklong storm of Kassam rocket explosions, many of them targeting the town of Sderot. Residents of the town have expressed outrage at their government’s weak response, even prior to the most recent violence
. In the latest round, students taking their matriculation exam in English inside fortified classrooms scrambled as alarms went off, with parents calling the schools in the aftermath—fearing the worst. According to Israel Radio, the Defense Ministry has evacuated some residents from the town.

Although the administration of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has not confirmed that it is under pressure from Washington, Sunday’s Security Cabinet meeting resulted in a no-decision on action to halt the missile attacks; meanwhile, three more rockets fell on Israeli soil.

In addition to these woes, the International Herald Tribune reported that Israel’s air strikes inside Gaza have not only failed to stop the rockets from falling, but have also apparently brought Palestinian infighting to a halt. Fatah and Hamas
factions are experiencing a newfound solidarity in the face of Israel’s surgical strikes.

As the American foreign policy umbrella continues to shrink and its friends find less and less shelter from the rain, expect Israel to look for new friends. To find out more about what will happen when the Jews look to Germany and the European Union for deliverance, read Jerusalem in Prophecy.


The Lie That Broke Britain
By Ron Fraser

Free trade is lauded as an absolute good. But great nations know better.

The American people are being fooled. So are the British. The English-speaking peoples seem blind to the economic catastrophe that awaits them. How is this so?

There exists a dichotomy at present in the circle of economic theorists. One school of thought claims that the ability to consume is the proof of a nation’s wealth. The other holds that it is the ability of a nation to produce. Which of these theories truly holds water? Consider their fruits.

Take Britain. Revisionist history aside, the truth is that the British peoples never deliberately set out to aggressively build an empire. What this “nation of shopkeepers” did do is set out to trade with the world. It established global trading posts, shipping raw materials from all over the world to the home-base in Britain. These materials were manufactured into finished goods within the greatest industrial empire of the time. The finished goods were sold for domestic consumption; the surplus was exported. By the mid-1800s, Britain produced double the output of America, with Europe’s future industrial giant, Germany, not even beginning to figure in the equation.

To that point, the British held to a “Britain trade first” policy, protecting their home manufacturing base from foreign competition. The empire was self-supporting, the most wealthy collection of nations ever seen. What’s more, Britain enjoyed absolute sovereignty.

All of that changed in 1860 when “enlightened” politicians embraced the free-trade economic policies of John Stuart Mill. Competition from cheaply produced, inferior-quality, low-cost goods made in foreign countries began to flood its markets. The abandonment of protection over its home manufacturers resulted, barely 50 years later, in Britain producing less than half the output of America. By 1914, it had even been surpassed by a German industrial economy that had not existed half a century before.

Today, Britain’s trading empire, source of its past wealth, is gone, its formerly great industrial base dismantled, largely gobbled up by foreign enterprise. Even strategic services, such as its postal system, water distribution, power generation and distribution, publishing, telecommunications and port facilities, increasingly are being captured by its former enemies.

Meanwhile, what has happened to America? Consider.

In the founding days of the nation, Alexander Hamilton delivered his “Report on Manufactures.” A former aide to Washington, Hamilton had noted a profound strategic weakness during America’s war of revolution: The country had simply been dependent upon a foreign nation, France, for the provision of armaments. Hamilton determined to mend this great national weakness. “Not only the wealth, but the independence and security of a country, appear to be materially connected with the prosperity of manufactures,” he wrote. “Every nation … ought to endeavor to possess within itself all the essentials of a national supply. These comprise the means of subsistence, habitation, clothing and defense.”

Subsequent U.S. governments followed Hamilton’s dictum on national self-sufficiency for over 100 years. The result was that by the start of World War i in 1914, the U.S. had become the wealthiest single nation on Earth. As Patrick S. Buchanan rightly observed, “The self-sufficiency and industrial power Hamiltonian policies created enabled us to rearm in security, crush the Axis in four years, rebuild Europe and Japan, and outlast the Soviet empire in a Cold War, while meeting all the needs of our people” (American Conservative, Aug. 11, 2003).

But after the war, the Wilsonian philosophy of opening the U.S. home market to foreign competition started the American economy on a downhill run. With the revival of post-World War ii Japan and Europe (Germany in particular), foreign competition started to bite. What Germany and Japan had not obtained through hot war, they were largely seizing by unfettered free trade! The U.S. was rapidly changing from being a dominant net exporter to becoming a gluttonous consumer of imported goods.

The outcome? Author Pat Choate, in his book Agents of Influence, lists the following levels of dependence that the U.S. now has on foreign countries for the supply of strategically critical goods: metalworking machinery—51 percent; engines and power equipment—56 percent; computer equipment—70 percent; communications equipment—67 percent; semiconductors and electronics—64 percent.

The U.S. has become, once again, dependent on foreign imports to sustain its military. And it prefers to have it so! Believe it or not, both the Pentagon and U.S. industrialists joined forces in back in 2003 to oppose legislation that would have required a 65 percent American content in weapons procured for the country’s defense. That is military and economic suicide!

The outcome is entirely predictable. There are precedents.

The first chancellor of Germany, Count Otto von Bismarck, understood the clear connection between industry, wealth and sovereignty. In 1834, he created a customs union, the Zollverein, as a strategic move in his quest for a German empire. He maintained that Germany must be able to feed itself and equip its armies without any reliance on foreign countries for their supply. In short, Germany formed this closed union of European trading partners for aggressive purposes—to prepare for imperial expansion by warfare.

Compare this experience with what is happening in Europe today. The German-dominated European Union has developed from a post-war protected common market into what is, already, a self-sufficient empire in the making. It has captured a global industrial base, producing wealth of a quantity that places it now in the uppermost league of federal economies. Its new constitution—should it finally come into effect—will establish the EU as a sovereign federal superstate, in exchange for individual member nations sacrificing their own national sovereignty.

The old Britons were right. Hamilton was right. Bismarck was right. Though the motivations of each differed, they all acknowledged a great truism currently ignored by our present leaders. In the words of Mr. Buchanan, “Free trade does to a nation what [alcoholism] does to a man: saps him first of his vitality, then his energy, then his independence, then his life.”

Monday, May 21, 2007


'Welcome to Tehran' - how Iran took control of Basra

Britain has failed to stop southern Iraq falling into grip of militias

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad in Basra
Saturday May 19, 2007
The Guardian

A member of the God’s Revenge, a Shia militia with strong ties to Iran, on patrol in Basra
A member of the God’s Revenge, a Shia militia with strong ties to Iran, on patrol in Basra. Photograph: Ghaith Abdul-Ahad

On a recent overcast afternoon in Basra, two new police SUVs drove onto a dusty, rubbish-strewn football pitch where a group of children were playing. The game stopped and the kids looked on.

Three men in white dishdashas got out of one of the cars. One, holding a Kalashnikov, stood guard as the other two removed some metal tubes and cables from the back of a vehicle. As the two men fiddled with the wires, the man with the gun waved it at a teenager who wanted to film with his mobile phone.

Then, amid cries of "Moqtada, Moqtada" and "Allahu Akbar", there were two thunderous explosions and a pair of Katyusha rockets streaked up into the sky. Their target would be the British base in Saddam Hussein's former palace compound. Their landing place could be anywhere in Basra, and was most likely to be a civilian home.

The men got back in their cars and drove away, and the children resumed their match.

"Since the British started deploying the anti-rocket magnetic fields our rockets are falling on civilians," Abu Mujtaba, the commander of the group of Mahdi army men told me later. The "magnetic fields" are the latest rumour doing the rounds of Basra's militias; another is that the British are shelling civilians to damage the reputation of the Mahdi army.

The scene I had just watched was an everyday incident in an area long regarded as relatively safe and stable compared with the civil war-racked regions to the north. But as the British army's decision not to deploy Prince Harry highlighted this week, Basra and the nominally British controlled areas around it are far from secure.

During a recent nine-day visit, politicians, security officials and businessmen explained how the streets of the city were effectively under the control of rival militias competing to control territory, the fragile post-Saddam apparatus of state and revenue sources such as oil and weapons smuggling. As in Baghdad, gunmen speed through the streets on the back of pickups and the city is divided between militias as mutually suspicious as rival mafia families.

"If the Prophet Muhammad would come to Basra today he would be killed because he doesn't have a militia," a law professor told me. "There is no state of law, the only law is the militia law."

The politician

His description of life in the city was echoed by Abu Ammar, once a prominent Basra politician. A secular technocrat, he had high hopes when the British first arrived more than four years ago. The city had been hit hard by Saddam's wars against Iran and Kuwait and he was optimistic that the occupation would bring democracy and prosperity.

But the rise of the militias has put paid to that, he said. Now he was too scared to talk in a hotel lobby and insisted we meet in my room.

"When these religious parties say Basra is calm, that's because they control the city, and they are looting it," he said. "It's calm not because it's under the control of the police, but because all the militias have interests and they want to maintain the status quo. The moment their interests are under threat the whole city can burn."

Like many I spoke to, he said the appearance of a functioning state was largely an illusion: "The security forces are made of militiamen. In any confrontation between political parties, the police force will splinter according to party line and fight each other."

The militia commander

The people who really control Basra are men such as Sayed Youssif. He is a mid-level militia commander, but his name and that of his militia - God's Revenge - strikes fear anywhere in Basra.

Beginning with a small group of gunmen occupying a small public building, the former religious student built up a reputation as a fearless thug, killing former Ba'athists, alcohol sellers and eventually freelancing as a hitman for anyone willing to pay the price.

I went to see him in his Basra compound. Gunmen dressed in the uniforms of ministry of interior commandos stood guard outside and a sniper watched from the roof.

In the room outside his office, tribal leaders, officials and more gunmen sat, bare footed, waiting for Sayed Youssif to call them. Some wanted him to help their relatives join the army or police. Some had problems with other militias and were seeking his protection. But most were there to pay homage to a powerful man whose help they may one day need. As the official apparatus of state slides into chaos, men such as him have become the main dispensers of justice and patronage. No one in Basra can be appointed to the army, police or any official job without a letter of support from a militia or a political party.

Sitting in front of a mural of an eagle emerging from Basra and enveloping the whole of Iraq, he retained the manners of a religious student; stretching his arms on his lap, he lowered his head to listen intently as visitors address him. But on the desk in front of him, two phones that rang constantly and a pistol with two cartridges hinted at the power he now wields.

Sayed Youssif had just made a ruling in the case of a Sunni man whose brother was accused of shooting at Shias more than 15 years ago. Relatives of the alleged victims were demanding that he pay them compensation or be killed. The man pleaded that his brother had left the country two years before and he was too poor to pay 7m dinars (£2,500) in compensation.

The Sunni man shook, pleading for mercy. "Time has changed," said Sayed Youssif in a low but powerful voice. "Now you Sunni come here and beg like the mice. Do you remember the days when no one of us could even talk to you? You were the tyrants then, but we are not tyrants like you - I will give you a week to go to your tribe and either convince then to hand your brother or you will be judged in his place."

At the moment, he explained, he was preoccupied with a power struggle against the Fadhila party, another Shia militia that has controlled the governorship and the oil terminals for most of the past two years.

Sayed Youssif and a group of other militias all with strong ties to Iran were trying to displace Fadhila. "I have told all city council members: you have to make a choice, you either vote against the governor or you will die," he told one of his aides. The next day, two bombs exploded outside the homes of city councillors from the Fadhila party.

The general

One afternoon I went to meet a senior Iraqi general in the interior ministry. A dozen gunmen in military uniforms lay dozing as a junior officer led me through a maze of corridors padded with sandbags.

The general was on the phone to another officer when I entered. He was jokingly threatening the caller: "Shut up or I will send democracy to your town."

When he finished his conversation, the general - who didn't want his name published because he feared retribution from militias -stretched out his hand to me and said: "Welcome to Tehran."

I asked him about British claims that the security situation was improving. His reply was withering: "The British came here as military tourists. They committed huge mistakes when they formed the security forces. They appointed militiamen as police officers and chose not confront the militias. We have reached this point where the militias are a legitimate force in the street."

He and other security officials in Basra, including a British adviser to the local police force, described a web of different security forces with allegiances to different factions or militias.

"Most of the police force is divided between Fadhila which controls the TSU [the tactical support unit, its best-trained unit] and Moqtada which controls the regular police," the general said.

"Fadhila also control the oil terminals, so they control the oil protection force and part of the navy. Moqtada controls the ports and customs, so they control the customs, police and its intelligence. Commandos are under the control of Badr Brigade."

The relationship between militias and the security units they had infiltrated was fluid and difficult to pin down, he said. "Even the police officer who is not part of a militia will join a militia to protect himself, and once he is affiliated with a militia then as a commander you can't change him ... because then you are confronting a political party," he added.

More than 60% of his own officers, and "almost all" policemen, were militiamen. "We need a major surgical operation, to clean the city," he said.

The British army's Operation Sinbad was designed to do just that. The army has claimed it was a success but the general saw it somewhat differently. "The Sinbad operation failed miserably, because it didn't cleanse the police force," he said. "Ahead of us we have years of fighting and murder, a militia will be toppled by another militia and those will split so day after day we are witnessing the formations of new groups. And the British withdrawal is leading to a power struggle between the different factions."

The intelligence officer

In the living room of his modest Basra home, a senior military intelligence official, call him Samer, told me the militias could take control of the city in half an hour if they chose. Next to the sofa we sat on lay a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, a machine gun and couple of grenades. Samer had survived two assassination attempts.

As a young man with a pistol tucked into the back of his trousers brought us cans of Fanta, Samer described the economic forces behind the growth of the militias. "The militias and the tribes are cartels, they control the main ports the main oil terminal, and they have their own ports and everyone smuggles oil. When the balance of power is disrupted, they clash in the streets," he said.

He told me how a few weeks earlier an official in the directorate of electricity loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr had been was replaced by another one loyal to the Fadhila party, triggering clashes in the streets between different police units.

When there was a clash between two militias, the police force split and one police unit began fighting other units. Police cars became militia cars. (One Mahdi army commander was aghast that I found this strange: "Of course I should travel in a police car, do you want the commander to travel by taxi?")

Complicating matters further, Samer said most militiamen had multiple IDs associated with different groups. "They switch depending on who pays more."

Like the general, he said much of the blame for the current situation lay with the British: "The British officers are very careful about their image, they are too scared to go into confrontation. They allowed the cancer to [take over the body]. Even if the militias burn the city tomorrow, [the British] won't go into confrontation. They know they are outnumbered and they have huge losses if they do so."

The next day I went back to see the general. He was sitting with two other officers discussing his day."Our uncles, the British, flew me today to Ammara to attend the security handover ceremony," he said. "Give it one month and it will collapse," one of the officers replied.

"One month?" the general laughed . "Give it a few days."

The Iranians

You can't move far in Basra without bumping into some evidence of the Iranian influence on the city. Even inside the British consulate compound visitors are advised not to use mobile phones because, as the security official put it ,"the Iranians next door are listening to everything".

In the Basra market Iranian produce is everywhere, from dairy products to motorcycles and electronic goods. Farsi phrase books are sold in bookshops and posters of Ayatollah Khomeini are on the walls.

But Iranian influence is also found in more sinister places. Abu Mujtaba described the level of cooperation between Iran and his units. His account echoed what several militia men in other parts of Iraq have told me.

Sitting in his house in one of Basra's poorest neighbourhoods, he told me: "We need weapons and Iran is our only outlet. If the Saudis would give us weapons we would stop bringing weapons from Iran."

He went on: "They [the Iranians] don't give us weapons, they sell us weapons: an Iranian bomb costs us $100, nothing comes for free. We know Iran is not interested in the good of Iraq, and we know they are here to fight the Americans and the British on our land, but we need them and they are using us."

Despite this scepticism about Tehran's motives, he said some Mahdi army units were now effectively under Iranian control. "Some of the units are following different commanders, and Iran managed to infiltrate [them], and these units work directly for Iran."

Most of the Shia militias and parties that control politics in Basra today were formed and funded by Tehran, he said.

His assessment was shared by both the general and the intelligence official. "Iran has not only infiltrated the government and security forces through the militias and parties they nurtured in Iran, they managed to infiltrate Moqtada's lot, by providing them with weapons," the general told me. "And some disgruntled and militias were over taken by Iran and provided with money and weapons."

In his office, littered with weapons bearing Iranian markings, Samer showed me footage his men had shot of a weapons smuggling operation after they captured six brand new Katyushas.

"In Basra, Iran has more influence than the government in Baghdad," he said. "It is providing the militias with everything from socks to rockets."

But, like many he was philosophical about Iranian interference. "Unlike the US and the UK, Iran invested better. They knew where to pump their money, into militias and political parties. If a war happens they can take over Basra without even sending their soldiers. They are fighting a war of attrition with the US and UK, bleeding them slowly. We arrest Iranian spies and intelligence networks but they are not spying on the Kalashnikovs of the Iraqi army - they are here to gather intelligence on the coalition forces."

But others cite evidence of Iranian influence being used to pursue less strategic aims. A businessman in Basra, who regularly imports soft drinks from Iran, told me he once had a dispute with his suppler in Iran over price. When he refused to pay, gunmen from a pro-Iranian militia stormed his shop and kidnapped him. He was only released after paying all of what he owed to the Iranian dealer.

Nasaif Jassem, a city councillor for the Fadhila party that controls the governorship and the oil industry in Basra, was critical of Iranian interference. Fadhila, widely seen as backed by the British, split from the main Shia alliance in Baghdad after accusing it of having a sectarian agenda.

"This British occupation will go but the other occupation, that of Iran, will stay for a long time," he said. "They want to have an agent in Iraq that they can move every time they want, just like Hizbullah in Lebanon. Iran is sending a message to the west: don't you dare come close to us because we can burn Basra and its people."

Fear of the Iranians runs through the city. I saw it in the offices of the general as we sat in his office one late one night. His two mobile phones had just rung, each with someone asking for a wrong number. The general's face turned pale and he said: "They have located me - the militia control all the transmission towers for the mobile network and now they have located my position."

Were 'they' the Iranians or a militia, I asked. "They are all the same." He called on his guards to send more men outside and ran to the window to check that the sandbags behind the glass were well stacked. "Do you think I or the British commander can walk freely in Basra?" he asked. "No is the answer, but the Iranian chargé d'affaires runs around freely."

The names of Abu Ammar and Samer have been changed for their safety. Ghaith Abdul- Ahad's second dispatch from Basra on oil smuggling will appear in Monday's newspaper

Competing forces

Several groups vie for power in Basra, Iraq's second largest city

· Mahdi army A loose alliance of Shia militiamen, about half of which are connected to Moqtada al-Sadr's office in the Shia holy city of Najaf. His men control the ports and customs as well as the customs police

· Fadhila party An anti-Iranian Shia militia organisation that controls the oil business in Basra, parts of the security forces and the ports and customs

· Badr brigade The armed wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Before the 2003 invasion it was based in Iran for 20 years

· Tribes There are at least 20 major tribes in the Basra area. Iraqis often feel the strongest allegiance to their tribe, above nationality. At least one influential tribe in the city runs its own smuggling business. They also support politicians in the city

· This article was amended on May 21 2007. When we said the Sunni man whose brother was accused of shooting at Shias was too poor to pay 7m dinars in compensation, we converted that as £250,000. This should have been £2,500. This has been corrected.

Sunday, May 20, 2007


WND Exclusive
North America 'partnership' fast-tracked in border bill
Calls for speedier regional economic integration between U.S., Mexico

Posted: May 20, 2007
1:00 a.m. Eastern

© 2007

WASHINGTON – The controversial "Secure Borders, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Reform Act of 2007," which would grant millions of illegal aliens the right to stay in the U.S. under certain conditions, contains provisions for the acceleration of the Security and Prosperity Partnership, a plan for North American economic and defense integration, WND has learned.

The bill, as worked out by Senate and White House negotiators, cites the SPP agreement signed by President Bush and his counterparts in Mexico and Canada March 23, 2005 – an agreement that has been criticized as a blueprint for building a European Union-style merger of the three countries of North America.

"It is the sense of Congress that the United States and Mexico should accelerate the implementation of the Partnership for Prosperity to help generate economic growth and improve the standard of living in Mexico, which will lead to reduced migration," the draft legislation states on page 211 on the version time-stamped May 18, 2007 11:58 p.m.

Since agreement on the major provisions of the bill was announced late last week, a firestorm of opposition has ignited across the country. Senators and representatives are reporting heavy volumes of phone calls and emails expressing outrage with the legislation they believe represents the largest "amnesty" program ever contemplated by the federal government.

President Bush yesterday attempted to tackle the concerns of those opposing the bill – denying again he would ever support an "amnesty" bill. The Senate is expected to begin debating the measure this week.

In its current form, the bill would offer probationary legal status to the estimated 15 million to 20 million illegal aliens who were in the U.S. before Jan. 1, 2007. Those who then met a series of requirements — including payment of a $5,000 fine and $2,000 in processing fees — could gain citizenship within an estimated 12 to 13 years.

In his weekly radio address, Bush said the plan "will help us resolve the status of millions of illegal immigrants who are here already, without animosity and without amnesty."

Bush said under the bill, those who "come out of the shadows" of illegal immigration will qualify for a special visa if they "pass a strict background check, pay a fine, hold a job, maintain a clean criminal record and eventually learn English."

To become citizens, he said, they must pay an additional fine, "go to the back of the line [of applications], pass a citizenship test, and return to their country to apply for their green card."

Among other provisions, including increased hiring of Border Patrol officers, the bill would establish a temporary worker program.

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, called the deal "amnesty – a pardon and reward for lawbreakers."

"Many senators claim that their deal renews respect for the rule of law," King said. "Let me respond to that absurd statement by stating clearly, you cannot simultaneously tear down and rebuild one of our constitutional principles. I took an oath to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law. The price for amnesty is the sacrifice of the rule of law."

King, ranking Republican on the Immigration Subcommittee of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, said each of the senators who struck the deal "should wear a scarlet letter 'A' for amnesty."

Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., also was quick to label the bill "amnesty."

The senator said it "rewards people who broke the law with permanent legal status and puts them ahead of millions of law-abiding immigrants waiting to come to America."

"I don't care how you try to spin it, this is amnesty," DeMint said.

"I hope we don't take a thousand page bill written in secret and try to ram it through the Senate in a few days," he added. "This is a very important issue for America and we need time to debate it."

In fact, while the draft bill is far from finished, it is 326 pages in its current form.

The House is not expected to act until the Senate passes a bill.

Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., called the deal "the best possible chance we will have in years to secure our borders and bring millions of people out of the shadows and into the sunshine of America."

Illegal immigrants would be allowed to come forward and obtain a "Z visa" that puts them on a track for permanent residency within eight to 13 years. Fees and a fine of $5,000 are required and heads of household first must return to their home countries.

The illegals would be able to obtain a probationary card right away to live and work in the U.S.

Blog Archive