Watching the Shadows

House anti-trust panel grills Big Oil

Big Oil went on the defensive May 16, getting grilled before a House Judiciary Committee antitrust panel and denying accusations that mismanagement and a lack of competition are the reasons behind this spring's record gasoline prices. Gas prices hit $3.10 a gallon that day—the fourth record day in a row. The surge has been attributed to low gasoline supplies caused by a lack of refining capacity.

US Congress condemns al-Hurra coverage

Conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats have taken to criticising the US-financed Middle East television channel, al-Hurra, for having broadcast "friendly coverage of camera-ready extremists" (The Wall Street Journal) such as Hezbollah and Hamas. Al-Hurra was set up in 2003 in the vein of Radio Free Europe and TV Martí, in order to counter the al-Jazeera phenomenon. [It seems none of al al-Hurra's executives can speak Arabic, and had little iidea what they were broadcasting.] NYT, May 16]

Ron Paul was right!

During the May 15 Republican presidential debate at the University of South Carolina, Libertarian gadly Rep. Ron Paul (TX) dared to speak logic about the reasons behind 9-11—and made clear that he, at least, has actually read al-Qaeda's communiqués. "Have you ever read the reasons they attacked us? They attacked us because we've been over there; we've been bombing Iraq for 10 years." Of course he had to play a stupid xenophobia/Orientalism card, and paradoxically invoke to his defense Ronald Reagan, whose imperial intrigues in the Islamic world only helped create al-Qaeda: "I think Reagan was right. We don't understand the irrationality of Middle Eastern politics." But he quickly rescued himself with some simple logic and humanity: "So right now we're building an embassy in Iraq that's bigger than the Vatican. We're building 14 permanent bases. What would we say here if China was doing this in our country or in the Gulf of Mexico? We would be objecting. We need to look at what we do from the perspective of what would happen if somebody else did it to us." Of course, no good deed goes unpunished—and Paul's punishment came swiftly...

Gitmo hearings reveal torture claim

A Pakistani man held at Guantanamo Bay denied belonging to al-Qaeda and accused US authorities of torturing him, according to a document released by the Pentagon May 15. Majid Khan, who lived in the US for several years, was arrested in Pakistan in 2003 and held in a secret network of CIA-run prisons before he was transferred to Gitmo last year. "I am not an enemy combatant. I am not an extremist," Khan told a panel of military officials on April 15, according to the edited transcript released by the Pentagon. The hearing was held to determine whether Khan, 27, meets the US definition of an enemy combatant but no decision has been reached. The hearing was closed to the public.

Justice Department investigates Posada Carriles

A federal grand jury in Newark, NJ, has been investigating charges that Cuban-born Luis Posada Carriles masterminded the bombings of hotels in Cuba in 1997 that resulted in the death of one Italian-Canadian tourist. The Miami Herald revealed on May 3 that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Cuban government have been cooperating to an unusual degree on this investigation, with FBI agents traveling to Havana in the fall of 2006.

State Department: global terrorism surges —again

So much for all the incessant Republican balther about how "We're fighting them in Iraq so we don't have to fight them here at home." The terrorists love the GWOT. It is their biggest recuiting and propaganda tool, their very lifeblood. For yet another consecutive year, the State Department finds a dramatic increase in global terrorist attacks. Of course the biggest increase is in Iraq. By Republican "logic," this means the terrorists are so busy there they don't have the time or resources to attack the US "homeland." Or has Iraq, on the contrary, become a recuiting and training ground—by al-Qaeda's own admission a "university of terrorism"? And in any case, is Iraqi blood somehow worth less? The GWOT is, by the State Department's own statistics, making the world a more dangerous place. But this analysis, from the warmakers themselves, will not stop it—because, as we have repeatedly argued, it is not about protecting American (much less merely human) lives, it is about preserving US global hegemony. From McClatchy Newspapers, April 27:

UK rejects GWOT nomenclature

British International Development Secretary Hilary Benn has announced an end to the use of "war on terror" phraseology among the UK government. "What these [terrorist] groups want," he observed, is to "force their individual and narrow values on others without dialogue, without debate, through violence." Thus, in its conveyance of tackling a monolithic "enemy," the "war on terror" term has only served to strengthen the "terrorist" resolve, he critiqued. Benn also advocated increased use of ideational and value-based "soft power" policies, having called for the closure of the Guantánamo Bay detention facility, and emphasizing Britain’s ascription to the International Criminal Court. [AlJazeera, April 16]

Padilla case opens —minus "dirty bomb" charge

Remember all the hype when Padilla was first arrested? Now that he is finally going to trial—on considerably less ambitious charges than those originaly floated—it is a discrete little story on the inside pages. Funny how that works, huh? We have noted a lot of utterly specious terrorism cases lately. This much-hyped case could turn out to be another one. From Los Angeles Times, April 16:

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