Janet's Conner

This Blog tell the Truth and will never not tell the Truth. Impeach Bush

Sunday, July 30, 2006

UN BODY CRITICISES US ON RIGHTS

The US should immediately shut all secret detention facilities used in its campaign against terror groups, the UN Human Rights Committee has said.

BBC News
July 28, 2006

The committee called on the US to give the International Red Cross prompt access to those held in such jails.

The UN report also covered the domestic human rights situation in the US.

It urged the government to ensure the rights of poor people and blacks are respected in relief efforts.

Both groups were "disadvantaged" in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the UN committee noted.


Treaty's scope

The UN panel said the US should increase its efforts to "ensure the rights of poor people and in particular African-Americans are fully taken into consideration in the reconstruction plans with regard to access to housing, education and health care."

There should also be a moratorium on the death penalty, which appears to be imposed disproportionately on minority groups and poor people, the report concluded.

The committee's findings after it held a two-day hearing in Geneva last week into US compliance with the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The US government was expected to respond to the findings later on Friday, the Associated Press news agency reported.

However, in its hearing before the panel, the American delegation said that issues relating to terrorism were largely beyond the treaty's scope.

But the committee said on Friday that the US should review that approach and interpret the treaty in good faith.


Closure calls

The committee said it was concerned by "credible and uncontested" information that the US had detained people "secretly and in secret places for months and years."

The US "should only detain persons in places in which they can enjoy the full protection of the law," the report said.

The US authorities should also allow members of the International Committee of the Red Cross to those it is holding in such facilities.

The committee's call comes two months after a seperate UN body, the UN Committee against Torture, urged Washington to close its detention camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Earlier this month, the Bush administration announced that all detainees held by the US military, including those at Guantanamo, were to be treated in line with the minimum standards of the Geneva Conventions.

The shift in policy came after the US Supreme Court ruled that the conventions applied to detainees.

***As of today, nothing has changed!

A TIME FOR CONSCIOUNESS




Standing amid the swirling ashes of our own destruction, we deny the cinders of the charred bodies even as we try in vain to wipe them from our eyes. We deny the blood dripping from our hands while telling ourselves secret stories of how the dead count and do no count all at the same time.

Behold the peacemaker who knows not the consciousness of peace.

Freedom is ringing with the sound of children gasping and crying, writhing and dying, burning from a powder they will never know the name of. We deny them the very sanctity of life itself even as we boldy declare their liberation from tyranny to the enitre world. We hide behind our shield of noble ideals as we drive deep the point of our sword of tyranny.

Behold the liberator who knows the consciousness of liberation.

Death has called at the door of a mother. We expect her to accept, without question, the flag of our righteousness. We demand that she allow us to honor her sacrifice so that we may hold onto the illusion of our dignity.


By: Kim Gongre
July 29, 2006

AUDIT FINDS U.S. HID COST OF IRAQ PROJECTS




Baghdad, Iraq, July 29, 2006---The State Department agency in charge of $1.4B in reconstruction money in Iraq used an accounting shell game to hide ballooning cost overruns on its projects there and "knowingly" withheld information on schedule delays from Congress, a federal suit released late Friday has found.

The agency "hid" construction overruns by listing them as overhead or administrative costs, according to the audit, written by Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, an independent office that reports to Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department.

Called the United States Agency for International Deployment, or A.I.D., the agency administers foreign aid projects around the world. It had been working in Iraq on reconstruction since shortly after the 2003 invasion.

The report by the inspector general's office does not give a full accounting of all projects financed by the agency's $1.4B budget, but cites several examples.

The findings appeared in an audit of a children's hospital in Basra, but they reffered to the wider reconstruction activities of the development agency in Iraq. American and Iraqi officials reported this week that the State Department planned to drop Bechtel, its contractor on that project, as signs of budget and scheduling problems began to surface.

The United States Embassy in Baghdad referred questions about the audit to the State Department in Washington, where a spokesman, Justin Higgins, said Saturday, "We have not yet had a chance to fully review this report, but certainly will consider it carefully, as we do all findings of the inspector general."

Bechtel has said that because of the deteriorating security in Basra, the hospital project could not be completed as envisioned. But Mr. Higgins said: "Despite the challanges, we are committed to completing this project so that sick children in Basra can receive the medical help they need. The necessary funding is now in place to ensure that will happen."

In March 2005, A.I.D. asked the Iraq Reconstruction and Management Office at the United States Embassy in Baghdad for permission to downsize some projects to ease widespread financing problems. In its request, it said that it had to "absorb greatly increased construction costs" at the Basra hospital and that it would make a modest shift or priorities and reduce "contractor overhead" on the project.

***Just another one of the results of "no planning" on the war in Iraq! The contractors didn't think that security was going to be so bad, that it would take longer to reconstruct. Each year, the costs for materials go up!

The embassy office approved the request. But the audit found that the agency interpreted the document as permission to change reporting of costs across its program.

***Another example of the incompetency of the people that Bush has sent there!

Referring to the embassy office's approval, the inspector general wrote, "The memorandum was not intended to give U.S. A.I.D. blanket permission to change the reporting of all indirect costs."

The hospital's construction budget was $50M. By April of this year, Bechtel had told the aid agency that because of escalating costs for security and other problems, the project would actually cost $98M to complete. But in an official report to Congress that month, the agency "was reporting the hospital project cost as $50M," the inspector general wrote in his report.

***If Congress would have known this, then the truth about Iraq would come out and it would contradict everything that the president and his Republican puppets in Washington have been telling the people about Iraq.

The rest was reclassified as overhead, or "indirect costs." According to the contracting officer at the agency who was cited in the report, the agency, "did not report these costs so it could stay within the $50M authorization."

"We find the entire agreement unclear," the inspector general wrote of the A.I.D. request approved by the embassy. "The document states that hospital project cost increases would be offset by reducing contractor overhead allocated to the project, but project reports for the period show no effort to reduce overhead."

The report said it suspected that other unreported costs on the hospital could drive the tab even higher. In another case cited in the report, a power station project in Musayyib, the direct construction cost cited by the development agency was $6.6M, while the overhead cost was $27.6M.

One result is that the project's overhead, a figure that normally runs to a maximum of 30 percent, was a stunning 418 percent.

***This is all stemming from Cheney's "no-bid" contracts. The ones that Bush knew about.

The figures were even adjusted in the opposite direction when that helped the agency balance its books, the inspector general found. On an electricity project at the Baghdad South power station, direct construction costs were reported by the agency as $164.3M and indirect costs or overhead costs as $1.4M.

That is just 0.8 percent overhead in a country where security costs are often staggering. A contracting officer told the inspector general that the agency adjusted the figures "to stay within the authorization for each project."

The overall effect, the report said, was a "serious misstatement of hospital project costs." The true cost could rise as high as $169.5M, even after accounting for at least $30M pledged for medical equipment by a charitable organization.

But in its April report to COngress on the status of all projects, "U.S. A.I.D. reported no problem with the project schedule."

***Now when the Republicans come out to tell you that everything is going along in Iraq, they don't really know what they are talking about now, since the reports that they review show everything is on the up and up when it truly isn't!

In a letter responding to the inspector general's findings, Joseph A. Saloom, the newly appointed director of the reconstruction office at the United States Embassy, said he would take steps to improve the reporting of the costs of reconstruction projects in Iraq. Mr. Saloom took little exception to the main findings.

In the letter, Mr. Saloom said his office had been given new powers by the American ambassador in Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzad, to request clear financing information on American reconstruction projects. Mr. Saloom wrote that he agreed with the inspector general's conclusions that this shift would help "preclude surprises such as occured on the Basra hospital project."

"The U.S. Mission agrees that accurate monitoring of projects requires allocating indirect costs in a systematic way that reflects accurately the true indirect costs attributable to specific activities and projects, such as a Basra children's hospital," Mr. Saloom wrote.

***When will the corruption of this administration and its appointees and no-bid contractors quit! They are milking the taxpayers of this country dry!


The New York Times
By: James Glanz
July 30, 2006



AT THE HEART OF THE LEBANON CRISIS LIES THE LETHAL MISTAKES OF GEORGE BUSH




Instead of pursuing a Middle East peace deal, the White House's big idea has been to bomb people instead

Common Dreams
By: Jonathan Freedland
July 26, 2006


It was meant to be over by now. This time last week Israel planners were demanding another 72 hours to finish the job: that's all they needed, they promised, to clear southern Lebanon of Hezbollah. Yet the enemy has proved stubborn. Despite two weeks of bombardment, Hezbollah's formidable arsenal remains in place. Yesterday, they fired yet more rockets---60 of them---deep into Israel, reaching the city of Haifa and killing a teenage girl in the Arab village of Maghar.

This persistence is causing the first rumblings of Israeli disquiet. Why are the Katyushas "still coming and killing?" asks one Israeli columnist. Are the Israel Defence Forces losing their egde, asks another, wondering if "instead of an army that is small but smart, we are catching glimpses of an army that is big, rich, and dumb." The top brass deny they have been surprised by Hezbollah's strength. They expected nothing less, they say---not least because Iran has been supplying the movement with more than $100M worth of arms. Which would explain the serious hardware, including long-range missiles, at Hezbollah's disposal.

So far none of this has eroded the astonishly high level of Israeli public support for the war. I spoke yesterday to a "refusenik," an Israeli soldier whose principles compelled him to spend a month in jail rather than serve in the West Bank or Gaza. Even he was clear: "We had no choice but to hit back." This is not about defending occupied territory, because Israel is not a genuine occupier in Lebanon. This is, he says, about defending the country from a proxy army of a state, that is committed to Israel's destruction.

Little has punctured Israeli's sense of self-belief. They see few of the TV pictures we see, showing Lebanese children, bloodstained and weeping; they have victims of their own to concentrate on. As the rest of the world's condemnation, it doesn't cut much ice. Why should Israelis listen to Vladimir Putin when he tells them their response has been "disproportionate?" Was Russia's pounding of Grozny proportionate? As for complaints from Britain and Europe about the 390 civilians killed in Lebanon, those are a reminder of the more than 3,000 civilians killed in the 2001 onslaught against Afghanastan: how was that proportionate exactly? Kim Howells was right to be appalled by what he saw in Beirut. But he surely would have been just as shocked had he visited the Iraqi city of Fallujah after the Americans had turned it to rubble.

Besides, not much of this criticism, including that from Howell, has got through at all. The message projected by most of the Israeli media is that the bit of the world that matters---the US---is behind them. The government certainly echoes that line, and it would have been emboldened by Condoleeza Rice's show of understanding yesterday.

Indeed, for prime minister Ehud Olmert the backing of the US is central to everything this war is about. The Tel Aviv University analyst Dr. Gary Sussman calls it a "war for the legitimacy of unilateralism." This approach, first pursued by Ariel Sharon and now Olmert's defining project, tells Israelis that it is OK to pull out from occupied terrirory---whether southern Lebanon in 2000 or Gaza in 2005---because after withdrawal there will be a clear, recognized border, behind which Israel can defend itself more vigorously than ever. That is why, once Hezbollah had captured those two Israeli soldiers, Olmert had to hit back. If he had not, he would have vindicated the critics who brand unilateral withdrawal a glorified retreat, jeopardizing Israel's security. He had to prove that pulling out did not mean running away, that Israel could still defend itself. What's more, because it had moved back to the internationally recognized border, Israel would now enjoy international legitimacy. Washington has obligingly played its role, supplying the support that confirms Olmert's logic.

This message is not aimed solely at the Israeli people. It is also meant to restore the country's "deterrence," telling Hezbollah and the rest of the region that they cannot cross Israel's borders, or seize its personnel, with impunity (no matter how Israel itself behaves). Israel is especially keen to disprove the "cobweb theory," put about by Hezbollah: pull at one Israeli thread, such as its 18-year presence in Lebanon until 2000, and the rest will unravel. The current operation is designed to say that Israel does not do unraveling.

There is a last audience for this war. Olmert wants the Palestinians to see that if Israel withdraws from further territory, as he intends, it will not be a soft touch. On the contrary, as the world has seen, if Israel is so much as scratched it will hit back very hard. The prime minister wants this point seared into the minds of Hamas and Fatah so that they remember it come the day Israel withdraws from parts of the West Bank.

From his own point of view, Olmert has little alternative. If he had accepted the soldiers' kidnapping, and sought their return through diplomacy, most Israeli analysts are agreed that he would have been finished. He would have confirmed his own weakness, a civilian with no military record, and he would have proved the anti-unilateralists right. His own plan, to withdraw from occupied territory, would be in shreds. As things stand, he should now have the credibility to move forward.

That's as close as we get to a crumb of comfort to be found in the rubble of this last fortnight. Yet it need not have been this way. Had one of the key players in the drama behaved differently, this entire mess could have been avoided.

I'm thinking of the United States. It's fashionable to blame the US for all the world's ills, but in this case the sins, both of omission and commission, of the Bush administration genuinely belong at the heart of the trouble.

Diplomacy has had a difficult task from the start, in part because the US is not seen as an honest broker, but as too closely aligned with Israel. Washingon has long been pro-Israel, but under President Clinton and the first President Bush there was an effort to be seen as a plausible mediator. NOT UNDER GEORGE W. Far from keeping lines of communication open with Hezbollah's two key patrons---they have been cast into outer darkness, branded as spokes, or satellites, of the axis of evil. As a result there has been no mechanism to restrain Hezbollah. Now, when the US needs Syria's help, it may be too late. Damascus will extract a high price, no doubt demanding the right to re-enter, in some form, Lebanon. The White House can't grant that---not when it considers Syria's ejection from Lebanon in 2005 one of its few foreign-policy successes.

But the record of failure goes deeper than that. It began in the president's first week, when Bush decided he would not repeat what he perceived as his predecessor's mistake by allowing his presidency to be mired in the fruitless search for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Even though Clinton had got tantalizingly close, Bush decided to drop it. While Henry Kissinger once racked up 24,230 miles in just 34 days of shuttle diplomacy, Bush's envoys have been sparing in their visits to the region.

THE RESULT IS THAT THE CORE CONFLICT HAD BEEN ALLOWED TO FESTER. HAD IT BEEN SOLVED, OR EVEN IF THERE HAD BEEN A SERIOUS EFFORT TO SOLVE IT, THE CURRENT CRISIS WOULD HAVE BEEN UNIMAGINABLE. INSTEAD, BUSH'S ANIMATING IDEA HAS BEEN THAT THE PEOPLES OF THE MIDDLE EAST CAN BE BOMBED INTO DEMOCRACY AND TERRORIZED INTO MODERATION. IT HAS PROVED ONE OF THE GREAT LETHAL MISTAKES OF HIS ABOMINABLE PRESIDENCY---AND THE PEOPLES OF ISRAEL AND LEBANON ARE PAYING THE PRICE.