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News about the Irish & Irish American culture, music, news, sports. This is hosted by the Irish Aires radio show on KPFT-FM 90.1 in Houston, Texas (a Pacifica community radio station)
February 17, 2007
O'Bama: Time For Candidates To Go Green
News about Ireland & the Irish
BH 02/16/07 O’Bama: Time For Candidates To Go Green
BT 02/17/07 SF Committed To Power-Sharing Deadline
SF 02/17/07 No Going Back On The Good Friday Agreement
BB 02/17/06 UUP Leader Says DUP Being 'Naive'
SF 02/16/07 Sinn Féin Predict Substantial Growth In Dublin
SF 02/16/07 DUP Should Wise-Up And Catch-Up
IT 02/17/07 Hain Rules Out Bloody Sunday Gesture
SF 02/17/07 Sinn Féin Meets PSNI Chief Constable
SF 02/17/07 All-Ireland Free Travel Was A Sinn Féin Demand
GR 02/16/07 Ulster On Euphrates: Dirty War In Iraq
IA 02/16/07 Opin: The Race Is On
BT 02/17/07 Opin: British, Rather Than N Irish, Atrocity
O'Bama's Opportunity: It's High Time For Candidates To Go
Green South Of N.H.
By Brett Arends
Boston Herald Business Columnist
Friday, February 16, 2007
The St. Patrick's Day breakfast in Southie may go on longer
than usual this year. A lot of the people running for
president are saying they may show up.
"We've had interest from John McCain's group," reveals the
event's organizer, state Sen. Jack Hart. "We have received
interest from Hillary Clinton's campaign, from (Connecticut
senator) Chris Dodd and from Joe Biden."
As if you didn't already know that the presidential
campaign has started unusually early this year.
One name leaps out immediately from Hart's list.
Better pack a hip flask if you're going to that festivity.
You could still be there at 6 o'clock.
Advice to the famously prolix senator from Delaware:
Brevity is the soul of wit.
Two names, on the other hand, are conspicuous for their
The first: Mitt Romney. For those with short memories, he
used to be the state's governor . . . or, perhaps, the
"Mitt was invited," says Hart. "Initially he said he was
coming. But then his team cancelled, a couple of weeks
A year ago, Romney's speech went down well. He disarmed his
critics by beginning with a joke, to the effect that he was
so happy "the breakfast happened to coincide with one of my
visits to Massachusetts."
This time around, apparently, it doesn't. He's never even
heard of the place.
Maybe he'll be addressing a Pat Robertson event somewhere
in South Carolina instead.
The other name missing, so far: Sen. Barack Obama.
"We haven't heard back from Senator Obama yet," says Hart.
"But we have sent invitations out to everyone."
Memo to his campaign: Get your acceptance in.
Where better for your candidate to reveal that his real
name is . . . Barry O'Bama?
Hart is also waiting to hear back from former New Mexico
Gov. Bill Richardson, who actually knows the area.
Richardson went to high school in Concord and then attended
If Clinton and O'Bama do show up, the event is going to
involve some fancy footwork. Both senators come from states
with big Irish populations and major St. Paddy's Day events
that they will have to attend.
I can confidently predict lame jokes about borrowing Gov.
Deval Patrick's helicopter to shuttle between green hat
The bad news for both: Hart says he doesn't want to let
anyone just phone in - except, of course, the president,
who gets that right by tradition.
There have been few exceptions. Back in the day, Vice
President George Bush (the elder) phoned in when he was
running for president. And so did Sen. John Kerry when he
was running as well.
For all the inconvenience, the Southie event is the chance
to schmooze the Irish Democrat establishment in the
Northeast . . . and to get on TV both nationally and in the
New Hampshire market.
For Clinton, the establishment candidate, you have to
figure she'll be there if possible. And you wouldn't expect
Barry O'Bama to miss a chance to showcase his personal
Can these people tell a joke? I guess we'll find out.
For those candidates who do turn up, the advice on writing
your speech is simple.
Make fun of yourself.
Crack at least one joke about a local Irish pol. Note: Gov.
Patrick doesn't count.
Do not succumb to the temptation to sing. I don't care how
much the Guinness moves you.
And, above all: Keep it short. Please.
Talk back at email@example.com.
SF 'Absolutely Committed' To North Power-Sharing Deadline
[Published: Saturday 17, February 2007 - 13:55]
Sinn Fein has said it's 'absolutely committed' to entering
a power-sharing Government in the North by March 26th.
The party's Ard Chomhairle met this morning in Dublin to
finalise preparations for the Assembly election campaign
and the upcoming Sinn Fein Ard Fheis.
Afterwards, General Secretary Mitchell McLaughlin said they
were focused on ensuring that a fully functioning executive
is in place by the deadline.
He said Sinn Fein's recent decision to support the PSNI had
"liberated the political process" and that the
opportunities created must now be grasped by all.
c Belfast Telegraph
No Going Back On The Good Friday Agreement - Caitr¡ona
Published: 16 February, 2007
Speaking ahead of the March 7th Assembly Election, south
Down Assembly candidate Caitr¡ona Ruane said:
"Eighteen months after the referendum on the Good Friday
Agreement the DUP in colourful language described the
Assembly as the "driving force behind the imposition of a
"It was rhetoric designed to frighten unionists and win for
the DUP the commanding position within their community and
it worked. Sinn Fein, on the other hand, won its position
as the leadership of the nationalist community by
painstakingly arguing for meaningful change in equality,
justice and policing. We remained focused. We had a game
plan. We worked at two strategies; defending the rights and
well-being of our constituents whether the Assembly stood
or fell and demanding equality for our people and
recognition of their aspirations with a system that will
allow us to work for social and economic harmonisation on
the island of Ireland to break down partition.
"The DUP is now a party in some disarray. Those who took
Paisley's 'never, never, never' at face value cannot come
to terms with reality. If the DUP does not share power with
Sinn Fein then "there is something worse in its place", to
quote ex-DUP Councillor Leslie Cubitt, referring to
increased Dublin/London cooperation.
"DUP members in Ballymena are refusing to canvass for
Paisley. Jack McKee of Larne, who has been at Paisley's
side for forty years, has resigned, as has one of the
founding fathers of the party, George McConnell from
"This is unprecedented territory for the DUP and it would
come as no surprise to us if Ian Paisley finally balked at
sharing power. In such circumstances it will have been the
historic sectarian culture which undermines progress in the
North and the unionist community will undoubtedly have to
rethink the mandate they gave the DUP.
"For our part, the future is clear. There is no going back
on the Good Friday Agreement and we will ensure that the
two governments continue to implement change." ENDS
UUP Leader Says DUP Being 'Naive'
Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey has accused the DUP of
showing naivety over power sharing and the peace dividend.
The DUP says keeping the government guessing about whether
it will share power will provide extra leverage to
negotiate a devolution financial deal.
Sir Reg said the Treasury will not give any tax concessions
ahead of elections in Scotland in May.
He said the parties should form a united front on any peace
"The chancellor is not going to do a deal for one party but
he may do a deal for all of us and I think that's the
difference between the DUP's approach and ours," he said.
"We both share the same objective, if the objective is to
get a deal to go into government.
"But we dare not risk losing that all-party consensus which
is the key strength."
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2007/02/17 09:27:34 GMT
c BBC MMVII
Sinn Fein Predict Substantial Growth In Dublin
Published: 17 February, 2007
Dublin Sinn Fein MEP Mary Lou McDonald this morning
predicted that Sinn Fein will over-take the Labour Party in
Dublin in the next five to ten years. Ms. McDonald made
her comments at Dublin Sinn Fein's Annual General Meeting
in the Mansion House this morning.
She said, "As we gather here for our Annual General Meeting
we are in buoyant and confident mood. The party is in
election mode in every county on the island and here in
Dublin we are confident of significantly increasing our
Leinster House representation after the general election.
We are a party on the move in this city. We have made
significant gains in every election in the last decade and
will continue down that road after this election.
"The next five to ten years will be crucial for
Republicanism in this city. We need to set ourselves
ambitious but achievable goals. We must overtake the
Labour Party in this city in the next five to ten years and
I predict we will. In that time I also believe we will
become the largest party on Dublin City Council and we will
have a Sinn Fein mayor of Dublin.
"But to do that we need to set out our stall now. We need
to set out our vision for this city and incorporate that
into our programme of work and our key campaigns. Central
to these will be sorting out the crisis in our health
services, delivering quality social housing to our people
developing an integrated fully resourced public transport
system to get the city moving and end the commuting
"These are the key issues we will be campaigning on and I
want to formerly launch one of our key campaigning tools,
our newspaper Dublin News which we will use to get our
message to the people. Dublin News is the voice of
Republicanism in the capital city and almost 200,000 of
them will be delivered throughout Dublin over the next
month. There will be another issue produced in April and
we hope to increase its circulation to at least 250,000.
This paper brings the republican vision and our goals to
the people and our message that we offer a real alternative
to the stale politics of the establishment parties. We are
quite confident of achieving those goals and realising that
"DUP Should Wise-Up And Catch-Up" Mitchel McLaughlin
Published: 16 February, 2007
Condemning the threat of 'another Harryville' by a loyalist
group in Antrim Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin has called
on unionist leaders to disassociate themselves from such
Mitchel McLaughlin said:
"An Antrim paper last week carried a story that it was in
receipt of a leaflet distributed by a loyalist group
warning of 'another Harryville' situation if plans for
development of facilities by St. Comgalls GAA Club proceed.
"I find the language in the leaflet extremely inflammatory
and dangerous but it is even more concerning that according
to the report, a DUP Councillor and candidate in the
Assembly elections has publicly endorsed "all the comments"
made within the leaflet.
"I don't have to remind readers of the fatal consequences
of similar comments by some unionist spokespersons which in
the past have contributed to creating the atmosphere
leading to the murder of GAA members in County Antrim and
other areas of the North.
"Is this the type of atmosphere that the DUP is intent on
perpetuating or will they come out of their time warp and
join the rest of us in modern day politics based in
"Sinn Fein is working to create a society of equals where
no area will be described as "Protestant" or "Catholic".
People should be able to shop, play and work wherever they
choose without fear of threat or intimidation.
"The GAA is a cultural, sporting organisation and is open
to all sections of the community. Like all other sporting
organisations it is apolitical and should not be the target
of abuse from politicians. As a public representative I
will defend the rights of all community, social, cultural
and sporting organisations as well as the general public to
live free from the fear of sectarian or racist threat or
abuse. I would invite the DUP to subscribe to similar
sentiments and catch-up with the rest of us in the real
Hain Rules Out Bloody Sunday Gesture
Fri, Feb 16, 2007
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Peter Hain has
ruled out any gesture marking the 1920 massacre carried out
by British soldiers at Croke Park.
Peter Hain will be at the home of the Gaelic Athletic
Association (GAA) for Ireland's rugby fixture against
England on February 24.
Speculation had mounted that Mr Hain might take part in an
event commemorating the 1920 shooting dead of 14 civilians
by troops, which became known as Bloody Sunday.
However Mr Hain ruled out any such gesture today.
"Despite the excited speculation around the Ireland/England
rugby match at Croke Park, let me be clear, I have never
proposed doing anything other than attend and watch the
match at the specific request of the Taoiseach and Prime
Minister," he said.
"I will be there as a guest at what will be an historic
occasion and, I hope, a great game of rugby."
Last weekend Ireland hosted France for the first ever rugby
match at the 80,000 seater stadium.
The GAA lifted its ban on soccer and rugby being played at
headquarters in 2005.
The Bloody Sunday massacre followed the shooting dead of a
number of high-ranking British agents in Dublin on the
orders of IRA leader Michael Collins.
At around 3pm on November 21st, 1920, when the crowd of
under 10,000 was settling down to an entertaining game, a
British military plane flew over and emitted a red signal
Immediately, Black and Tans began to climb over the walls
at each end of the ground, some using ladders.
At once, fire was directed straight into the crowd, first
from small arms and then from machine guns hastily set up
on the ground just inside the main entrance.
After the shooting ended, 13 people lay dead around the
ground, close on 100 were injured.
The dead included the Tipperary captain Michael Hogan, a
young Wexford man who had been rendering spiritual
assistance to a 26-year-old Dublin woman due to get married
a few days later, and three Dublin boys - aged 10, 11 and
c 2007 ireland.com
Sinn Fein Meets PSNI Chief Constable
Published: 16 February, 2007
A Sinn Fein delegation led by Party President Gerry Adams
MP, and including Policing spokesperson Gerry Kelly,
Caitriona Ruane, Michelle Gildernew MP and Alex Maskey met
the PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde at PSNI Headquarters in
Knock this afternoon. Speaking after the meeting Sinn Fein
President Gerry Adams said:
'Sinn Fein's focus in all of our engagements with the PSNI
- indeed with all of the policing structures - will be to
ensure that it carries out its duties and responsibilities
in a fair and impartial way, as a civic police service,
which is democratically accountable to the public.
Policing with the community needs to be the core function
of any civic policing service and especially in relation to
protecting the most vulnerable sections of the community.
That is the elderly, women and children, and those subject
to homophobic, sectarian and racist attacks and car crime
and death riders.
Political, civic and community leaders have an important
role to play here also. Significant progress has been made
in recent years and months to ensure that we have the
necessary threshold for the new beginning to policing
promised in the Good Friday Agreement. But like all new
arrangements progress will be dependent upon the
implementation of what has been agreed.
The recent report by the Police Ombudsman and the wider
issue of Collusion meant that this issue formed a
significant part of today's meeting.
Another issue of concern which we raised with the PSNI
Chief Constable is that of inquests. Today marks the 15
anniversary of the ambush at Clonoe in which four IRA
Volunteers were killed by the SAS. The families of these
men want truth about the deaths of their loved ones, and
are worried that the PSNI may use Public Interest Immunity
Certificates to withhold information and evidence from
Coroners Courts. Dozens of inquests have been held up for
over two decades.
Other matters we raised with Mr. Orde and his colleagues
include the demilitarisation of policing structures,
including the creation of a routinely unarmed police
service. Our meeting with Mr. Orde covered a lot of issues.
In the time ahead I would expect that other meetings will
allow for more focussed discussions on specific
matters.Sinn Fein is determined to get policing and justice
right. We have been mandated by the Ard Fheis to drive
forward this agenda. It is our intention and determination
to do that." ENDS
All-Ireland Free Travel Was A Sinn Fein Demand
Published: 16 February, 2007
Sinn Fein Fermanagh South Tyrone MP and Assembly election
candidate Michelle Gildernew has welcomed the long-overdue
introduction of free travel for elderly people on an all-
Ms Gildernew said:
"When Sinn Fein published our Charter for Older People
'Forget Me Not' last year the introduction of all-Ireland
free travel was one of our key demands.
"Sinn Fein is committed to breaking down the barriers and
borders that restrict and frustrate older people having
active lives and playing their full role within our
"While this is welcome many older people, particularly in
rural communities, will say with justification that we now
need to see a commitment to deliver a transport network, a
public transport network, that can be an essential
component in battling isolation.
"However, it is clear that while this step is welcome we
need to take a much more comprehensive approach in meeting
the needs of our older people. It means addressing issues
such as the threat to our Post Offices, it means 4equal
access to health services and fundamentally it means a
wider look at why so many of our older people are living
with poverty." ENDS
Ulster on the Euphrates: The Anglo-American Dirty War in
By Chris Floyd
Global Research, February 16, 2007
Empire Burlesque - 2007-02-13
I. Paint it Black
Imagine a city torn by sectarian strife. Competing death
squads roam the streets; terrorists stage horrific attacks.
Local authority is distrusted and weak; local populations
protect the extremists in their midst, out of loyalty or
fear. A bristling military occupation exacerbates tensions
at every turn, while offering prime targets for bombs and
snipers. And behind the scenes, in a shadow world of
double-cross and double-bluff, covert units of the
occupying power run agents on both sides of the civil war,
countenancing -- and sometimes directing -- assassinations,
terrorist strikes, torture sessions, and ethnic cleansing.
Is this a portrait of Belfast during "The Troubles" in
Northern Ireland? Or a picture of Baghdad today? It is
both; and in both cases, one of Britain's most secret - and
most criminally compromised - military units has plied its
trade in the darkness, "turning" and controlling terrorist
killers in a dangerous bid to wring actionable intelligence
from blood and betrayal. And America's covert soldiers are
right there with them, working side-by-side with their
British comrades in the aptly named "Task Force Black," the
UK's Sunday Telegraph reports.
Last week, the right-wing, pro-war paper published an early
valentine to the "Joint Support Group," the covert unit
whose bland name belies its dramatic role at the center of
the Anglo-American "dirty war" in Iraq. In gushing, lavish,
uncritical prose that could have been (and perhaps was)
scripted by the unit itself, the Telegraph lauded the team
of secret warriors as "one of the Coalition's most
effective and deadly weapons in the fight against terror,"
running "dozens of Iraqi double-agents," including "members
of terrorist groups."
What the story fails to mention is the fact that in its
Ulster incarnation, the JSG - then known as the Force
Research Unit (FRU) - actively colluded in the murder of at
least 15 civilians by Loyalist deaths squads, and an untold
number of victims killed, maimed and tortured by the many
Irish Republican Army double-agents controlled by the unit.
What's more, the man who commanded the FRU during the
height of its depredations - Lt. Col. Gordon Kerr - is in
Baghdad now, heading the hugger-mugger Special
Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR), a large counter-terrorism
force made up of unnamed "existing assets" from the glory
days in Northern Ireland and elsewhere.
This despite the fact that a 10-year, $100 million
investigation by Britain's top police officer, Lord
Stevens, confirmed in 2003 that the Kerr-led FRU
"sanctioned killings" through "institutionalized collusion"
with both Protestant and Catholic militias during the 1980s
and 1990s. Stevens sent dossiers of evidence against Kerr
and 20 other security apparatchiks to the Blair
government's Director of Public Prosecutions, in the
expectation that the fiery Scotsman and the others would be
put on trial.
But instead prosecuting Kerr, Blair promoted him: first to
a plum assignment as British military attach‚ in Beijing -
effectively the number two man in all of UK military
intelligence, as Scotland's Sunday Herald notes - then with
the SRR posting to Baghdad, where Kerr and his former FRU
mates now apply the "methods developed on the mean streets
of Ulster during the Troubles," as the Telegraph
The Telegraph puff piece is naturally coy about revealing
these methods, beyond the fact that, as in Ireland, the JSG
uses "a variety of inducements ranging from blackmail to
bribes" to turn Iraqi terrorists into Coalition agents. So
to get a better idea of the techniques employed by the
group in Baghdad, we must return to those "mean streets of
Ulster" and the unit's reign of terror and collusion there,
which has been thoroughly documented not only by the
exhaustive Stevens inquiries, but also in a remarkable
series of investigative reports by the Sunday Herald's Neil
Mackay, and in extensive stories by the BBC, the Guardian,
the Independent, the Times and others.
We will also see how the operations of the JSG and "Task
Force Black" dovetail with U.S. efforts to apply the
lessons of its own dirty wars - such as the "Salvador
Option" - to Iraq, as well as long-running Bush
Administration initiatives to arm and fund "friendly"
militias while infiltrating terrorist groups in order to
"provoke them into action." It is indeed a picture painted
in black, a glimpse at the dark muck that lies beneath the
high-flown rhetoric about freedom and civilization forever
issuing from the lips of the war leaders.
II. Whacking for the Peelers
Gregory Burns had a problem. He was one of Gordon Kerr's
FRU informers planted deep inside the IRA, along with two
of his friends, Johnny Dignam and Aidan Starrs. But as
Mackay noted in a February 2003 story, the already-
partnered Burns had acquired a girlfriend on the side,
Margaret Perry, 26, a "civilian" Catholic with no
paramilitary ties. Forbidden fruit is sweet, of course -
but pillow talk is dangerous for an inside man. "Burns
didn't keep his mouth shut and [Perry] found out he was
working for British intelligence," an FRU officer told
Mackay. "He tried to convince her he was a double-agent the
IRA had planted in the [British] army - but she didn't buy
Burns called his FRU handlers and asked to come in from the
cold. He'd been compromised, he said, and now he and his
friends needed to get out, with new identities, relocation,
good jobs - the usual payoff for trusted agents when the
jig was up. But Kerr refused: "He said [Burns] should
silence Perry," the FRU man told Mackay. Burns, panicking
at thought of the IRA's horrific retributions against
informers, insisted: he would have to kill the woman if
they didn't bring him in, he told Kerr. Again Kerr refused.
And so Burns arranged a meeting with his lover, to "talk
over" the situation. His friends, Aidan and Johnny,
volunteered to drive her there: "On the way, they pulled
into a forest, beat her to death and buried her in a
shallow grave," Mackay notes. Two years later, when her
body was found, the IRA put two and two together - and
slowly tortured Burns and his two friends to death, after
first extracting copious amounts of information about
British intelligence operations in Ireland.
'In Kerr's eyes, Burns just wasn't important enough to
resettle," the FRU source told the Sunday Herald. "So we
ended up with four unnecessary deaths and the compromising
of British army intelligence officers, which ultimately put
soldiers' lives at risk. To Kerr, it was always a matter of
the ends justifying the means."
Then again, Kerr could well afford to sacrifice a few
informers here and there to the wrath of the IRA's dreaded
"security unit" - because his own prize double agent was
the head of that security unit. Codenamed "Stakeknife,"
Kerr's man presided over, and sometimes administered, the
grisly torture-murders of up to 50 men during his tenure in
the IRA's upper ranks. The victims included other British
double agents who were sacrificed in order to protect
Stakeknife's cover, as the Guardian and many other UK
papers reported when the agent's work was revealed in 2003.
("Stakeknife" was later identified in the press as Alfredo
Scappaticci - an Irishman despite the Italian name,
although he continues to deny the charge.)
The FRU also "knowingly allowed soldiers, [police] officers
and civilians to die at the hands of IRA bombers in order
to protect republican double agents," the Sunday Herald's
investigations found. As Mackay reports: "FRU sources said
around seven police and army personnel died as a result of
military intelligence allowing IRA bombs to be placed
during Kerr's time in command of the FRU. They estimate
that three civilians also died this way, with casualties in
But some of the worst excesses came from the FRU's handling
of operatives on the other side, in the fiercely pro-
British Protestant militia the Ulster Defense Association
(UDA). Here, among the Loyalists, Kerr's top double agent
was Brian Nelson, who became head of intelligence for the
UDA. As John Ware put it in the Guardian: "Kerr regarded
Nelson as his jewel in the crown. For the next three years
[from 1987], Nelson colluded with murder gangs to shoot IRA
suspects. Month after month, armed and masked men crashed
into homes. Sometimes they got the wrong address or shot
the wrong person."
Such as Gerald Slane, a 27-year-old Belfast man shot down
in front of his three children. A gun had been found dumped
on his property; this, and his Catholicism, was enough to
get him assassinated at the order of Kerr's man Nelson.
Afterwards, it was found that Slane had no IRA connections.
Another "wrong person" killed by the FRU's agents was the
Belfast attorney Pat Finucane, who was shot 14 times in
front of his wife and children. Finucane was a civil rights
activist who had defended both Catholics and Protestants,
but was considered an IRA sympathizer by Loyalists - and a
thorn in the side by British authorities. He was killed at
Nelson's order by a fellow FRU informer in the UDA, Ken
Barrett, who was convicted of the murder but freed last
year after as part of an amnesty program in the Northern
Ireland peace process. Barrett was unapologetic about his
FRU "wetwork" on Finucane. "The peelers [authorities]
wanted him whacked," he told a BBC documentary team after
his release. "We whacked him and that is the end of the
Kerr gave Nelson packages of intelligence files to help
facilitate the assassination of UDA targets, including at
least four "civilians" with no IRA ties, the Stevens
inquiry found. The FRU also obtained "restriction orders"
from other British security and military units in Northern
Ireland, whereby they would pull their forces from an area
when Kerr's UDA agents were going to make a hit there,
allowing the killers to get in and get out without
hindrance, investigator Nick Davies reports.
Yet the FRU was wary of sharing its own intelligence with
other security services - which was the ostensible reason
for running the double-agents in the first place. Instead,
Kerr engaged in fierce turf wars with other agencies, while
"stovepiping" much of his intelligence to the top circles
of the UK government, including the cabinet-level
Intelligence Committee chaired by then-Prime Minister
Margaret Thatcher. Indeed, when Nelson was finally exposed
and brought to trial on five counts of conspiracy to commit
murder, Kerr testified in his behalf, noting for the court
that Nelson's intelligence "product and his reporting was
passed through the intelligence community and at a high
level, and from that point of view he has to be considered
a very important agent."
As one FRU man told Mackay: "Under Kerr's command.the
mindset was one of 'the right people would be allowed to
live and wrong people should die.'"
This is the "mindset" now operating in the heart of the
Green Zone in Baghdad, where the JSG is carrying out - we
are told in glowing terms - precisely the same mission it
had in Ulster. a unit which has allowed its agents to
torture, murder and commit acts of terrorism, including
actions that killed local civilians and the soldiers and
intelligence operatives of their own country.
III. The White House Green Light
Of course, Kerr and his Baghdad black-op crew are not alone
in the double-dealing world of Iraqi counterinsurgency. The
Pentagon's ever-expanding secret armies are deeply enmeshed
in such efforts as well. As Sy Hersh has reported ("The
Coming Wars," New Yorker, Jan. 24, 2005), after his re-
election in 2004, George W. Bush signed a series of secret
presidential directives that authorized the Pentagon to run
virtually unrestricted covert operations, including a
reprise of the American-backed, American-trained death
squads employed by authoritarian regimes in Central and
South America during the Reagan Administration, where so
many of the Bush faction cut their teeth - and made their
"Do you remember the right-wing execution squads in El
Salvador?" a former high-level intelligence official said
to Hersh. "We founded them and we financed them. The
objective now is to recruit locals in any area we want. And
we aren't going to tell Congress about it." A Pentagon
insider added: "We're going to be riding with the bad
boys." Another role model for the expanded dirty war cited
by Pentagon sources, said Hersh, was Britain's brutal
repression of the Mau Mau in Kenya during the 1950s, when
British forces set up concentration camps, created their
own terrorist groups to confuse and discredit the
insurgency, and killed thousands of innocent civilians in
quashing the uprising.
Bush's formal greenlighting of the death-squad option built
upon an already securely-established base, part of a larger
effort to turn the world into a "global free-fire zone" for
covert operatives, as one top Pentagon official told Hersh.
For example, in November 2002 a Pentagon plan to infiltrate
terrorist groups and "stimulate" them into action was
uncovered by William Arkin, then writing for the Los
Angeles Times. The new unit, the "Proactive, Pre-emptive
Operations Group," was described in the Pentagon documents
as "a super-Intelligence Support Activity" that brings
"together CIA and military covert action, information
warfare, intelligence and cover and deception."
Later, in August 2004, then deputy Pentagon chief Paul
Wolfowitz appeared before Congress to ask for $500 million
to arm and train non-governmental "local militias" to serve
as U.S. proxies for "counter-insurgency and
"counterterrorist" operations in "ungoverned areas" and hot
spots around the world, Agence France Presse (and virtually
no one else) reported at the time. These hired
paramilitaries were to be employed in what Wolfowitz called
an "arc of crisis" that just happened to stretch across the
oil-bearing lands and strategic pipeline routes of Central
Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America.
By then, the Bush Administration had already begun laying
the groundwork for an expanded covert war in the hot spot
of Iraq. In November 2003, it created a "commando squad"
drawn from the sectarian militias of five major Iraqi
factions, as the Washington Post reported that year. Armed,
funded and trained by the American occupation forces, and
supplied with a "state-of-the-art command, control and
communications center" from the Pentagon, the new Iraqi
commandos were loosed on the then-nascent Iraqi insurgency
- despite the very prescient fears of some U.S. officials
"that various Sunni or Shiite factions could eventually use
the service to secretly undermine their political
competitors," as the Post noted.
And indeed, in early 2005 - not long after Bush's
directives loosed the "Salvador Option" on Iraq - the tide
of death-squad activity began its long and bloody rise to
the tsunami-like levels we see today. Ironically, the first
big spike of mass torture-murders, chiefly in Sunni areas
at the time, coincided with "Operation Lightning," a much
ballyhooed effort by American and Iraqi forces to "secure"
Baghdad. The operation featured a mass influx of extra
troops into the capital; dividing the city into manageable
sectors, then working through them one by one; imposing
hundreds of checkpoints to lock down all insurgent
movements; and establishing a 24-hour presence of security
and military forces in troubled neighborhoods, the
Associated Press reported in May 2005. In other words, it
was almost exactly the same plan now being offered as
Bush's "New Way Forward," the controversial "surge."
But the "Lightning" fizzled in a matter of weeks, and the
death squads grew even bolder. Brazen daylight raids by
"men dressed in uniforms" of Iraqi police or Iraqi
commandos or other Iraqi security agencies swept up dozens
of victims at a time. For months, U.S. "advisers" to Iraqi
security agencies - including veterans of the original
"Salvador Option" - insisted that these were Sunni
insurgents in stolen threads, although many of the victims
were Sunni civilians. Later, the line was changed: the
chief culprits were now "rogue elements" of the various
sectarian militias that had "infiltrated" Iraq's
But as investigative reporter Max Fuller has pointed out in
his detailed examination of information buried in reams of
mainstream news stories and public Pentagon documents, the
vast majority of atrocities then attributed to "rogue"
Shiite and Sunni militias were in fact the work of
government-controlled commandos and "special forces,"
trained by Americans, "advised" by Americans and run
largely by former CIA assets. As Fuller puts it: "If there
are militias in the Ministry of Interior, you can be sure
that they are militias that stand to attention whenever a
U.S. colonel enters the room." And perhaps a British
lieutenant colonel as well
With the Anglo-American coalition so deeply embedded in
dirty war - infiltrating terrorist groups, "stimulating"
them into action," protecting "crown jewel" double-agents
no matter what the cost, "riding with the bad boys,"
greenlighting the "Salvador Option" - it is simply
impossible to determine the genuine origin of almost any
particular terrorist outrage or death squad atrocity in
Iraq. All of these operations take place in the shadow
world, where terrorists are sometimes government operatives
and vice versa, and where security agencies and terrorist
groups interpenetrate in murky thickets of collusion and
duplicity. This moral chaos leaves "a kind of blot/To mark
the full-fraught man and best indued/With some suspicion,"
as Shakespeare's Henry V says.
What's more, the "intelligence" churned out by this system
is inevitably tainted by the self-interest, mixed motives,
fear and criminality of those who provide it. The
ineffectiveness of this approach can be seen in the ever-
increasing, many-sided civil war that is tearing Iraq
apart. If these covert operations really are intended to
quell the violence, they clearly have had the opposite
effect. If they have some other intention, the pious
defenders of civilization - who approve these activities
with promotions, green lights and unlimited budgets -
Global Research Articles by Chris Floyd
Opin: The Race Is On
By Niall O'Dowd
Can a black man or a white woman be elected president of
We are about to find out after Barack Obama, the African
American senator from Illinois, tossed his hat into the
ring on Monday followed by Senator Hillary Clinton on
Saturday. We can expect the mother of all battles for the
Democratic nomination for president.
The Washington Post/ ABC News poll last weekend held good
news for Hillary as to who is more likely to win the
battle. She led nationwide among Democrats by 41% to 17%
The poll showed a huge imbalance among voters by gender.
Clinton barely led Obama among men but was streets ahead
Women aged 18-35 in particular supported the New York
Given that nine million more female voters than men voted
in the last presidential election that is a very
significant advantage. If Clinton becomes president it will
be because of this bedrock support among her own gender.
Interesting that the cautious Iraq war stance she has taken
has not hurt her with mainstream Democratic voters
according to the survey. Most voters have a practical view
of the war, blaming the Bush administration but not those
who had no hand in that decision to go in in the first
The Washington Post poll went to the heart of the argument
that Clinton, can in fact win the White House. That is
seriously disputed by her adversaries who say she is
unelectable because of high negatives.
Yes it is true that over 40% of the American electorate
dislike her to a greater or lesser extent, but any
candidate who ends up in a two horse race for president
will inevitably end up at around the same level of
like/dislike among Americans.
As for Clinton being unable to win a southern state,
Arkansas is clearly one where she would have an inbuilt
advantage while her husband swept Florida on both his
Indeed, it is hard to pinpoint a state that Senator John
Kerry won that Clinton could not win. These days
presidential elections come down to a handful of swing
states such as Ohio, Colorado, New Mexico and New
Hampshire, all of which trended Democratic in the recent
If she does win it will also be because the trends are
starting to accelerate in her favor. The war in Iraq
debacle, the surge in interest on issues such as global
warming and universal health insurance are all Democratic
issues. Any Democratic candidate has an inbuilt advantage
as the 2008 landscape begins to shape up
But is America ready for a woman or a black president? I
believe they are ready for a woman, but not a black man.
The reason is that very few blacks have made it to major
elected office in America, and racism is still alive and
Obama is only the third black senator ever. Deval Patrick,
who was just elected governor of Massachusetts, is only the
second ever black governor.
Many black candidates over the years have looked likely to
win major office but were always defeated by a hidden
racist vote. It happened again in Tennessee in the recent
Senate election when Harold Ford was pipped at the post
after a savage and racist campaign against him.
On the other hand, there are currently 16 female senators
and over 20 female governors. The sight of women in high
public office has long since stopped being a curiosity.
Indeed, a woman now sits just two heartbeats from the
presidency. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is next in line if
President Bush and Vice President Cheney were somehow
That is why Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is much more
likely to be elected than Barack Obama as a future
president. While all the excitement flows around the
charismatic Obama, political insiders know it is only a
matter of time before the race factor becomes obvious.
But it is still an extraordinary and historic moment in
American politics with a black and a woman among the
favorites to become president. How times have changed in
America. That is the best news of all.
Opin: A British, Rather Than Northern Irish, Atrocity
[Published: Friday 16, February 2007 - 14:18]
By Eamonn McCann
The production of a play and broadcast of a documentary
about Bloody Sunday last week prompted a number of
commentators to wonder whether some people in Derry will
ever give over about the suffering of this particular group
Why Bloody Sunday? There have been bigger death tolls.
Fifteen Catholics in McGurk's Bar in Belfast in December
1971. Eighteen soldiers blown to bits at Warrenpoint in
August 1979. Eleven Protestants on Remembrance Sunday in
Enniskillen in November 1989. Etc. What about the families
of these victims?
A number of things made Derry different. It was the biggest
single killing by State forces in the Troubles. The offence
was compounded by Lord Widgery proclaiming that no crime
had been committed. And the conjunction of circumstances
made Bloody Sunday a plot-point in the historical narrative
in a way which wasn't true of McGurk's, Warrenpoint,
As well: Bloody Sunday wasn't a sectarian atrocity.
Evidence at Saville relieved some of us of a belief that
the paras killed Bogsiders in the interest of unionism.
British political and military chiefs cared not a jot for
unionism or unionists. This was a very British, not a
Northern Irish, atrocity.
I had an involvement in both the play and the documentary.
Over the years, I have got to know some of the Bloody
Sunday families. They are aware of the uniqueness of the
event which robbed their lives of ease. They are conscious,
too, that their grief is not unique. None believes that
there is a hierarchy of victimhood in which their feelings
have precedence over others'.
Here's some of the things some of them have said to me:
"The English Government should take a real hard look at how
they handled 30 years of violence here. This city is more
divided now than it was 30 years ago. I don't think there's
any more understanding. I would say it's worse. One of the
things I found since I came back is that in everyday life
I'm not meeting people from another community. I think
about that. It distresses me" - Jean Hegarty, whose
brother, Kevin McElhinney (17), was shot dead as he crawled
away from the shooting in Rossville Street.
"You would see them on the news, Iraq, Palestine,
Afghanistan, and you'd say: 'That's what happened to us.
There, look. That's exactly what happened to us.' It's
happening to them people now" - Bernard Gilmour, brother of
Hugh (17), shot dead as he ran along Rossville Street.
"We weren't and aren't unique. There are countless Bloody
Sundays in ones, twos and threes, and those families
experienced the same pain. In fact, in recent times,
probably worse. When the Tribunal was looking into Bloody
Sunday, these people had to go in and close the door behind
them ... Many people lost their lives in 1972 after Bloody
Sunday. I have a fear that I contributed to that because,
if something happened, I might have said in anger: 'Good
enough for them, they deserve all they get'. When people
are standing around listening, you are encouraging them in
a way that you wouldn't be aware of. I think we are all
guilty of that to a degree ? Once you go down the line of
taking human life, it sometimes becomes very easy to
justify it, or to play the role of an idealist and say that
it is for Ireland. That's a lot of nonsense. It only
compounds the hatred" - Liam Wray, brother of Jim (18),
shot in the back as he lay wounded in Glenfada Park.
"I don't believe that anybody has a right to go into a cafe
and blow people up because they are Jewish. I don't believe
the Israelis should go into a camp and kill Palestinians
either. It's the same as Bloody Sunday. We were shot
because we were Irish and because we were Catholics. That's
the reason. That's the same thing as putting a bomb on a
bus of Israelis or Americans or Iraqis or blowing up street
markets with car bombs. In a war, soldiers should fight
soldiers" - Joe Mahon, wounded in Glenfada Park.
"I suppose, in a way, we were lucky. You can look now at
other things happening, here or anywhere in the world, and
say: Yes, those people deserve an Inquiry. But you know
they are not going to get one. Not one like this one,
anyway. I don't think they'll ever grant another Inquiry
like this" - Eileen Green, widow of Paddy Doherty (31),
shot dead as he lay on the ground in Joseph Place.
"A lot of pride has to be swallowed in Northern Ireland, on
all sides. There's nobody going to have everything they
want out of all this. If the soldiers and the Government
were to stand up and take responsibility, that, too, would
go down in history. They would show themselves to be better
people. The Bloody Sunday soldiers are going to have to
stand before God. I believe there will be a final
judgement. My father will be justified" - Regina McKinney,
daughter of Gerry McKinney (35), shot dead as he faced the
soldiers with his hands in the air in Glenfada Park.
c Belfast Telegraph
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