No help for the helpless in Pakistan

pakistan earthquake refugees
(REUTERS): Former U.S. Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton unveiled on Wednesday a $90 million aid program for universities and other organizations shuttered by Hurricane Katrina three months ago.

Where have they been for the last two months?

Nearly 80,000 people have died as a result of the October 8, 2005 earthquake outside of Islamabad. Millions have been displaced, and as many are homeless and struggling to stay warm and fed, tens of thousands more may perish at the hands of the brutal Himalayan winter.

“Eighty per cent of the aid pledged for the tsunami (more than $4-billion) was given with two weeks,” according to an article first published in mid-November in the Globe and Mail titled “If we don’t help Pakistan, al-Qaeda’s friends will.”

Its estimated that the UN has received less than a third of the $312 million in aid it called for in mid-October.

Last month Ian Welsh made the call at BOPNews — and it is not too late:

[T]he area of Pakistan in question is an area where al-Q’aeda has often found refuge, and indeed, safety, with tribal fighers protecting them.

Which, may make you think that their trouble; their need; is an American opportunity. For a couple billion dollars, a huge aid operation could have been launched with the American flag all over the place.

Community Dispatch posted a call for grant proposals on State Dept. “letterhead,” but there is no mention of it on State.gov.

Announced on Dec. 6, and running for one month (no hurry here), 1 milllion dollars is available for an NGO to manage the UN operated Afghan refugee camps in the region. According to the release, 1/4 of the earthquake ravaged region’s nearly 900,000 Afghan refugees are in the “most damaged districts.”

Now, I’ll be optimistic and conclude, for now, that State has removed this posting because the grant has already been filled by a qualified and eager NGO. The more skeptical among us may be a bit leery of the disappearance of a call for proposals in less than 24 hours.

*UPDATE: the announcement is now live here at state.gov*

The White House announced the Katrina contribution from the Bush-Clinton fund one day after Katrina victims “unleashed their fury” on the empty ears of the Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina.

Pakistan needs that $90 million. I thought there was some $62 BILLION earmarked for the U.S. Gulf Coast. By mid-November, FEMA distributed nearly $4.5 billion in federal funds according to ReliefWeb. That’s over 4 THOUSAND million! I suspect much of this dinero must have fallen through the cracks for a measly $90 million to shake things up.

I recommend the PakQuake blog for in-depth perspective and calls for donations.

Playing into the Hands of the Enemy

Ayman al-Zawahri with Osama bin Laden
“Iraqis are ‘seeing tangible progress in their lives,'” President Bush said in an address to the Council on Foreign Relations today.

Only days ago, prior to surviving an apparent mob attack, Former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi defiantly told the UK’s Observer: “They are doing the same things we saw in the Saddam days and even worse,” referring to the new Iraqi government.

Al Jazeera’s (apparently accidental) broadcast of an old videotape today, starring al Qaeda henchman Ayman al-Zawahri, serves as a harsh reminder that the U.S. mission to “liberate” Iraq has misplaced the power in the region — to the enemy.

The Geneva Conventions offer protection for those who have “fallen into the hands of the enemy.”

Al Qaeda, being a stateless, invisible enemy, has less to do with the Geneva Conventions than even the U.S., although, the organization at least appears to have the courtesy to remind us — albeit with prerecorded propaganda — just who is winning this war, before recklessly attacking.

You could say that they are inviting us to fight them on their home turf, so they don’t have to bother attacking on our soil. (and that’s OUR strategy).

“I call on the holy warriors to concentrate their campaigns on the stolen oil of the Muslims, most of the revenues of which go to the enemies of Islam,” Zawahri said, adding, “…Sheik Osama bin Laden, is still, God protect him, leading the holy war.”

It seems even President Bush has already resolved to losing this war to the phantom-like al Qaeda. “[V]ictory will be achieved when the terrorists and Saddamists can no longer threaten Iraq’s democracy,” proclaimed the president today.

Ugly as it sounds, the U.S. has become so vulnerable to aspire only to share a “victory” with the untouchable Islamic fundamentalists, who terrorize us without even showing face.

Saddam doesn’t show – unexcused absence

No doctors’ note, but no matter – who’s gonna be your Mesereau now?

Condoleezza Rice’s [non-se-qui] tour of Europe continues.

To be bland… some of Secretary Rice’s speech is downright horrifying:

“Last year, then Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet recalled that our earlier counterterrorism successes included “the rendition of many dozens of terrorists prior to September 11, 2001.”

I’d explain.. but isn’t that convincing enough?

BBCNews has a run down of this mornings European headlines… it almost reads like the 80’s — when the U.S. was the fuckin’ shit! — but not.

“Renditions take terrorists out of action, and save lives.”, says Ms. Rice

Die Welt: “Let us not indulge in hypocrisy”
Berliner Zeitung:”You cannot fight terrorism with terrorism”
Austria’s Der Standard :”Condoleezza Rice’s empty words were dry and unsatisfactory”
Hungary’s Nepszabadsag: “We will probably never find out the full truth about the alleged CIA prisons.”
France’s Liberation:”George W Bush and his clique are wrong to think that anything goes in the fight against terrorism even if the law suffers collateral damage as a result.”

ooh….. tsssssssss

Slovakia’s Pravda: “The era of secret agents is over, here comes the era of strong muscles – Bond turned Rambo.”

I kid you not. Stallone is the next Bond.

And now, this:

check out the final Annenberg Radio pieces at http://annenbergradio.org/

and save these for… :

Abuse ‘widespread’ in Iraqi prisons – CS Monitor 7 dec 2005

“Bush treats planet as his alone” Seattle Post-Intelligencer via The Independent, Wed 7 dec 2005

CIA prisons, torture – msm ignores ABCNews Break

We now know that Khaled el-Masri was illegally abducted, thanks to Angela Merkel and the ACLU’s big mouths. You can sue the CIA???

In early November when Dana Priest of the Washington Post first confirmed reports of CIA secret prisons (see my Nov. 3 post) the mainstream media in the U.S. failed to follow up.

I never got the memo from Porter Goss about repeating news relating CIA misadventures, but again the details of the following story have been expanded upon worldwide as a top story, while the breadth of the story is just thrown in alongside the news items above.

Last night, ABCnews reported on the rapid removal of 11 al Qaeda suspects from “secret” prisons in Eastern Europe in advance of Condoleezza Rice’s trip.

All but one of these 11 high-value al Waeda prisoners were subjected to the harshest interrogation techniques in the CIA’s secret arsenal, the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” authorized for use by about 14 CIA offiers and first reported by ABC News on Nov. 18

The cue to dig for detail is this: “CIA officials asked ABC News not to name the specific countries where the prisons were located, citing security concerns.” The same “I told you… now don’t make me have to kill you” gist qualifying Priest’s story… and all it takes is a Google News search to find an international publication that has the details. ABC News DID release the names on their web site – here they are in case you were wondering:

Dec. 5, 2005 Following is a list of 12 high-value targets housed by the CIA.

Abu Zubaydah: Held first in Thailand then Poland
Ibn Al-Shaykh al-Libi: Held in Poland. Previously held in Pakistan/Afghanistan
Abdul Rahim al-Sharqawi: Held in Poland
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri: Held in Poland
Ramzi Binalshibh: Held in Poland
Mohammed Omar Abdel-Rahman: Held in Poland
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed: Held in Poland
Waleed Mohammed bin Attash: Held in Poland
Hambali: In U.S. custody. Kept isolated from other high-value targets.
Hassan Ghul: Held in Poland.
Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani: Held in Poland
Abu Faraj al-Libbi: Held in Poland

New Congressional Votes Database

Thanks to Adrian Holovaty, developer of ChicagoCrime.org, there is now a searchable “U.S. Congress Votes Database,” allowing users to browse every vote in the U.S. Congress since 1991.

Holovaty, now an employee of WashingtonPost/Newsweek.com and a host of the “Mashington Post,” WaPo mash-up center, explains this valuable resource in his blog:

“You can subscribe to an RSS feed for any senator or representative…” the database includes such amusing aggregations as “votes that happen after midnight, vote missers, and on a lighter note, vote totals by astrological sign.”

Updated daily, we’ll never be left curious as to which Congressmen turn into werewolves at full moon.