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War with Iran: Think it can't happen? You need to read this…
Don't think a 3rd war is coming soon? Take a look:
Congressman DENNIS KUCINICH appeared on "Connect the Dots" with Lila Garrett on KPFK-Los Angeles (Pacifica radio) yesterday, 26 September, 2006 (Monday)
(Transcribed by Pam Rotella, omits most "uhs", "you knows", and other things that weren't really part of the conversation.)
LILA GARRETT: Our next guest is Congressman Dennis Kucinich, running for his 6th term in the United States Congress.
With us now is Congressman Dennis Kucinich from Cleveland, Ohio. Serving in his fifth term in Congress, Dennis Kucinich is well-known for his opposition to the Bush policy of permanent war, for his run for President on the Democratic ticket in the last election, his authorship of "The Department of Peace," and his strong campaign to get out of Iraq now. Dennis Kucinich, welcome to "Connect the Dots."
DENNIS KUCINICH: Thank you very much. Good to be on your show, Lila.
LILA GARRETT: Thank you, thank you. Now, I have in front of me a release that says, "Kucinich calls for Congressional hearings on Negroponte role in release of a false and misleading report on Iran." Can you explain this to us -- what was the report, and what was Negroponte's role?
DENNIS KUCINICH: That committee on intelligence had a staff report that mischaracterized the extent of Iran's nuclear power program, that mischaracterized Iran as having a level of enriched uranium that made it weapons grade, and other errors that were called to task by the International Atomic Energy Agency's officers. And so, what I did, when I saw that there were misstatements -- deliberate with respect to the nuclear program of a nation that the Bush administration has been targeting -- I did a little bit more research and found out that Mr. Negroponte's office saw this report before it was issued. So I want some answers, and I want the answers in a Congressional hearing as to whether or not this uh, Negroponte's directorate deliberately permitted this report to be disseminated when they knew that it was inaccurate.
And so what I'm concerned about, Lila, is that here we have another false cause for war. This is the Niger uranium caper all over again, except that now this administration, because it hasn't been held accountable for its fraud that led to the last war, is just trying to pull the whole thing on us all over again.
LILA GARRETT: Although, the question is this, I mean it does give you an eerie sense of deja vu, there's no question about it. But the question is this-- we don't seem to have any recourse no matter what the Bush administration does. No recourse at all. It was miraculous that congress didn't pass his torture bill, if I may call it that. You know? But they did pass the wiretapping bill, didn't they? And that's in direct violation of the Constitution. And Bush just made a speech, which I heard, in front of the UN, in which he "romanced" the people of Iran. "We like you, we respect you, we care about you, we care about your children. But we do not want you to be in harm's way, we do not want, you know, a dangerous leadership to kill your women and your children." He neglected to say, "We want to do that job for us, we want to save that job for ourselves." So do you feel that it's...
DENNIS KUCINICH: Lila, here's what I'm concerned about. We know from Seymour Hersh's reporting in the New Yorker that this administration has already undertaken covert operations against Iran, that we have or have had covert operations in and around Iran since the beginning of the year. That bombing targets have been already selected, that -- you know, particularly targeting Natanz and other areas where they're doing nuclear work. And that the Time magazine article earlier, a few days ago, indicated a preparation for a Naval blockade. That, together with another fake intelligence report, makes it very clear that the intention of this administration is to once again set our nation on a path towards war. Congress has a responsibility it did not exercise in the run-up to war against Iraq, to exercise its responsibility as this administration begins a push towards war against Iran. Unfortunately, there are so many people in this country who can't believe that this administration would try to do it again. And yet, many of the same people couldn't believe they were going to attack Iraq, because there just wasn't the circumstances that would have merited it. This administration has no conscience whatsoever when it comes to using military power against a nation that they desire to target.
LILA GARRETT: Right. Now you say, there are covert operations already happening in Iran. Why hasn't Ahmadinejad mentioned that? Why does he... Why are his references to "America' s love of war" so vague? Why aren't they specific? Why doesn't he say...
DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, I don't know. I can't fathom this -- you know, why Iran responds in the way that they do. But I can say that this Congress is largely unaware of what this government is doing, and not only that. But you know, in my capacity as the ranking Democrat on a subcommittee that has jurisdiction over international relations and national security, I had asked for information from the Department of Defense and the State Department, and the CIA, relative to the activities going on in Iran. They wouldn't give it to me in an open hearing. And so there was a commitment to show up in a classified briefing.
Now Lila, for five years -- six years, I stopped going to classified briefings, because you have to sign a document that says you don't disclose anything, and I'd never disclose anything that would hurt this country. But you know what? I'd go to these briefings when I first got to Congress, and everything that was said in those briefings ended up on the front page of a newspaper. And so members of Congress who were in the briefing couldn't talk about it, but they're in the newspaper, so the administration could spin their version of events and basically block the Congress from being able to inquire openly. So I said, I'm not playing that game anymore.
But a few months ago, I decided, in the interest of trying to get the facts, I would sign the papers so I could have a classified briefing from the State Department and the Department of Defense on the activities that are going on in Iran. I signed the paper. A minute later the hearing began, and the State Department and Department of Defense refused to show up.
LILA GARRETT: Well, why do you think...
DENNIS KUCINICH: I signed... I mean, follow that now -- the reason I signed it was to get the information from them, and then they turned around and they didn't show up!
So, what that tells me is that there is a desire to escape accountability. That this administration is not in ANY way expecting to EVER have to account to Congress!
They come to Congress to finance the illegal war in Iraq. They come to Congress to seek permission for activities that should be in violation of international law. But they sure don't want to give Congress its rightful role as oversight over their activities, because their activities cannot be justified. So you have something that's much less than a democracy.
LILA GARRETT: MUCH less than a democracy. And, my question to you is, is there any chance at all that we will NOT in fact go to war with Iran?
DENNIS KUCINICH: Well look, no one wants to conjure a war. But I think it's important to note that there is plenty of on-the-record reporting that suggests that covert operations have already begun -- that bombing targets have already been selected, that a Naval blockade is in preparation. And that we've seen intelligence about Iran's nuclear status already being cooked. So, those are not good signs.
Does it mean that war is a certainty? No.
But it does mean that this administration is on a track that's very similar to what happened in Iraq. And, you know, "By their fruits you shall know them." And this administration is on a warpath. They're on a path of destabilization in the region, and this is not good for America or the world. And my responsibility is to do everything I can to let people know what's going on, and people can make their own decisions about what they think about it.
LILA GARRETT: Well, what do you think Ahmadinejad and the Iranian government can do to stop this determination on the part of the Bush administration from attacking them?
DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, here's what should happen. First of all, there should be direct talks between the United States and Iran. They don't need to go through the EU3. We should have direct talks. If the United States feel there's a threat, we should be talking to Iran, and we should be talking to North Korea, and we should be talking to any nation that we think poses a problem. We need to sit down and talk. It's called the science of human relations. It's about time we started to explore it. Now in addition to that, we need to guarantee Iran's security, that we're not going to attack them. They need to know that.
The third thing is that Iran has to submit to the International Atomic Energy Agency's inspections again. At the last inspection in April, according to the letter that we received, the IAEA had said that Iran's uranium was enriched to 3.6%. Weapons grade is 90%. BIG DIFFERENCE. We need to open up the door for inspections again, and Iran needs to reciprocate by not just declaring, but by giving assurances that they're not going to weaponize their enrichment. Now, the fact of the matter is, that's what inspections are about from the beginning. So these are steps that can be taken. This is not an impossible situation.
But once again we see the buildup of rhetoric. Once again we see indications of covert operations. Once again we see the slow and steady move towards the execution of an attack. This is not good, you know -- when you consider that we're borrowing money from China, Japan, and South Korea to pay for the war in Iraq. When you consider that the Federal deficit has expanded dramatically under this administration. When you consider our children are going to end up having to pay for these wars far into the future, we have to start thinking about whether or not this makes any sense at all. Whether or not we are pursuing a militaristic policy that's dooming us to economic collapse, let alone failure on the international stage. And so I'm continuing to insist on diplomacy, and I'm continuing to insist on Congressional oversight.
LILA GARRETT: Right. Now the right-wing knows, the Bush Administration knows, that we're on the path to economic collapse. They know that we're borrowing money. They know that we have covert operations. They know that we're antagonizing the world. My question is, and I think everyone's question is, what do they want? What is their goal in destabilizing the world?
DENNIS KUCINICH: You know, on one level it may be that they have bought into this psychology of an existential threat. And once you adopt that as a mentality, you're held captive of fear. And it may be that our leaders are so fearful that they're not large enough in their capacity of heart to govern this nation. It may be as simple as that. On the other hand, it may be that there is a touch of megalomania here, which feels that it's strategically important to control the entire Middle East region. I think that their policies jeopardize not only the security of the United States, but the security of Israel, the hopes of the whole world for peace. And that it's imperative that we take another direction that takes us away from this continued drumbeat of war and fear, and puts us to a restoration of our civil liberties, a restoration of the highest principles of this country. That takes us out of Iraq, that takes us away from Iran, that has us cooperating with the world community for the security of all nations, and that gets us away from policies of preemption, unilateralism, and first strike, and works towards cooperation and human unity. I mean, we're capable of taking that direction, just as our nation was capable of taking the direction that has led us on this disastrous course.
LILA GARRETT: But don't you think that this administration wants to stay in power? And don't you think that they feel that the way to stay in power is to have perpetual war?
DENNIS KUCINICH: Yes.
LILA GARRETT: And that's what they're doing. Now the question is, what can Congress do to stop them? The Democrats finally have come out against the war. We have the statement make by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. I mean, we accept the fact that it was far wimpier than we would have liked it to be. But nevertheless, it did say that we've gotta get out of Iraq. That did happen. And more and more Republicans are saying that. Do you see any turnaround about to happen in Congress?
DENNIS KUCINICH: Iraq needs to be a defining issue in this election. Anyone who runs who can't commit to getting this country out of Iraq needs to be challenged by their constituents. I mean, this is, you know, we're at an emergency phase here, where we could end up staying in Iraq for the next 10 years, or longer, if something isn't done to move us away from it. We had testimony in front of our committee last...
[KPFK's archives have a break between files]
... is to begin a withdrawal, and to simultaneously rally nations in the region to provide for a temporary security force that would enable a transition to Iraqis controlling their own destiny. That's not going to be an easy order. But the United States' presence serves to fuel an insurgency, serves to continue the instability, and we have basically destabilized this country, and our presence is more fuel on the fire. We have to get out.
LILA GARRETT: Yeah, now can you convince the Democratic Party of that? I mean, you have people running for Congress and for the Senate who are still hawks. Maria Cantwell of Washington state is still a hawk. You know, I mean, they're all over the place. Lieberman!
DENNIS KUCINICH: You know, Congress' people represent their constituents in this government. All have different types of experience. I'm not going to second-guess any individual, but I can say there's plenty of support for an effort to bring us out of Iraq. [static]
LILA GARRETT: And it's . . . [static]
DENNIS KUCINICH: We're starting to break up here Lila, I've got a problem with this phone.
LILA GARRETT: Oh, we'll sign off in a minute. But first I want to congratulate you for so definitively winning the primary. You know, we just had Bob Fitrakis on our show, on this special that we're doing. And he was talking about the fact that 350,000 people in Ohio were disenfranchised in the 2004 election, and 170,000 of them came from Cleveland, and in all the Democratic areas. And here we have Dennis Kucinich who is more progressive than anybody, winning definitively. What do you think accounts for that?
DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, I'm grateful to my constituents, and I can say that I'm going to keep standing up. If people need more information on my campaign, they can go to Kucinich.us, and I'm very grateful for the support that I've received.
LILA GARRETT: Thank you so much for communicating with us.
DENNIS KUCINICH: Thank you. Bye-bye.
LILA GARRETT: Bye-bye.
LILA GARRETT: And that's our show for today…
Here's more on Iran from the same day -- this time from "Democracy Now!" (a news show on the public Pacifica radio network -- WBAI, WPFW, KPFT, KPFA, and KPFK)
Amy Goodman interviews Professor Juan Cole at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, on "Democracy Now!"
25 September 2006 (Monday)
Partial transcript of interview concerning Iran:
AMY GOODMAN: Professor Juan Cole, the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has slammed a Republican report on Iran and nuclear weapons.
JUAN COLE: Well, there's a congressional report on Iran, which came out and was extremely sloppy and made all kinds of false allegations. There's a caption at one point that says that Iran is enriching uranium to weapons grade. There is no evidence of that whatsoever.
Indeed, you know, people don't know the technicalities of it, and I'm not an expert on it myself, but I do know the Iranians are using small refrigerator-size centrifuges -- they have about 164 of them -- to enrich uranium for energy purposes. And that's a whole different deal than if you were making a weapon. If you were making a weapon, you would need 16,000 centrifuges, and they'd have to be hooked up in a special way that they do something called cascading, so that the fissionable material has the right form for making a bomb. Well, the Iranians don't have 16,000 centrifuges. They have 164. And they say that they've managed to enrich to 2.5%. You need to enrich to something like 80% in order to make a weapon. And being able to enrich to the amount needed to make fuel is a different order of magnitude.
AMY GOODMAN: Who wrote the Republican report?
JUAN COLE: Well, it was actually written by a staffer named Fleitz, who used to work for John Bolton. And this kind of use of false allegations against Iran and innuendo and intimations that they've got a weapons program that is far advanced, this is typical of Bolton and the far right wing of the Republican Party.
AMY GOODMAN: A lot was made of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez talking about President Bush as a devil. Can you talk about President Bush's language over time?
JUAN COLE: Well, my argument is that Bush started this, with his use of the phrase "axis of evil" in his 2002 State of the Union address, and I think it's shameful. I think that we are a secular country. Our law does not -- in fact, our law forbids the government from favoring any particular religion or for favoring religion over secular people. And the use of the word "evil" or "devil," these are theological terms. Personally, I don't believe in a personal Satan, and I resent my elected officials dragging me into a discourse about the world, in which whole countries are made satanic.
And what does that mean? It means you can't talk to them. They're evil. You can't sit down with them and negotiate. It takes diplomacy off the table. And once you take diplomacy off the table, what's left? Ultimatums and war. So this absolutist language, this theological language drags the secular republic into being a warmongering theological state, just in the essence of it. And Bush, when he starts calling other countries and leaders "evil," well, aren't they going to do the same thing to him? The immaturity and the clownishness of Hugo Chavez's comments were widely commented on, but nobody in the American mainstream press seems to think that Bush was being immature and clownish in talking about Iran as part of an axis of evil.
AMY GOODMAN: And the term "Islamofascism"?
JUAN COLE: Well, the term "Islamofascism" is a form of bigotry. It is an attempt to tie a great religious tradition, to which a very substantial portion of humanity belongs, and has belonged through the last millennium, to a Western secular political tendency, the fascist movement of the 1930s, which, by the way, wasn't influential in the Middle East among the Middle Eastern masses, and the intellectuals in Cairo denounced it. And it's just horrible to tie Islam and the Koran and the ideals of the Islamic religion, to try to tie them to Hitler and Mussolini. You know, if somebody were to do this to Christianity or Judaism, there would be an enormous outcry, but it's alright to do it to Muslims.
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© 2006 by Pam Rotella, including photographs, except for transcripts which are subject to copyright notices of Pacifica radio, KPFK, WBAI, and Democracy Now. The photos on this page are subject to my Copyright notice and limited use permission agreement.
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