Archive for December, 2007

Food for thought at the end of the year

This analysis looks at world events from 100,000 feet. I experienced many emotions in the few minutes it takes to read. Some of it is easy to agree with (at least for me), and other parts are harder to accept. What do you think?

It so happens that I am reading this book right now. The great challenge facing us today is predicting what the powerful will do and therefore, what we need to be prepared for. Predicting the behavior of people like Bush and Cheney is one thing. Predicting the behavior of the secretly powerful meta-class is obviously fraught with much greater difficulty. I believe they exist, and they control many events, but can they control everything? No. Even they can’t be sure that events will unfold as planned. On the other hand, I suppose going off-plan is how leaders get themselves assassinated. But still, great wheels get set in motion by events, and these wheels can be difficult to stop. And if you believe that in the end, good will ultimately triumph over evil, you can think of these powerful, greedy people as tools themselves, though they don’t know it.

I mean, you have to have humility to accept that we are completely, utterly weak and powerless against these forces. And yet, Paul the Apostle said, “when I am weak, then I am strong.” So it is a matter of faith that by accepting our nothingness, we open the way for God to work. And events will be beyond our understanding. We are not going to be able to see how all the world’s problems get worked out. It’s too big and complex. But even these people who think they’re calling the shots can not understand. The difference is they don’t know that. They think they are God, controlling the puppet strings of people on earth. They don’t see that they have strings, too.

Silly puppets.

Rigor Mortis

That’s the Bush Administration for you. Disastrous policies? Bankrupt nations? Dying, starving people? Assassinations? Civil unrest? Wars?? Zombie leader doesn’t mind. It’s all good. The response is to stay the disastrous course. We’ve seen this before, and we see it again now with Pakistan.

Kessler and Wright paint a US foreign policy unchanged by the assassination of erstwhile prime minister Benazir Bhutto, one aimed at propping up controversial strongman Pervez Musharraf — and lone pro-US leader in the country — with hundreds of millions of dollars in aid. Next year, the US will begin a five-year, $750 million plan intended to bring jobs and security to restive border regions.

“Despite anxiety among intelligence officials and experts, however, the administration is only slightly tweaking a course charted over the past 18 months to support the creation of a political center revolving around Musharraf, according to U.S. officials,” the reporters write.

“Plan A still has to work,” a senior administration official involved in Pakistan policy told the paper. “We all have to appeal to moderate forces to come together and carry the election and create a more solidly based government, then use that as a platform to fight the terrorists.”

Bush’s policy remains “wedded” to Musharraf despite warnings from experts and others who say his dictatorial methods are “untenable,” they say. The Pakistani president recently deposed Supreme Court justices who would no go along with his plans.

“This administration has had a disastrous policy toward Pakistan, as bad as the Iraq policy,” Robert Templer of the International Crisis Group told the Post. “They are clinging to the wreckage of Musharraf, flailing around. . . . Musharraf has outlived all possible usage to Pakistan and the United States.”

Replied the US official: “We have a room full of tigers in Pakistan. This is a really complicated situation, and we have to use our influence in a lot of ways but also realize we can’t determine the outcome. We’re not dropping pixie dust on someone to anoint them as the next leader.”

Once again, reminiscent of the unrealistic expectations placed on Iran, the US will hold forth completely unrealistic expectations that moderate forces will magically come together in Pakistan and create a more solidly based government from which to fight the evil terrorists. And to facilitate that, we must support Musharraf! There (brushing hands together). That should do it.

Templer contends that without Musharraf, moderate forces, coming from Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party, Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N, the moderate Balochistan National Party and the mostly Pashtun Awami National Party, could create a new, more legitimate centrist political space.

The US policy will probably result in the exact opposite of what our leaders say they want to happen. Guess what? They don’t really want the moderates to come together. Bush/Cheney would rather have chaos, because chaos will have much more exciting consequences, like this:

“In the best case for the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and the worst case for the world, Pakistan could fall into such turmoil that the very control of the state could fall into Islamist hands, or Pakistan could effectively fracture — with its massive armaments, including dozens of nuclear weapons, falling into the wrong hands,” J. Alexander Thier, a former UN official told the Post.

Bhutto believed Bin Laden was dead

Did you know that?

If you watch the video, she states it with authority. She’s not guessing. And I would think that she might know more about what the hell happens in Pakistan than your average bear. You can see how that might be a problem for some people, so she had to go.

Plenty of links and additional speculation about what her murder means here.

Prosperity Gospel

Some of the churches preaching that wealth is a sign of God’s favor have come under the microscope.

The probe by Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, has brought new scrutiny to the underlying belief that brings in millions of dollars and fills churches from Atlanta to Los Angeles — the “Gospel of Prosperity,” or the notion that God wants to bless the faithful with earthly riches.

All six ministries under investigation preach the prosperity gospel to varying degrees.

Not surprisingly, the prosperity gospel has compromised the financial situations of many struggling people.

The message flickered into Cindy Fleenor’s living room each night: Be faithful in how you live and how you give, the television preachers said, and God will shower you with material riches.

And so the 53-year-old accountant from the Tampa, Fla., area pledged $500 a year to Joyce Meyer, the evangelist whose frank talk about recovering from childhood sexual abuse was so inspirational. She wrote checks to flamboyant faith healer Benny Hinn and a local preacher-made-good, Paula White.

Only the blessings didn’t come. Fleenor ended up borrowing money from friends and payday loan companies just to buy groceries. At first she believed the explanation given on television: Her faith wasn’t strong enough.

“I wanted to believe God wanted to do something great with me like he was doing with them,” she said. “I’m angry and bitter about it. Right now, I don’t watch anyone on TV hardly.”

…Proponents call it a biblically sound message of hope. Others say it is a distortion that makes evangelists rich and preys on the vulnerable. They say it has evolved from “it’s all right to make money” to it’s all right for the pastor to drive a Bentley, live in an oceanside home and travel by private jet.

“More and more people are desperate and grasping at straws and want something that will alleviate their pain or financial crisis,” said Michael Palmer, dean of the divinity school at Regent University, founded by Pat Robertson. “It’s a growing problem.”

Yes, it is a growing problem, and the prosperity gospel is not the solution. I’m glad it’s coming under scrutiny, but notice the defense:

Some ministers hold up their own wealth as evidence that the teaching works. Atlanta-area pastor Creflo Dollar, who is fighting Grassley’s inquiry, owns a Rolls Royce and multimillion-dollar homes and travels in a church-owned Learjet.

In a letter to Grassley, Dollar’s attorney calls the prosperity gospel a “deeply held religious belief” grounded in Scripture and therefore a protected religious freedom. Grassley has said his probe is not about theology.

But even some prosperity gospel critics — like the Rev. Adam Hamilton of 15,000-member United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in suburban Kansas City, Mo. — say that the investigation is entering a minefield.

“How do you determine how much money a minister like this is able to make when the basic theology is that wealth is OK?” said Hamilton, an Oral Roberts graduate who later left the charismatic movement. “That gets into theological questions.”

OK, this seems to be the defense: You can’t challenge them on theology, and their belief that wealth is a sign of God’s favor is a theological belief, therefore you can’t challenge it. Plus, it totally works. These ministers have become really, really rich. So there! What’s the problem?

I hope Sen. Grassley has the patience of Job. He’s going to need it to fight his way out of their circular logic corral.

This raises an eyebrow

Like everybody else, I’m sifting through the various iterations of the Bhutto assassination. Knowing the Bush crowd as we do, I certainly consider them prime suspects because Bhutto’s death causes instability, and instability can be turned into opportunities for terrorisms and other such things to occur. Those events open the door for military interventions and wars, some of B/C’s favorite things.

On Friday the White House expressed confidence that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal remains secure. That struck me as odd. Of all places, how can they be so confident about Pakistan? The country has been in turmoil for years, terrorists hiding out in the mountains, evil nuclear scientists giving away secrets, a dictator at the helm, and so on. And it’s only gotten worse. So what is up with the confidence?

The White House on Friday said it was confident that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal was secure and did not risk falling into extremists’ hands after the assassination Thursday of Benazir Bhutto.

“At this time, as far as I know, it is the assessment of the intelligence community that Pakistan’s weapons arsenal is secure,” spokesman Scott Stanzel told reporters near the president’s ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Stanzel did not say whether President George W. Bush, who is spending the remainder of the year at his Texas home, brought up the nuclear question during a phone call to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf yesterday.

But he acknowledged that it was a major topic of discussion between US and Pakistani officials amid fears of further instability in the wake of Bhutto’s death.

Stanzel said “there have been discussions” with army chief General Ashfaq Kiyani on “what we can do to help on the political and security front, while we’re having conversations with people throughout Pakistan.”

Ah. The White House is simply relying on the “intelligence community” to express this confidence. Of course, if something happens related to nuclear weapons in Pakistan, then the intelligence community will be proven wrong. And proving the intelligence community wrong about something so important could lead to all kinds of problems, none of which will be the White House’s fault. On the contrary, the White House will be forced to do something dramatic, perhaps flex some presidential muscle, be Decider-ish.

Watch out, intelligence community. I think you are about to be thrown under the bus.

SSDD

Just in case you were wondering, people have actually sat down and thoughtfully figured out how many people would be incinerated in a nuclear exchange between Israel and Iran.

WASHINGTON- All out nuclear war between Israel and Iran: a doomsday scenario that we all fear deeply. A new study compiled by the US Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), headed by former Pentagon analyst Anthony H. Cordesman, explored just such a nightmare scenario, noting that it could lead to the death of between 16- 28 million Iranian civilians, and 200-800 thousand Israelis.

As pertains to nuclear warfare, the study found that an Israeli nuclear scrimmage with Iran would most likely last for about three weeks. Aside from the aforementioned direct casualties, the study could not determine how many additional long-term casualties would arise from fallout and radiation in the weeks and months following such an attack.

One essential requirement for nuclear confrontation in our region, according to the study, is allowing Iran’s nuclear program to develop, unhindered by a pre-emptive strike by either Israel or the United States. If US or Israeli preemption does not occur, the study found, Iran could very well have 30 nuclear warheads available for warfare between 2010-2020. Israel, by comparison, currently has 200 nuclear war heads with both air and sea launch capabilities, according to the study.

Given certain conditions, Israel could potentially survive such a nuclear scenario, the study found. Iran, on the other hand, would be completely and utterly obliterated. “Iranian recovery is not possible in the normal sense of term, though Israeli recovery is theoretically possible in population and economic terms,” wrote Cordesman, who compiled this study entitled “Iran, Israel, and Nuclear War”.

The bottom line, according to this study, is that Israel quite simply has more potent and effective bombs. Israel currently has a 1megaton (mt) nuclear bomb, whereas Iran does not yet have the ability to develop a bomb with more than 100 kilotons of power. What this means, in essence, is that the Israeli bomb can lead to three times as many casualties as its Iranian counterpart (chiefly due to third-degree burns), and has an “area of extreme lethality” (the range within which a nuclear bomb is fatal) ten-times as great.

The study also examined what would occur if Syria would join the Israeli-Iranian nuclear fray. Syria, Cordesman estimated, could kill an additional 800 thousand Israelis with missiles armed with chemical or biological warheads. The Syrian side, however, could suffer up to 18 million casualties should Israel respond with a nuclear strike.

The writer suggests that to avoid a nuclear war, Israel or the US must make a preemptive strike against Iran. No mention of the NIE.

Recap on Trojan Horse Theory

An interesting dynamic has unfolded in the wake of the NIE.

When the NIE came out, the game plan appeared to change suddenly for the neocons. Norman Podheretz, in particular, complained bitterly and openly that the CIA is out to undermine GWB. The report was also criticized John Bolton (December 9) and various other prominent people on the right (December 7).

Senate Republicans are planning to call for a congressional commission to investigate the conclusions of the new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran as well as the specific intelligence that went into it, according to congressional sources.

The move is the first official challenge, but it comes amid growing backlash from conservatives and neoconservatives unhappy about the assessment that Iran halted a clandestine nuclear weapons program four years ago. It reflects how quickly the NIE has become politicized, with critics even going after the analysts who wrote it, and shows a split among Republicans.

However, Bush/Cheney had some time to strategize before the release. We know that the report had been finished for over a year, and presumably during most of that time Cheney believed he could effectively suppress the report, which he did. But from late October 2007 until the report’s release on December 3, Cheney had time to figure out Plan B. Russ Wellen concluded already by December 5 that Cheney decided to use the NIE findings and wording, specifically that Iran definitively had a nuclear program that was stopped in 2003, to press the case that Iran remains dangerous. In other words, the NIE contains the pieces within it to carry out the original neocon war plans with Iran. They simply need to be arranged and spun just so. Once we’ve all accepted the NIE as valid, Bush/Cheney will use it to start a war with Iran anyway. This is the Trojan Horse theory.

Assuming this theory is correct, in order for it to work, the NIE must be seen as legitimate. Cheney immediately (December 5) made a show of appearing for an interview, and he did so affecting a relaxed demeanor. In other words, he was still in control. However, as pointed out above, the right spent the first ten days ripping the NIE to shreds.

By December 13 the word began to go out in earnest from the White House that This Must Stop. Bush has accepted the NIE results, and therefore we all should, too. Condi Rice gave a wide-ranging interview to ABC News on December 12 in which she said these things:

“They are clearly still states about which there are significant proliferation concerns,” Rice said. “It would be very irresponsible not to deal with those dangers.”

“I don’t think the (National Intelligence Estimate) gives a benign rendering of Iran,” she said. “I see it as still quite dangerous.”

“Since they [the Iranians] have embraced the NIE, I assume that they are embracing the entire thing,” Rice said. “And that means that they must have had a weapons program and that means that they have a lot to answer for.”

We see this week Condi Rice and Gregory Schulte pressing that case, with Schulte stating that Iran must “confess” and cease all nuclear activity.

Similar events have taken place on the Israeli side of the equation. Back on December 6 The Jerusalem Post reported that Admiral Michael Mullen was making a rare trip to Israel for the express purpose of allowing the IDF Chief of Staff and the Defense Minister to make their case against Iran personally, in hopes that the NIE will be reassessed.

By December 10 the Israelis had calmed down a little bit.

Israelis follow the American debate, and as there’s more analysis of the report, and a more careful reading of what it actually says and doesn’t say, it doesn’t look like the damage, in terms of international pressure on Iran, is going to be that great. The initial news reports seemed [to suggest] there was going to be a 180-degree change in American policy, the headlines said that “Iran doesn’t have a military program,” but upon more careful reading that’s not the case.

So Israelis will follow the American debate carefully. But there’s a concern in Israel that the next president, whoever he or she is, will take a year at least to be able to make a policy on Iran, and in the meantime Iran will go ahead and run with its enrichment program. But even that’s being rethought. Listening to the Democratic candidates and a number of the advisors who are likely to play a critical role if the Democrats win the White House, Israelis see more continuity on the Iran issue.

Last week Prime Minister Ehud Olmert “asked” the other ministers to stop commenting on the NIE.

“May I remind you that the cabinet held a discussion on the subject and agreed on Israel’s position. There is no place for private comments by every single minister on such a sensitive and complex issue,” Olmert said.

“Such statements do not contribute to the campaign [against Iran] or to our relations with the White House,” he added.

In a roundabout way, everyone is being corralled back onto the reservation, so to speak. The message is: stop complaining about the NIE. Why? Because it’s not helping.

These people share the same goal, war with Iran, but they cannot all be in on the new route to that goal. Therefore we see this odd talking point dissonance on the right. The usual suspects are completely accustomed to screaming bloody murder over any perceived threat to their interests, real or imagined. Naturally, they reacted this way to the NIE. But for reasons that cannot be laid out in talking points and yet are pretty obvious to people who aren’t hysterical, the NIE needs to be legitimized. So after a week or so of neocons rending their garments and bemoaning this horrible failure of intelligence, the word began to go out to calm down, quiet down, STFU, etc.

I see all of this as confirming the Trojan Horse theory. Furthermore, this tamping down process probably would have kicked in faster and in a more heavy handed manner if Wellen’s theory hadn’t popped up and taken off a mere two days after the NIE’s release. There’s so much kabuki going on (we know that you know that we know…), it’s hard to nail any of it down definitively, but I think this theory does explain current events.

Executing the Trojan Horse Plan

We knew this was coming, but still, I’m struck by the aggressive, threatening posture. The uproar over the NIE has barely cooled off, and here the Bushies go with their alternative reality.

Iran must “confess” to running a past nuclear weapons program or its claims of cooperating with a U.N. investigation will not be credible, the chief U.S. envoy to the U.N. atomic watchdog agency said Friday.

Confess, eh? The waterboarding table must be around here somewhere…

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, meanwhile, said in Washington that if Iran wants U.N. sanctions lifted and avoid new ones, it must halt uranium enrichment and related activities that could make the ingredients for an atomic bomb.

If Iran complies, Rice said she was “prepared to meet my (Iranian) counterpart any place and anytime and anywhere, and we can talk about anything.” But “as long as the Iranians are talking and practicing enrichment, we’re not getting anywhere,” she said.

So basically this means that Bush/Cheney will ignore the NIE interpretation favored by peace loving people, that is to say the voice of reason and diplomacy, and instead they will refuse to negotiate unless the Iranians stop their allowed civilian program. Gregory Schulte, the chief US delegate to the IAEA, sounds like a perfect bastard, the kind of person beloved by authoritarians.

Gregory L. Schulte, the chief U.S. delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, said Iran’s refusal to suspend enrichment “violates Security Council resolutions and casts doubt on its leaders’ ultimate intent.”

“Iran is already a danger in the Middle East,” Schulte said. “That danger only increases as Iran’s leaders shorten the timeline to produce nuclear weapons.”

The IAEA has been investigating Iran’s nuclear programs since revelations in 2003 that the country had conducted nearly two decades of secret atomic activities, including developing enrichment and working on experiments that could be linked to a weapons program.

A recently published U.S. intelligence assessment concluded that in the same year, Iran stopped direct work on creating nuclear arms.

Under a plan agreed to earlier this year with the IAEA, Iran committed itself to answering all lingering questions about its past nuclear activities. That, by implication, included programs that could have weapons applications.

“We are looking for an acknowledgment that they had nuclear weapons,” Schulte said. “The end of the year is rapidly approaching (and) we are waiting to see if Iran’s leaders are ready to confess.”

“The end of the year is rapidly approaching (and) we are waiting to see if Iran’s leaders are ready to confess.” That certainly sounds like a deadline for something to happen, doesn’t it? This confess language strikes me as completely ridiculous. Schulte describes an interrogation here, with a powerful figure of authority on one hand and a subjugated detainee on the other. Yet in reality Iran is a sovereign nation. For Schulte to openly use this language as if it’s the most normal thing in the world provides us some window into how deranged is Bush administration thinking. They have clearly chosen to blow right by the NIE and it’s fallout. Just cherry pick the parts you like and move on, same as the buildup to war with Iraq. The trick is how to get away with it this time, and the method chosen looks like setting unreasonable expectations (bill them as perfectly reasonable, however) and then punishing Iran for failing to meet them.

However, the agreement between Iran and the IAEA makes no direct mention of a clandestine Iranian weapons program, and because Iran denies it ever tried to develop one, the U.S. demands are unlikely to be met.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called the U.S. intelligence estimate a victory for his country, and officials of other governments have suggested it could relieve pressure on the Islamic republic.

Schulte warned against such interpretations. Iran had been engaged in a “concerted, covert program, conducted by military entities, under the direction of Iran’s government,” he said. “Iran’s leaders could choose to restart that program.”

Still, the revised U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran has stiffened resistance from permanent U.N. Security Council members Russia and China to moving quickly on a third set of sanctions against Iran.

Schulte, faced with reality, warns against it.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has said he wants to wrap up the investigation by December. But diplomats accredited to the agency, who demanded anonymity because their information was confidential, told The Associated Press this week that the agency had run into unspecified obstacles, and that Iranian officials were now talking about March as the new deadline — something they said the United States and its allies would be unlikely to accept.

Time is of the essence. Psychologically, Bush/Cheney need to keep the appearance of forward momentum, quiet down their hysterical neocon and Israeli buddies, and basically change the dynamic back to something that works for them. This belligerent posture and looming deadline effectively sets diplomacy up to fail, and they want diplomacy to fail since that allows them to attack Iran. Of course, there’s still the problem of getting the military to fall in line, but one thing we know about B/C & Co, Inc. is that they spend a lot of time arranging elaborate set-ups. This probably explains why the NIE caused such histrionics among the neocons and Israelis. The NIE trashed their previous set-up, which they had laboriously arranged for who knows how long. Their cry of “everything’s ruined” came through loud and clear. But now it seems that they will pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and redouble their efforts. Instead of letting the NIE vanquish them, B/C will use it to plunge the knife in faster and deeper. Their satisfaction will be all the greater if they can accomplish this, and therefore they will be highly motivated to exact revenge on those who tried to thwart their plans. This is the Trojan Horse theory, and we are watching it’s execution unfold.

Head’s Up

Tax refunds for 2007 will be delayed by up to 7 weeks. Hey baby, you don’t mind, do you?

Tax refunds will be delayed at the start of 2008 because of late passage of the Temporary Tax Relief Act of 2007, which Congress was apparently too busy to pass until now. President Bush is expected to sign the Act that extends the current AMT thresholds with a temporary one year “patch.”

Because this legislation comes so late in the year, e-filing and paper processing of tax returns for everyone may not start until February.

Some IRS instruction manuals will have to be redone because they are now outdated. IRS computers will have to be reprogrammed.

Twelve IRS forms are affected by the AMT including those for child and dependent care credits.

The resulting delay in refunds could be up to seven weeks. It is estimated that a postponement of tax refunds for 15 million taxpayers, including lower and middle class taxpayers who normally file for early refunds, is very possible.

What exactly this really means, I don’t know… but it can’t be good.

Black Sites

More information on what happens to people in CIA Black Sites. After enduring torture, interrogation and solitary confinement for six months, he was released without being charged with any crime.

Just remember that the CIA and its associates, whoever they are, will torture innocent people to “protect” us. I know, I know, it doesn’t seem like that would work. It really seems counterproductive and inhumane and not very American. That’s because it is counterproductive, inhumane and un-American.

Through a translator, over the phone from his home in Yemen, Bashmilah described how his ordeal began on Oct. 21, 2003, when he was arrested in Amman, Jordan: “It was approximately six days, but what I endured there is worth years. They wanted me to confess to having some connections to some individuals of al-Qaida. They tried several times to get me to confess, and every time I said no, I would get either a kick, a slap or a curse. Then they said that if I did not confess, they will bring my wife and rape her in front of me. And out of fear for what would happen to my family, I screamed and I fainted. After I came to, I told them that ‘please, don’t do anything to my family. I would cooperate with you in any way you want.‘”

He was prepared for transit, stripped “completely naked. They started taking pictures from all directions. And they also started to beat me on my sides and also my feet. And then they put me in a position similar to the position of prostration in Muslim prayer, which is similar to the fetal position. And in that position, one of them inserted his finger in my anus very violently. I was in terrible pain, and I started to scream. When they started taking pictures, I could see that they were people who were masked. They were dressed in black from head to toe, and they were also wearing surgical gloves.”

He says he was put in a diaper, had his eyes and ears covered, a bag was put over his head, and he had additional earphones put on his head to block noise. He was then flown to Kabul, Afghanistan, where he was held in solitary confinement for close to six months. He believed he was being held by Americans. “Some of the interrogators would come to me and interrogate me in the interrogation room, and they would tell me, ‘You should calm down and be comforted, because we’ll send all this information to Washington.’ And they would say that in Washington, they will determine whether my answers are truthful or not.” Although kept isolated from other prisoners, he managed to overhear some of them speculating that they were being held at Bagram Air Base. He went on to say that he was kept awake with blaring music and was held in shackles that were removed only for periodic interrogations.

While Bashmilah was being interrogated and tortured, he was also visited by “psychiatrists.” “[T]he therapy mainly consisted of trying to look at my thoughts and trying to interpret them for me, and in addition to some tranquilizers.”

Bashmilah attempted suicide three times, staged a hunger strike that was painfully ended with a feeding tube forced down his nose, and was denied access to a lawyer, to any human-rights group, to the International Committee of the Red Cross. In effect, he disappeared.

On May 5, 2005, he was transferred to a prison in Yemen, where he eventually gained access to his family. Amnesty International got involved. He was released in March 2006 without being charged with anything.

God help us.