01 May 2004
Ihad a whole list of stories to link to tonight, but when this came through on my email, I felt that it should take precedence over everything else. This comes from the Information Clearing House, where they invite bloggers and others to pass along and/or reprint for education and information purposes. I have tried to make it as complete as possible, but I do recomend that you go to the original if any of these links fail to work, or are linked incorrectly. I also recomend readers browse their site for other eye opening documents and commentary.
The Evidence File
Court case against General Franks in Brussels
The video and pictures in this report contain images and descriptions, depicting the reality and horror of the U.S. - UK invasion of Iraq
Court case against General Franks in Brussels [An overview of the case]
Texte complet de la plainte contre Franks
Complete text in English: MS Word document
[Facts file complaint Franks] Pictures #1 : Ambulance Under American Fire
[Facts file complaint Franks] Pictures #2 : The Plaintiff's
[Facts file complaint Franks] Pictures # 3 : destruction of civilian infrastructure
[Facts file complaint Franks] Pictures # 4 : Protection and organisation of Looting
[Facts file complaint Franks] Pictures # 5 : the use of cluster bombs
[Facts file complaint Franks] The use of cluster bombs
[Facts file complaint Franks] Destruction to infrastructure that's vital for public health
[Facts file complaint Franks] Protection and organization of Looting
[Facts file complaint Franks] Civilian casualties
[Facts file complaint Franks] video of the testimonies by Geert Van Moorter, Fred & fico
[video] The reality of iraqi children by Geert van Moorter & fico May 03, 2003
[video] An Iraqi ambulance under fire by Geert Van Moorter & fico 2003-05-03
[video] American soldiers shoot at a civilian bus in Iraq by Geert Van Moorter & fico 2003-05-03
[video] Plundering a hospital filmed by Geert Van Moorter, edited by Chloé & fico April 24
[video] American's are like a baby by Geert Van Moorter, chloé & fico 2003-04-29
[video] The feeling of an Iraqi doctor by Geert Van Moorter & fico 2003-05-03
[video] We will build it again...and again...and again filmed by Geert Van Moorter, edited by fico & Chloé April 24
[video] La voix des enfants de Charleroi à Bagdad by Huito & Fico 2003-04-30
"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius
By Dom Stasi
April 29, 2004: "ICH" -- "My country, right or wrong." I've always subconsciously ascribed those words to some great American soldier-statesman, perhaps George Washington or Nathan Hale. I expect many have likewise assumed. Perhaps that's because it's been a soldier's credo and an inspiration to generations of patriotic Americans. In fact, that verbatim phrase, My country, right or wrong! was emblazoned between the painted flag and the field elevation notice that graced the portal of the flight operations shack on an Arctic airbase where I was stationed for a time. Stand on that flight line, and you read those words: "My country, right or wrong!"
Such words seem appropriate above a military portal. They did even then - perhaps especially then. It was the Sixties. Like today, they declare commitment in the face of doubt. Tennyson said it best: Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die. Like military service itself, such messages are unambiguous, unwavering in the face of the cognitive dissonance and conflict every thinking soldier experiences: My country, right or wrong. It holds no place for either subtlety or those who would deign to be subtle. I never questioned such words while in uniform and under oath. Few have. Commitment is part of our strength as a people. But as a civilian - an American civilian - I reject the statement out of hand. As an American and a still free man, I'm committed to reason not to oaths of obedience.
In the final accounting, America is a place of civilians. As such we have a responsibility to those whose time it is to do and die. That responsibility is clear and is specific in our nation's Bill Of Rights. As free Americans ours is to make reply. Ours is to reason why.
Ours is a government by, for, and of the people, and people is just another way of saying human beings. And what is a human being if not a thinking, reasoning, self-aware being? As every honorable veteran knows, when a soldier in the service of America accepts My country, right or wrong, he does so as a deliberate act of free will and human dignity. But he does surrogate his personal freedom of choice for some period when he takes the oath. He does so as an act of trust, firm in the knowledge that his civilian leadership will be a just and responsible leadership. He trusts that his civilian leadership will be honest and act honorably under the flag of his country. One cannot deny, however, that the soldiers sailors, airmen, and marines of mine and subsequent generations have not always seen their trust in the modern crop of civilian leaders justified.
My country, right or wrong is an illusion built and sustained upon the naiveté of our expendable youth and that of the adults who would sacrifice them to the will of whomever holds power. But through disillusionment comes knowledge. Many Americans know better. As we grow older and see our children sent into harm's way and used as harm's ministers, mine, of all generations, should be skeptical of those who send them. There were few active protests of the Korean War. There were many protests of the Vietnam war, but few substantive until its third year and a widespread draft that took the privileged sons as well as the expendable sons of the traditionally expendable classes. Iraq, however, was protested by the world and by rational Americans from its very first moment. But not by our soldiers. Our soldiers cannot hold our leaders accountable and do their jobs effectively. Theirs not to make reply, Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die. We must speak and act for them, or we must turn our backs and let them continue to do and die, alone, abandoned to the will of the corrupt, the frightened, the insane among us.
When any American soldier who has served his country in the decades after WW-II returns to civilian life, wiser, perhaps jaded by what he's seen or felt, and he still accepts such platitudes as My country, right or wrong, he abdicates his will, his intellect, and his constitutional responsibility as an American. He subjugates reason to bias. He becomes derelict in his duty to protect the republic and the civilian public who know not what he knows, who've seen nothing of what he's seen, and hopefully never will. When faced with an obviously corrupt civilian government, it is a veteran's duty to act against that corruption in the ways our constitution abundantly provides and fiercely protects.
We approach this duty each in our own way. This past week we've seen the usual pinheaded news coverage of Bush administration flaks criticizing the Democratic Party's candidate, John Kerry, for his rebellious 1971 act of tossing his medals (campaign ribbons) over a fence - the White House fence. Kerry, following his Vietnam service, led the activist group Vietnam Veterans Against The War. This writer neither presumes to condone or to condemn the young Kerry's actions here. His was perhaps an extreme and to many an inappropriate expression of disillusionment with his government. But that a veteran - be it John Kerry or John Doe - has earned medals to toss, means he once stood his ground for his country, right or wrong.
In Kerry's case, that three Purple Hearts, a Silver Star, and a Bronze Star, were earned is fairly conclusive proof that he stood his ground more than once. That is a far, far greater expression of patriotism, honor, and understanding of ones duty to the republic than is the quick and mindless criticism of a symbolic act of protest. Many of those critics are those already guilty of abdicating their public responsibility. I speak of the pinheads of the corporate press. But that the pinheads are being manipulated to critique rather than to analysis by those who ran from the fight while under oath, and worse still, by those who would stoop to serve those who ran, says far more than their empty words could ever hope to say.
The administration's flaks are criticizing John Kerry's actions for obvious political gain. So be it. But, by doing so the flacks and their press lackeys are also criticizing every veteran who speaks out against the Bush Administration's atrocities from the perspective of a veteran's unique experience. In the case of many a Vietnam veteran, that is the experience of unjust war and its ravages. For when reason fails, when voting fails, when law fails, when discourse fails, then protest is the veteran's only recourse short of armed rebellion. Who among us knows better what is being wrought in our name than does the combat veteran? Yet we are encouraged to criticize rather than to learn from him.
Perhaps that's intended. Perhaps it's programmed into our unique sense of nationalism. After all, America - through the wisdom of its founders - is mandated to be a nation of civilians led by civilians. But our system, as with every system of governance, is vulnerable also to the will of the corrupt. In such a milieu, even a civilian leader - particularly one not elected to office, nor especially bright or demonstrably honest - can be a willing or wholly unwitting traitor to our constitutional republic and the foundations of human dignity upon which it was crafted. Given the unimaginable power at his disposal, such a leader can become an equally unwitting tyrant. All that is required for a system of government - any system of government - to fail, is that both leader and led share a mutual ignorance or bias.
From ignorance derives fear. From bias derives irrationality and dishonesty. No nation or form of government is immune. Our current president and the criminal manipulators and incompetents with whom he finds himself surrounded, are empirical proof of the American system's vulnerability to corruption.
When I hear this president make such infantile proclamations as "You're either with us, or you're with the terrorists," and his mangled, "I'm not about nuancing," or his more than color-blind "I see things in black and white," it leaves no room for the intelligent or the informed or the fair-minded portion of a civilian population to exercise their uniquely human attribute of deductive reasoning. It also removes any hope or possibility whatsoever, that one of the best and brightest has ascended the throne. Demonstration - dramatic or symbolic protest - is the enlightened patriot's only viable recourse.
However, for many Americans, simplistic platitudes are the granite rocks upon which their patriotism stands. Intractable. No thinking required. And when it comes to simplistic platitudes, My country, right or wrong is the most simplistic of the lot. What could be a clearer declaration? What could be easier to understand? What could better appeal to, or better reinforce adamant bias?
My country, right or wrong!
As an American I suddenly see America as being hardly recognizable as my country at all, right, wrong, or indifferent. I cannot help but be repulsed beyond words by her actions in my name. I am repulsed by a once-proud and always courageous military suddenly run by a herd of civilian murderers and thieves and being used as their personal pirates. At the head of them struts a miscreant whom every evidence declares should have been charged before a military court's martial for desertion in time of war long before being allowed to steal and subsequently disgrace our country's presidency and her people.1 Yet, this never befell the fortunate son. Instead he "soldiers" on a free man. He remains free to arrange the indiscriminate slaughter of uncounted thousands of men, women, and children in a defenseless country, civilians who have done nothing to America more onerous than living upon the world's second largest and most priceless oil reserves. Make no mistake, those oil reserves are what the deserter and his criminal handlers lust for beyond human and humane reason.
They have used our soldiers to kill thousands of innocents that they may get their already greasy hands on that black gold buried beneath the ever more bloodied sands of Iraq. Any defenders of their homeland our soldiers encounter are killed, and their memory publicly desecrated by a stupid embedded American press that reports on them as the thugs and murderers. On Friday evening in Florida the miscreant reaffirmed his delusion, "America," he said, "will never be run out of Iraq by a bunch of thugs and killers." Since I doubt he was refering to his own administration, the naïve press ate it up at face value. But that brave if misguided statement by the president is code. The miscreant speaks in code. It tells his handlers that he'll continue to provide them the ways and the means to murder countless more civilians, and countless more than that until they get what they came for - or more accurately what they sent America's sons and daughters to take for them while they sit safely at home just as each of them sat out that 'ol crazy Asian war. It is code that tells other of his handlers that they will be paid handsomely by the taxpaying parents of America's sons and daughters to manufacture the weapons their children will use to kill the children of others. It appears that the killing of children is condoned by our president, but only if those children have already been born.
I'm proud to say the logic escapes me.
The logic of virtually everything this administration does in the blasphemed name of freedom, security, decency, escapes me. It should revile all people of good will. Virtually everything being carried out in our name by these madmen is in violation of our American constitutional principles, yet we hear nothing of substance from the self-proclaimed patriots who seem to be everywhere one looks today.
We are truly a nation whose majority population believes in, My Country, right or wrong.
But that phrase, its origins and its true meaning will resonate with and disturb free thinking Americans every time we hear it, and the more often we hear it, the more clearly it illustrates how far we've fallen as a peoples.
For the phrase - My country, right or wrong - as a direct quotation, is incorrect. In fact, just like virtually everything else the majority of Americans are willing to believe, it's wrong as hell.
The actual quotation, as spoken by the celebrated German-born, United States Senator, Carl Schurz back in the Nineteenth Century, is very different from that with which we've grown familiar and to which we've obediently ascribed in the post-millennial darkness that is Twenty-First Century America. It's worlds-apart different. It's true meaning diametric to the blind obedience implied by the corrupt, "My Country, Right Or Wrong."
Of course those self-appointed guardians of mindless loyalty who so fondly call themselves patriots in today's kinder, dumber America, would not only encourage the popular corruption of Schurz's actual, and brilliantly Jeffersonian original words, but would be very happy to never so much as see the entire statement in historically accurate context. So, on the assumption that our self-appointed leaders and simplistic herd of "patriots" would have lost interest in this tome by now, (we are, after all, several pages deep, and still no hint of cartoons or feel good platitudes) here's what the man - and true patriot - Carl Schurz actually said. You'll find it incredibly relevant today.
"My country," declared Senator Carl Schurz, "If right, to be kept right, and, if wrong, to be set right." What, I ask, could be more different from the simplistic if not wholly mindless, My Country, Right Or Wrong, to which we've become conditioned?
Nothing, that's what. Nothing could be more different in its meaning and intent as the foundation of a democratic republic than those two phrases are, one from the other.
But that's not all Senator Schurz said that day. "The American people" Schurz continued, "should be specially careful not to permit themselves to be influenced in their decisions by high-sounding phrases of indefinite meaning, by vague generalities, or by seductive catchwords appealing to unreasoning pride and reckless ambition. More than ever, true patriotism now demands the exercise of the soberest possible discernment.
"I am far from denying that this republic, as one of the great powers of the world, has its responsibilities. But what is it responsible for? Is it to be held, or to hold itself, responsible for the correction of all wrongs done by strong nations to weak ones, or by powerful oppressors to helpless populations? Is it, in other words, responsible for the general dispensation of righteousness throughout the world? Neither do I deny that this republic has a mission, and I am willing to accept what we are frequently told, that this mission consists in 'furthering the progress of civilization.' But does this mean that wherever obstacles to the progress of civilization appear, this republic should at once step in to remove those obstacles by means of force, if friendly persuasions do not avail?
Every sober-minded person will admit that under so tremendous a task any earthly power, however great, would soon break down."
Quite different from, My Country, Right Or Wrong. Don't you agree? In fact, the actual statement is about as different in its meaning as it could possibly be from the dumbed-down byte with which we're today familiar.
When looked at in context, if we were to but replace the word "civilization" with the popular noun of the moment - democracy - the entire statement could have come from one of the few patriotic Americans who grace that same senate floor today. One can almost see Robert Byrd, his hand and voice shaking less with age than with outrage, as he rails against this thing - this unrecognizable thing - which the land and the idea that we still call America has become at the oh-so-steady, blood and oil stained hands that now hold our nation's tiller as they drive her steady onward, straight on to the waiting rocks.
About The Author
Dom Stasi [ResponDS1@aol.com] is Chief Technology Officer for a national satellite network based in Los Angeles. He was the original chief engineer who helped design and build both HBO and MTV's satellite infrastructures. Mr. Stasi flew aerial reconnaissance during the cold war and was a member of the Project Apollo technical team. A frequently published science and technology writer, the opinions expressed in this piece are solely his own.
© 2004 Dom Stasi
U.S. Marines negotiated a "tentative" agreement yesterday to pull back forces from Falluja, a deal that would lift a nearly month-long siege and allow an Iraqi force led by a former Saddam Hussein-era general to handle security. Iraqi force being proposed to tame Falluja's guerrillas might include some of the same gunmen who have been fighting the U.S. Marines.
FOR MORE VIEWPOINTS ON FALLUGA DEAL
US, Iraqi views of occupation converging
One year after President George W Bush declared an end to "major hostilities" in Iraq, public opinion there and in the United States is beginning to converge as people in both countries increasingly agree that the US invasion and occupation might not have been such a good idea after all. That is one conclusion of two major public opinion polls released on Thursday.
FOR MORE VIEWPOINTS ON IRAQ POLL
Kimmitt: Marines Not Leaving Fallujah
U.S. Marines will maintain a strong presence in and around Fallujah despite an agreement to hand over security to a new Iraqi force largely made up of former Iraqi soldiers, a senior U.S. officer said Friday.
US official dead wrong on toll
Asked how many American troops have died in Iraq, the second-ranked US Defence Department official yesterday estimated about 500 - more than 200 soldiers short.
The war of the words
It's fiendishly difficult to get people to accept the label "rebels" for those Iraqis killed by American snipers when - as in Falluja - they turn out to be pregnant women, 13-year-old boys and old men standing by their front gates.
As 193,000 members of Israel's governing Likud party prepare to vote on Ariel Sharon's controversial plan to withdraw from the occupied territory, Donald Macintyre meets those who are determined to stand firm
OP-ED: Vanunu can blow the whistle on America —Uri Avnery
The world must be prevented by all available means from hearing, from the lips of a credible witness, that the Americans are full partners in Israel’s nuclear arms programme, while pretending to be the world’s sheriff for the prevention of nuclear proliferation
The first-ever grouping of its kind in the American Upper House, the Senate India Caucus was formally launched here on Thursday.
FOR MORE VIEWPOINTS ON THIS STORY
The Muslim cleric Abu Bakar has been rearrested by Indonesian police immediately after his release from a jail in Jakarta on suspicion of terrorism.
NZ euthanasia daughter sentenced
A New Zealand woman has been sentenced to 15 months in jail for the attempted murder of her dying mother.
Thailand fears more attacks as Muslim separatists blamed for violence
Thailand's south was bracing for more violence as evidence mounted that Muslim separatists were responsible for triggering this week's bloodshed that left more than 100 people dead.
FOR MORE ON THAILAND TERRORISM THREATS
No spy royal commission: PM
Prime Minister John Howard has rejected the calls of army intelligence analyst Lieutenant-Colonel Lance Collins for a royal commission into Australia's intelligence agencies.
Vanstone 'sorry' to court over children
Federal Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone has had to apologise to the Federal Court for disregarding its authority after she redetained five asylum seeker children in Adelaide.
Australia pushes ahead with grab for Timor oil and gas
At the latest border talks between East Timor and Australia held in Dili on April 19-22, Canberra reaffirmed its determination to flout international law and keep control of the lion’s share of the oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea. Ignoring growing protests in East Timor and internationally, Australian representatives made no concessions to the demands of the East Timorese leadership for a greater share of the resources.
FOR MORE ON EAST TIMOR OIL AND GAS ISSUE
Secret bio-terror defence plan
AUSTRALIA has secretly planned for the possibility of a horrific attack in which suicide terrorists infect themselves with deadly germs and then spread the disease through the population.
The United States Commission on National Security, or Hart-Rudman Commission, came into its well-earned own recently (April 18) with the re-airing on C-SPAN of a program originally seen on January 31, 2001. Co-Chairman Warren Rudman introduced the festivities, saying that the Commission’s goal was cohesive and coordinated strategic planning (in more or less those words). He then summarized the Seven Points of the Commission’s Credo.
'Nightline' Sparks Controversy
A major owner of U.S. television stations has ordered its eight ABC affiliates to drop a "Nightline" broadcast in which the name of every American soldier killed in Iraq will be read aloud.
McCain Letter to Sinclair Broadcast on Preemption of Nightline
I write to strongly protest your decision to instruct Sinclair's ABC
affiliates to preempt this evening's Nightline program. I find deeply
offensive Sinclair's objection to Nightline's intention to broadcast the names and photographs of Americans who gave their lives in service to our country in Iraq.
MORE VIEWS ON NIGHTLINE PREEMTION
Ashcroft may face Justice probe
The Justice Department is reviewing allegations that Attorney General John Ashcroft violated campaign finance laws during his unsuccessful 2000 bid for reelection to the Senate.
On 1 May, at a historic ceremony in Dublin, 10 new nations will be admitted to the European Union, almost doubling its size to 25 member states.
MORE VIEWPOINTS ON EU EXPANSION
Panel gets 3 hours with Bush, Cheney
The commission investigating the Sept. 11 terror attacks questioned President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney on Thursday for more than three hours in a historic Oval Office meeting, a session that Bush described as "wide-ranging" and "very cordial."
FOR MORE VIEWPOINTS ON BUSH/CHANEY INTERVIEW
A Déjà Vu Energy Bill
In what is yet another attempt by Republicans to force a bad energy bill down the country's throat, Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., has dredged up the bill—minus its tax package—and offered it as an amendment to the Internet tax bill. 'The third time is the charm' is what Domenici must be thinking. But for the sake of U.S. consumers, it should be three strikes and out—for good.
FOR MORE VIEWPOINTS ON THE ENERGY BILL
Study finds fault with prison boom
A study mapping the prisons built in the boom of the past two decades has found that some U.S. counties now have more than 30 percent of their residents behind bars.
FOR MORE ON PRISON BOOM IN USA
A judge has sentenced a Utah woman to 18 months probation for refusing a Caesarean section that doctors said would have saved her stillborn baby.
FOR MORE ON WOMEN'S RIGHTS AROUND THE WORLD
Who died in a plane crash with Wylie Post in 1935, was possibly the greatest political sage America has ever known. Enjoy the following:
1. Never slap a man who's chewing tobacco.
2. Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.
3. There are 2 theories to arguing with a woman... neither works.
4. Never miss a good chance to shut up.
5. Always drink upstream from the herd.
6. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
7. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it back in your pocket.
8. There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading; the few who learn by observation... The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves.
9. Good judgement comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgement.
10. If you're ridin' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there.
11. Lettin' the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier'n puttin' it back.
12. After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: When you're full of bull, keep your mouth shut.
Thanks for this, Don!
30 April 2004
By a declaration of rights, I mean one which shall stipulate freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of commerce against monopolies, trial by juries in all cases, no suspensions of the habeas corpus, no standing armies. These are fetters against doing evil which no honest government should decline: ~~ Thomas Jefferson
By Orit Shohat
During the first two weeks of this month, the American army committed war crimes in Falluja on a scale unprecedented for this war. According to the relatively few media reports of what took place there, some 600 Iraqis were killed during these two weeks, among them some 450 elderly people, women and children.
The sight of decapitated children, the rows of dead women and the shocking pictures of the soccer stadium that was turned into a temporary grave for hundreds of the slain - all were broadcast to the world only by the Al Jazeera network. During the operation in Falluja, according to the organization Doctors Without Borders, U.S. Marines even occupied the hospitals and prevented hundreds of the wounded from receiving medical treatment. Snipers fired from the rooftops at anyone who tried to approach.
This was a retaliatory operation, carried out by the Marines, accompanied by F-16 fighter planes and assault helicopters, under the code name "Vigilant Resolve." It was revenge for the killing of four American security guards on March 31. But while the killing of the guards, whose bodies were dragged through the streets of the city and then hung from a bridge, received wide media coverage, and thus prepared hearts and minds for the military revenge, the hundreds of victims of the American retaliation were practically a military secret.
The only conclusion that has been drawn thus far from the indiscriminate killing in Falluja is the expulsion of Al Jazeera from the city. Since the start of the war, the Americans have persecuted the network's journalists - not because they report lies, but because they are virtually the only ones who manage to report the truth. The Bush administration, in cooperation with the American media, is trying to hide the sights of war from the world, and particularly from American voters.
This week, for the first time, the Americans permitted pictures to be published of the coffins of dead American soldiers being sent back home. Until this week, such pictures were forbidden. Therefore, it is no wonder Bush's poll results are better than ever, even though the number of Americans killed in Iraq in April has reached 115.
Is the occupation of Iraq hindering terrorism, or inflaming it? Will the number of dead soldiers - in contrast to the number of Iraqi victims - prompt a reassessment? It is clear that the American war crimes will not reach the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Today, America sets the world's moral standards. It alone decides who will be judged, who is a terrorist, what is legitimate resistance to occupation, who is a religious fanatic, and who is a legitimate target for assassination. That is how four Iraqi children, who laughed at the sight of a dead American soldier, merited being killed on the spot.
Ariel Sharon's government can thus cite a great authority for its own actions, and there are no visible limits to its plan to create a new security order in the Gaza Strip and in the territories in general. To the Israeli government, not crossing the red lines that America sets for its friends is more important than resolving the conflict with the Palestinians.
The ethical dilemmas in Israel over the targeted killings must make the American government laugh. After Falluja, Israel Defense Forces commanders can feel easier with their consciences - and especially with the consciences of those who refuse to carry out such operations. The one-ton bomb that was dropped on an apartment building in Gaza in order to assassinate Salah Shehadeh, which also killed 14 civilians, is almost like throwing candy compared to the number of bombs the Americans dropped on the houses of the residents of crowded Falluja. And there, too, incidentally, the Marines' commander said they did their best in order to avoid hurting civilians. "We brought to this action our experience from World War II, Korea, Vietnam ... The operation in Falluja will be remembered and studied for many years to come," he said.
What can the perplexed Israeli learn from this cynical comparison? Ariel Sharon can feel that he was simply persecuted in the Sabra and Chatila affair. Those who like to say that "the whole world is against us" will choose to talk about the double standards applied to America and Israel with regard to, for instance, Israel's destruction of the Jenin refugee camp. But anyone who has absolute, rather than relative, moral standards can conclude that we should not be learning from the Americans - not with regard to the consumption of junk food, not in the area of human rights, and not even in the area of democracy and freedom of expression.
The practical difference ought to be obvious. America is a superpower, which can evidently do what it pleases, and it can withdraw from the war in Iraq whenever it wants. Israel has no place to which to withdraw. It must remain here, in proximity to its neighbors - its partners in the land, the climate and the fate of its children. Therefore, every retaliation, revenge operation and assassination that we carry out has historical consequences going far beyond those of the cruel assault on Falluja. Operation Vigilant Resolve, in contrast, will become no more than a footnote in American military history - and perhaps a few Marines will even write a book about it.
A second unit of the Iraqi armed forces has mutinied at Fallujah after being involved in heavy fighting with insurgents Ali Allawi, the Iraqi Defence Minister, said yesterday.
U.S. troops probed in abuse of POWs
Deep in the bowels of Saddam Hussein's most notorious prison, a bound and blindfolded Iraqi was forced to balance on a box and told he would be electrocuted if he fell.
Iraqis to replace marines at Falluja
Marine forces will end their siege of Falluja and allow an Iraqi security force to move into the city starting on Friday under a new agreement, a Marine commander said.
Rumsfeld's Police Secret
n his April 13 press conference, Bush lamented the poor showing of Iraqi security forces in recent clashes with insurgents. "I was disappointed in the performance of some of the troops," he said. "Some of the units performed brilliantly. Some of them didn't. And we need to find out why.
The Consequences of Colonization in Iraq
We Are the Barbarians
Jaw agape and fangs unsheathed, American colonialism has lashed out with severe brutality against the newly-unified Iraqi resistance, counting on its military might to crush the aspirations of Iraqis who seek to liberate their country from foreign control.
Senator: U.S. must remove 'brand name' from Iraq work
A successful transition to sovereignty in Iraq might hinge in large part on "getting the United States brand name" off efforts to democratize the war-torn nation, a leading Senate Republican said Wednesday.
Annon Criticises US over Falluja
Photos clear our image of war
Peekaboo is a game for babies who don't understand how the world works. And Presidents who do.
The baby game works this way: A grownup hides her face. When she pops out again and coos, "Peekaboo!" the baby is surprised, because he really thought the grownup had disappeared. When he didn't see her, she didn't exist!
Now apply this principle to 700 flag-draped coffins.
Where US snipers fire at ambulances
Glass crunches underfoot. Four-year-old Ali is lying in a cot, the mattress matted with dried blood. He is bleeding from a horrific groin wound and his left leg has been amputated above the knee. His left arm is bandaged and bleeding, his face badly cut. His father brushes away the flies buzzing around Ali's wounds. It is a scene of almost utter hopelessness.
For continuous news and updates on the War in Iraq and other world news, via your news reader, subscribe to clari.world.mideast.iraq, clari.web.world.mideast.iraq, clari.web.world.organizations.un, clari.web.world.mideast+africa, clari.web.world.organizations. All of these groups are available to anyone who wishes to subscribe.
The Israel Defense Forces admitted on Thursday that it accidentally shot and killed Dr. Yasser Abu Laimun, 32, a resident of the village of Taluza, north of Nablus in the West Bank, over the weekend.
OPINION: Palestinians: still victims of politics, bigotry and passivity
W ith Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promising still more assassinations, including that of Palestinian National Authority President Yasser Arafat, and with his Cabinet approving a budget that expands Israeli settlements in the West Bank both inside and outside its newly constructed wall, it seems clear that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is desperately in need of outside intervention if disaster is to be averted. In the past, there have been a number of instances where the United States was able to play such a role. But, it appears, no more.
I’ve final say on Iraq constitution: Bremer
Three US soldiers were killed in separate attacks around Iraq, while US overseer Paul Bremer warned he could veto the country’s temporary constitution if it did not fit the American vision of democracy.
Iran 'Will Be Dealt With,' Bush Says
President Bush told newspaper editors in Washington yesterday that Iran "will be dealt with, starting through the United Nations" if it does not stop developing nuclear weapons and begin total cooperation with international inspectors.
Thailand troops are on alert for more violence after over 100 men were killed during assaults on security posts in the country's Muslim south.
India-Pakisatan: Foreign secretaries to announce agenda today:
Agreement reached on framework for composite dialogue
The military has closed ranks around the Defence Intelligence Organisation's director, Frank Lewincamp, with top defence figures rejecting navy barrister Captain Martin Toohey's claims that the DIO chief is politicised and should be replaced.
Troops' behaviour 'appalling': Rudd
Labor has called on Foreign Minister Alexander Downer to ensure Iraqi prisoners were not being abused by coalition troops.
Children may go back to detention
Five children of an asylum seeker family may be returned to detention, and ultimately deported, following a High Court decision yesterday over-ruling their release on welfare grounds.
The High Court unanimously overturned a Family Court decision to free the children, finding it did not have the authority it had claimed to order their release.
National Guard to pull troops from Golden Gate
The sight of National Guardsmen in camouflage marching around with assault rifles on the Golden Gate Bridge will soon be a thing of the past due to the high cost of security and changing strategies in the war against terrorism.
Senior ministers rallied round a beleaguered Tony Blair yesterday as they sought to quash speculation that he might stand down as Prime Minister this summer amid fears that he has become dangerously isolated inside his own Cabinet and party.
Chirac protests to Blair over referendum on EU constitution
acques Chirac has privately protested to Tony Blair about his decision to call a referendum on the European constitution, The Independent has learned. The French President expressed his disappointment to in a private telephone call to the British Prime Minister.
European plan to test chemical products irks US
An ambitious European plan to make chemicals manufacturers test their products for safety before selling them has industrialists and the US government up in arms in what promises to be a major transatlantic battle over health regulations.
29 April 2004
President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney went behind closed doors Thursday to answer questions from members of the Sept. 11 commission who want to know how followers of Osama bin Laden managed to pull off the worst terrorist attack in American history.
Lawyers try to gag FBI worker over 9/11
The Bush administration will today seek to prevent a former FBI translator from providing evidence about 11 September intelligence failures to a group of relatives and survivors who have accused international banks and officials of aiding al-Qa'ida.
Supreme Court examines security, terror after 9/11
The intense arguments over the status of two citizens held in a military brig — along with a session last week in which foreigners sought to challenge their detentions at a U.S. naval base in Cuba — showed that the court is not taking at face value the administration's claim that it has unfettered latitude to hold captives during the war on terrorism.
Bush's economic numbers keep getting flakier.
n the national debate about economic policy, the central element remains the role of the Bush administration's tax cuts in generating jobs and growth. The administration is suggesting that the economy has been mightily helped by the tax cuts, that the economy is doing swell, and that the future is rosy. Oh, yeah, the administration concedes, there have been some tough times, but that's only because we've been through so much: September 11, the Iraq War, corporate scandals, and the stock bubble bursting.
WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Shrek the hermit ram [photo] took six years to grow his massive fleece. On Wednesday, a champion shearer clipped it off in just 20 minutes on live television in this nation of 4 million people and 42 million sheep.
Named after the ogre from the animated film, the merino sheep had been on the lam and living in mountain caves for six years after escaping from his domestic flock.
But after coming in from the cold, Shrek lay quietly on his back as former world champion blade shearer Peter Casserly clipped 60 1/2 pounds of fine merino wool from the sheep in front of a local audience of more than 250 and a TV audience stretching from New Zealand to Japan.
In this country where sheep outnumber people by more than 10-1, Shrek has become a star since being caught recently in New Zealand's South Island high country.
The merino was captured hiding in a rock cave near the top of the "Bendigo" high country ranch in Central Otago on South Island during an annual muster earlier this month.
Sheep station musterer Anne Scanlan said the elusive Shrek "was wild when we caught him ... and he's turned into such a character and personality."
"It shows they are absolutely intelligent ... something people don't believe," she said.
Ranch owner John Perriam said the ram would have had "little food in winter" when snow piles up more than 6 feet deep, bitter winds blow across the mountain peaks, and grazing would only be possible when snow was blown off slopes.
The shearing ended with an unsteady Shrek wrapped in a special red and blue winter jacket fitted to protect him from the cold of the advancing Southern Hemisphere winter.
Children in the audience clapped as the sheep stood up, looking to be a quarter of his previous size.
by Butler Shaffer
The release of photographs of flag-draped coffins containing the bodies of American soldiers has upset the Bush administration. With as hypocritical a sense of false piety to come from a White House well-versed in fabrication, the Bush leaguers declared that such photos were "insensitive" to the feelings of grieving families. What arrant nonsense! What the Bush supporters fear is that, like the Vietnam War, television pictures of increasing numbers of coffins from Iraq will provide the American public a visual sense of the human costs of this neoconservative derangement.
War supporters speak of the importance of repressing such photos in order to "honor the dead." But this crowd is as disinterested in "honoring" soldiers as it is in having the events of 9/11 fully revealed. If they truly wish to honor the young men and women who have been duped into believing that "be all you can be" means getting blown to pieces in state-concocted conflicts, they would bring them home alive, not in body-bags!
In this war – as in others – I am less interested in honoring the dead than in preventing the dead. But the state and I have different agendas. To the politicians and bureaucrats, human beings have never been anything more than fungible resources to exploit on behalf of their narrow ambitions. You may recall the videotaped coverage of a funeral attended by then-President Clinton. He was walking from the ceremony and joking with another man when he suddenly became aware of the television camera. The expression on his face quickly turned to one of solemnity.
When the government speaks of increasing the number of troops in Iraq, and directs its media lapdogs to begin discussing a return to military conscription, you get an idea of just how little they regard the life of your son or daughter. Like Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, and other wartime presidents, George Bush can go to Arlington cemetery and feign as much respect for the dead as his acting coaches can squeeze from his primal insincerity. The actions of these men belie their sanctimonious words and empty posturing.
The state is not always averse to reminding people of the victims of wars. Once a war has been concluded, and people no longer have to struggle with ongoing battle deaths, the political system is eager to celebrate earlier casualties. Through Memorial Day and July 4th speeches, politicians exhort the living to find meaning in the deaths of earlier generations of soldiers, a tactic designed to prepare us to accept the propriety of future wars. Medals are also awarded, monuments are constructed, while endless films create heroic images of men in war. The attitude the state wants us to embrace was expressed in the Vietnam era bumper-sticker: "war is good business: invest your son."
As long as wars are treated as abstractions, the state can use them to reinforce the sense of collective violence and sacrifice upon which political systems depend. It is when the war dead are personified, and their numbers continue to mount, that decent people become uneasy with the butchery. A Vietnam War Memorial depicting past victims of warfare is safe for the warmongers, just as the televised coverage of dead soldiers coming home from Vietnam was detrimental to war efforts. The Bush administration learned the lesson: pictures of flag-draped coffins of present victims diminish public enthusiasm for their continuing sacrifice. This is the only reason the state insists on hiding these human costs.
It is but another lie upon which government is based to assert that concealing these photos from public view is necessary in order to protect grieving families. None of the coffins were identified as the remains of any particular soldier. Furthermore, the state has never shown an unwillingness to exploit the deaths of police officers when killed "in the line of duty." Daily television news coverage will show scenes of an officer’s death, his bullet-riddled car, as well as close-ups of the grieving family at his funeral. Where is the "sensitivity" to the suffering of family members when the state chooses to exploit the dead for its purposes?
Nor have the politicians been lax in capitalizing on the deaths of nearly three thousand victims of the World Trade Center attack to advance state interests. In his campaign materials, George Bush has used photos of New York City firemen carrying flag-draped coffins of their comrades killed on 9/11. Do those who release photos showing the public the human consequences of war stand on a lower ethical plane than the man who has precipitated these deaths, and who uses photos of dead firemen to advance his political ambitions? Like the burning of the Reichstag, or the attack on Pearl Harbor, or the sinking of the Lusitania, or the blowing up of the battleship "Maine," the state has always been eager to take advantage of the death and suffering of others in order to foment its wars. If, on occasion, the state has been complicit in causing such attacks in order to foster a war frenzy, then so be it.
When children are abused, kidnapped, or murdered, the state eagerly exploits their victimization by expanding its police-state powers in the name of the child. Many of us have learned that when the state seeks to aggrandize its authority over us, it is often done in the name of "protecting the children." How much legislation has been proposed and/or enacted in the name of a young victim of a crime? If ten-year-old Penelope Zilch is sexually assaulted and murdered by a man later shown to have frequented adult bookstores, you can be assured that the statists will hurriedly draft proposed legislation requiring all people who enter such businesses to be photographed and fingerprinted. The legislation will thereafter be known as "Penny’s Law," with the parents becoming frequent visitors to television programs to relive the pain of their child’s death in order to help promote the state’s interest in greater power. Anyone who opposes such legislation will be labeled a defender of those who murder children, a supporter of pornography, or, worse still, a person who is insensitive to the suffering of the grief-stricken family.
The state exploits the deaths of young people in other ways for its political gain. A cable news channel did a fifth anniversary news report of the killings at Columbine High School in Colorado. A father of one of the victims was interviewed, and he spoke of his efforts to get tougher gun control laws enacted as a remembrance to his son. He commented that his son had told him, a few days before being killed, that he had found a "loophole" in the Brady bill.
I feel great sadness for the families of any children that have been killed, whether in accidents, wars, or at the hands of murderers. I make no light of their loss, and I can understand their motivation to memorialize their children in some meaningful way. But do such people truly believe that their children died because of a "loophole" in a federal statute? Is the lesson to be drawn from such killings that our world suffers only from inept legislative draftsmanship, and that we can best honor their deaths by campaigning for more tightly-written statutes?
Why do we pour our energies into honoring the practice of victimization? Out of a sense of love and respect for those killed, why do we not condemn the thinking and forces that brought about the deaths of loved ones? When people offer the prayer that these dead "shall not have died in vain," the painful reality is that their deaths were futile, and that they will not be the last to die in order to gratify the aggressive appetites of others. If we truly desire to honor the memories of those killed, can we begin dismantling – in both our minds and parks – the monuments we have erected to the sanctification of institutionalized death and mayhem?
It is considered insensitive and politically incorrect to raise such questions, of course, just as it is regarded as unpatriotic to question the causes of 9/11 or the ulterior motives of the Bush administration in Afghanistan and Iraq. The state, being grounded in a network of lies and contradictions held together by force, is always threatened by truth. This is why truth, as has often been said, is the first casualty of war, a victim whose loss must be honored by any decent society. But as we have seen in these post-9/11 months, truth-telling is not a priority for a nation whooped up in a mania for war.
Those who published pictures of coffins returning to America have probably experienced the same sense of loneliness felt by the boy who reported the nakedness of the emperor. In the meantime, you and I are admonished to distance ourselves from such "insensitive" people; to dismiss the evidence they have revealed to our eyes; and to reject the truth of their message in the name of "honoring the dead." The dead deserve better than this!
April 28, 2004
Butler Shaffer teaches at the Southwestern University School of Law.
Copyright © 2004 LewRockwell.com
By David Campbell
April 23, 2004
Surely even a child can understand the difference between good and evil.
Dad ... what's a terrorist?
Well, according to the Oxford dictionary a terrorist is "a person who uses violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims". Which means that terrorists are very bad men and women who frighten ordinary people like us, and sometimes even kill them.
Why do they kill them?
Because they hate them or their country. It's hard to explain ... it's just the way things are. For many different reasons a lot of people in our world are full of hate.
Like the ones in Iraq who are capturing people and saying that they'll kill them if all the soldiers don't leave?
Exactly! That's an evil thing called "blackmail". Those innocent people are hostages, and the terrorists are saying that if governments don't do what they want the hostages will be killed.
So was it blackmail when we said we'd attack Iraq and kill innocent people unless they told us where all their weapons were?
No! Well ... yes, I suppose. In a way. But that was an "ultimatum" ... call it "good blackmail.
Good blackmail? What's that?
That's when it's done for good reasons. Those weapons were very dangerous and could have hurt a lot of people all over the world. It was very important to find them and destroy them.
But Dad ... there weren't any weapons.
True. We know that now. But we didn't at the time. We thought there were.
So was killing all those innocent people in Iraq a mistake?
No. It was a tragedy, but we also saved a lot of lives. You see, we had to stop a very cruel man called Saddam Hussein from killing a great many ordinary Iraqi people. Saddam Hussein stayed in power by giving orders that meant thousands of people died or were horribly injured. Mothers and fathers. Even children.
Like that boy I saw on TV? The one who had his arms blown off by a bomb?
Yes ... just like him.
But we did that. Does that mean our leaders are terrorists?
Good heavens, no! Whatever gave you that idea? That was just an accident. Unfortunately, innocent people get hurt in a war. You can't expect anything else when you drop bombs on cities. Nobody wants it to happen ... it's just the way things are.
So in a war only soldiers are supposed to get killed?
Well, soldiers are trained to fight for their country. It's their job, and they're very brave. They know that war is dangerous and that they might be killed. As soon as they put on a uniform they become a target.
What uniforms do terrorists wear?
That's just the problem ... they don't! We can't tell them apart from the civilians. We don't know who we're fighting. And that's why so many innocent people are getting killed ... the terrorists don't follow the rules of war.
War has rules?
Oh, yes. Soldiers must wear uniforms. And you can't just suddenly attack someone unless they do something to you first. Then you can defend yourself.
So that's why we attacked Iraq? Because Iraq attacked us first and we were just defending ourselves?
Not exactly. Iraq didn't attack us ... but it might have. We decided to get in first. Just in case Iraq used those weapons we were talking about.
The ones they didn't have? So we broke the rules of war?
Technically speaking, yes. But ...
So if we broke the rules first, why isn't it OK for those people in Iraq who aren't wearing uniforms to break the rules?
Well, that's different. We were doing the right thing when we broke the rules.
But Dad ... how do we know we were doing the right thing?
Our leaders ... Bush and Blair and Howard ... they told us it was the right thing. And if they don't know, who does? They say that something had to be done to make Iraq a better place.
Is it a better place?
I suppose so, but I don't know for sure. Innocent people are still being killed and these kidnappings are terrible things. I feel very sorry for the families of those poor hostages, but we simply can't give in to terrorists. We must stand firm.
Would you say that if I was captured by terrorists?
Uh ... yes ... no ... I mean, it's very difficult ...
So you'd let me be killed? Don't you love me?
Of course! I love you very much. It's just that it's a very complicated issue and I don't know what I'd do ...
Well, if somebody attacked us and bombed our house and killed you and Mum and Jamie I know what I'd do.
I'd find out who did it and kill them. Any way I could. I'd hate them for ever and ever. And then I'd get in a plane and bomb their cities.
But ... but ... you'd kill a lot of innocent people.
I know. But it's war, Dad. And that's just the way things are. Remember?
David Campbell is a Melbourne writer.
Outbursts of Anger and Ourage of over the anouncements that a new flag had been selected to replace the old flag serve to demonstrate the ability of US leaders and the US appointed Iraqi Governing Council to alienate ordinary Iraqis, who are already smoldering over the bloody sieges of Fallujah and Karbala.
Former diplomats' attack on Blair is off the Richter scale, says Cook
Robin Cook delivers a fresh and devastating blow to Tony Blair today by claiming that serving British ambassadors support the 52 former diplomats who criticised the Prime Minister over his policy on the Middle East.
OPINION: NEGROPONTE - Sleeping Ambassador or Death Squad Diplomat?
As reports are coming in that yet more Iraqi civilians are being killed in Iraq [The Guardian], is it any wonder that the Honduras reneged on their commitment to participate in the effort to rebuild just as Bush announced that their former Ambassador from the U.S. was taking over?
Back From The Brink?
Last week, the Americans in Iraq stood on the brink of not one but three cliffs. Now, in what appears to be a sudden attack of sanity, they have pulled back from the edge of two.
Kerry: Bush intentionally exaggerated case
Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts accused President Bush on Tuesday of having knowingly exaggerated evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, saying the president made “colossal mistakes” before, during and after the war.
U.S. May be Fighting on Two Fronts Too Many
When U.S. troops backed by helicopter gunships attacked the Mehdi Army of anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in the holy Shia city of Najaf, it is not clear who they killed.
After the Headlines Comes the Tent City
New families seem to arrive every hour at the Iraqi Red Crescent refugee camp in West Baghdad. The camp, the first tent city erected as a result of the U.S. assault on Fallujah first drew about 50 families, a small fraction of the tens of thousands of civilians forced to flee their homes.
Majority Still Believe in Iraq's WMD, al-Qaeda Ties
U.S. public perceptions about former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's alleged ties to al-Qaeda and stocks of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) continues to lag far behind the testimony of experts, boosting chances that President George W Bush will be re-elected, according to a survey and analysis released Thursday.
Latin American Troops Paying Price of Occupation
Some 150 soldiers of Latin American descent have died in Iraq, and the total keeps rising, as has the tone of the activists who are demanding that the Latino troops ”come home”.
U.N. envoy connects dots between Iraq, Israel
Anarchy reigns in Iraq, dishonesty in Washington, outrage across the Middle East and anti-Americanism everywhere.
Such is the legacy of George W. Bush, so far. The situation is likely to get worse, especially if his friend, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, does kill Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Remember the big deal Pentagon leaders made a dozen years ago about how their world was going to end if the military did not keep gays and lesbians out of its ranks? Well, as they say in Tony Soprano's neighborhood, fuhgeddaboudit! (Chi-Trib-requires registration)
Unrestrained Likud-Led Israel Is a Recipe for Disaster
With Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promising still more assassinations, including that of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, and with his Cabinet approving a budget that expands Israeli settlements in the West Bank both inside and outside of its newly constructed wall, it seems clear that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is desperately in need of outside intervention if disaster is to be averted.
Powell sees Iraq sovereignty limits
US Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Monday the still-undefined government due to take power in Iraq on July 1 would have to give up some of its sovereignty to allow a free hand to US-led armed forces.
When five captives were released by Iraqi rebel fighters earlier this month, they did not expect to return home to a nation full of anger. David McNeill reveals the story
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Scores killed in Thai gun battles
Security forces have killed at least 100 suspected Islamic militants in a spate of gun battles in south Thailand.
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Living with a nuclear North Korea
As evidence mounts that North Korea already possesses nuclear weapons, United States President George W Bush's entire machismo about disallowing the possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by radical regimes faces a serious challenge.
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White man's burden, historically
Washington has seldom had any problem with dictators - provided the victims of their repression are chiefly the dispossessed or those struggling on behalf of the dispossessed, and as long as the favoured tyrant doesn't turn a deaf ear to Washington. This pattern has been evident throughout the 20th century.
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N Korea train blast victims died saving leaders' portraits - report
Many North Koreans died a "heroic death" after last week's train explosion by running into burning buildings to rescue portraits of leader Kim Jong-il and his father, the North's official media reported yesterday.
The quality of life of Australia's Aborigines is the second worst on the planet, according to a Canadian study of 100 countries.
Only China performed worse, according to a United Nations index that measures human development.
Troops accused of looting, arson in Ambon
Ambonese Christians have accused Indonesian soldiers of burning a church and looting houses in the fourth day of bitter fighting between Christians and Muslims.
Nauru tells Australian lawyers to go
Three Australian lawyers were yesterday ordered off Nauru before they had a chance to appear in a court case challenging the legality of the island's detention centre for asylum seekers.
Howard denies attempt to smear defence lawyer
The Prime Minister, John Howard, yesterday rejected claims by naval barrister Captain Martin Toohey that the Federal Government had tried to smear his reputation after the release of his damning report into Australia's intelligence agencies.
Republic clings to majority support
Australians have cooled on the idea of a republic despite Mark Latham's recent pledge of a referendum on the issue by 2007, a Herald poll has found.
Inside Bush's Indian Bureau
Bush Admininstration to Court: Cheney Papers Must Be Secret
The Bush administration argued at the Supreme Court yesterday that records of Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force should be kept secret to protect the president's ability to get discreet advice when preparing legislation.
U.S. lawmakers and groups that favor abortion rights assailed presidential adviser Karen Hughes on Tuesday for comments she made that they contend liken abortion rights advocates to those in the ``terror network.'' (nyt-requires registration)
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Military Mail Difficulties Persist
The problems, including slow delivery of ballots, could affect morale as well as the outcome of November's election, lawmakers warn. (LAtimes-requires registration)
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Blog-Tracking May Gain Ground Among U.S. Intelligence Officials
People in black trench coats might soon be chasing blogs.
28 April 2004
Kim Zetter covers privacy, security, cyberterrorism and public policy for Wired News.
When Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act in 2001, it granted law enforcement authorities unprecedented surveillance powers. Lawmakers approved the act not only because of the crisis of 9/11, but because it was aimed primarily at foreign nationals.
Most Americans believed the powers would never be applied to them, according to Georgetown University law professor David Cole. But Cole says history shows that once the American government goes after foreigners, it's only a matter of time before it turns the same laws on Americans.
A graduate of Yale Law School, Cole is a volunteer staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights and teaches at Georgetown University Law Center alongside Patriot Act author Viet Dinh, who has called Cole "the Clarence Darrow of his generation" for his defense of underdogs.
Wired News spoke with Cole about his new book, Enemy Aliens, and efforts to revise the Patriot Act.
Wired News: Critics have accused the government of overreaching with the Patriot Act. The government in turn has accused critics of misinterpreting and mischaracterizing the law to generate fear about it. Have critics overreacted?
David Cole: The Patriot Act has become a symbol for a much broader range of concerns about this administration's abuse of civil liberties in the war on terrorism. Many of those are real abuses that warrant real concern, but don't stem specifically from the Patriot Act. Rather, they stem from initiatives that the Bush administration undertook outside the authority of the Patriot Act, such as the mass preventive detention campaign that John Ashcroft undertook after 9/11, which to date has led to more than 5,000 foreign nationals being detained.
WN: In January, Attorney General John Ashcroft said that neither the court system nor Congress had "reported a single example of civil-liberties abuse under the Patriot Act, despite intense scrutiny." Is this true?
Cole: I can give you one example that's exactly contrary to what John Ashcroft says. In January, a federal district court in California, in a case that I have argued —Humanitarian Law Project v. Ashcroft —declared unconstitutional a provision of the Patriot Act that makes it a crime for people to provide expert advice or assistance to any organization that has been designated a terrorist organization.
The Humanitarian Law Project is a human-rights organization in California that had been providing advice and assistance to the Kurdistan Workers Party in Turkey. The Kurdistan Workers Party seeks to further the Kurds' interest. It does so through political and violent means. The Humanitarian Law Project was seeking to encourage the Kurdish group to pursue the rights of the Kurds through lawful means by giving them expert advice and assistance on human-rights advocacy. Even though the intent of our client was to discourage the use of violence and encourage the use of peaceful means to resolve their disputes, the Patriot Act makes no distinction between advocacy of human rights and advocacy of terrorism.
WN: From a civil-liberties perspective, which Patriot Act provisions represent the most egregious violations?
Cole: The provision that authorizes the government to freeze an organization's and individual's assets on the basis of secret evidence that they have no opportunity to confront or rebut (is one example).
But the immigration provisions are the most troubling provisions. Sections 411 and 412 give the government power to deny entry to foreign nationals based on pure speech and to deport foreigners, including permanent residents, based on innocent association with any group that the attorney general doesn't like and puts on a blacklist. They allow the attorney general to lock up foreigners without charges and without making a showing to a court that they are dangerous or a risk of flight.
Section 218 removes the probable cause requirement for wiretaps and searches whenever the government has a significant foreign intelligence interest in a criminal investigation. It is one of the most questionable provisions in the act constitutionally, and is very likely to be challenged when the government seeks to use evidence obtained in one of these wiretaps. But thus far we haven't got there.
The libraries provision (Section 215) gives the government the power to get records from any business without showing that the suspect is a terrorist, a criminal or even a foreign agent.
And the "sneak and peek" provision, which allows the government to delay notification to homeowners of searches—to engage in secret searches whenever the government says that prior notice would undermine the criminal investigation, which they're going to be able to say in every case.
WN: Viet Dinh, the main author of the Patriot Act, said Section 215 simply grants law enforcement the same type of investigative powers in national security cases that it already has in criminal cases. Is that an accurate summation of the section?
Cole: I don't think so. There are several differences between that pre-existing authority and the Section 215 authority. Under the criminal side, you have to have a pending criminal investigation that is serious enough to empanel a grand jury of the citizenry. Under Section 215, you don't have to have any grand jury in place at all. You only have to have a foreign intelligence investigation, which can be as minimal as having an individual that is an employee of an organization whose membership is more than 50 percent foreign. You can have an investigation into a British national who is living here simply on the basis that he is an employee of Amnesty International. You don't have to make any showing that he's a terrorist, you don't have to make any showing that Amnesty International is a terrorist organization.
The second significant difference between the criminal authority and the authority under Section 215 is that the subpoena under the criminal authority is not a secret. The individual can go to the press and complain about it, as Monica Lewinsky and Kramer Books did when the government sought President Clinton's or Monica Lewinsky's book-purchasing records. That means there's going to be a level of public scrutiny that will deter abuse.
Under Section 215, the entity to whom the request is made is barred by law from disclosing that to anyone other than the lawyer who helps them respond to it. That gag order means that the government investigators know in most cases this will never come to public light.
WN: You and Dinh are colleagues at Georgetown University. How does that relationship work out, with you being opposed to certain provisions of the act and him supporting it?
Cole: Viet and I are actually good friends. We disagree deeply about many of these provisions, but we remain good friends. I don't doubt Viet's or other people's good intentions in seeking to keep us safe, but I believe they went too far in the Patriot Act. I don't hold anyone personally responsible. The act was enacted at a time where it was very difficult to have any reasoned debate about the civil liberties concerns. This was six weeks after 9/11 in the heart of the anthrax scare. So it was passed in a very rapid and unthinking way. Only one senator voted against it. Yet today many of the senators who voted for it have sharply criticized it.
WN: The government was criticized for not acting on information it had before 9/11. Are we hitting them from both sides, saying they didn't do enough before 9/11 and now they're doing too much?
Cole: If there are shortcomings and problems that were identified that existed before 9/11, we needed to respond to them. But I don't think the Patriot Act for the most part is a fix for the problems that have been identified. One example is we didn't put sufficient resources into analysis of data. We had lots of data but weren't analyzing it well. The Patriot Act doesn't say 'Let's put more money into analysis.' It just gives the government broader authority to collect more and more data, much of which won't have anything to do with terrorism.
Another frequent criticism of pre-9/11 is the failure to communicate between the various law enforcement and intelligence entities. Almost nothing in the Patriot Act addresses that problem because primarily it's a bureaucratic problem. It's not a problem of the law. We have many, many entities and you need to respond by bureaucratic reform rather than by expanding the government's power.
WN: Have you changed the way you live or conduct your activities since the passage of the Patriot Act? Have you become more cautious about the information you give out or otherwise become more careful about leaving a trail?
Cole: No, I don't think so. I don't expect that I'm going to be the target of these measures. One of the reasons that measures like the Patriot Act do get through relatively easily is that many people believe it's going to be somebody else who is going to feel the brunt. The fact that it's somebody else's ox that is likely to be gored does not mean that we shouldn't be concerned.
My book, Enemy Aliens, argues that the pattern of government responses to national security is to first target foreign nationals and then later to expand those tactics to Americans. It's only when they actually get extended to broader and broader segments of the American citizenry that the political process works to say, 'Wait a minute, you went too far.' But my view is that if it's going too far when it affects all of our rights, then we ought to stop it before it gets there.
WN: Is it possible to balance security and freedom?
Cole: Absolutely. In fact, I think in some instances, civil liberties provisions and protections create incentives to do a more effective job. For example, the probable-cause requirement of the Fourth Amendment—which requires you to have some objective suspicion of criminal activity before you search somebody's home or take them into detention—requires the government to develop good evidence on individuals, to do the hard work of investigation rather than to, in a lazy way, sweep broadly and pick lots of people up without good reason. Those kinds of measures have not proven to be very successful in identifying terrorists.
I think there are trade-offs between liberty and security, and most of the rights in the Bill of Rights are not absolute. But our Constitution is premised on the notion that you do have to balance liberty and security.
WN: One of the most common responses to criticism of government surveillance is: If you're not doing anything wrong, then you don't have anything to fear from the government. What do you say to that?
Cole: Yeah, they said that to Martin Luther King Jr., who was one of the greatest national heroes and yet had his personal life intruded upon and bugged for years by the FBI, including surveillance of his private sexual relationships in his private hotel room in Washington, D.C. At one point the FBI threatened to make (the surveillance) public if he didn't turn down the Nobel Peace Prize. History shows that many, many innocent people get caught up as targets of government surveillance and government detention.
WN: An unlikely coalition of Republican and Democratic legislators, as well as conservative and liberal organizations, has backed legislation introduced last year—the Security and Freedom Ensured Act of 2003, or SAFE Act—that would restore some checks and balance to the Patriot Act. Would this be a reasonable compromise, rather than retiring the Patriot Act?
Cole: Oh yeah, I think that the SAFE Act is a good start. One of the problems with the SAFE Act is it doesn't address the immigration provisions, the foreign-national provisions. But there will soon be introduced a bill called the Civil Liberties Restoration Act, which would deal with that side of the problem. I'm not of the view that the Patriot Act needs to be repealed. I think that there are many provisions of the Patriot Act that are non-controversial, there are many provisions that are helpful and that we need to focus on the ones that are problematic.
WN: What is the likelihood that something like this would be passed? The SAFE Act is stalled and not going anywhere.
Cole: It's hard to say. Most of the provisions of the Patriot Act had been introduced prior to the Patriot Act (and) never went anywhere, and then they did. The sunset clause of the Patriot Act surveillance provisions means that Congress will have to confront those provisions. I think that will be an opportunity to debate and put in place some of the reforms suggested in the SAFE Act and the Civil Liberties Restoration Act.
One year after 9/11, National Public Radio did a poll and found that only 7 percent of Americans felt they had given up important liberties in the war on terrorism. Two years after 9/11, NBC or CBS did a very similar poll and they found that now 52 percent of Americans report being concerned that their civil liberties are being infringed by the Bush administration's war on terrorism. That's a huge shift.
You see that shift reflected in the fact that all of the following people have criticized the Patriot Act: Al Gore, Newt Gingrich, Howard Dean, Dick Armey, John Kerry and Bob Barr. It would be very hard to come up with any issue on which those six people agree, and yet they all agree that there are fundamental problems with the Patriot Act.
The real question is, when the next terrorist attack occurs, are we going to remember the lessons that are now being learned about whether we went too far, or is the public going to say we didn't go far enough and pass Patriot Act II and more? This is a critical moment for the public to engage on this issue about the proper balance between liberty and security.
My hope is that the next time around, Congress will hear from the civil liberties concerns before they pass the act. And that there will be a recognition that while we need to give the government sufficient authority to keep ourselves secure, we also need to ensure that we limit the government's ability to render us more insecure by its own abuses directed toward the citizenry. Only time will tell.
22 April 2004 – Voicing alarm at the growing impact of the ongoing fighting on Iraqi children, including a mounting death toll in recent days, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has called on all parties to ensure the protection of children and all civilians as required by international humanitarian law.
"The fighting in Iraq is exacting a heavy toll and children are paying with their lives," UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said in a statement on yesterday’s suicide bombings in Basra in which more than 20 children on a school bus were reported to have been killed.
The agency noted that the killings in Basra follow the reported deaths of more than 100 children in Fallujah, west of Baghdad, in recent days.
In many cities across Iraq, children are unable to lead a normal life. "They are not just unable to attend school and get decent health care and clean water, but far too often they are paying the ultimate price," Ms. Bellamy said. "The ongoing instability and fighting is hitting children the hardest."
Many schools are closed due to the recent upsurge in violence. Even where schools are open, many parents are keeping their children at home out of fear. "Children have the right to continue their education, and to do so safely, even when they live in the midst of conflict," Ms. Bellamy added.
"They must feel free to exercise that right, and they must feel safe going to and from school. In fact, everywhere children spend time, whether on a bus, in a health centre, at a school, or on a playground, must be treated as a zone of peace. We must not allow children to become the victims of adults battles," she declared.
Acting UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Bertrand Ramcharan also added his voice to the chorus of condemnations of the Basra attacks and of another suicide bombing yesterday in Saudi Arabia.
“Terrorism constitutes an assault on values the international community holds dear,” Mr. Ramcharan said in a statement. “An essential element in fighting this scourge is to uphold the rule of law and fundamental standards of human rights, the very things terrorists seek to destroy.”
Dahr Jamail, The NewStandard
20 April 2004
Baghdad, April 19 -- The word on the street in Baghdad is that the the cessation of suicide car bombings is proof that the CIA was behind them. Why? Because as one man states, "[CIA agents are] too busy fighting now, and the unrest they wanted to cause by the bombings is now upon them." True or not, it certainly doesn't bode well for the occupiers' image in Iraq.
The night before last I was awakened by a very large explosion in central Baghdad, followed promptly by three other smaller explosions. This morning, I awoke to another large explosion, again followed by several smaller ones.
With so many journalists leaving Iraq, and the majority of those that remain staying close to their hotels, it's becoming harder to come by accurate information aboutevents occurring on the ground.
For those of us here, it has, needless to say, travel has become increasing difficult because of the deteriorating security situation.
Aside from the usual bombs and sporadic gunfire that typifies daily (and nightly) life in the capital of Iraq today, it continues to be relatively quiet here, at least compared to other parts of Iraq. The feeling I get is that most Iraqis here (aside from those directly fighting the military) are in wait-and-see mode, their eyes on Najaf and Falluja.
But this belies the true story, that despite the lack of overt fighting in central Baghdad, violence and tension are boiling beneath the surface. On a recent visit to the Arabic Children's Hospital, Dr. Waad Edan Louis, the Chief Visiting Doctor at the hospital, stated, "Before the invasion, we had 300 patients per night. Now, we have 100 because the security is so bad."
Meanwhile, at the Noman Hospital in Al-Adhamiya, a doctor I spoke with there (who asked to remain nameless) stated, "We are treating an average of one gunshot wound per day, which is something we never saw before the occupation. This is due to the absence of law in Baghdad. The Iraqi Police have weak weapons and nobody respects their authority."
He also stated that U.S. soldiers have come to the hospital asking for information about resistance fighters. He said, "My policy is not to give my patients to the Americans, or to provide them any information. I deny information to the Americans for the sake of the patient. I don't care what my patients have done outside the walls of the hospital. I do my job, then let the patient go."
"Ten days ago this happened -- this occurred after people began to come in from Falluja, even though most of them were children, women and elderly."
When asked if the U.S. military were bombing civilians in Falluja, he stated, "Of course the Americans are bombing civilians, along with the revolutionaries. One year ago there was no revolution in Falluja. But they began searching homes and humiliating people, and this annoyed the people. The people became angry and demonstrated, then the Americans shot the demonstrators, and this started the revolution in Falluja. It is the same in Sadr City."
He continued angrily, "Aggression against civilians has caused all of this. Nothing happened for the first two months of the occupation. People were happy to have Saddam gone. And now, we hope for the mercy of God if the Americans invade Najaf."
Cluster bombs are reported to have been used commonly in Iraq both during the invasion and the occupation.
Another doctor at Noman Hospital, who asked to remain anonymous, stated that he saw the U.S. military dropping cluster bombs on the Al-Dora area last December, "I've seen it all with my own eyes. The U.S. later removed the unexploded bombs by soldiers picking up the bomblets and putting them in their helmets."
He also believes that cluster bombs are currently being used in Falluja, based on reports from field doctors presently working there, as well as statements taken from wounded civilians of Falluja.
He also claimed that many of the Falluja victims he had treated had been shot with 'dum-dum bullets', which are hollow point bullets that are designed to inflict maximum internal damage. These are also referred to as 'expanding bullets.'
Nearing the end of the discussion, the first doctor stated, "The U.S. induces aggression. If you don't attack me, I will never attack you. The U.S. is stimulating the aggression of the Iraqi people!"
A doctor who asked to remain anonymous at Al-Karam Hospital in Baghdad reported that another doctor from his hospital had just returned from Najaf. She was unable to work there, she told Al-Karam, because Spanish military forces had occupied its hospital. The roof of the Al-Sadr Teaching hospital in Najaf overlooks their base, so soldiers have taken it over for strategic purposes.
The doctor at Al-Karam Hospital stated, "The Americans don't care what happens to Iraqis."
At Al-Kerh Hospital in Baghdad there is a similar story. One of the managers at the hospital, speaking on condition of anonymity, stated, "U.S. soldiers are always coming here asking us for information about our wounded, but we don't give them any information."
Hussein Kareem, the Assistant Administrator at the Mohammed Baker Hakim Hospital in Sadr City, said that while no soldiers had occupied or visited the hospital, U.S. soldiers shot one ambulance from his hospital, injuring the driver. He also stated that during the first day of fighting in Sadr City two weeks ago, he received 32 dead bodies, mostly of women and children, and 90 wounded.
At Yarmouk Hospital, a lead doctor discussed the situation in Falluja.
He said that during the first days of the U.S. siege of Falluja, many of the wounded were brought to his hospital. He continues, "The Americans came here to question my patients, even though we tried to refer the soldiers to a different hospital."
He is outraged by the situation in Falluja, which he calls a massacre, "The Americans shot at some of our doctors who were traveling to Falluja to provide aid. One of our doctors was injured when a missile struck his vehicle. I have also been told by my doctors in Falluja that the Americans are shooting ambulances there, as well as at the main hospital there."
He continued, "My doctors in Falluja have reported to me that the Americans are using cluster bombs. Patients we've treated from there are reporting the same."
It is argued that the use of cluster bombs is a war crime, at least in spirit, if not technically. Cluster bombs contravene the international treaty against land mines -- which the U.S. has refused to sign anyway -- because they leave unexploded ordnance where they are dropped, which then has the same effect as land mines.
He continued, "One of my doctors in Falluja asked the Americans there if he could remove a wounded patient from the city. The soldier wouldn't let him move the victim, and said, OEWe have dead soldiers here too. This is a war zone.' The doctor wasn't allowed to remove the wounded man, and he died. So many doctors and ambulances have been turned back from checkpoints there."
This same doctor reported that he saw American soldiers killing women and children, as well as shooting ambulances in Falluja.
The doctor I spoke with expressed his outrage, "What freedom did America bring us? Freedom of the machine gun? So I am free to take my gun and shoot you?"
Dahr Jamail is Baghdad correspondent for The NewStandard. He is an Alaskan devoted to covering the untold stories from occupied Iraq. You can help Dahr continue his crucial work in Iraq by making donations. For more information or to donate to Dahr, visit http://newstandardnews.net/iraqdispatches. The above text is ©2004 Dahr Jamail