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19 February 2005

$2,000 paid to family for wrongful death of Afghanistan citizens, photos destroyed. 

"Let me be clear - I am not blaming the troops - our soldiers - they are all following orders. "

An Enigmatic Flea Reader Contribution.

By Myra Kinderknecht
SMSgt, USAF/ANG, (RETIRED)

I have never been so ashamed, except when our veterans from Vietnam were treated like crap. OUR wonderful government waited until most of them died from Agent Orange - then when it was 'fiscally' advantageous, decided to help the few who remained alive. Who are we to teach anyone how to be Humanitarian? Please note in the news article below the value the Army put on an Innocent Afghanistan citizen's life was $2,000.

Let me be clear - I am not blaming the troops - our soldiers - they are all following orders.

I am upset that the troops are treated differently and the Army Reservists are unfairly used as scapegoats by the highest ranking officials in the Army.


Once again they only identify the names, ages, home towns, family names, locations, personal information and specific ''accusations'' about Army Reservists - when it comes to the elite Fort Bragg Special Forces, well every article says pretty much the same thing, they're not going to release the names or details of the Special Forces soldiers BUT there will be an investigation, like, ummmm, the deaths of two Afghanis in December 2002 [two years and two months ago]; the death of the 'ghost detainee' in November 2003 at Abu Ghraib while being interrogated by Special Forces Interrogators from Fort Bragg. Where did those investigation go? It's hard work I guess trying to find an Army Reservist to be the scapegoat for those. The Fayetteville NC (home of Fort Bragg Special Forces) local newspaper just printed an article featuring a photo of Army Reservist Spc Sabrina Harman giving a thumbs up over a body and the Observer identified the body as that of the 'ghost' detainee who died during interrogation. Not one word in the article about Fort Bragg Interrogators who were interrogating when the detainee died in the shower. The focus must be kept on the "scapegoats" - the Army Reservists. Not one word about Colonel Pappas, Lt Col Jordan participating in covering up his death; not one word about Captain Carolyn Woods or her soldiers involvement. Just a photo of a female reservists doing probably what she was ordered to do in a place that was, according to a Col Nelson, a ''psychological nightmare'' for soldiers and detainees. I think putting a clause in the Army Reserves Enlistment Contract should include the caution: part of your job may be to serve as scapegoats to deflect attention away from the Regular Army Special Forces. PICTURES THE ARMY OBTAINED OF SPECIAL FORCES REGULAR ARMY U.S. TROOPS WHO POSED FOR PHOTOS OF MOCK EXECUTIONS WERE DESTROYED TO AVERT ANOTHER PUBLIC EMBARRASSMENT AFTER THE ABU GHRAIB PRISON ABUSE SCANDAL. This should be grounds to throw out all the pre-Conviction Ceremonies [aka Court Martial] of the Reservists.

Myra

MilitaryInjustice -- Mal'Justice
http://community.webtv.net/FlimFlamNC/MILITARYINJUSTICE



US Military Says Investigating Killings of Afghans

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Sat Feb 19, 2005 02:40 AM ET

KABUL (Reuters) - The U.S. military is investigating the shooting deaths of two Afghans by U.S. troops in the west of the country earlier this month, a spokesman said on Saturday.

Friday's New York Times said several U.S. soldiers were under investigation in connection with the Feb. 11 incident outside the U.S. base at Shindand in western Afghanistan's Farah province.

The paper quoted the base commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Ashton Hayes, as saying the victims were ordinary villagers, not Taliban or al Qaeda suspects, and compensation of $2,000 had been paid to their families.

A spokesman for the U.S. military in Kabul confirmed the incident was under investigation.

"This incident has happened; coalition forces were involved," said Major Steve Wollman. "It is under investigation."

Wollman also confirmed that payments had been made to the victims' families, but said this was "not an admission of guilt or an admission of wrongdoing."

He said he did not have details of the soldiers involved, but the probe would cover them and the chain of command. "It will be a formal investigation into the entire situation," he said.

The Times quoted witnesses and local officials as saying the two villagers, named Naib and Rasul and both aged 22, were shot by two American soldiers as they fled across a field where they had been cutting firewood.

It said two witnesses said two U.S. Special Forces soldiers then approached Naib, who was still alive, and shot him dead at close range.

U.S. troops have had a base at the old Soviet airfield at Shindand and the Times quoted the local district chief as saying that said the deaths could stir up animosity in the area, a strategic region that borders Iran.

The paper quoted Hayes as saying his battalion was in a "very serious security situation" at the time of the shooting, but he had seen no evidence of Taliban or Al Qaeda activity.

The incident appeared to be a fresh embarrassment for the U.S. military and news of it came even as American Civil Liberties Union made public army files on Friday about fresh cases of abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The files showed that U.S troops in Afghanistan had posed for photos of mock executions with hooded and bound prisoners, but other pictures depicting abuse were destroyed to avert another public embarrassment after the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal surfaced in April 2004.

One file said senior Psychological Operations officers had seen U.S. Special Forces troops commit indiscriminate assaults on civilians in May 2004 in two Afghan villages, but an investigation was closed because villagers could not be interviewed as they lived in a high-threat area.

Rights groups have criticized the U.S. government's failure to hold personnel accountable for up to six Afghan deaths in U.S. military custody in Afghanistan since U.S. forces invaded the country in 2001 and overthrew the radical Taliban regime.

This month the U.S. military dismissed concerns expressed by a U.N. rights investigator about allegations of prisoner abuse, saying an internal investigation, which has yet to be made public, had found that detainees were treated humanely.
Though they gather in groups the Wicked will not go unpunished.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Enigmatic Flea has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Enigmatic Flea endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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Our Friends, the Torturers 

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"Former prisoners and detainees have reported that torture methods include electrical shocks; pulling out fingernails; the forced insertion of objects into the rectum; beatings, sometimes while the victim is suspended from the ceiling; hyperextension of the spine; and the use of a chair that bends backwards to asphyxiate the victim or fracture the spine."


The New York Times
February 18, 2005


By BOB HERBERT

The United States has long purported to be outraged over Syria's bad behavior, the latest flash point being the possible Syrian involvement in the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri.

From the U.S. perspective, Syria is led by a gangster regime that has, among other things, sponsored terrorism, aided the insurgency in Iraq and engaged in torture. So here's the question. If Syria is such a bad actor - and it is - why would the Bush administration seize a Canadian citizen at Kennedy Airport in New York, put him on an executive jet, fly him in shackles to the Middle East and then hand him over to the Syrians, who promptly tortured him?

The administration is trying to have it both ways in its so-called war on terror. It claims to be fighting for freedom, democracy and the rule of law, and it condemns barbaric behavior whenever it is committed by someone else. At the same time, it is engaged in its own barbaric behavior, while going out of its way to keep that behavior concealed from the American public and the world at large.

The man grabbed at Kennedy Airport and thrown by American officials into a Syrian nightmare was Maher Arar, a 34-year-old native of Syria who emigrated to Canada as a teenager. No one, not even the Syrians who tortured him, have been able to present any evidence linking him to terrorism.

He was taken into custody on the afternoon of Sept. 26, 2002, and was not released until Oct. 5, 2003. He was never charged, and when he wasn't being brutalized, he spent much of his time in an unlit, rat-infested cell that reminded him of a grave.

Government officials know that this kind of activity is not just wrong but reprehensible, which is why they won't admit publicly to the policy that permits them to kidnap individuals like Mr. Arar and send them off to regimes known to engage in torture. The policy is known as extraordinary rendition, which is an extreme variation of a little-known but longstanding legal principle called rendition. Rendition most commonly refers to the extrajudicial transfer of individuals from a foreign country to the United States for the purpose of answering criminal charges.

Think, for example, of a drug kingpin who is abducted in Colombia and brought to the U.S. to stand trial for trafficking. The defendant is said to have been "rendered" to justice in the U.S.

The courts here have tended to overlook the circumstances surrounding the seizure of such suspects. But upon arrival in the U.S., the normal rules of due process in criminal proceedings kick in, and the suspect is entitled to a fair trial.

In extraordinary rendition there are no rules. The person seized, presumably a terror suspect, is thrust into a highly secret zone of utter lawlessness, with no rights whatever. The entire point of this atrocious exercise is to transfer the suspect to a regime skilled in the art of torture. It's as if a cop picked up a suspect on the street and handed him over to the Mafia to extract a confession. One's guilt or innocence is not relevant. No legal defense is permitted. If a mistake is made, too bad.

U.S. officials knew what they were doing when they gave the signal to ship Mr. Arar to Syria. As far back as 1996, the State Department had this to say in a report about human rights in Syria:

"Former prisoners and detainees have reported that torture methods include electrical shocks; pulling out fingernails; the forced insertion of objects into the rectum; beatings, sometimes while the victim is suspended from the ceiling; hyperextension of the spine; and the use of a chair that bends backwards to asphyxiate the victim or fracture the spine."

According to the State Department, torture was most likely to occur at one of the many detention centers run by the Syrian security forces, "particularly while the authorities are trying to extract a confession or information about an alleged crime or alleged accomplices."

Extraordinary rendition is antithetical to everything Americans are supposed to believe in. It violates American law. It violates international law. And it is a profound violation of our own most fundamental moral imperative - that there are limits to the way we treat other human beings, even in a time of war and great fear.

E-mail: bobherb@nytimes.com

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Enigmatic Flea has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Enigmatic Flea endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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Pharisee Nation 

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American Nation Brainwashed

by John Dear

02/17/05 "CommonDreams" - - Last September, I spoke to some 2,000 students during their annual lecture at a Baptist college in Pennsylvania. After a short prayer service for peace centered on the Beatitudes, I took the stage and got right to the point. “Now let me get this straight,” I said. “Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers,’ which means he does not say, ‘Blessed are the warmakers,’ which means, the warmakers are not blessed, which means warmakers are cursed, which means, if you want to follow the nonviolent Jesus you have to work for peace, which means, we all have to resist this horrific, evil war on the people of Iraq.”

With that, the place exploded, and 500 students stormed out. The rest of them then started chanting, “Bush! Bush! Bush!”

So much for my speech. Not to mention the Beatitudes.

I was not at all surprised that George W. Bush was reelected president. As I travel the country speaking out against war, injustice and nuclear weapons, I see many people consciously siding with the culture of war, choosing the path of violence, supporting corporate greed, rampant militarism, and global domination. I see many others swept up in the raging current of patriotism. Since most of these people, beginning with the president, claim to be Christian, I am ashamed and appalled that they support war and systemic injustice, that they do it in the name of God, and that they feign fidelity to the nonviolent Jesus who gave his life resisting institutionalized injustice.

I am reminded of Flannery O’Connor’s great book, “Wise Blood,” where her outrageous character Hazel Motes is so fed up with Christian hypocrisy that he forms his own church, the “Church of Christ without Christ,” “where the lame don’t walk, the blind don’t see, and the dead don’t rise.” That’s where we are headed today.

I used to think these all-American Christians never read the Gospel, that they simply chose not to be authentic disciples of the nonviolent Jesus. Now, alas, I think they have indeed chosen discipleship, but not to the hero of the Gospels, Jesus. Instead, through their actions, they have become disciples of the devout, religious, all-powerful, murderous Pharisees who killed him.

A Culture of Pharisees

We have become a culture of Pharisees. Instead of practicing an authentic spirituality of compassion, nonviolence, love and peace, we as a collective people have become self-righteous, arrogant, powerful, murderous hypocrites who dominate and kill others in the name of God. The Pharisees supported the brutal Roman rulers and soldiers, and lived off the comforts of the empire by running an elaborate banking system which charged an exorbitant fee for ordinary people just to worship God in the Temple. Since they taught that God was present only in the Temple, they were able to control the entire population. If anyone opposed their power or violated their law, the Pharisees could kill them on the spot, even in the holy sanctuary.

Most North American Christians are now becoming more and more like these hypocritical Pharisees. We side with the rulers, the bankers, and the corporate millionaires and billionaires. We run the Pentagon, bless the bombing raids, support executions, make nuclear weapons and seek global domination for America as if that was what the nonviolent Jesus wants. And we dismiss anyone who disagrees with us.

We have become a mean, vicious people, what the bible calls “stiff-necked people.” And we do it all with the mistaken belief that we have the blessing of God.

In the past, empires persecuted religious groups and threatened them into passivity and silence. Now these so-called Christians run the American empire, and teach a subtle spirituality of empire to back up their power in the name of God. This spirituality of empire insists that violence saves us, might makes right, war is justified, bombing raids are blessed, nuclear weapons offer the only true security from terrorism, and the good news is not love for our enemies, but the elimination of them. The empire is working hard these days to tell the nation--and the churches--what is moral and immoral, sinful and holy. It denounces certain personal behavior as immoral, in order to distract us from the blatant immorality and mortal sin of the U.S. bombing raids which have left 100,000 Iraqis dead, or our ongoing development of thousands of weapons of mass destruction. Our Pharisee rulers would have us believe that our wars and our weapons are holy and blessed by God.

In the old days, the early Christians had big words for such behavior, such lies. They were called “blasphemous, idolatrous, heretical, hypocritical and sinful.” Such words and actions were denounced as the betrayal, denial and execution of Jesus all over again in the world’s poor. But the empire needs the church to bless and support its wars, or at least to remain passive and silent. As we Christians go along with the Bush administration and the American empire, we betray Jesus, renounce his teachings, and create a “Church of Christ without Christ,“ as Flannery O’Connor foresaw.

Troublemaking Nonviolence, the Measure of the Gospel

The first thing we Christians have to do in this time is not to become good Pharisees. Instead, we have to try all over again to follow the dangerous, nonviolent, troublemaking Jesus. I believe war, weapons, corporate greed and systemic injustice are an abomination in the sight of God. They are the definition of mortal sin. They mock God and threaten to destroy God’s gift of creation. If you want to seek the living God, you have to pit your entire life against war, weapons, greed and injustice--and their perpetrators. It is as simple as that.

Every religion, including Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism, is rooted in nonviolence, but I submit that the only thing we know for sure about Jesus is that he was nonviolent and so, nonviolence is the hallmark of Christianity and the measure of authentic Christian living. Jesus commands that we love one another, love our neighbors, seek justice, forgive those who hurt us, pray for our persecutors, and be as compassionate as God. But at the center of his teaching is the most radical declaration ever uttered: “love your enemies.”

If we dare call ourselves Christian, we cannot support war or nuclear weapons or corporate greed or executions or systemic injustice of any kind. If we do, we may well be devout American citizens, but we no longer follow the nonviolent Jesus. We have joined the hypocrites and blasphemers of the land, beginning with their leaders in the White House, the Pentagon and Los Alamos.

Jesus resisted the empire, engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience in the Temple, was arrested by the Pharisees, tried by the Roman governor and executed by Roman soldiers. If we dare follow this nonviolent revolutionary, we too must resist empire, engage in nonviolent civil disobedience against U.S. warmaking and imperial domination, and risk arrest and imprisonment like the great modern day disciples, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day and Philip Berrigan.

If we do not want to be part of the Pharisaic culture and do want to follow the nonviolent Jesus, we have to get in trouble just as Jesus was constantly in trouble for speaking the truth, loving the wrong people, worshipping the wrong way, and promoting the wrong things, like justice and peace. We have to resist this new American empire, as well as its false spirituality and all those who claim to be Christian yet support the murder of other human beings. We have to repent of the sin of war, put down the sword, practice Gospel nonviolence, and take up the cross of revolutionary nonviolence by loving our enemies and discovering what the spiritual life is all about.

Just because the culture and the cultural church have joined with the empire and its wars does not mean that we all have to go along with such heresy, or fall into despair as if nothing can be done. It is never too late to try to follow the troublemaking Jesus, to join his practice of revolutionary nonviolence and become authentic Christians. We may find ourselves in trouble, even at the hands of so-called Christians, just as Jesus was in trouble at the hands of the so-called religious leaders of his day. But this very trouble may lead us back to those Beatitude blessings.

John Dear is a Jesuit priest and the author/editor of 20 books including most recently, “The Questions of Jesus” and “Living Peace” both published by Doubleday. He lives in New Mexico where he is working on a campaign to disarm Los Alamos. For info, see: www.johndear.org

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Enigmatic Flea has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Enigmatic Flea endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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18 February 2005

Gannon is just the tip of the iceberg 

Gannon is just one of many sleazy sexual aberrations attached to the Far Right. This includes the Christian Right, where one does not have to have a very long memory to recall the antics of the likes of Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker (who liked to make it with the cameramen on his
TV show, as I recall). Swaggart was trying to get his hooker/girlfriend to involve her underage daughter in their trysts.

I wonder just how rampant all of this stuff is, anyway! Bible thumpers like to sniff at the Catholics for having pedophile priests, but don't think that right wing, gay bashing, "born again Christians" are so spotless as they would like to appear. In fact, some of them are absolutely the worse. My vote, when itcomes to sheer sleaze and hypocrisy, goes the "Bishop" P. BRADLEY CAREY ( http://www.wnho.net/bio-pbcarey.htm )


Here is some of his gay bashing rhetoric:


" This has been written under the direction and
guidance of the Spirit of the Lord. When the Lord speaks, we must listen and do as instructed; or else we fall into condemnation. There will be those who read this and will hate me for the words here, but that doesn't matter. What matters is the truth and doing the Will of God."


" According to God's own Word, the act of homosexuality is an abomination, and one that will result in death. Any person who is committing an abomination in the eyes of God has no right being a minister of the Lord, and any church that condones the ordination of homosexual
ministers and the practice of homosexuality shares in that abomination.

Homosexuals will often refer to themselves and their "lifestyle" using a variety of names, such as, gay, alternative lifestyle, transgendered, special, talented, and even the word "gifted." But none of these names are an accurate description of what homosexuality really is. There is only one word and one wordalone that describes it. That word is SIN."


" In his book, Shadow In The Land, Republican
Congressman William Dannemeyer of California exposes the true agenda of the
homosexual movement."


Okay, there are some excerpts from "the Bishop's" article found at http://christianworks.tripod.com/homosexuality.htm


Now, here is something about "the Bishop": He was charged in 1993 with rape
of a child, and got off with a light sentence after plea bargaining.
Nevertheless, the circumstances described by the prosecution, based on
deposition of the child, are truly sickening.


Here is the text of the warrant used in his arrest after he had fled from
justice:


IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE STATE OF OREGON
FOR THE COUNTY OF
DESCHUTES
STATE OF OREGON, Plaintiff.
vs.
PRESTON BRADLEY CAREY,
Defendant.


Case No. CR43038
FUGITIVE INFORMATION
ORS 133.743 et seq.
BP
9416824


I, STEPHEN HENRY GUNNELS, Deputy Attorney for Deschutes County, Oregon, being
first sworn, on oath depose and


say that the above-named Defendant is a fugitive from justice as follows:


That the defendant is complained of in the Municipal Court of the State of
Washington, in and for the County of Skagit, of the


offense of RAPE OF A CHILD IN THE FIRST DEGREE; that a Warrant, No. W93-131,
was issued for defendant on August


28, 1993, signed by the Honorable Eugene Anderson, with bail set at
$100,000.


I have been informed by teletype that the State of WASHINGTON will extradite
said defendant who has fled from justice from


said State, and has been found in Deschutes County, Oregon.


Deputy District Attorney
STEPHEN HENRY GUNNELS
OSB# 94083




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Iraq Invasion the 'Biggest Cultural Disaster Since 1258' 

...when soldiers found out that the Sumerian city of Ur [in southern Iraq] was the birthplace of the prophet Abraham, they took ancient bricks as souvenirs.

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by Humberto Márquez

CARACAS - One million books, 10 million documents, and 14,000 archaeological artifacts have been lost in the U.S.-led invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq – the biggest cultural disaster since the descendants of Genghis Khan destroyed Baghdad in 1258, Venezuelan writer Fernando Báez told IPS.

"U.S. and Polish soldiers are still stealing treasures today and selling them across the borders with Jordan and Kuwait, where art merchants pay up to $57,000 for a Sumerian tablet," said Báez, who was interviewed during a brief visit to Caracas.

The expert on the destruction of libraries has helped document the devastation of cultural and religious objects in Iraq, where the ancient Mesopotamian kingdoms of Sumer, Akkad, and Babylon emerged, giving it a reputation as the birthplace of civilisation.

His inventory of the destruction and his denunciations that the coalition forces are violating the Hague Convention of 1954 on the protection of cultural heritage in times of war have earned him the enmity of Washington.

Báez said he was refused a visa to enter the United States to take part in conferences.

In addition, he has been barred from returning to Iraq "to carry out further investigations," he added. "But it's too late, because we already have documents, footage and photos that in time will serve as evidence of the atrocities committed," said Báez, the author of The Cultural Destruction of Iraq and A Universal History of the Destruction of Books, which were published in Spanish.

IPS: What do you accuse the United States of doing?

FB: In first place, of violating the Hague Convention, which states that cultural property must be protected in the event of armed conflict.

That is a criminally punishable offense, which is why Washington has not signed the convention, or the 1999 protocol attached to it. And perhaps it is one reason the administration of George W. Bush is seeking immunity for its soldiers.

But it is not only the United States; the rest of the coalition forces are also guilty.

IPS: But according to the reports, it was Iraqi civilians and not U.S. soldiers who looted libraries and museums.

FB: But the U.S. Army was criminally negligent, failing to protect libraries, museums, and archaeological sites despite clear warnings from UNESCO [the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization], the UN, the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, and the former head of the U.S. president's Advisory Committee on Cultural Property, Martin Sullivan.

The Iraqis who went out to loot interpreted the negligence as a green light to act without restraint.

IPS: So the sin committed by the U.S. was one of omission?

FB: Not only that. There was also direct destruction and looting. In Nasiriya in May 2004, a year after the formal end of hostilities, during fighting with (Shi'ite cleric) Moqtada el-Sadr's militants, 40,000 religious manuscripts were destroyed in a fire [set by the coalition forces].

And when soldiers found out that the Sumerian city of Ur [in southern Iraq] was the birthplace of the prophet Abraham, they took ancient bricks as souvenirs.

IPS: You also accuse soldiers from other countries, besides U.S. troops.

FB: That's right. In late May 2004, Italian Carabinieri were caught trying to smuggle looted cultural artifacts over the border into Kuwait. And the British Museum reported that Polish forces destroyed part of Babylon's ancient ruins, to the south of Baghdad.

IPS: Can we suppose that these events are part of phases of the conflict that have already been left behind?

FB: No. More recently it was found that Polish troops drove heavy vehicles near the Nebuchadnezzar Palace, which dates back to the sixth century BC, and then covered large areas of the site with asphalt, doing irreparable damage. There were also attempts to gouge out bricks at the Gate of Ishtar.

To that is added the collapse of ancient walls due to the continuous passage of U.S. trucks and helicopters, and walls spraypainted with graffiti, like "I was here" or "I love Mary."

IPS: Can we expect the situation to improve with time?

FB: Another accusation that can be made against the United States is that it has created a less safe country overall, by generating the conditions for cultural destruction, which will be even worse in future years, due to the situation of legal insecurity.

In the days of the looting of Baghdad, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld went so far as to say that looting "isn't something that someone allows or doesn't allow. It's something that happens."

Today Iraq is like a golf course for the world's terrorists, and its cultural treasures will not be safe in the future.

IPS: What impact has there been on the United States?

FB: One of its reactions was to rejoin UNESCO, which the U.S. had withdrawn from during the era of [Ronald] Reagan [1981-1989] on the pretext that the UN agency served as "a communist front."

Experts at the U.S. State and Defense Departments are trying to mitigate the damages. U.S. military police helped Iraqi police track down the Lady of Warka, dubbed the "Mona Lisa of Mesopotamia," a 5,200-year-old marble sculpture that is one of the earliest known representations of the human face in the history of art.

IPS: How significant are the losses?

FB: The Lady of Warka may be worth $100-$150 million. A Sumerian cuneiform tablet or an Assyrian stela can fetch $57,000 at the border.

Some Iraqis have been purchasing books at used-book markets in Baghdad to return them to the libraries.

But the damage is incalculable. In the Baghdad National Library, around one million books were burnt, including early editions of Arabian Nights, mathematical treatises by Omar Khayyam, and tracts by philosophers Avicena and Averroes.

IPS: Thousands of relics were also lost from the National Archaeological Museum.

FB: The initial reports spoke of 170,000 objects, but 25 major artifacts as well as 14,000 less important ones actually disappeared. An amnesty for the looters led to the recovery of around 3,500, according to the U.S. colonel who led the investigations, Matthew Bogdanos.

But besides the national museum and library, the al-Awqaf library, which held over 5,000 Islamic manuscripts, university libraries, and the library of Bayt al-Hikma also suffered. At least 10 million documents have been lost in Iraq altogether.

[Báez has said his research into the destruction of libraries and archives was first motivated by his painful childhood memories of a flash flood that wiped away the library in his hometown, San Félix in southeastern Venezuela. He cherished the municipal library because since his parents worked, he had often been left with relatives who worked there, and spent his days reading.

His research culminated in A Universal History of the Destruction of Books, which documents the catastrophic loss of books during wars, like the Library of Alexandria, which burnt down in 48 BC, or the burning of millions of books by the Nazis.]

IPS: Do you believe military forces have been the worst enemy of books?

FB: No, actually I don't. I believe intellectuals are the worst enemies. Intellectuals have burnt books in the name of the Bible or the Koran. Vladimir Nabokov [1899-1977] burnt El Quixote in front of his students. Destroyers like Adolph Hitler or Slobodan Milosevic were bibliophiles. Saddam Hussein himself, an archaeologist and philologist, published three novels. Joseph Goebbels, the genius of Nazi propaganda, was a philologist.

And many of those who have led the U.S. to war in Iraq are academics. It is a paradox: the inventors of the electronic book returned to Mesopotamia, where books, history, and civilisation were born, to destroy it.

(Inter Press Service)

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Enigmatic Flea has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Enigmatic Flea endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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16 February 2005

Reps. Slaughter & Conyers Call on Special Prosecutor and Secret Service to Investigate Growing Gannon Scandal 

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For Immediate Release
February 11, 2005 Contact: Eric Burns
202-225-3615

Rep. Slaughter Calls on Special Prosecutor to Investigate Gannon's Role in Plame CIA Document Leak Scandal

Reps. Slaughter & Conyers Call on Special Prosecutor and
Secret Service to Investigate Growing Gannon Scandal


Washington, DC - Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (NY-28), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Rules, and Rep. John Conyers (MI-14), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, called on Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate the leaking of a classified Central Intelligence Agency memo containing the identity of undercover agent Valerie Plame to a man at the center of the White House Press Briefing Room scandal, "Jeff Gannon."

Rep. Slaughter, a long-time advocate for media reform and accountability, brought this story into the national spotlight days ago when she wrote President Bush asking for an investigation into the issue.

"This matter is growing more serious by the day. We now know that 'Jeff Gannon' had access to classified CIA documents that contained the identity of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. This is more than an issue of media manipulation by the White House... this is now an issue of national security," said Rep. Slaughter. "What is the White House hiding? This man, Mr. Gannon, should never have been admitted into the White House briefing room in the first place. Someone let him in day after day. Someone gave him access to classified CIA documents. Someone must answer for this. It is critical that we uncover the exact nature of the relationship between Gannon and this White House," added Slaughter."

In addition, Reps. Slaughter and Conyers wrote W. Ralph Basham, Director of the Secret Service, calling on his office to provide details on the security clearance of day pass holders in the White House briefing room as well as any and all information they can provide on Mr. Gannon.

"White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan was unable to answer these important questions in yesterday's briefing so we hope the Secret Service will be able to fill in the blanks," said Slaughter. "Since the White House has denied any role or responsibility in this matter I hope the Secret Service can shed some light on their procedures for clearing day pass holders to the White House briefing room," continued Slaughter.

The letters follow:

February 10, 2005
Mr. Patrick J. Fitzgerald
United States Attorney
US Attorney's Office
219 S. Dearborn Street, Suite 5000
Chicago, IL 60656

Dear Mr. Fitzgerald:

We write to ask that you investigate the leak of a classified Central Intelligence Agency memo containing the identity of undercover agent Valerie Plame to James D. Guckert, a member of the White House press corps. It appears that the White House was so focused on smearing the reputation of Ambassador Joseph Wilson, that it knowingly leaked his wife's identity to a Republican activist posing as a journalist.

James D. Guckert, who operated under the false name "Jeff Gannon," and may have engaged in criminal activity, had been attending press events at the White House for up to three years. Mr. Guckert reportedly received an internal and classified CIA memo that revealed the identity of Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife. Because of the extremely sensitive nature of this leak, and its relation to the investigation you are conducting, we believe that you as special counsel are the most appropriate person to conduct the inquiry.

Under Department of Justice regulations, a special counsel should investigate when (1) a "criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted," (2) the investigation "by a United States Attorney Office or litigating Division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department," and (3) "it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter."1 In the present case all three factors have been met.

As has been long discussed, revealing the identity of an undercover agent violates myriad laws. Whoever in the Administration gave Mr. Guckert the memo risked Ms. Plame's very life and must be punished to the full extent of the law.

There is a clear conflict of interest in the Administration investigating Mr. Guckert's role in this crime. Mr. Guckert and the White House press operation work together closely to forward the President's policies.

First, Mr. Guckert would not be considered a bona fide journalist by his peers in the press corps, as most of his claims to legitimacy have already been discredited. Access to the President and his press corps is highly competitive, and many seasoned journalists have not had the honor of attending the events or enjoying the access Mr. Guckert has. That a person of these dubious qualifications was given such close contact to the President, perhaps in violation of standard security procedures, demonstrates the Administration's affinity for and bias towards Mr. Guckert.

Second, Mr. Guckert's questions clearly reiterated the White House's policy, and simply asked for concurrence. Finally, Mr. Guckert's "articles," published by a news front for GOPUSA, track White House talking points word for word.

Clearly, Mr. Guckert returned the White House's favor by advancing the President's policies with gusto. With such a close relationship between Mr. Guckert and the White House, the conflict of an administration-led investigation is all too apparent.

Finally, the public interest has been thwarted far too long over the leak of Ms. Plame's identity. It has been over a year and a half since Robert Novak published Plame's identity and we are no closer to finding who in the Administration illegally leaked her status as an undercover agent. Having a special counsel immediately follow up this lead is necessary to ensure that those who risk their lives for our country to gather intelligence are fully protected.

We look forward to hearing whether you will be following up on this new information, or if you have, what progress you have made.

Sincerely,

Louise Slaughter John Conyers, Jr.


Ranking Member, Ranking Member,
Committee on Rules Committee on Judiciary



February 10, 2005

W. Ralph Basham, Director
United States Secret Service
950 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20223

Dear Director Basham:

We write to inquire about the process you employ to clear individuals for attendance at events within a close proximity of the President. We have recently become aware that a Republican activist, with a potential criminal past, gained access to the White House press briefing room and Presidential press conferences and was allowed to work under an assumed name. This appears to contradict the strict standards you have set for protecting the President in the past and have applied to others seeking access to the White House or the President.

It has recently been revealed that James D. Guckert has been repeatedly cleared by your office to attend White House press briefings over the last several years. He was, however, allowed to operate under an assumed name, which we understand to be contrary to your usual policies. That he may be engaged in illegal activity only heightens our concern.

We are concerned that such an individual was allowed within a few feet of the President when the public is routinely disallowed any possible contact with either the President or the White House. We understand that your security policies are developed in conjunction with the White House and want to ascertain your respective roles in this decision as it appears to deviate significantly from heightened security measures you have employed recently.

While we appreciate the extremely difficult task you are assigned to, we are concerned about these discrepancies. For this reason, we ask the following questions:

* What standards do you impose on those who are granted access to the President and the White House Briefing Room? Do you routinely allow guests to use false names?

* Were those standards applied to Mr. Guckert? If not, why, and at whose request?

* This afternoon, the White House Press Secretary denied any responsibility for determining who is granted clearance into the White House Briefing Room. What individual or agency is responsible for requesting that the Secret Service conduct a security clearance for individuals or members of the media who wish to enter the White House Briefing Room?

* What are the security qualifications for granting "permanent" White House press corps credentials and how do they differ from those of a simple day pass?

* When someone is cleared for a daily pass, are they required to be cleared each time they return on subsequent visits to the White House Briefing Room, as in the case of Mr. Guckert, who returned frequently for up to two years?

* How many daily passes are issued for White House briefings and Presidential press conferences at one time? Is there a limit in place for security or other reasons?

* Who has the authority, if at all, to exempt an individual or member of the media from security clearance by the Secret Service in order to gain access to the White House Briefing Room?

* How many times and on what days was Mr. Guckert cleared by the Secret Service into the White House, and at whose request?

Thank you in advance your prompt attention and response to this matter.

Sincerely,



Louise Slaughter John Conyers, Jr.


Ranking Member, Ranking Member,
Committee on Rules Committee on Judiciary

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Enigmatic Flea has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Enigmatic Flea endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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13 February 2005

Budget Programs Facing Cuts, Elimination 

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- By The Associated Press
Friday, February 11, 2005

(02-11) 16:30 PST (AP) --

Here are the 154 programs that President Bush wants to eliminate or cut in his 2006 budget proposal. Bush would terminate 99 programs and make major spending reductions in 55. Separately, the administration listed eight major reforms Bush proposed that also would produce spending cuts.

Of the terminations, Bush has recommended 59 of them before. Twenty-seven of the 55 programs targeted for spending reductions have been previously submitted to Congress.



TERMINATED:

_Agriculture Department

AMS Biotechnology Program

Forest Service Economic Action Program

High Cost Energy Grants

NRCS Watershed and Flood Prevention Operations

Research and Extension Grant Earmarks and Low Priority Programs

_Commerce Department

Advanced Technology Program

Emergency Steel Guarantee Loan Program

Public Telecommunications Facilities, Planning and Construction Program

_Education Department

Comprehensive School Reform

Educational Technology State Grants

Even Start

(High School Program Terminations:)

Vocational Education State Grants

Vocational Education National Activities

Tech Prep State Grants

Upward Bound

Talent Search

GEAR UP

Smaller Learning Communities

Perkins Loans: Capital Contributions and Loan Cancellations

Regional Education Laboratories

Safe and Drug Free Schools State Grants

(Small Elementary and Secondary Education Programs:)

Javits Gifted and Talented Education

National Writing Project

School Leadership

Dropout Prevention Program

Close Up Fellowships

Ready to Teach

Parental Information and Resource Centers

Alcohol Abuse Reduction

Foundations for Learning

Mental Health Integration in Schools

Community Technology Centers

Exchanges with Historic Whaling and Trading Partners

Foreign Language Assistance

Excellence in Economic Education

Arts in Education

Women's Educational Equity

Elementary and Secondary School Counseling

Civic Education

Star Schools

(Smaller Higher Education Programs:)

Higher Education Demos for Students w/Disabilities

Underground Railroad Program

Interest Subsidy Grants

(Small Job Training and Adult Education Programs:)

Occupational and Employment Information

Tech-prep Demonstration

Literacy Programs for Prisoners

State Grants for Incarcerated Youth

(Small Postsecondary Student Financial Assistance Programs:)

LEAP

Byrd Scholarships

B.J. Stupak Olympic Scholarships

Thurgood Marshall Legal Opportunity

(Small Vocational Rehabilitation Programs:)

Vocational Rehabilitation Recreational Programs

Vocational Rehab (VR) Migrant and Seasonal Workers

Projects with Industry

Supported Employment

Teacher Quality Enhancement Program

_Energy Department

Hydropower Program

Nuclear Energy Plant Optimization

Nuclear Energy Research Initiative

Oil and Gas Programs

_Health and Human Services Department

ACF Community Service Programs

ACF Early Learning Opportunities Fund

CDC Congressional Earmarks

CDC Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant

CDC Youth Media Campaign

Direct Service Worker Delivery Grants

HRSA Emergency Medical Services for Children

HRSA Health Facilities Construction Congressional Earmarks

HRSA Healthy Community Access Program

HRSA State Planning Grant Program

HRSA Trauma Care

HRSA Traumatic Brain Injury

HRSA Universal Newborn Hearing Screening

Real Choice Systems Change Grants

_Housing and Urban Development Department

HOPE VI

_Interior Department

BLM Jobs-in-the-Woods Program

LWCF State Recreation Grants (NPS)

National Park Service Statutory Aid

Rural Fire Assistance (BLM, NPS, FWS, BIA)

_Justice Department

Byrne Discretionary Grants

Byrne Justice Assistance Grants

COPS Hiring Grants

COPS Interoperable Communications Technology Grants

COPS Law Enforcement Technology Grants

Juvenile Accountability Block Grants

National Drug Intelligence Center

Other State/Local Law Enforcement Assistance Program Terminations

State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP)

_Labor Department

Migrant and Seasonal Farm Worker Training Program

Reintegration of Youthful Offenders

_Transportation Department

National Defense Tank Vessel Construction Program

Railroad Rehabilitation Infrastructure Financing Loan Program

_Enviromental Protection Agency

Unrequested Projects

Water Quality Cooperative Agreements

_National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Hubble Space Telescope Robotic Servicing Mission

_Other Agencies

National Veterans Business Development Corporation

Postal Service: Revenue Forgone Appropriation

SBA: Microloan Program

SBA: Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Participating Securities Program

MAJOR REDUCTIONS:

_Agriculture Department

Federal (In-House) Research

Forest Service Capital Improve and Maintenance

Forest Service Wildland Fire Management (incl. supp. and emergency funding)

Biomass Research and Development

Broadband

CCC - Bioenergy

CCC - Market Access Program

Farm Bill Programs (EQIP

Farm Bill Programs (CSP)

Farm Bill Programs (WHIP)

Farm Bill Program (Farm and Ranchland Protection)

Farm Bill Programs (Ag. Management Assistance)

IFAS

Renewable Energy

Rural Firefighter Grants

Rural Strategic Investment Program

Rural Business Investment Program

Value-added Grants

Watershed Rehabilitation

NRCS Conservation Operations

NRCS Resource Conservation and Development Program

Water and Wastewater Grants and Loans

_Commerce Department

Manufacturing Extension Partnership

_Education Department

Adult Education State Grants

State Grants for Innovation

_Energy Department

Environmental Management

_Health and Human Services Department

HRSA Children's Hospitals GME Payment Program

HRSA Health Professions

HRSA Rural Health

SAMHSA Programs of Regional and National Significance

State, Local & Hospital Bioterrorism Preparedness Grants

_Housing and Urban Development Department

Housing for Persons with Disabilities

Native American Housing Block Grant

Public Housing Capital Fund

-Interior Department

Bureau of Indian Affairs School Construction

National Heritage Area Grants

Payments in Lieu of Taxes

USGS, Mineral Resources Program

_Justice Department

Federal Bureau of Prisons Construction Program

High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program

Juvenile Justice Law Enforcement Assistance Programs

_Labor Department

International Labor Affairs Bureau

Office of Disability Employment Policy

Workforce Investment Act Pilots and Demonstrations

_State Department

Assistance for the Independent States of the Former Soviet Union

_Transportation Department

FAA - Facilities and Equipment

FAA - Airport Improvement Program (Oblim)

FRA - Next Generation High Speed Rail

_Treasury Department

Internal Revenue Service - Taxpayer Service

_Environmental Protection Agency

Alaska Native Villages

Clean Water State Revolving Fund

-National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Aeronautics: Vehicle Systems Program

Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter

_Other Agencies

Archives: National Historical Publications & Records Commission

U.S. Institute of Peace, Construction of New Building

MAJOR REFORMS

Agriculture: Rural Telephone Bank

Commerce: Economic and Community Development Programs

Homeland Security: State and Local Homeland Security Grants

Homeland Security: Transportation Security Administration, Recover Aviation Security Screening Costs Through Fees

Labor: Job Training Reform, Consolidate Grants Program

Transportation: Amtrak

Army Corps of Engineers (Civil Works): Performance Guidelines for Funding Construction Projects

U.S. Agency for International Development and Department of Agriculture: International Food Aid

©2005 Associated Press

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. The Enigmatic Flea has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is The Enigmatic Flea endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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