23 April 2005

whither ANZAC? 

As we busy ourselves for our traditional ANZAC celebrations, in memory of those servicemen & women who gave their lives on our behalf, perhaps we should reflect on the values imbued in that fine tradition & what they really mean to us today?

Values such as bravery, honour, humility, compassion, self-sacrifice, trust, loyalty & mateship are the hallmarks of our ANZAC tradition & they resonate with ordinary Australians, not only out of pride in our accomplishments at Gallipoli, Tobruk, Kakoda & Long Tan, but because we have come to believe that they are at one with our character.

Our pride & respect for our Armed Services springs not only from that fine ANZAC tradition but also from our belief that its members will protect & perpetuate those same values, no matter the circumstances or situation in which their orders might place them. Ultimately they represent us: our values, our beliefs & our aspirations for a world in which we would like to live.

The members of our Armed Services cannot & will not question or refuse their orders & nor would we expect them to. They will do their utmost to fulfil their duty & we will always wish them safely home, out of harm’s way.

So what of our duty?

In the course of our brief history, Australian servicemen & women have demonstrated a willingness to volunteer in the service of their country, whether to defend it directly or indirectly as a consequence of our heritage, but always reflecting our collective belief in the moral soundness of their purpose.

The exception in this record arose fairly recently through our involvement in the Vietnam conflict, instigated by a now forgotten Prime Minister & promoted through the use of an infamous slogan: “all the way with LBJ”. In this conflict, our would-be warrior leaders were obliged to resort to conscription in order to satisfy our blind commitment to our US ally.

Ultimately the US strategy & our involvement in Vietnam were discredited, as was the political leadership of our country. Sadly, in one of our least proud moments, when most of our brave young servicemen & women came home, we failed to recognise & acknowledge their service. Indeed, we shamefully turned our backs on them & it was many years before their loyal service was acknowledged as being fit for inclusion as part of the ANZAC tradition. This disloyalty on our part, a misguided reaction to the deceit practiced on us by our political leaders of the day.

Today we find ourselves at a not dissimilar conjunction of events as arose 40 years ago.

We have political leaders who have lied & colluded to justify our participation in a war of aggression against another sovereign nation. The deaths & destruction visited upon Iraq & its helpless people in the name of “freedom & democracy” & the phoney “war on terror” is, without question, a crime against humanity, driven solely by the geo-political interests of the US in securing control over 1/4th of the world’s dwindling oil reserves & legitimised by the cowardly, complicit & corrupt support of governments such as our own, Great Britain & even lesser powers, all dependant on an immoral alliance to serve their fear-based domestic political agendas & an insatiable greed for personal aggrandisement on the part of their unscrupulous political “leaders”.

In spite of loud proclamations of success, US casualties continue to grow & support for this obscene foreign adventure dwindles. In Great Britain, Tony Blair has been exposed as a liar & a fraud, soon to face the judgement of his electorate.

Opposition to the war amongst Australians has taken longer to germinate & whilst less noisy than the demonstrations that ultimately aroused us to put an end to our shameful involvement in Vietnam, it is nevertheless growing: fuelled by a profound disquiet at our having been hoodwinked just once too often.

A single tragic Australian casualty in that remote far off place could well be sufficient catalyst to arouse our nation in one united voice of opposition to this criminal enterprise.

Ultimately the carnage wrought by the US will cease. Whether this comes about as a result of the American people recovering their senses or the current administration taking their nation to the brink of bankruptcy or through some other series of events, it will surely happen.

As the wheel turns, the lies & deceit practiced on us by our politicians will become even more transparent & we will hasten their departure with relish. We will ultimately be shamed for our part in this genocide against innocent civilians, who we promised to liberate & protect. We will be shamed for sanctioning torture & ignoring our obligations under international law. We will be shamed by the loss of our humanity.

And, ultimately, our servicemen & women will come home.

When they do, we must remember to honour them in the ANZAC tradition & not punish them for the acts of our idiot politicians.

We must remember that it is us who put them in harm’s way & that it is our ignorance, blindness & stupidity that has put at risk the ANZAC tradition & the common values that should bind us.

This ANZAC Day, John Howard will take centre stage at Gallipoli, predictably intent on basking in the reflected glory of our fallen heroes, but bereft of the values for which they gave their all.

Lest we forget …..

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20 April 2005

Aid worker uncovered America's secret tally of Iraqi civilian deaths 

'The public must know how many have died'

Independent 20 April 2005

A week before she was killed by a suicide bomber, humanitarian worker Marla Ruzicka forced military commanders to admit they did keep records of Iraqi civilians killed by US forces.

Tommy Franks, the former head of US Central Command, famously said the US army "don't do body counts", despite a requirement to do so by the Geneva Conventions.

But in an essay Ms Ruzicka wrote a week before her death on Saturday and published yesterday, the 28-year-old revealed that a Brigadier General told her it was "standard operating procedure" for US troops to file a report when they shoot a non-combatant.

She obtained figures for the number of civilians killed in Baghdad between 28 February and 5 April, and discovered that 29 had been killed in firefights involving US forces and insurgents. This was four times the number of Iraqi police killed.

"These statistics demonstrate that the US military can and does track civilian casualties," she wrote. "Troops on the ground keep these records because they recognise they have a responsibility to review each action taken and that it is in their interest to minimise mistakes, especially since winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis is a key component of their strategy."

Sam Zia-Zarifi, deputy director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, the group for which Ms Ruzicka wrote the report, said her discovery "was very important because it allows the victims to start demanding compensation". He added: "At a policy level they have never admitted they keep these figures."

Exactly how many Iraqi civilians have been killed in the last two years is unclear. Iraq Body Count, a group that monitors casualty reports, says at least 17,384 have died. But the group bases its totals only on deaths reported by the media, and says it can therefore only "be a sample" of the total actually killed. Its website says: "It is likely that many if not most civilian casualties will go unreported by the media. That is the sad nature of war."

A peer-reviewed report published last year in The Lancet and based on an extrapolation of data suggested that 100,000 civilians may have been killed during the invasion and its aftermath. One of the report's author, Dr Richard Garfield, professor of nursing at Columbia University, said:

"Of course they keep records and of course they pretend they don't. Why is it important to keep the numbers of those killed? Well, why was it important to record the names of those people killed in the World Trade Centre? It would have been inconceivable not to. These people have lives of value.

"We are still fighting [to record] the Armenian genocide. Until people have names and are counted they don't exist in a policy sense."

Ms Ruzicka, from California, was killed in Baghdad after her car was caught in the blast of a suicide bomber who attacked a convoy of security contractors on the road to the city's airport. She was in Iraq heading, Civic, the organisation she set up to record and document civilians killed or injured by the US military, and to seek compensation. She carried out a similar project in Afghanistan.

In her report, she wrote from Iraq: "In my dealings with the US military officials here, they have shown regret and remorse for the deaths and injuries of civilians. Systematically recording and publicly releasing civilian casualty numbers would assist in helping the victims who survive to piece their lives back together."

Colleagues of Ms Ruzicka at Civic (Campaign for Innocent Victims In Conflict) have vowed to continue her work. April Pedersen, a friend, said: "We are all committed to ensuring the work that Marla did is going to continue." Ms Ruzicka, whose funeral service is to be in California on Saturday, was also remembered on Capitol Hill where Senator Patrick Leahy, with whom Ms Ruzicka worked to achieve almost $20m in appropriations to help victims in Afghanistan and Iraq, paid tribute to her.

He said: "I want to... pay tribute to a remarkable young woman from Lakeport, California. In my 31 years as a United States Senator I have met lots of interesting and accomplished people from all over the world. We all have. Nobel prize winners, heads of state, people who have achieved remarkable and even heroic things in their lives. I have never met anyone like Marla Ruzicka." Meanwhile the Pentagon maintained its position that it did not keep numbers of civilians killed in Iraq.

'The public must know how many have died'

This is an edited extract of an article written by Marla Ruzicka a week before her death:

In my two years in Iraq, the one question I am asked the most is: "How many Iraqi civilians have been killed by American forces?" The American public has a right to know how many Iraqis have lost their lives since the start of the war and as hostilities continue.

In a news conference at Bagram air base in Afghanistan in March 2002, General Tommy Franks said: "We don't do body counts." His words outraged the Arab world.

During the Iraq war, as US troops pushed toward Baghdad, counting civilian casualties was not a priority for the military. Since 1 May 2003, when President Bush declared major combat operations over and the US military moved into "stability operations", most units began to keep track of civilians killed at checkpoints or during patrols by US soldiers.

Here in Baghdad, a brigadier general explained to me that it is standard procedure for US troops to file a spot report when they shoot a non-combatant. It is in the military's interest to release these statistics.

A number is important not only to quantify the cost of war, but as a reminder of those whose dreams will never be realised in a free and democratic Iraq.

(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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Church leaders oppose license-draft link 

Sentinel 04/13/2005

The Oregon Catholic Conference and Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon have teamed up to oppose a bill that connects drivers’ licenses with a military draft.

House Bill 2575 would automatically register young men for Selective Service when they sign up for licenses or state identification cards.

“There is a significant difference in moral judgments that an individual makes between applying for issuance or renewal of a driver’s license, permit or an identification card on the one hand and registering with the Selective Service System on the other,” says a statement written by Oregon Catholic Conference executive director Bob Castagna and read to the House Transportation Committee March 30 by Philip Kennedy Wong of Ecumenical Ministries.

“To combine the two acts — one enabling participation in society and the other an act agreeing potentially to engage in warfare — raises issues of conscience and moral concern,” the church statement said. “To combine two very distinct public acts . . . is not good public policy because it erases the legitimate and quite profound distinction between two very different public activities.”

Signing up for a driver’s license does not involve moral questioning, the statement said, but registering for Selective Service “raises issues of the most critical judgments and moral decisions a person may be called to make in life: potentially placing oneself in the position of agreeing to engage in warfare, use all the weapons in our nation’s arsenal and take human lives.”

The statement recognized two traditions in Christian moral teaching on warfare — the just war tradition and the non-violent tradition.

Rep. Jeff Kropf, the Sublimity Republican who introduced House Bill 2575, (pdf of bill) calls the legislation a matter of fairness and a help to the 10 percent of Oregon men age 18 to 26 who fail to register.

Those who don’t sign up for selective service may miss out on college aid, federal jobs and even naturalization, Kropf told the Transportation Committee last month.

“Some young men simply don’t think they need to do it or they forget,” Kropf said. “This simply assures it’s going to get done. . . . It ultimately has a very negative consequence if you just forget.”

Kropf, whose father was a registered conscientious objector during the Korean war, said the government makes provisions for those opposed to fighting on religious or moral grounds, but that men must register to object legitimately.

“The notion that this can impinge on someone’s religious views is simply not accurate,” he said.

The American Civil Liberties Union opposes the bill, calling it unconstitutional. Andrea Meyer, legislative council for the ACLU, told lawmakers that the bill is an affront to religious freedom because it forces registration. Meyer argued that the proposed legislation treats men and women differently for reasons that have no connection to drivers’ licenses.

Gary Lockwood, Oregon’s director of Selective Service, told the House panel that he often gets calls from immigration lawyers and schools hoping to get federal benefits for men who missed signing up.

If the men are past 26, they are out of luck, Lockwood explained, advocating for the bill.

“What we’re trying to do is get compliance,” he said. “This is the fairest way to go about it.”

(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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19 April 2005

from witch doctor to war criminal ..... 

On the second anniversary of the Iraq war, Panorama reveals how several of the claims he made in public during the build up to the war – and afterwards – conflict with what we now know was going on behind the scenes, as evidenced for instance by government officials and documents.

This is the story of what Mr Blair did not tell us before sending British troops into battle. Iraq Tony And The Truth

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but nobody told me ..... 

“The United States is committed to the worldwide elimination of torture and we are leading this fight by example. I call on all governments to join with the United States . . . in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture."

George W. Bush

United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture: June 26, 2003

When Australian citizen, Mamdouh Habib, was unexpectedly released from Guantanamo Bay earlier this year, he immediately made allegations that he had been subjected to torture by both Egyptian & US authorities during the three years of his detention.

Whilst this was not the first time that such allegations had been levelled against US authorities, Australia’s Attorney-General, Phillip Ruddock, immediately denied any knowledge of such practices. Sounding like the three wise monkeys - “see no evil, hear no evil & speak no evil” - Ruddock’s position is clearly: “don’t look, don’t listen & don’t ask”!!

As the revelations of renditions, prolonged detention without charge or trial, murder, rape & torture continue to grow, the Bush administration has worked extra hard to hypocritically paint such events as the deeds of a “few bad apples” whilst the Australian government has consistently distanced itself from any such accusations, claiming that the US is the “detaining power” in Iraq & more generally, in the endless “war on terror”.

It turns out, of course, that the criminal treatment of US detainees, whether in Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison, Afghanistan or Guantanamo Bay, was & still is all part of a deliberate policy sanctioned at the highest levels of the Bush administration …..

Whilst we’ve all seen the pornography of violence perpetrated at Abu Ghraib, it is worth reprising the circumstances. Stephen Soldz of ICH provides a chilling analysis of the rise of torture in Iraq in the context of the US military occupation ……

The effort to generate intelligence out of the prisoners was especially difficult as, according to military intelligence sources, perhaps 70%-90% of them were innocent of any involvement with the insurgents and just happened to be present at a checkpoint, or in their home, when one of the brutal "cordon and capture" raids occurred. Nonetheless, the response of top military leaders to their innocence was callous at best. Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski is quoted as telling Brig. Gen. Janice Karpinski, the officer in charge of Iraqi prisons: "I don't care if we're holding 15,000 innocent civilians! We're winning the war!" while the officer in charge of US forces in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, retorted: "Why are we detaining these people, we should be killing them." The Psychodynamics of Occupation and the Abuse at Abu Ghraib

As the Bush administration bears all its power against its “few bad apples”, CCR calls for the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate its war crimes, perpetrated in the name of “freedom & democracy” ….

“The Bush Administration has brought us down to a moral level unimaginable since the end of World War II, despite the fact that experts in interrogation know that torture produces bad intelligence and false confessions only fans the flames of hatred the world over and puts our own troops in danger.

People like Donald Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzales must be held accountable for the dangerous policies they have put in place, but they will never investigate themselves.”

Meanwhile, in the forgotten backwater of Afghanistan, also occupied by the US military as a consequence of an earlier campaign for “freedom & democracy”, torture & other human rights abuses continue unabated. Tom Engelhardt of TomDispatch takes us on a detailed journey to this hell on earth, regularly touted by the members of the “coalition of the willing” as a great “success story” ….

U.S. courts having made Bush administration detention centers in Guantanamo, Cuba, vulnerable to potential prosecution, "what has been glimpsed in Afghanistan is a radical plan to replace Guantanamo Bay… [as an] offshore gulag - beyond the reach of the US constitution and even the Geneva conventions."

They add: "However, many Afghans who celebrated the fall of the Taliban have long lost faith in the US military. In Kabul, Nader Nadery, of the Human Rights Commission, told us, 'Afghanistan is being transformed into an enormous US jail. What we have here is a military strategy that has spawned serious human rights abuses, a system of which Afghanistan is but one part.' In the past 18 months, the commission has logged more than 800 allegations of human rights abuses committed by US troops."
Afghan Spring

Maintaining its pathetic denials, the US administration finds itself trying to deal with a rapidly increasing stream of torture allegations.

The Washington Post details allegations that an Iraqi General was suffocated by his interrogators, who assert that their “interrogation techniques” were sanctioned by the chain of command Beating of Iraqi General Alleged in Army Hearing

Mark Townsend of The Observer details how the President of Blackwater Security, one of the biggest private security firms operating in Iraq, Gary Jackson, had emailed his employees saying that it is “fun to shoot some people” …… Shoot for Fun

On & on it goes ….

Andrew Weigl, staff writer on The News & Observer, reveals details of the trial of a former CIA operative, David Passaro, for the beating murder of an Afghan detainee. Passaro claims that he was “only doing his job”, under the authority of the CIA & President George Bush The News & Observer

Carol Leonnig of the Washington Post details the torture of Mustafa Ait Idr, yet another detainee at Guantanamo Bay, revealed in his law suit against the US administration …..

“A detainee at a U.S. military prison alleges that U.S. military guards jumped on his head until he had a stroke that paralyzed his face, nearly drowned him in a toilet and later broke several of his fingers, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday in federal court.” ICH

Pete Yost & Matt Kelley of AAP reveal the black farce of US Military Commissions at Guantanamo Bay …..

A U.S. college-educated detainee asks plaintively in one: "Is it possible to see the evidence in order to refute it?"

In another transcript, the unidentified president of a U.S. military tribunal bursts out: "I don't care about international law. I don't want to hear the words 'international law' again. We are not concerned with international law."
Voice to Guantanamo Detainees

And just when you thought it might be “safe” to be on the streets again, Jeffrey Fleishman of the Los Angels Times recounts the harrowing experience of a German citizen, Khaled el-Masri, mistaken for a terror suspect, who was kidnapped in Macedonia, “rendered” to Afghanistan & held for months under interrogation …..

el-Masri was told by his interrogators that “You are in a country where there are no laws & nobody knows where you are. Do you know what this means?”

“A CIA spokesman declined to comment on Masri's case, but White House, Justice Department & CIA officials have long argued that U.S. laws authorize such covert operations.”
Dark Side of War on Terror

On a brighter note, Nat Hentoff of The Decatur Daily Democrat reports on action by the US Congress to ban government funding of the “rendition” of detainees to countries known to engage in torture Decatur Daily Democrat

But if you think that this means that things are getting better, think again. ICH details the horrific activities of the government of President Karimov of Uzbekistan, recipient of US$500 million in US aid Our Presidents New Best Friend Boils People Alive

And so, whilst the US goes about proving that it is indeed the “greatest architect of terror” on the planet, we find ourselves in our own backyard, still waiting on the outcome of the 18 month old investigation into torture allegations against members of Australia’s Defence Forces in East Timor in 1999 ……

Just like the three wise monkeys.

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a stampede against justice ..... 

An address to the Parliament of the UK

This week, our future and our liberties are in your hands. We cannot forgive you if you betray us, and you betray us if you compromise. You betray us if you do not see the excesses of a totalitarian state in what you are asked to endorse.

Any person who has a control order imposed upon him is from that moment branded, forever, as an individual "involved in terrorism-related activity". He can never disprove that label as he will never be told why the order is being made against him. And not only is the man or woman who becomes the subject of the order branded, so too are their entire family, their friends and associates. The children of anti-apartheid activists in South Africa speak of the scars that still remain because they grew up, just as much as their parents, under house arrest.

The children and grandchildren of those witch-hunted by McCarthy in 1950s America lived thereafter branded as the families of traitors. And before we have even had the opportunity to cure the serious mental illnesses caused not just in the men detained under the 2001 act, but in their families also, we are being plunged into new nightmares, unconscious of the lessons of history.

In order not to frighten parliamentarians, it is at present claimed that control orders do not require any individual to remain in his home 24 hours a day. In every fundamental way, however, his life can be destroyed. If he disobeys any aspect of an order, he will be imprisoned. He can be prohibited from possessing specified articles, he can be prohibited from specified activities, he can be restricted "in respect of his work or his business", he can be restricted in his association with specified persons or, open-endedly, "with other persons generally". He can be restricted as to where he lives or who lives with him, where he goes and when. He will be required to give access to "specified persons", to allow those persons to search his place at any time of day or night, to be tagged, to comply with his movements and communications being monitored and, chillingly, to provide information to a specified person if demanded.

We remember the requirement imposed upon hundreds of Americans by McCarthy to provide information on demand, and the heroic stance of those who took the fifth amendment and were sent to prison. "Naming names" will be the order of the day here in just the same way; the individual will be branded, and then, on pain of imprisonment, be required to brand others. Anyone from the Muslim community in Britain, or who has any knowledge of their experience, will have heard the terrified reports, in particular of those who have no safe immigration status, of being repeatedly approached - outside their homes, in supermarkets, with their children - by intelligence agents to provide "information" in exchange for regularisation of their immigration status or face the consequences if they refuse.

Can future recipients of control orders anticipate them and modify their behaviour accordingly? Based upon the experiences of those detained under the 2001 act, the answer is firmly no. Far from becoming clearer with time, those detained are, after three years, even more confused as to the basis for their detention. What is asserted by the home secretary in March 2005, in relation to each detainee to justify his continuing detention, is that each remains wedded to his extremist jihad ideals. How can this assessment have been made? Of those about whom it is made, three are in Broadmoor hospital and have had access only to their doctors (who proffer their view that no such ideas or behaviour have ever been manifested throughout the years they have been there). Another, driven into madness and under house arrest has had no visitors or communication with anyone other than his wife, children and lawyers for nearly a year. The others, all in Woodhill or Belmarsh, have had no one come near them to make any such assessment since all were thrown into prison in 2001.

All that has happened in the past three years (and now is being redesigned for relegislation for the future) is the antithesis of any criminal justice system. It is a delusion to think that imposing a judge at any stage in the process, whether it be at the outset or further down the unjust line, can remedy the fact that all of this construct is created to avoid our constitutional protections of fair, public and open trial, by a jury of your peers, in which the most important aspect of all is that your accuser tells you at the earliest possible moment what the accusation against you is, so that you have the opportunity of replying. None of this construct can be improved or affected by amendments since the very purpose of the new legislation is to avoid these central obligations. Once the individual is branded, any information to justify the branding is considered behind closed doors.

What do we know of the origins of that information? Enough to disturb us greatly.

Only because he was forced into the answer, did the home secretary acknowledge that the government uses information obtained from torture and that the only caveat to its use is what weight to give it. I remain astounded that no parliamentary debate followed to question this most extraordinary admitted breach of our every international and domestic treaty obligation. Nor do I understand why, within this present legislative stampede, there is no serious questioning of what has openly thereby been admitted, that the government's assessment of threat, is erected, to a significant degree, upon information extracted around the world from torture.

As each new wave of British detainees emerges from Guantánamo Bay, individual accounts of horrifying ordeals have one common denominator: from the first days of unlawful capture of each, whether in Pakistan, the Gambia, Zambia or elsewhere, British intelligence agents were there. What those agents wanted was information demonstrating a threat in this country; what they did not want was evidence that there was not.

The same predetermination to find particular answers is not only to be found in the behaviour of our intelligence agencies in Guantánamo Bay. The most extraordinary proof that this was the only approach ever intended was clear from the first moment of arrest of all of those interned under the then 2001 legislation. Were they ever arrested, interviewed by police or indeed anyone to discover what they had to say before they were taken to Belmarsh? No. Have they ever been spoken to since that time? No. The question that ought to inform parliament above all, is "Why not?" Is it that no one in authority wanted to know the answers to the questions that might have been put?

Is it really sane, let alone lawful, to try to discover whether there is a threat to this country by frightening individuals unofficially in the aisles of supermarkets, or by obtaining the byproducts of coercive interrogation and torture abroad and yet deliberately to forgo the opportunity of engaging in official processes of inquiry? Fairness to those accused is not dissonant in any way with the interests of society. The interests of society collectively, as well as of the individual, demand that criminal accusation be precise and foreseeable and communicated. How otherwise can members of society determine in advance whether they risk offending against the law? These fundamental questions demand the clearest possible debate as to what is and what is not acceptable in society, what is banned and what is not.

What the government asks for here is the ultimate demand of any totalitarian regime: the executive is the accuser; the moment of accusation is also the moment of the imposition of the penalty. Wherever in the process a judge comes to be involved, the executive has already pre- determined that the individual will be stigmatised and punished on the basis of suspicion - that suspicion backed only by secret "information". This is a stigma that is intended to attach itself to the accused wherever he moves (if he can) nationally, and conveyed onwards, internationally. It is, of course, open-ended. It will destroy his family for generations.

The accuser, the executive, invokes a judge for one reason alone, to give its procedure a spurious cover, to safeguard it against any future judgment of the law lords or the European court of human rights. However, in a sense it matters not to the executive if in three or four or five years it comes to lose the legal argument once again, since those accused under any new law will have been been immobilised. The government's only preoccupation now is to force this legislation through parliament.

Without protection for the individuals who make up society, society itself founders. Nor is there a balance to be struck between the rights of individuals and national security: national security depends upon every individual in this country having inalienable rights. We have not voted for you as our representatives for you to throw these away.

By Gareth Peirce

Tuesday March 8, 2005
The Guardian
· Gareth Peirce is a solicitor representing detainees under the Anti-Terrorism Crime and Security Act 2001

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an unjust war ..... 

It would pay us all to remember that the war in Iraq was both unjust and illegal. We launched a war of aggression against a country that was not attacking us, did not have the means to attack us, and had never expressed any intention of attacking us.

Thus, America's attack against Iraq is the same as Germany's attack against Poland in 1939. We were the aggressor, pure and simple, and for whatever real reason we attacked Iraq, it was not to save America from any danger, imminent or otherwise.

You can believe the two whitewash jobs blaming everything on intelligence if you wish to do so. I don't believe them. Our intelligence agencies make plenty of mistakes, but I don't believe that the information they provided the Bush administration was as clear-cut as the Bush people claimed. In other words, I think the Bush administration lied to the American people about weapons of mass destruction.

This illegal, unjust and unprovoked war against a sovereign country is what has alienated the rest of the world. This alienation runs deep and will have very long-term implications.

No sane leader of any nation in the world can trust America anymore. We have demonstrated that if we desire to attack a nation, we will fabricate the excuse and attack it, despite international law and international opinion. We have demonstrated that a nation need not provoke us or threaten us to become a victim of our aggression. We have said to the world that the only law we respect is the law of the jungle, and that might makes right. That's why so many people consider us to be a rogue nation and a threat to world peace.

The sad part is that the American people have been so sheep-like. They believed the blarney about weapons of mass destruction, even the stupid parts such as Bush claiming Iraq's tiny little drone airplanes could attack the U.S. When those lies were exposed, they believed that the war was justified by Saddam Hussein's cruelty. We've slept with many bloody dictators, including Saddam. Now they believe that we went there to spread democracy.

That's a bunch of hooey. The present interim government is corrupt to the core. The British Broadcasting Corp. did a lot of interviews with Iraqis, and not one of them mentioned wanting democracy or freedom. They all said they want a strong government that can provide security and end corruption.

Given the world's distrust and alienation, how do you think the Bush administration is going to garner support to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons? Do you think Russia, China, India and other countries love us? Do you think even the Europeans will not try to weaken our global monopoly on the use of force?

There is a great irony here. Imperialism produces exactly the effects that the critics of isolation claim it produces. Imperialism isolates America. An American policy of non-interference and cooperation would produce allies.

I don't intend to blame the Bush administration entirely. Both the Republicans and the Democrats are committed to an imperialistic policy. Nor was the war against Iraq the first instance of unprovoked and illegal acts of aggression. We invaded Grenada and Panama, and launched aerial attacks against Libya and Serbia.

Don't take too much comfort in the fact that we are, at the moment, the 800-pound gorilla. Everybody hates the gorilla and will try to do everything to weaken it. Given the venality and incompetence of our government, the shaky state of our economy, the apathy of our people and the decadence of our culture, I don't think we'll be king of the jungle for very much longer.

Charley Reese

April 16, 2005

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17 April 2005

george w. bush elected Pope ..... 

Reported by Willie E. Davis

Catholic Cardinals Stunned

The almost 120 Cardinals from around the world that gathered to choose a successor in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel were stunned and expressed amazement.

Cardinal Mohoney, the Vatican spokesperson had this to say: "We in the conclave are all shocked. We cast our vote's using these new electronic voting machines. The results overwhelmingly favoured George W. Bush over all the Catholic candidates. The last Pope, John Paul, was a superb linguist, fluently speaking 11 languages: this one can't speak fluently in one language. We just don't know what to say."

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