21 May 2005

the great game ..... 

The savage bloodbath engulfing the middle-east today can be traced directly to the mendacity of Great Britain in its dealings with the Arab peoples nearly a century ago.

Bush, Blair, Sharon, along with bit political players like little Johnnie Howard, are the latest troupe of political actors to tread the boards in the long-running imperialistic show known as the ‘great game’.

And with a script reeking of the same lies & deceit as the original, the worn lines uttered by today’s generation of heroic Oil Can Harrys, like ‘freedom & democracy’, are as empty & meaningless as they always were.

But most seem content to watch criminal re-runs: as long as their popcorn is free.

Promises and Betrayals

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19 May 2005

truth responds to power ..... 

“Senator [Coleman], in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right, and you turned out to be wrong. And 100,000 people have paid with their lives, 1,600 of them American soldiers, sent to their deaths on a pack of lives, 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies. If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, who's dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened, to President Chirac, who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me and the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster that we are in today. Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens, you are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth.” George Galloway, MP

Galloway bluntly confronts the Republican chairman of the committee, Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota & challenges the attorney to back up his claims that the MP had profited handsomely from the now defunct oil-for-food program.

Some of Galloway’s harshest remarks go to Coleman's support for the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Video of the full testimony of British MP George Galloway before the US Senate.

Galloway Takes On US Oil Accusers

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17 May 2005

what chance democracy ..... 

“The average man, whatever his errors otherwise, at least sees clearly that government is something lying outside him and outside the generality of his fellow men - that it is a separate, independent, and hostile power, only partly under his control, and capable of doing him great harm.

Is it a fact of no significance that robbing the government is everywhere regarded as a crime of less magnitude than robbing an individual, or even a corporation?

What lies behind all this, I believe, is a deep sense of the fundamental antagonism between the government and the people it governs. It is apprehended, not as a committee of citizens chosen to carry on the communal business of the whole population, but as a separate and autonomous corporation, mainly devoted to exploiting the population for the benefit of its own members.

When a private citizen is robbed, a worthy man is deprived of the fruits of his industry and thrift; when the government is robbed, the worst that happens is that certain rogues and loafers have less money to play with than they had before. The notion that they have earned that money is never entertained; to most sensible men it would seem ludicrous.”

H.L. Mencken

The Anatomy of the State

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16 May 2005

trashing the 'rule of law' ..... 

The Attorney-General,
The Hon Phillip Ruddock, MP,
Parliament House,
CANBERRA. ACT. 2600. May 14, 2005.


As you are aware, Mr David Hicks, an Australian citizen, has been held by the US administration at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba for more than three years.

Mr Hicks was captured by rebel tribesmen, operating under the banner of the ‘Northern Alliance’, in December, 2001, prior to the US invasion of Afghanistan. Following the US invasion, Mr Hicks was handed-over to US military forces & rendered ‘extra-judiciously’ to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Mr Hicks has been charged with various offences at the instigation of the US administration, with the current intention being that he will be ‘tried’ before the US Military Commission, set-up under the auspices a Military Order by the President of the United States, dated November 13, 2001.

The said Military Order was ostensibly issued to deal with non-US citizens who allegedly

· are members of al Qaeda
· were involved in acts of international terrorism against the United States, & / or
· knowingly harboured such terrorists

It is pertinent to note that neither the US administration nor the Australian government have alleged that Mr Hicks was or is a member of al Qaeda. Nevertheless, this fact has not stopped senior members & officials from both the US administration & the Australian government, from referring to detainees held at Guantanamo Bay as ‘terrorists’, ‘killers’ & the ‘worst of the worst’, thereby denying them their most fundamental right: the presumption of innocence.

As you are also aware, the offences allegedly committed by Mr Hicks did not exist prior to May, 2003, when they were first enunciated in ‘draft’ form.

The fact that Mr Hicks has been charged with such offences is in direct contravention of Article 99 of the Geneva Convention which expressly forbids a Detaining Power from charging & sentencing a prisoner for an act which is not forbidden by the law of the Detaining Power or by international law, in force at the time the said act was committed.

In addition, the Military Commission established by the US Department of Defence as required by the Military Order is a legal caricature, in that its structure & procedural rules fall far short of accepted standards for any judicial proceedings, including proceedings under the US criminal justice system, US Military Courts Martials or our own criminal justice system.

More particularly, the procedural rules of the US Military Commission do not provide basic legal protections for an accused, including

· the right to confront their accusers
· protection against self-incrimination
· fore-knowledge of penalties attached to offences
· protection against hearsay & evidence extracted under duress & torture
· the mandatory admission of exculpatory evidence
· the right to access all evidence &
· the right of appeal

Even the most casual observer understands that Mr Hicks has not engaged in any attack or conspired to engage in any attack against US forces or installations, as he was held prisoner by members of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan prior to the US invasion of that country in 2002. The contention by the US administration that he is an ‘unlawful combatant’ is a contrived legal nonsense, all the more so due to the fact that Mr Hicks has never engaged in hostilities against US forces.

Mr Hicks has been held in detention by the US administration for more than three years. He has been denied his human & legal rights under the Geneva Convention, the Torture Convention & the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In addition, the standards of his treatment to-date & those anticipated to govern his trial by the US Military Commission are all below accepted international standards, including those otherwise applied to US citizens in identical circumstances.

The Australian government has taken no material steps to protect the legal & human rights of one of its own citizens & seems content to wait for the US government to determine his fate: this notwithstanding strong actions taken by the governments of other countries, including Great Britain, to secure the release & return of their nationals previously held under identical circumstances.

Further, the Australian government has ignored calls from eminent jurists around the world, calling for the release of detainees from Guantanamo Bay & condemning their treatment at the hands of the US administration, in contravention of international law. Such calls have been made by

· the Commonwealth Lawyers Association
· the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association
· Justice Richard Goldstone, Former Chief Prosecutor of the UN War Tribunal
· the President of the Swedish Bar
· the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, Scotland
· the President of the Law Society of Northern Ireland
· the President of the Law Council of Australia
· the President of the Paris Bar
· the Chairman of the Council of the Bar of England and Wales
· the President of the Scottish Law Society
· the President of the Canadian Bar
· the President of the Law Institute of Victoria
· the President of the Law Society of England and Wales &
· Lord Steyn of the British House Of Lords

to name just a few.

Last month, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe passed a resolution condemning the US administration for the torture of detainees at Guantanamo Bay & calling on all member states not to co-operate in the interrogation of US detainees or in the rendition of suspects to US custody.

In addition, the resolution called on the US administration to cease its practice of ‘secret detentions’ & to initiate an independent investigation of the hundreds of allegations of torture & ‘cruel, inhuman & degrading’ treatment being meted-out against detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

The resolution supported the efforts of the US in its fight against terrorism but noted that the US had ‘betrayed its own highest principles in the zeal with which it has attempted to pursue the war on terror’.

Council Member, Mr Boris Oliynik, stated: “What we see in Guantanamo has nothing to do with justice. The conditions there are medieval”.

The refusal of your government to secure & protect the rights of Mr Hicks confirms its readiness to arrogantly & irresponsibly avoid its obligations under international law & to betray its most fundamental duty: to protect the rights of Australian citizens.

John Richardson.

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15 May 2005

whither the media ..... 

“Our republic and its press will rise and fall together. A cynical, mercenary, demographic press will produce in time a people as base as itself.”
Joseph Pulitzer

"Joseph Pulitzer would be horrified by what our media has become and what it has done to the American people . . . we come to St. Louis, to Joseph Pulitzer's town, to say 'no more' - no more do we make a lie to his promise of what he said media ought to be."
John Nichols

Where is the Media reform campaign in Australia?


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What will History say about you? 

From my inbox this morning:

"I was having some issues with cable TV, work, and other stuff...I was talking to my wife, just a casual conversation, and I said something about maybe Ted Kasinsky (sp), (the unibomber), perhaps had the right outlook on where this is all taking us, and made a couple of other points.

My wife says...you should be quiet...the FBI will be pounding down our door one of these days. And she was serious.

I am pretty active on the web, say stuff on telephone, etc....politically active.....but is this not the saddest moment in the history of the US, that you can't even talk in your own home without thinking that someone could be watching, listening in, acting, on our conversations ?

Where have we gone here? Doesn't this smite of fascism...dictatorship, 1984 ?????

What happened to our freedom?

Its dangerous to even speak out on your political beliefs without someone thinking you're a terrorist or something.

Thanks George and your cronies...or whom ever is actually pulling the strings."

Much of the present "anti-terrorism laws" passed in the USA, UK and Australia are word for word Hitler's laws. This according to my husband, who checked, and whose German is still impeccable after nearly 40 years in Australia.

I still find myself holding back on writing my own editorials, out of fear. I had planned on going full bore once my Australian citizenship was in place, using that as a shield to allow me to speak my mind from behind the protection of that citizenship. But now that I can see that Australia has no qualms about deporting it's own, I can see that is no guarantee that my freedom to speak out will be protected.

I am one of the fortunate ones. I got out. Although it was not my reason for leaving, I am glad that I did go when I did. I will not go back. Maybe in the eyes of some this makes me a coward. But I fully expect the mass arrest of bloggers and other dissident types to begin any day now. The disappeared will no longer be just the Arab types, but Americans whose forefathers came to that county on the Mayflower. American Christians who do not believe that Bush is the Chosen of God to impose the American way of life to the rest of the world.

"War paralyzes your courage and deadens the spirit of true manhood. It degrades and stupefies with the sense that you are not responsible, that 'tis not yours to think and reason why, but to do and die,' like the hundred thousand others doomed like yourself. War means blind obedience, unthinking stupidity, brutish callousness, wanton destruction, and irresponsible murder." : Alexander Berkman

We have become those German people who we derided for 60 + years. Only we can't claim "we didn't know," when the truth is we invited it to happen.

The Forth Reich has risen in full uniform. Fascism has once again raised it's head in the guise of Democracy. Rape and torture, which have always been a part of war, is now the order of the day, and anyone who speaks against it is labelled "Anti American."

"It seems that 'we have never gone to war for conquest, for exploitation, nor for territory'; we have the word of a president [McKinley] for that. Observe, now, how Providence overrules the intentions of the truly good for their advantage. We went to war with Mexico for peace, humanity and honour, yet emerged from the contest with an extension of territory beyond the dreams of political avarice. We went to war with Spain for relief of an oppressed people [the Cubans], and at the close found ourselves in possession of vast and rich insular dependencies [primarily the Philippines] and with a pretty tight grasp upon the country for relief of whose oppressed people we took up arms. We could hardly have profited more had 'territorial aggrandizement' been the spirit of our purpose and heart of our hope. The slightest acquaintance with history shows that powerful republics are the most warlike and unscrupulous of nations." : Ambrose Bierce, Warlike America

The American press has become a propaganda tool for the Bush-Chaney-Rumsfeld war for profit machine, denying the American people access to the truth. They fill the airways with Michael Jackson, runnaway brides, fingers in your fast food, which movie star is sleeping with which televison personality, and bury the numbers of dead on the inside pages, or don't report it at all.

They, the CROO, or Current Residents - Oval Office, line their pockets with the hard earned money of the American Tax-payer, while stripping the food from the mouths of the poor, the elderly, the disabled. They have stripped away decent medical care, deprived our children of the basic needs for education, torn families from their housing while demanding that single mothers and the disabled find work in an employment market that has shipped the jobs off to India and Mexico and elsewhere.

They read your mail, listen to your private phone conversations, keep tabs on what you read, what you watch on television, what movie you rent, which restaurants you choose to eat in.

They have destroyed the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the name of security. To protect us from whom? From their own creations! It is THEY who created the terrorists we fear! It is THEY who funded the dictators they now claim are a threat to your freedom! It is THEY who ship people who are LEGALLY in the USA off to foreign countries to be tortured and killed! It is THEY who sent your sons and daughters and husbands and fathers and mothers and sisters off to other lands to kill and be killed, and then deny those who return maimed and broken the right to medical care and housing and employment! It is THEY who decided that you are no longer innocent until proven guilty!

So what will you do, my friends? Will you now watch what you say and hope THEY don't come for you? Will you keep quiet and keep your opinions to yourselves so you might not be noticed?

What will you do when they take your neighbour away because he or she chose not to keep quiet? Will you be one of those the next generation calls cowards? Or will you stand up and speak out for truth and justice and take your chances?

"COWARDICE, n. A charge often levelled by all-American types against those who stand up for their beliefs by refusing to fight in wars they find unconscionable, and who willingly go to prison or into exile in order to avoid violating their own consciences. These 'cowards' are to be contrasted with red-blooded, 'patriotic' youths who literally bend over, grab their ankles, submit to the government, fight in wars they do not understand (or disapprove of), and blindly obey orders to maim and to kill simply because they are ordered to do so—all to the howling approval of the all-American mob. This type of behaviour is commonly termed 'courageous.'" : Chaz Bufe

It is a difficult choice. At least you have a choice. 10,000 + American soldiers who lie dead or maimed for life did not have that choice. 100's of 1000's of Iraqis and Afghani dead and maimed women and children and old people had no choice. Thousands of immigrants to the USA who came for freedom and instead found them selves among the disappeared have no choices. Will you stand up or will you close your doors and your blinds and pretend that it isn't your business?

It is up to us to TRY and stem the tide of Fascism that has become the nightmare of reality.

What will History say about you?

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`America kept in dark' as carnage escalates 

U.S. TV accused of ignoring situation - Iraq on brink of civil war, analysts say


05/14/05 "Toronto Star" - - WASHINGTON—When the man in the white van slowed, the group of labourers from Kut, southeast of Baghdad, approached him in the hope they would be offered work.

Instead he offered death.

As the workers approached, the man blew up his van, killing himself and the men who had tentatively moved to him in trust, sending body parts hurtling through the sky and, according to witnesses, turning the nearest hospital into a blood-stained shrine of futility, overwhelmed by the number and severity of the casualties.

The scene was played out many times over in Iraq this week, where a spike in insurgent violence has placed the country on the precipice of civil war.

More than 450 Iraqis have been slaughtered in the past two weeks in a direct challenge to a new Iraqi government, making those heady days of the January election seem like something from the distant past. The euphoria of the purple thumb, the symbol of the bravery of voters, has given way to a river of blood-red in some of the worst violence in the post-Saddam era.

"We are on the edge of civil war," said Noah Feldman, a New York University professor and chief U.S. adviser to Iraq on the writing of the country's new constitution.

Yet, somehow this sharp surge in deadly bombings, assassinations and kidnappings in Iraq has occurred largely under the radar in the United States.

No public figures have risen this week to decry this most recent carnage, no one is breaking into regular programming on cable news shows.

Perhaps Americans have simply become numb to the background hum of Iraqi violence. Perhaps the lack of graphic images on television mean that medium doesn't know how to cover the story. Perhaps, more cynically, Iraqis killing Iraqis is not as compelling a story.

The left-leaning American Progress Action Fund said in a statement yesterday America's most important foreign policy venture is teetering on the edge of civil war, but it is being ignored by television networks.

"Television media — still the primary source of news for most Americans — is failing miserably," it said. "America is being kept in the dark."

While American TV viewers turn to runaway brides, fast-food fingers and the daily Michael Jackson aberration, they are missing the story of an increasingly massive foreign policy failure.

The number of car bomb attacks in Iraq jumped from 64 in February to 135 in April, a record, according to U.S. military statistics. Insurgents are reported to have stockpiled car bombs and the attacks are becoming more brazen as Sunni insurgents and foreign fighters try to provoke civil war with the Shiite majority.

"There is an apparent free flow of suicide bombers into Iraq," a Western diplomat told the London-based Guardian newspaper.

The U.S. death toll is at 1,611 and U.S. legislators this week approved funding which pushes the cost of the Iraq war beyond $250 billion (U.S.)

The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, called again this week for patience.

`The only thing that can stop civil war is to bring this insurgency under control.'

Noah Feldman, U.S. adviser to Iraq


"One thing we know about insurgencies is that they last from, you know, three, four years to nine years," he said. "These are tough fights. And in the end, it's going to have to be the Iraqis that win this.

"If there was a magic bullet, then Gen. (George) Casey and Gen. (John) Abizaid or I, or somebody on the staff more likely, would have found it."

While U.S. authorities say they believe most of the jihadists are foreign fighters — and have launched a major offensive near the Syria border to try to choke off the influx — J. Patrick Lang, a former chief of Middle East intelligence for the Defence Intelligence Agency, told National Public Radio this week that he believed the insurgents are 90 per cent home-grown.

He said they're a mix of former military, intelligence, police personnel and Baath party functionaries taking directions from a government-in-exile.

David Phillips of the non-partisan Council on Foreign Relations and author of Losing Iraq: Inside the Postwar Reconstruction Fiasco, said the spike in the insurgency can be blamed on three factors.

He said the delay of Iraqis in convening a new government to validate the January elections, the preponderance of Shiites and Kurds in the government plus the intensification of the de-Baathification process simply backed the Sunni view that there is no role for them in the new government.

But, Phillips also points to statements from the White House that U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had intervened to try to break the cabinet stalemate as another spark.

"It reinforced the view in Iraq that (Prime Minister Ibrahim) Jaafari was merely a proxy for those people in Washington," he said.

The damage done by a decision to give Sunnis a small representation in the cabinet unveiled last month seems to have been exacerbated with the decision to appoint only two Sunnis to the 55-member committee chosen to write Iraq's permanent constitution.

It will only play to the sense of despair and disenfranchisement among Sunnis, many analysts say.

Feldman said the Shiite population in Iraq has shown patience of historic proportion in not retaliating against the Sunni attacks.

"The reason I say we are on the edge of civil war is that you can't have one if only one side is attacking," he said. "But the truth is, Shiites are only human and they will run out of patience," he said. "The only thing that can stop civil war is to bring this insurgency under control."

But to do so, he said, Iraqi security forces have to convince Sunnis that violence will not work and they should join the political process.

Sunni fighters, however, are convinced they can hasten the departure of some 139,000 American troops by starting a civil war, Feldman wrote.

Conversely, he said, should U.S. troops depart, civil war is guaranteed.

Phillips is even more pessimistic. When asked about the chances that the brakes could be put on the insurgency in the short term, he answered: "None. This insurgency will go on for years and years, regardless of what the U.S. does."

The insurgency can never be defeated by military force, he said. Instead, Iraqis have to believe that their institutions are worth defending and that defence has to come from Iraqi troops.

Copyright Toronto Star Newspapers Limited

(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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