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29 June 2005

masters of incompetence ..... 

In the aftermath of September 11, George Bush declared his ‘war on terror’.

The self-anointed nemesis of the world’s ‘evil-doers’ then led the crusade to bomb Afghanistan back to the stone-age & record opium production, before criminally conspiring to unleash the dogs of war on the people of Iraq.

As ‘junior’ listened to his ‘voices’, the old dreamers from the Reagan era went into rapture at the prospect of realizing their global fascist vision of the ‘new American century’, whilst the military-industrial complex salivated over yet another US$300 billion in taxpayer funds waiting to be looted from the US treasury.

And, as Americans obediently succumbed to the prospect of revenge & salvation, secured by their master’s fear ‘meme’, their democracy was quietly done to death by the Patriot Act: its passage facilitated by a crippled legislature, that long ago had abrogated its sworn duty to the people & their constitution, by becoming the paid servants of corporate America, along with a corrupt 4th estate that went to lunch & didn’t come back.

Yesterday, ‘junior’ - liar & sociopath – brazenly stood in front of American servicemen & women at Fort Bragg & harangued the American people about the need to ‘stay the course’ in Iraq & to defeat the evil terrorists - in the name of ‘freedom’.

This deserter, who morphed into a ‘war president’ - who conspired to wage an illegal war of aggression; who is guilty of the highest war crime – a crime against peace; who is directly responsible for the deaths of more than 1,700 young Americans & an estimated 100,000 innocent Iraqis; who has trashed International Law, including the Geneva & Torture Conventions – said:

‘Here are the words of Osama bin Laden: This third world war is raging in Iraq. The whole world is watching this war. He says it will end in victory & glory or misery & humiliation.

The terrorists know that the outcome will leave them emboldened or defeated. So they are waging a campaign of murder & destruction. And there is no limit to the innocent lives they are willing to take.’

Sickening, as we approach the 4th anniversary of 911 & remember that Usama bin Laden, the world’s most wanted terrorist - a creature of the CIA - alleged architect of the horror that ‘changed the world forever’, still roams free.

And even more sickening when we learn that it could all have been avoided: that both the Clinton & Bush administrations failed to act on offers by the Taliban regime to hand-over bin Laden & end his reign of terror, thereby averting the catastrophe of 911 & the cataclysm that followed.

Masters Of Incompetence

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a tale of two georges ..... 

100 years ago, on June 25, author & journalist George Orwell was born.

Go to the link to listen to excerpts from his classic work 1984, interspersed with chilling clips from George Bush, John Ashcroft, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld & others.

Orwell’s 1984 introduced such terms as ‘Big Brother’, ‘thought police’, ‘newspeak’ & ‘doublethink’.

1984: A Tale Of Two Georges - Orwell & Bush

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28 June 2005

a darker looking glass ..... 

Former US Air Force combat veteran Tim Goodrich stunned the jury by revealing his role in the ‘softening up’ of Iraq months before the US declaration of war. ‘We were dropping bombs then, and I saw bombing intensify’, Goodrich explained to a hushed room. ‘All the documents coming out now, the Downing Street memo and others, confirm what I had witnessed in Iraq. The war had already begun while our leaders were telling us that they were going to try all diplomatic options first’.

Is This What They Call Democracy?

Iraqi and US military testimony was joined by former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations Denis Halliday, who argued that the Tribunal has an ‘obligation to demand full international prosecution of US/UK war leaders as war criminals involved in the destruction of Iraq, the lives of its people and their human rights and well being, through unlawful and unjustifiable armed invasion and military occupation’.

History Of US & UK Intervention In Iraq

‘The attack on Iraq is an attack on justice, on liberty, on our safety, on our future, on us all’.

World Tribunal on Iraq Findings

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27 June 2005

exxon: a law unto itself ..... 

Sixteen years after the Exxon Valdez spill, the Alaskans most affected by the spill haven't seen one cent of a $5 billion settlement.
The True Price of Oil

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tripping the light fantastic ..... 

The Australian today offered a report on a visit to Guantanamo Bay by a ‘bipartisan group of US politicians’ The Australian: US Pollies See Guantanamo Sights

The report detailed how the politicians ‘witnessed interrogations’ (breathlessly noting that none of the interrogators ‘touched’ any of the detainees), including one session where an interrogator sought to ‘wear down’ a detainee by reading him a Harry Potter book – aloud, for hours (the detainee allegedly ‘put his hands over his ears’ to escape this mind numbing experience).

Whilst US politicians ‘tripped the light fantastic’ at Guantanamo Bay, mock seriously seeking to reassure the American public that its government is ‘properly treating the detainees’, an altogether more serious & objective analysis of their treatment & status was offered to the US Senate Committee on the Judiciary 10 days ago.

Of course the Australian, nor any other organ of the Australian media, didn’t report the appearance by Attorney Joseph Margulies, of the MacArthur Justice Center at the University of Chicago Law School, before the US Congress on June 15, where he testified on the unlawful nature of the Combat Status Review Tribunals or CSRTS, being used by the Bush Administration to deny detainees fair hearings.

Mr Margulies also spoke about the torture & abuse at Guantanamo & the US government’s continued attempts to defy the Supreme Court ruling a year ago, granting the detainees the right to challenge their detention in US Courts.

Combat Status Review Tribunals are procedures held at Guantanamo where members of the US military confirm whether a detainee continues to be an enemy combatant. The CSRTs are a sham legal process because they do not allow a lawyer to be present to defend the detainee & the detainee does not have access to all the evidence being used against him, some of which may have been acquired through torture. The CSRTs do not meet the most basic definition of a fair trial.

In his written testimony, Mr Margulies said that the CSRTs give, ‘nothing more than the illusion of a lawful process’. He went on to add that, ‘the CSRT mock this nation’s commitment to due process & it is past time for this mockery to end’.

Mr Margulies also made reference in his evidence to Australian detainee, Mr Mamdouh Habib, suggesting that the coincidence of his release earlier this year was related to the fact that his allegations of having been tortured in Egypt were about to be detailed in a US Court.

The US has held more than 600 detainees at Guantanamo Bay at various times over the past 31/2 years. Some 520 detainees from upwards of 40 countries remain in custody, whilst 167 have been released.

Thus far charges have been brought against only 4 detainees, under laws created more than 2 years after 911: in the case of David Hicks, the other Australian held at Guantanamo, more than 2 years after he was detained by Afghan tribesmen & subsequently ‘sold’ to the US after its invasion.

The Australian government is the only government not to request the repatriation of its nationals from US custody at Guantanamo Bay, content to leave the fate of one of its citizens in the hands of its closest ally & untroubled by the fact that he has been tortured & that his legal & human rights under International Law are being denied.

US Senate Committee On The Judiciary

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26 June 2005

dumb & getting dumber ..... 

The Editor
Sydney Morning Herald June 26, 2005


So, a group of US politicians watched a mock interrogation of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay & reported that ‘none of the interrogators touched detainees during the presentation’ ('Guantanamo Improving Say US Politicians' Herald, June 26)?

Holy human rights Batman, seems like US politicians must be even dumber than ours.

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justice & the rule of law ..... 

The Prime Minister
The Hon John Howard MP
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600 June 25, 2005


Sir,

I refer to your frequent advocacy on behalf of justice & the rule of law & the strength & importance of Australia’s relationship with the United States.

Under the circumstances, I know you would be concerned to learn of an incident in Townsville last year ( Townsville Bulletin: US Marines Walk Free ), where

· an Australian citizen, Mr Heath Twomey, was allegedly assaulted by two US servicemen & stabbed in the neck with a knife
· the US servicemen, Lance Corporal Craig Meeks & Staff Sergeant Beryl Wilson Jnr, were subsequently charged with attempted murder by Townsville Police
· the US servicemen, having been granted bail, failed to appear in Court to answer the charges, with the Court being advised by defence solicitors that ‘they were in Japan’
· the cases were subsequently assigned to the US military, at their request, under the terms of a military agreement between Australia & the US
· no charges were pursued against Lance Corporal Meeks
· Sergeant Wilson was acquitted at the end of a US military trial, during which the evidence of Mr Twomey & other witnesses was not sought
· both US servicemen remain on active duty & have not been reprimanded or disciplined in any way

Could you please explain how the interests of justice & the rule of law can be served, where an agreement between Australia & the US permits US servicemen charged with serious criminal offences in Australia to escape the consequences of their actions?

Your parliamentary colleague, Mr Peter Lindsay, the Liberal Member for Herbert (QLD), has been quoted as saying that the outcome of this matter was ‘odd’ but went on to dismiss the matter by stating that ‘the people who know the facts and the circumstances have made that decision’.

Mr Lindsay would not appear to be possessed of the same burning passion for justice & the rule of law as you are. Otherwise it may have occurred to him to question how it is that Sergeant Wilson came to be found not guilty by a closed US military court, when that court heard no evidence from Mr Twomey or other witnesses?

Could you please explain how Australian citizens can have any confidence that the interests of justice & the rule of law are to be respected & taken seriously, even in their own country, when US citizens can commit serious crimes in Australia & escape the jurisdiction of our criminal justice system, only to be exonerated by a military hearing which does not hear the available evidence?

Could you please explain how Australian citizens can have any confidence in your repeated public utterances on the importance of justice & the rule of law, whilst your government is prepared to make Australia party to an agreement with the US, that produces outcomes that clearly fail to serve the interests of justice & make a mockery of the rule of law?

Could you please confirm that your government will take the necessary steps to ensure that US servicemen charged with criminal offences under the laws of our country will, in future, be tried in our Courts under the terms of our criminal justice system, thereby reassuring the Australian people that your government’s professed respect for justice & the rule of law is genuine & not discretionary when it comes to citizens of the US breaking the laws of our country?

This final request is particularly relevant, given that another two US servicemen from the USS Boxer are currently being held by Australian authorities, having been charged over the importation of $1 million worth of amphetamines.

Given the outcome of the Twomey case, I’m sure you’d agree that the Australian people would have absolutely no reason to have confidence in your reassurances as to the importance of justice & the rule of law being upheld in our country, if the US servicemen concerned in this latest incident were transferred to the jurisdiction of the US military.

I await your early reassurances on these matters.

Sincerely,

John Richardson.

CC: The Hon Peter Lindsay MP
The Hon Brendan Nelson MP
The Hon Phillip Ruddock MP
The Hon Kim Beazley MP
Mr William A. Stanton, Charge d’Affaires ad interim, US Embassy, Canberra
The Editor, Townsville Bulletin


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rough treatment of 'exceptionals' ..... 

‘American students are quitting Queensland universities in the face of hate attacks by Australians angry at US President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq’, reports Ainsley Pavey at News.com.

Students Quit Over Anti-US Slurs

Perhaps if our ‘exceptionals’ enrolled at the University of Baghdad, they might be made more welcome or perhaps they’ve been away from home for far too long?

America Turns On Bush Over Iraq

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the price of freedom & democracy ..... 

‘As the costs of the Iraq occupation spiral, British and American oil companies meet in secret next week to carve up the country's oil reserves for themselves.

The Iraq war has so far cost America & Britain £105billion. But the financial clawback is gathering pace as British and American oil giants work out how to get their hands on the estimated £3trillion worth of oil.

Executives from BP, Shell, Exxon Mobil & Halliburton, Dick Cheney's old firm, are expected to congregate at the Paddington Hilton for a two-day chinwag with top-level officials from Iraq's oil ministry. The gathering, sponsored by the British Government, is being described as the ‘premier event’ for those with designs on Iraqi oil & will go ahead despite opposition from Iraqi oil workers, who fear their livelihoods are being flogged to foreigners. The Met will be on hand to secure the venue ahead of the conference.

Tom Burgis of the London Line reports.

The Carve-Up Begins

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jury of conscience ..... 

Opening Statement of Arundhati Roy on behalf of the jury of conscience of the world tribunal of Iraq.

Istanbul, Turkey - This is the culminating session of the World Tribunal on Iraq. It is of particular significance that it is being held here in Turkey where the United States used Turkish air bases to launch numerous bombing missions to degrade Iraqs defenses before the March 2003 invasion and has sought and continues to seek political support from the Turkish government, which it regards as an ally. All this was done in the face of enormous popular opposition by the Turkish people. As a spokesperson for the jury of conscience, it would make me uneasy if I did not mention that the government of India is also, like the government of Turkey, positioning itself as a ally of the United States in its economic policies and the so-called War on Terror.

The testimonies at the previous sessions of the World Tribunal on Iraq in Brussels and New York have demonstrated that even those of us who have tried to follow the war in Iraq closely are not aware of a fraction of the horrors that have been unleashed in Iraq.

The Jury of Conscience at this tribunal is not here to deliver a simple verdict of guilty or not guilty against the United States and its allies. We are here to examine a vast spectrum of evidence about the motivations and consequences of the US invasion and occupation, evidence that has been deliberately marginalized or suppressed. Every aspect of the war will be examined - its legality, the role of international institutions and major corporations in the occupation, the role of the media, the impact of weapons such as depleted uranium munitions, napalm, and cluster bombs, the use of and legitimation of torture, the ecological impacts of the war, the responsibility of Arab governments, the impact of Iraqs occupation on Palestine, and the history of US and British military interventions in Iraq. This tribunal is an attempt to correct the record. To document the history of the war not from the point of view of the victors but of the temporarily - and I repeat the word temporarily - anquished.

Before the testimonies begin, I would like to briefly address as straightforwardly as I can a few questions that have been raised about this tribunal.

The first is that this tribunal is a Kangaroo Court. That it represents only one point of view. That it is a prosecution without a defense. That the verdict is a foregone conclusion.

Now this view seems to suggest a touching concern that in this harsh world, the views of the US government and the so-called Coalition of the Willing headed by President George Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair have somehow gone unrepresented. That the World Tribunal on Iraq isn't aware of the arguments in support of the war and is unwilling to consider the point of view of the invaders. If in the era of the multinational corporate media and embedded journalism anybody can seriously hold this view, then we truly do live in the Age of Irony, in an age when satire has become meaningless because real life is more satirical than satire can ever be.

Let me say categorically that this tribunal is the defense. It is an act of resistance in itself. It is a defense mounted against one of the most cowardly wars ever fought in history, a war in which international institutions were used to force a country to disarm and then stood by while it was attacked with a greater array of weapons than has ever been used in the history of war.

Second, this tribunal is not in any way a defense of Saddam Hussein. His crimes against Iraqis, Kurds, Iranians, Kuwaitis, and others cannot be written off in the process of bringing to light Iraqs more recent and still unfolding tragedy. However, we must not forget that when Saddam Hussein was committing his worst crimes, the US government was supporting him politically and materially. When he was gassing Kurdish people, the US government financed him, armed him, and stood by silently.

Saddam Hussein is being tried as a war criminal even as we speak. But what about those who helped to install him in power, who armed him, who supported him - and who are now setting up a tribunal to try him and absolve themselves completely? And what about other friends of the United States in the region that have suppressed Kurdish peoples and other peoples rights, including the government of Turkey?

There are remarkable people gathered here who in the face of this relentless and brutal aggression and propaganda have doggedly worked to compile a comprehensive spectrum of evidence and information that should serve as a weapon in the hands of those who wish to participate in the resistance against the occupation of Iraq. It should become a weapon in the hands of soldiers in the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Australia, and elsewhere who do not wish to fight, who do not wish to lay down their lives - or to take the lives of others - for a pack of lies. It should become a weapon in the hands of journalists, writers, poets, singers, teachers, plumbers, taxi drivers, car mechanics, painters, lawyers - anybody who wishes to participate in the resistance.

The evidence collated in this tribunal should, for instance, be used by the International Criminal Court (whose jurisdiction the United States does not recognize) to try as war criminals George Bush, Tony Blair, John Howard, Silvio Berlusconi, and all those government officials, army generals, and corporate CEOs who participated in this war and now profit from it.

The assault on Iraq is an assault on all of us: on our dignity, our intelligence, and our future.

We recognize that the judgment of the World Tribunal on Iraq is not binding in international law. However, our ambitions far surpass that. The World Tribunal on Iraq places its faith in the consciences of millions of people across the world who do not wish to stand by and watch while the people of Iraq are being slaughtered, subjugated, and humiliated.

___________________________________________________________________

Arundhati Roy received the Booker Prize for literature in 1997. Presently, one of the most eloquent voices for the global justice and anti-war movement, she was also awarded, among many others, the Sydney Peace Prize in 2004, and the Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize in 2002.

World Tribunal on Iraq


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an act of resistance ..... 

The World Tribunal on Iraq (WTI), a grouping of NGOs, intellectuals and writers opposed to the war in Iraq, on Friday accused the United States of causing more deaths in Iraq than ousted president Saddam Hussein.

"With two wars and 13 years of criminal sanctions, the United States have been responsible for more deaths in Iraq than Saddam Hussein," Larry Everest, a journalist, told hundreds of anti-war activists gathered in Istanbul.

The Real War Criminals

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