ARCHIVE: 2002 - JUNE 2003


"And if I could, I would send you a bone. Not to call you to war, but away from it. Something you cannot avoid seeing, touching. Something to make the blood on our hands visible, unmistakable. A limb, a shoulder, a hunk of flesh dripping real blood, from the rubble beneath the bulldozer, the doorstep, from the child shot dead in the gunfight or buried under the house, from the bomb shelters of Baghdad and from the bloody busses of Tel Aviv. A bone red with blood to say: This is what colonization requires: blood soaked sand, holy earth defiled with death, human sacrifice." -- STARHAWK


Julian Glover
Friday November 3, 2006
The Guardian

America is now seen as a threat to world peace by its closest neighbours and allies, according to an international survey of public opinion published today that reveals just how far the country's reputation has fallen among former supporters since the invasion of Iraq.

Carried out as US voters prepare to go to the polls next week in an election dominated by the war, the research also shows that British voters see George Bush as a greater danger to world peace than either the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, or the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Both countries were once cited by the US president as part of an "axis of evil", but it is Mr Bush who now alarms voters in countries with traditionally strong links to the US.

It exposes high levels of distrust. In Britain, 69% of those questioned say they believe US policy has made the world less safe since 2001, with only 7% thinking action in Iraq and Afghanistan has increased global security.

The finding is mirrored in America's immediate northern and southern neighbours, Canada and Mexico, with 62% of Canadians and 57% of Mexicans saying the world has become more dangerous because of US policy.

In Britain 71% of voters now say the invasion was unjustified, a view shared by 89% of Mexicans and 73% of Canadians. Canada is a Nato member whose troops are in action in Afghanistan. Neither do voters think America has helped advance democracy in developing countries, one of the justifications for deposing Saddam Hussein. Only 11% of Britons and 28% of Israelis think that has happened.

As a result, Mr Bush is ranked with some of his bitterest enemies as a cause of global anxiety. He is outranked by Osama bin Laden in all four countries, but runs the al-Qaida leader close in the eyes of UK voters: 87% think the al-Qaida leader is a great or moderate danger to peace, compared with 75% who think this of Mr Bush.

The US leader and close ally of Tony Blair is seen in Britain as a more dangerous man than the president of Iran (62% think he is a danger), the North Korean leader (69%) and the leader of Hizbullah, Hassan Nasrallah (65%).

October 20, 2006
The Australian

From correspondents in Geneva

THE International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said today a controversial new anti-terror law approved by President George W. Bush this week undermined international humanitarian law.

ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger warned that the Military Commissions Act "disrupts" part of the Geneva Conventions that are regarded as "elementary considerations of humanity".

"Our preliminary reading of the new legislation raised news concerns and questions," Mr Kellenberger said in an interview published on the humanitarian agency's website.

The new law signed by Mr Bush on Wednesday allows secret overseas CIA prisons, harsh interrogation practices and military trials as weapons against suspected terrorists.

The measure, which US lawmakers approved last month after a bitter election-year debate over national security and civil liberties, also allows the US to detain alleged terrorists indefinitely, US officials said.

Mr Kellenberger raised concerns about the "very broad definition" of 'an unlawful enemy combatant' and the fact that there is not an explicit prohibition on the admission of evidence obtained by coercion

The new US law also omitted parts of a key section common to all parts of the Geneva Conventions - Article 3, prohibiting humiliating and degrading treatment and denial of the right to fair trial, while retaining others, Mr Kellenberger said.

"This distinction between the different violations disrupts the integrity of common Article 3."

"Over time, the protections enunciated in common Article 3 came to be regarded as so fundamental to preserving humanity in war that its rules are now referred to as elementary considerations of humanity that must be observed in any type of armed conflict", the ICRC chief said.

Mr Kellenberger underlined that it was "a minimum" that countries are bound to apply in its entirety.

October 16, 2006
Mark Tran, Guardian Unlimited

US policy in Iraq is not working and George Bush should consider radical changes, according to a top-level panel backed by the president.

With the White House coming under increasing pressure over the carnage in Iraq, the recommendations from the bipartisan 10-member panel, led by former secretary of state James Baker, could provide political cover for Mr Bush, should he decide to change course.

Two options under consideration would involve withdrawing American troops in phases, and bringing Iraq's neighbours, Iran and Syria, into a joint effort to stop the fighting, the Los Angeles Times reported today.

In a press conference last week, Mr Bush reiterated his position that the US would not leave Iraq "until the job was done".

He told reporters that if the US abandoned Iraq before it could defend itself, "the terrorists would take control... and establish a new safe haven from which to launch new attacks on America". Mr Bush has rejected calls for a timetable for withdrawal.

But calls are growing from even senior Republicans for changes as long as it does not mean an abrupt precipitous withdrawal that could leave Iraq in the grip of full-scale civil war.

October 14, 2006
Ian McPhedran, Article from: Herald-Sun

THE American-led coalition in Iraq has received a major setback, with Britain's army chief saying his troops should be out of Iraq "some time soon".

General Sir Richard Dannatt said the presence of British troops in Iraq had exacerbated global security problems.

His pro-withdrawal position flies in the face of the policies adopted by key coalition countries, including Australia and the United States, and is a direct attack on British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

"I don't say the difficulties we are experiencing around the world are caused by our presence in Iraq, but undoubtedly our presence in Iraq exacerbates them," General Dannatt told the Daily Mail newspaper.

He said Britain should "get ourselves out sometime soon because our presence exacerbates the security problems".

"We are in a Muslim country and Muslims' views of foreigners in their country are quite clear . . . As a foreigner, you can be welcomed by being invited in a country, but we weren't invited certainly by those in Iraq at the time," General Dannatt said.

He said the military campaign fought in 2003 effectively kicked Iraq's door in. "Whatever consent we may have had in the first place . . . has largely turned to intolerance," he said.

Thursday October 12, 2006

Richard Horton, The Guardian

The government will do all it can to discredit the latest estimate of civilian casualties since the invasion: 650,000

Many people refused to believe the Lancet report in 2004 from a group of American and Iraqi public-health scientists who surveyed homes across the country and found that about 100,000 additional Iraqi deaths had taken place since the coalition invasion in March 2003. Several government ministers were deployed to destroy the credibility of the findings and, in large part, they succeeded. But now their denials have come back to haunt them, for the figures from Iraq have been confirmed by a further study.

The same team from Johns Hopkins University worked with Iraqi doctors to visit over 1,800 homes in Iraq, selected randomly to make sure that no bias could creep in to their calculations.

They identified more than 12,000 family members and tracked those who had died over an interval that spanned both pre- and post-invasion periods. The Iraqi interviewers spoke fluent English as well as Arabic, and they were well trained to collect the information they were seeking. They asked permission from every family to use the data they wanted. And they chased down death certificates in over four out of five cases to make sure that they had a double check on the numbers and causes of death given to them by family members.

And finally, we can truthfully say that our foreign policy - based as it is on 19th-century notions of the nation-state - is long past its sell-by date. We need a new set of principles to govern our diplomacy and military strategy - principles that are based on the idea of human security and not national security, health and wellbeing and not economic self-interest and territorial ambition.

The best hope we can have from our terrible misadventure in Iraq is that a new political and social movement will grow to overturn this politics of humiliation. We are one human family. Let's act like it.

· Richard Horton is the editor of the Lancet


28 September 2006.

Guardian Unlimited
Peter Walker
The Iraq war is currently costing US taxpayers around $2bn (£1.07bn) a week, as the military replaces damaged equipment and tries to establish more permanent bases, reports in US newspapers said today.

A report by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service projected that the war would cost $110bn for the fiscal year 2007, the Houston Chronicle said.

This would be a 20% rise on last year and almost double the monetary cost of the first year of the war, a report in the Boston Globe said.

According to the Globe, the report estimated that once Congress approved two pending bills on military spending, total war costs since the September 11 2001 attacks would have exceeded $500bn, of which $379bn had been spent on Iraq, $97bn in Afghanistan and $26bn on improving the security of US military bases elsewhere.

The costs had increased despite a levelling off of US troop numbers in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the report, the extra money was being used in part because of a greater intensity of attacks on American forces, the Boston Globe said.

... Although the US military has said it does not want to maintain a long-term presence in either country, it is building semi-permanent bases to support troops, suggesting a recognition that the deployments might be long ones.


The World Today - Wednesday, 27 September , 2006

Reporter: Kim Landers

PETER CAVE: In the United States, President George Bush has bowed to pressure and released parts of a damning intelligence report that details how the war in Iraq has fuelled international terrorism.

First leaked in the New York Times, the excerpts declassified by the White House describe the Iraq conflict as a "cause celebre" for jihadists.

The report from 16 of Washington's key intelligence agencies goes on to describe how the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives.

Even Pakistan, one of America's crucial allies, is now openly disagreeing with the White House about the effect of the Iraq war on terrorism.

KIM LANDERS: It was a report that was never meant to be made public.

Compiled by veteran analysts from 16 US intelligence agencies, it declares that Iraq has become a "cause celebre" for global terror, "cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement".

Despite that, President George W. Bush still rejects any suggestion that the Iraq invasion was a mistake.


9 September 2006.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Senate Report on Iraqi WMD Intelligence (formally, the "Report of the Select Committee on Intelligence on the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq") was the report by the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concerning the U.S. intelligence community's assessments of Iraq during the time leading up to the 2003 U.S. invasion. The report, which was released on July 9, 2004, identified numerous failures in the intelligence-gathering and -analysis process. The report found that these failures led to the creation of inaccurate materials that misled both government policy makers and the American public.



By David Stout

WASHINGTON, Sept. 8 — The Senate Intelligence Committee said today that there is no evidence that Saddam Hussein had prewar ties to Al Qaeda ...

The intelligence committee report notes that the Central Intelligence Agency concluded that, despite rumors of contacts between two of the Sept. 11 hijackers and members of the Hussein regime, “We have no credible information that Baghdad was complicit in the attacks on the Pentagon or the World Trade Center on 11 September or any other Al Qaeda strike.”


"War on Terror”
By Professor Noam Chomsky

Amnesty International Annual Lecture Hosted by Trinity College
Date: 18th January 2006

"Terror' is a term that rightly arouses strong emotions and deep concerns. The primary concern should, naturally, be to take measures to alleviate the threat, which has been severe in the past, and will be even more so in the future. To proceed in a serious way, we have to establish some guidelines."

So begins Noam Chomsky's article. It is all too clear, it lays out just how off the rails American Foreign Policy is. It becomes clear, who is causing the problem.

   " It is common to say that no WMD were found in Iraq after exhaustive search. That is not quite accurate, however. There were stores of WMD in Iraq: namely, those produced in the 1980s, thanks to aid provided by the US and Britain, along with others.

   These sites had been secured by UN inspectors, who were dismantling the weapons. But the inspectors were dismissed by the invaders and the sites were left unguarded. The inspectors nevertheless continued to carry out their work with satellite imagery. They discovered sophisticated massive looting of these installations in over 100 sites, including equipment for producing solid and liquid propellant missiles, biotoxins and other materials usable for chemical and biological weapons, and high-precision equipment capable of making parts for nuclear and chemical weapons and missiles."

This is one of the most comprehensive articles on terrorism. It reveals the fallacies, the weakness of the present approach, which has led to disaster for everyone involved.



10 Sep 2006
By Steve Crawshaw, Human Rights Watch London

In the lead-up to the Iraq war in 2003, Colin Powell told a “first-hand” story of how Saddam Hussein supported biological and chemical weapons training for al Qaeda. The story, gained from an al Qaeda operative tortured in Egypt, later proved to be untrue. One CIA source was quoted: “This is the problem with using the waterboard [being held under water until you think you will die]. They get so desperate that they begin telling you what they think you want to hear.”

Moral and practical arguments are inextricably intertwined. If some torture is justifiable in pursuit of the greater good, why not all torture? If the suspected terrorist is too hard a nut to crack, why not torture the man’s wife or daughter? Is that not an acceptable price to pay to save lives?

The simple answer is no. Torture degrades the torturer and those who condone it; acceptance of torture undermines the very foundations—and thus the security—of our society. Rules do matter, even if some of our politicians seem reluctant to confront that truth. Iraq today is a country full of ticking bombs. On the face of it, this would seem to be an obvious case where more torture could help keep everyone safer. If you torture hundreds or thousands of alleged radicals, one might confess where or when the next bomb will be placed. In reality, the shameful use of torture has only helped plunge Iraq into ever deeper instability.


More about torture:

Pentagon Spends Billions to Outsource Torture

The Torture Myth

Torture and Abuse, Recent Work from Human Rights Watch


Proposed Military Commissions Deeply Flawed
6 Sep 2006

President George W. Bush’s defense of abusing detainees betrays basic American and global standards, Human Rights Watch said today. " Although the president adamantly denied that the U.S. government uses torture, the United States has used practices such as waterboarding that can only be called torture. " Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch

Despite the euphemisms that Bush employed in his nationwide address this afternoon, the “alternative set of [interrogation] procedures” that he tried to justify includes grossly abusive treatment.

Detainees in the custody of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have been “disappeared,” and by numerous credible reports, tortured. While the Bush administration’s announcement that it transferred 14 so-called high-value detainees from CIA to military custody is an important step forward – one that Human Rights Watch has long called for – this advance is limited by the president’s stated intention of leaving the door open for future CIA detentions.

“President Bush’s speech was a full-throated defense of the CIA’s detention program and of the ‘alternative procedures’ – read torture – that the CIA has used to extract information from detainees,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “Although the president adamantly denied that the U.S. government uses torture, the United States has used practices such as water boarding that can only be called torture.”

... In his speech, President Bush claimed that useful information has been obtained using such “alternative” techniques, but he pointedly omitted mentioning the information obtained from Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, one of the first top suspects placed in CIA detention. Al-Libi was excluded from President Bush’s long narrative of successful detainee captures because under “enhanced interrogation” al-Libi reportedly told interrogators that Iraq had provided chemical and biological weapons training to al Qaeda. This information – which turned out to be entirely wrong – was used in Secretary of State Colin Powell’s speech to the United Nations to justify war with Iraq. Sources later told ABC News that al-Libi “had no knowledge of such training or weapons and fabricated the statements because he was terrified of further harsh treatment.” HRW



Sunday, October 12, 2003
by the Los Angeles Times

Officials confirm that the nation can now launch atomic weapons from land, sea and air. The issue complicates efforts to rein in Iran.
by Douglas Frantz

TEL AVIV -- Israel has modified American-supplied cruise missiles to carry nuclear warheads on submarines, giving the Middle East's only nuclear power the ability to launch atomic weapons from land, air and beneath the sea, according to senior Bush administration and Israeli officials.

The previously undisclosed submarine capability bolsters Israel's deterrence in the event that Iran — an avowed enemy — develops nuclear weapons. It also complicates efforts by the United States and the United Nations to persuade Iran to abandon its suspected nuclear weapons program.

Two Bush administration officials described the missile modification and an Israeli official confirmed it. All three spoke on condition their names not be used.

The Americans said they were disclosing the information to caution Israel's enemies at a time of heightened tensions in the region and concern over Iran's alleged ambitions.

Iran denies developing nuclear weapons and says its nuclear program is solely for generating electricity. Iranian leaders are resisting more intrusive inspections by the United Nations, setting the stage for a showdown in coming weeks.

The U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency has given Tehran an Oct. 31 deadline to accept full inspections and prove it has no nuclear arms program.

"You are never going to be able to address the Iranian nuclear ambitions or the issues of Egypt's chemical weapons and possible biological weapons program without bringing Israel's nuclear program into the mix."
          Joseph Cirincione
        Carnegie Endowment for International Peace


Human Rights Watch, (New York, July 23, 2006)

Abusive Techniques Were Authorized, Soldiers' Complaints Ignored

– Torture and other abuses against detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq were authorized and routine, even after the 2004 Abu Ghraib scandal, according to new accounts from soldiers in a Human Rights Watch report released today. The new report, containing first-hand accounts by U.S. military personnel interviewed by Human Rights Watch, details detainee abuses at an off-limits facility at Baghdad airport and at other detention centers throughout Iraq.

In the 53-page report, "No Blood, No Foul: Soldiers' Accounts of Detainee Abuse in Iraq," soldiers describe how detainees were routinely subjected to severe beatings, painful stress positions, severe sleep deprivation, and exposure to extreme cold and hot temperatures. The accounts come from interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch, supplemented by memoranda and sworn statements contained in declassified documents.

"Soldiers were told that the Geneva Conventions did not apply, and that interrogators could use abusive techniques to get detainees to talk," said John Sifton, the author of the report and the senior researcher on terrorism and counterterrorism at Human Rights Watch. "These accounts rebut U.S. government claims that torture and abuse in Iraq was unauthorized and exceptional – on the contrary, it was condoned and commonly used."

The accounts reveal that detainee abuse was an established and apparently authorized part of the detention and interrogation processes in Iraq for much of 2003-2005. They also suggest that soldiers who sought to report abuse were rebuffed or ignored.

... According to the interrogator:
He [the MI officer] was very specific about it. He didn't say, ‘I want you guys to go nuts on these guys,' but he was very specific about what he wanted . . . Later, we had a few dogs on these guys too [i.e., used dogs to intimidate the detainees], and all the whole thing . . . [The MI officer] said, you know, ‘I've got these dog handlers, these MPs, they are going to come in and you're gonna use them in the interrogation.' . . . [W]e were making these guys do MPT [exercise], which were pretty rough on them. And the stretch positions were pretty rough on them too . . . you know, like kneeling in the gravel, walking on your knees in the gravel . . . having them stand with outstretched arms with water bottles in [their] hands for extended periods of time. Crawling through the gravel. And the guards in the prison were helping with this.

"They told us that they're enemy combatants, they're not POWs, and so we can do all this stuff to them and so forth," the interrogator said.

Human Rights Watch has previously condemned Iraqi insurgent groups for routinely violating international humanitarian law, carrying out abductions and attacks against civilians and humanitarian aid workers, and detonating hundreds of bombs in bazaars, mosques and other civilian areas. Human Rights Watch has stated that those responsible for violations, including the leaders of these groups, should, if captured, be investigated and prosecuted for violations of Iraqi law and the laws of war.

To read the report, "No Blood, No Foul: Soldiers' Accounts of Detainee Abuse in Iraq," please visit: http://hrw.org/reports/2006/us0706/


Administration Should Try Suspects in U.S. Courts

(Washington, D.C., June 29, 2006)

   The Supreme Court’s decision today rejecting the unfair military commissions at Guantánamo Bay upholds the U.S. tradition of fair trials and advances the important fight against terrorism, Human Rights Watch said today. The court’s ruling may require that greater legal protections be given to all detainees held in the global “war on terror,” including Guantánamo prisoners and “ghost detainees.”

“We welcome the Supreme Court’s repudiation of a system that failed to meet basic standards for a fair trial,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “The Bush administration should now focus on properly prosecuting terror suspects and providing justice for their victims. That means the U.S. must end the abusive interrogation techniques that hamper its ability to put these men on trial.”

In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the Supreme Court decided 5-3, with Chief Justice John Roberts not participating, that President George W. Bush did not have authority to set up the tribunals at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and found the commissions illegal under both military justice law and the Geneva Conventions.



David Rose
Sunday June 18, 2006
The Observer

   After three inmates killed themselves, the Pentagon declared the suicides an act of 'asymmetric warfare', banned the media and went on a PR offensive. But as despair grows within the camp, so too does outrage mount at its brutal and secretive regime

In Guantanamo Bay's Alpha Block, the night was like any other: sweltering and seemingly endless. Although the temperature was down to the high 70s outside, the block's steel roof and walls were radiating heat, and in the two facing rows of 24 cells it felt little cooler than it had at midday. 'The nights are worse than the days,' the British former prisoner Shafiq Rasul recalled yesterday. 'You hear the rats running and scratching. The bugs go mad and there's no air. Especially where that block is: there's no breeze whatsoever.'

According to Guantanamo's rules, a six-person team of military police should have been patrolling constantly, and as usual the bright neon lights stayed on. A guard should have passed each detainee's cell every 30 seconds. 'From the landing, you can see right into every cell,' said Rasul. 'They don't have doors, just gates made from wide-spaced mesh. There's no privacy. If you hang up a towel because you want to go to the toilet, they make you take it down.'



By Richard Waddington, Geneva May 4, 2006

TORTURE and other inhumane treatment is widespread in US-run detention centres in Afghanistan, Iraq, Cuba and elsewhere despite US denials, Amnesty International says.

In a report for the United Nations Committee against Torture, the rights group also alleged abuses in the US domestic law enforcement system, including excessive force by police and degrading conditions of isolation for inmates in high-security prisons.

"Evidence continues to emerge of widespread torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of detainees held in US custody," Amnesty said in its 47-page report yesterday. While Washington sought to blame abuses that have come to light on "aberrant soldiers and lack of oversight", much ill-treatment stemmed from officially sanctioned interrogation methods, Amnesty said.

"The US Government is not only failing to take steps to eradicate torture, it is actually creating a climate in which torture and other ill-treatment can flourish," Amnesty International US senior deputy director-general Curt Goering said.

The UN committee, whose experts carry out periodic reviews of countries signatory to the UN Convention against Torture, is scheduled to begin consideration of the US tomorrow.

It said in November that it wanted answers from the US to questions including whether Washington had secret detention centres abroad and whether President George Bush had the power to absolve anyone from criminal responsibility in torture cases.

In its own submission to the committee, published late last year, Washington justified the holding of thousands of foreign terrorism suspects in detention centres abroad on the grounds that it was fighting a war.

"Like other wars, when they start, we do not know when they will end. Still, we may detain combatants until the end of the war," it said.

Amnesty listed a series of incidents involving torture of detainees in US custody, noting the heaviest sentence given to perpetrators was five months' jail. This was the same punishment you could get for stealing a bicycle in the US, it said.


This is an expanded version of the afterword to Noam Chomsky's new book
(Metropolitan Books, 2006).

27 April 06
Afterword: Failed States
Noam Chomsky

This afterword gets to the heart of the main issues in the world today. Not only that, in a few pages he outlines what the US could do (if only someone was listening!) to start to make things right. This is a particularly interesting article.
    Just to whet your appetite, here are some comments about Iran.

" Washington's dedicated efforts to punish Iran for overthrowing the tyranny of the Shah in 1979 might backfire. Iran does have options. Iran might give up on hopes that Europe could become independent of the US, and turn eastward. If that happens, Iran will have reasons, which have rarely been discussed in Western commentary on the confrontation over Iranian uranium enrichment programs. In a rare break from the silence, the reasons are discussed by Selig Harrison, a leading specialist on these topics. "The nuclear negotiations between Iran and the European Union were based on a bargain that the EU, held back by the US, has failed to honour," Harrison observes:

Iran agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment efforts temporarily pending the outcome of discussions on a permanent enrichment ban. The EU promised to put forward proposals for economic incentives and security guarantees in return for a permanent ban but subsequently refused to discuss security issues. The language of the joint declaration that launched the negotiations on November 14 2004, was unambiguous. "A mutually acceptable agreement," it said, would not only provide "objective guarantees" that Iran's nuclear programme is "exclusively for peaceful purposes" but would "equally provide firm commitments on security issues."

The phrase "security issues" is a thinly veiled reference to the threats by the US and Israel to bomb Iran, and the well-publicized preparations to carry out such an attack. The model regularly adduced is Israel's bombing of Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981, which appears to have initiated Saddam's nuclear weapons programs, another demonstration that violence tends to elicit violence in reaction. Any attempt to execute similar plans against Iran could lead to immediate violence, as is surely understood in Washington. During a visit to Teheran, the influential Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr warned that his militia would defend Iran in the case of any attack, "one of the strongest signs yet," the Washington Post reported, "that Iraq could become a battleground in any Western conflict with Iran, raising the specter of Iraqi Shiite militias -- or perhaps even the U.S.-trained Shiite-dominated military -- taking on American troops here in sympathy with Iran." The Sadrist bloc, which registered substantial gains in the December 2005 elections, may soon become the most powerful single political force in Iraq. It is consciously pursuing the model of other successful Islamist groups, such as Hamas in Palestine, combining strong resistance to military occupation with grassroots social organizing and service to the poor."



May 3, 2006

David Hicks has every right to be less than gracious towards his American hosts.

Mean-spirited treatment of Hicks highlights the travesty perpetrated, writes Mark Baker.

THE multinational persecution of Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks has reached new heights of cruelty and absurdity.

Four and a half years after his arrest in Afghanistan while fraternising with the Taliban, Hicks is back in solitary confinement — still abandoned by his own Government; still denied the British passport that might secure his freedom, despite two court rulings in his favour; still a prized white scapegoat for a Bush Administration increasingly desperate to paper over its own Middle East misadventures.

Now, the 30-year-old Adelaide man is in fresh trouble — for being an ungrateful, unco-operative and uppity guest of the United States of America.

"He can be disruptive … He's not overly co-operative with the guards. He's a bit arrogant in his demeanour with us," complains Guantanamo commandant Colonel Mike Bumgarner. "Mr Hicks is always asking for special privileges and extra items beyond that which other detainees get. It's just been his nature … He likes to have a special menu. He sees himself as different from the other detainees for some reason."

And what sparked this scolding? Hicks, it appears, has gone on a laundry strike — refusing a change of clothes and linen after being denied a clean towel. "He was upset that he wasn't issued a second towel, one beyond that which other detainees had been issued," the colonel complained to the ABC.

All this might be dismissed as some kind of sad joke if it did not open a window on the Dickensian pettiness and inhumanity of the Cuban Alcatraz where the US continues to hold hundreds of men beyond the reach of international law, beyond the reach of its own courts, beyond the pale.

David Hicks has every right to be less than gracious towards his American hosts.

Arrested by Americans in a country far from America, he was, by his and other independent accounts, systematically beaten and digitally raped while held aboard a US Navy ship.


April 14, 2006
U.S.: Rumsfeld Potentially Liable for Torture.
Defense Secretary Allegedly Involved in Abusive Interrogation

(New York, April 14, 2006) – Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld could be criminally liable for the torture of a detainee at Guantanamo Bay in late 2002 and early 2003, Human Rights Watch said today.

A December 20, 2005 Army Inspector General's report, obtained by Salon.com this week, contains a sworn statement by Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt that implicates Secretary Rumsfeld in the abuse of detainee Mohammad al-Qahtani. Based on an investigation that he carried out in early 2005, which included two interviews with Rumsfeld, Gen. Schmidt describes the defense secretary as being "personally involved" in al- Qahtani's interrogation.




Jorge Hirsch interviewed by
Foaad Khosmood
April 10, 2006

   Foaad Khosmood: In the April 17 issue of New Yorker Magazine Seymour Hersh has an eye-opening piece that quotes Administration insiders who suggest nuclear war with Iran is a serious option. You had written back in October of 2005 that "The strategic decision by the United States to nuke Iran was probably made long ago." What led you to that conclusion at that time? What do you think of the Hersh piece?

   Jorge Hirsch: Of course the Hersh piece is extremely useful in bringing this issue to the forefront of public attention. However already several months ago an analysis of the facts led me to the conviction that a deliberate decision had been made to use nuclear weapons against Iran. First, the US pursuit over several years to get an IAEA resolution against Iran, no matter how weak, which it finally achieved in September 2005.

It didn't make any sense as a diplomatic move if the goal was to exert pressure on Iran, in view of the clear dissent by Russia and China. It had two purposes: one was to bring the issue eventually to the UN Security Council, even knowing that Russia and China would veto any action against Iran, so that, just as in the case of Iraq, the US could argue that other countries share its concern but not the resolve to act. But more importantly, the US issued a commitment to the UN in 1995 that it wouldn't use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries signatories of the NPT, which however explicitly excluded countries that are in "non-compliance" with the NPT. So by securing the IAEA resolution of September 2005 of Iran's "non-compliance" the US achieved that it can now use nuclear weapons against Iran "legally", i.e. without violating its 1995 commitment. This explains why it was pushing for it so adamantly.



· US 'intent on Iran attack'
· Bush accused of 'messianic' mission

Julian Borger in Washington and Bob Tait in Tehran
Monday April 10, 2006
The Guardian

The US is planning military action against Iran because George Bush is intent on regime change in Tehran - and not just as a contingency if diplomatic efforts fail to halt its suspected nuclear weapons programme, it was reported yesterday.

In the New Yorker magazine, Seymour Hersh, America's best known investigative journalist, concluded that the Bush administration is even considering the use of a tactical nuclear weapon against deep Iranian bunkers, but that top generals in the Pentagon are attempting to take that option off the table.



London 6 March 2006

The Archbishop of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans, has called the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay an "extraordinary legal anomaly" that sets a dangerous precedent.

"I think what we've got in Guantanamo is an extraordinary legal anomaly (...) creating a new category of custody imprisonment," Archbishop Rowan Williams said today in an interview with BBC television.

"These are not people who've been found guilty," Williams said during a tour of Sudan.

Since the September 11 attacks in the United States in 2001, about 750 people have been held at Guantanamo Bay, a US Navy base in Cuba, but only 10 have been formally charged as terrorists. Most were captured after the US-led war that toppled the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

"Now, precedents matter in law, nationally and internationally," Williams said.

"Any message given, that any state can just override some of the basic habeas corpus-type provisions, is going to be very welcome to tyrants elsewhere in the world, now and in the future," he said.



18 February 2006

   "The United States owes it to itself to uphold its own standards, close its prison camp and grant alleged terrorists fair trials.

  Gulag. The word has particularly ugly connotations. Having been first used to describe repressive prisons or forced-labour camps in the former Soviet Union, it brings to mind the worst breaches of human rights in Stalinist Russia - detention without trial, torture, executions. Until recently it was a term associated only with the least democratic of political regimes. Yet it is the word Amnesty International used in its annual report last year to describe the Guantanamo Bay prison camp at the US Naval Base in Cuba. That report accused the US of being responsible for an upsurge in global human rights violations and called for the camp to be closed. President Bush dismissed the report as absurd and his Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, called the label "reprehensible".

Now the United Nations, in a 54-page report produced by independent experts for the UN Human Rights Commission, has repeated the call for closure and has strongly condemned the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. It points to cases of "excessive violence" during transportation of prisoners and force-feeding of hunger strikers, which it says "must be assessed as amounting to torture", and has paid particular attention to the lack of a recognised legal process. It found that the US military acted as judge, prosecutor and defence in the special trials because they regard the detainees as "enemy combatants" who were not entitled to the rights accorded by the Geneva Conventions to prisoners of war at the conclusion of a war. The UN report maintains that the war on terror "does not constitute an armed conflict for the purposes of the applicability of international humanitarian law" and so US authorities must "expeditiously bring all Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial" under international law "or release them without further delay".

Adding to the pressure on the US, the European Parliament this week voted overwhelmingly for a resolution urging that the prison be closed and inmates given a fair trial, and a British High Court judge called for the repatriation of three British residents. He observed:   "America's idea of what is torture is not the same as ours and does not appear to coincide with that of most civilised nations." ...    AGE EDITORIAL




Lisa Hajjar
December 9, 2005

(Lisa Hajjar, a professor in the Law and Society Program at the University of California-Santa Barbara, is the author of Courting Conflict: The Israeli Military Court System in the West Bank and Gaza [University of California Press], and an editor of Middle East Report.)

... Documents on US torture during the war on terrorism can be accessed at www.aclu.org. See also the torture-related posts at balkin.blogspot.com and www.intel-dump.com.

   The president who campaigned on a pledge to “restore honor and dignity to the White House” has now been compelled to declaim: “We abide by the law of the United States, and we do not torture.” In the closing months of 2005, President George W. Bush has been forced to repeat this undignified denial several times, most recently with the head of the World Health Organization standing beside him, because a dwindling number of people believe him.

    In fact, as witnessed by the International Committee for the Red Cross and as verified by numerous US military and intelligence officers, during the ongoing “war on terror” the United States has repeatedly employed interrogation tactics that constitute torture and inhumane treatment and are proscribed by the Geneva Conventions and US law. Of the 108 deaths of prisoners in custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002, at least 26 were classified as homicides, including cases where people were tortured, beaten, frozen or suffocated to death. In addition, and despite Bush’s denial, the US does “render to countries that torture” -- sending captured or kidnapped detainees off to Egypt, Jordan and other countries, where they have, on several documented occasions, suffered illegal forms of abuse.



U.S. Holding at Least Twenty-Six “Ghost Detainees”
List of Detainees Published by Human Rights Watch

(New York, December 1, 2005)

    The United States is holding at least twenty-six persons as “ghost detainees” at undisclosed locations outside of the United States, Human Rights Watch said today, as it released a list
(available online at:
http://hrw-news-unitedstates.c.topica.com/maaeg16abmyzna736pWb/ )
naming some of the detainees. The detainees are being held indefinitely and incommunicado, without legal rights or access to counsel.

   Many of the detainees listed are suspected of involvement in serious crimes, including the September 11, 2001 attacks; the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania; and the 2002 nightclub bombings in Bali, Indonesia. One of the detainees listed was indicted in U.S. federal court for his role in the 1998 embassy bombings. None of the other detainees has been charged with any crime. Officials in the U.S. government, speaking anonymously to journalists, have suggested that some detainees have been tortured or otherwise seriously mistreated in custody.

    “President Bush speaks about bringing terrorists to justice, yet not one of these suspects has actually been brought to justice,” said John Sifton, terrorism and counterterrorism researcher for Human Rights Watch. “The Bush administration has severely compromised the chances of prosecuting terrorist suspects by holding them illegally, and reportedly subjecting some of them to torture and other mistreatment.”

   Indefinite incommunicado detention and torture are illegal under international human rights law and the laws of war, and the mistreatment of detainees could subject U.S. officials to criminal liability.

   Related Material
List of “Ghost Prisoners” Possibly In CIA Custody
Background Briefing, December 1, 2005
available online at:

What Every American Should Know

   by Brian Bogart
September 25, 2005

... In the old days, universities solicited funds from their states (and states would provide a slice of their budgets). Today our schools increasingly beg for funds from DoD, the Department of Energy, and other firms directly connected to the industry of war. As I will explain in this essay, soliciting funds from the world's greatest war machine creates not just a partnership that contradicts the inherent purpose of enlightenment (a.k.a. higher education for a better future), but also a point of unity for those of us who see the big picture -- our 350-plus schools are 350-plus communities ready to network for change.

... So, I know a thing or two about conscience. But only after three-and-a-half years of intensive research (some 14 years after leaving the defense industry) did I come to appreciate the simple nature of the dilemma confronting a world dominated by a war-driven America, and to identify the opportunity presented today.

A single policy decision made in secluded chambers of the White House shortly after World War II explains why our financial and intellectual creativity focuses on lethal technologies, why 51% of our taxes go to defense and less than 5% to education, why there are 6000 military bases in the United States and some 1000 US bases overseas, why comprehensive agendas support warfighting and weak agendas address human services and the environment, and why our top industry since 1950 remains the manufacture and sale of weapons.


Soldiers Say Failures by Command Led to Abuse

Human Rights Watch
Leadership Failure: Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division
Report, September 25, 2005

   The new report, “Leadership Failure: Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division,” provides soldiers’ accounts of abuses against detainees committed by troops of the 82nd Airborne stationed at Forward Operating Base Mercury (FOB Mercury), near Fallujah.

   Three U.S. army personnel—two sergeants and a captain—describe routine, severe beatings of prisoners and other cruel and inhumane treatment. In one incident, a soldier is alleged to have broken a detainee’s leg with a baseball bat. Detainees were also forced to hold five-gallon jugs of water with their arms outstretched and perform other acts until they passed out. Soldiers also applied chemical substances to detainees’ skin and eyes, and subjected detainees to forced stress positions, sleep deprivation, and extremes of hot and cold. Detainees were also stacked into human pyramids and denied food and water. The soldiers also described abuses they witnessed or participated in at another base in Iraq and during earlier deployments in Afghanistan.

We have long ago lost our moral compass, so how can we lecture the Islamic world?

by Robert Fisk
September 18, 2005
The Independent

       ... takes a wander through some of the nastiest bits of the Bible and the Koran - those bits we prefer not to quote or not to think about - and finds that mass murder and ethnic cleansing get a pretty good bill of health if we take it all literally.

The Jewish "entry into the promised land" was clearly accompanied by bloody conquest and would-be genocide. The Christian tradition has absorbed this inheritance, entering its own "promised land" with a ruthlessness that extends to cruel anti-Semitism. The New Testament, Mr Shepherd points out, "contains passages that would ... be actionable under British laws against incitement to racial hatred" were they to be published fresh today.

The Muslim tradition - with its hatred of idolatry - contains, in the career of the Prophet, "scenes of bloodshed and murder which are shocking to modern religious sensibilities".

Thus, for example, Baruch Goldstein, the Israeli military doctor who massacred 29 Palestinians in Hebron in 1994, committed his mass murder on Purim, a festival celebrating the deliverance of the Jewish communities from the Persian empire which was followed by large-scale killing "to avenge themselves on their enemies" (Esther 8:13).

The Palestinians, of course, were playing the role of the Persians, at other times that of the Amalekites ("... kill man and woman, babe and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and donkey" - 1, Samuel 15:1, 3). The original "promised land" was largely on what is now the West Bank - hence the Jewish colonisation of Palestinian land - while the coastal plain was not (although suggestions that Israel should transplant itself further east, leaving Haifa, Tel Aviv and Ashkelon to the Palestinians of the West Bank are unlikely to commend themselves to Israel’s rulers).

... The New Testament is laced with virulent anti-Semitism, accusing the Jews of killing Christ. Read Martin Luther. The Koran demanded the forced submission of conquered peoples in the name of religion (the Koran 9:29), and Mohammed’s successor, the Caliph Abu Bakr, stated specifically that "we will treat as an unbeliever whoever rejects Allah and Mohammed, and we will make holy war upon him ... for such there is only the sword and fire and indiscriminate slaughter."


Taking Stock of the Forever War
New York Times

Published: September 11, 2005

       ... "The enemy is not a single political regime or person or religion or ideology," declared the National Security Strategy of the United States of America for 2002. "The enemy is terrorism - premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against innocents." Not Islamic terrorism or Middle Eastern terrorism or even terrorism directed against the United States: terrorism itself. "Declaring war on 'terror,"' as one military strategist later remarked to me, "is like declaring war on air power." It didn't matter; apocalypse, retribution, redemption were in the air, and the grandeur of the goal must be commensurate with the enormity of the crime. Within days of the attacks, President Bush had launched a "global war on terror."

... Today marks four years of war. Four years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. troops ruled unchallenged in Japan and Germany. During those 48 months, Americans created an unmatched machine of war and decisively defeated two great enemies. How are we to judge the global war on terror four years on? In this war, the president had warned, "Americans should not expect one battle but a lengthy campaign."

... As for the "terrorist groups of global reach," Al Qaeda, according to the president, has been severely wounded. "We've captured or killed two-thirds of their known leaders," he said last year. And yet however degraded Al Qaeda's operational capacity, nearly every other month, it seems, Osama bin Laden or one of his henchmen appears on the world's television screens to expatiate on the ideology and strategy of global jihad and to urge followers on to more audacious and more lethal efforts. This, and the sheer number and breadth of terrorist attacks, suggest strongly that Al Qaeda has now become Al Qaedaism - that under the American and allied assault, what had been a relatively small, conspiratorial organization has mutated into a worldwide political movement, with thousands of followers eager to adopt its methods and advance its aims. Call it viral Al Qaeda, carried by strongly motivated next-generation followers who download from the Internet's virtual training camp a perfectly adequate trade-craft in terror. Nearly two years ago, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, in a confidential memorandum, posed the central question about the war on terror: "Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?" The answer is clearly no. "We have taken a ball of quicksilver," says the counterinsurgency specialist John Arquilla, "and hit it with a hammer."

Killing Live 8, Noisily:
The G-8, Liberal Dissent and the London Bombings

Sheila Carapico
(Middle East Report) July 14, 2005

      The organizers of Live 8, the week-long, celebrity-driven musical campaign for increased aid and debt relief for poverty-stricken nations, plugged their July 6 concert in an Edinburgh stadium as "a celebration of the largest and loudest cry to make poverty history the world has ever seen." By rush hour the next morning, four coordinated bombings in the London transit system had stolen the show from the well-orchestrated international extravaganza and handed the microphone to Tony Blair and George W. Bush. Talk about a vast right-wing conspiracy: the London terrorists could not have done more to strengthen the hand of the world's richest states against dissident voices in the West and beyond if they had actually been in cahoots.



May 21 2005
The war on terror has emboldened those who argue that the evil of torture can sometimes serve a greater good. James Meek traces the slow corrosion of a once iron-clad principle.

      In October 2002, the commander of the interrogation teams at Guantanamo, Lieutenant- Colonel Jerald Phifer, pleads to be allowed to inflict more suffering on the prisoners ... put prisoners in solitary for 30 days or more, hood them, interrogate them continuously for up to 20 hours, subject them to sensory deprivation, take away their Korans, strip them naked, forcibly shave them, frighten them with dogs, deceive them into thinking they or members of their family are about to be killed or savagely tortured, "expose them" to cold temperatures or cold water, grab them, poke them, push them, and use the "waterboarding" technique, which involves covering the prisoner's mouth and nose with a cloth and pouring water into it so it forces itself down his throat and makes him believe he is about to drown. Phifer's memo makes it plain that a torture school exists in the US. "Any of these techniques that require more than light grabbing, poking, or pushing will be administered only by individuals specifically trained in their safe application," he writes.

... Prisoners were hooded, threatened with rape, threatened with torture, had pistols held to their heads, made to strip naked, forced to eat pork and drink alcohol, beaten until they bled - sometimes with implements, including a broom and a chair - hung from doors by cuffed hands, deceived into thinking they were to be electrocuted, ducked in toilet buckets, forced to simulate masturbation, forced to lie naked in a pile and be photographed, urinated on, menaced and, in one case, severely bitten by dogs, sodomised with a chemical light, ridden like horses, made to wear women's underwear, raped, deprived of sleep, exposed to the midday summer sun, put in stress positions and made to lie naked, in empty concrete cells, in complete darkness, for days on end.

...While at Bagram air force base, Hussain said, he was blindfolded, tightly handcuffed, gagged, earplugged and sodomised with a stick while three soldiers held him down. "It was excruciatingly painful," said Hussain. "I have always believed that I am not a person who would scream unless I was really hurt. Only when the pain became overwhelming did I think I would ever scream. But I could not stop screaming when this happened. This torture went on for several minutes, but it felt like hours, and the pain afterwards was almost as bad as anything I experienced at the time."

Hussain said that besides the physical pain, he could not go to the toilet to this day without remembering what had happened. "The Americans never said anything about why they were doing it to me," he said. "I think maybe they wanted to make me so embarrassed that it would live with me for the rest of my life. It would dehumanise me."

Hussain has never been charged with a crime. He was kept without explanation and released without apology after more than two years. When he got out, he learnt that his eldest son had died.


By Gary Hughes
May 14, 2005

   When Tony Blair's Labour Party was re-elected in Britain two weeks ago, the saga of the Iraq War begun in March 2003 seemed to be, in one sense, over.

All three leaders of the "Coalition of the Willing" - the United States, Australia and Great Britain - had survived politically after a war that divided citizens and challenged long established principles of international law.

The three leaders survived despite evidence - still emerging - that now seems to prove that the detailed justifications for the war were not only wrong, but in many cases known to be wrong or uncertain before the war began. This is the second battle for Iraq - the battle for the truth.

Thousands of pages of evidence, hundreds of hours of hearings, scores of witnesses and long lists of recommendations have been produced in Australia, the US and Britain as official inquiries have tried to establish who knew what and when.

The world now knows that the path to war in Iraq was paved with untruths, distortions and errors. There were no hidden stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the mobile biological warfare laboratories didn't exist, Iraq was not operating hand-in-hand with al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein's dream of developing a nuclear bomb was just that, a dream.

Doubts over the legality of the war have deepened. The case justifying military intervention has steadily fallen apart.

As the truth has slowly emerged, the political leaders who argued that war was essential to counter the threat from WMD have shifted ground. We are now told that regime change - the need to end Saddam Hussein's tyrannical rule - was justification enough.

The casualties in the battle for the truth have not been the politicians. They have been the western world's intelligence agencies, which according to official inquiries in Australia, the US and Britain, got it very wrong. They used a mishmash of outdated, exaggerated and simply false information from often doubtful sources to present a picture of an Iraq that threatened world peace. Political leaders in turn polished up and passed on that picture to the public to justify war.

The US presidential commission's report in March described the mistakes as "one of the most public - and most damaging - intelligence failures in recent American history".

The following is the best evidence to date about the Iraq war - what we were told then, and what has emerged since.



For the first time, an army insider blows the whistle on human rights abuses at Guantánamo

Paul Harris in New York
Sunday May 8, 2005
The Observer

   An American soldier has revealed shocking new details of abuse and sexual torture of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay in the first high-profile whistleblowing account to emerge from inside the top-secret base.

Erik Saar, an Arabic speaker who was a translator in interrogation sessions, has produced a searing first-hand account of working at Guantánamo. It will prove a damaging blow to a White House still struggling to recover from the abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.

In an exclusive interview, Saar told The Observer that prisoners were physically assaulted by 'snatch squads' and subjected to sexual interrogation techniques and that the Geneva Conventions were deliberately ignored by the US military.

He also said that soldiers staged fake interrogations to impress visiting administration and military officials. Saar believes that the great majority of prisoners at Guantánamo have no terrorist links and little worthwhile intelligence information has emerged from the base despite its prominent role in America's war on terror.

Saar paints a picture of a base where interrogations of often innocent prisoners have spiralled out of control, doing massive damage to America's image in the Muslim world.

Saar said events at Guantánamo were a disaster for US foreign policy. 'We are trying to promote democracy worldwide. I don't see how you can do that and run a place like Guantánamo Bay. This is now a rallying cry to the Muslim world,' he said.



Feb 2005
   The shameful Abu Ghraib scandal of Iraqi prisoner torture at the hands of American soldiers outraged the world.

   Who can forget the harrowing image of a hooded detainee, standing on a box, electric wires dangling from his hands? Or the depiction of a man, stripped naked, cowering in terror against the bars of a cell as soldiers threatened him with snarling dogs? Other prisoners were stripped, hooded, forced into sexually humiliating poses and photographed.

The torture and mistreatment of prisoners is not restricted to Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad and a few aberrant soldiers, as the US Government has claimed. A recent Amnesty International report, Human Dignity Denied: Torture and Accountability in the War on Terror, documents findings of torture and ill-treatment of detainees in US-administered prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

In the report, one of the eight Afghan soldiers arrested by US Special Forces on 1 March 2003 tells how he and fellow detainees were treated “like animals” when taken to the US base in Gardez. An investigation has revealed allegations that they were subjected to beatings, electric shocks and immersion in cold water during their 17 days in custody. One of the detainees, C, died in custody.



2 Feb 2005

New York, January 25, 2005) The Bush administration contends that no law prevents the Central Intelligence Agency from engaging in inhumane treatment of detainees abroad, Human Rights Watch said today.

"The prohibition of torture and inhumane treatment is absolute. It should never be read to legitimize the outsourcing of abuse to U.S. interrogators overseas." Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch

In responses to U.S. Senate inquiries, White House Counsel and Attorney General-nominee Alberto Gonzales claimed that the prohibition on cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment enshrined in a treaty the United States ratified in 1994 does not apply to U.S. personnel in the treatment of non-citizens abroad. While asserting that torture by all U.S. personnel was unlawful, Gonzales indicated that no law would prohibit the CIA from engaging in cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment when it interrogates non-Americans outside the United States. The interpretation would permit the CIA to commit in secret detention facilities abroad many of the shocking forms of abuse that took place at Abu Ghraib.

The Bush administration claims it rejects torture and inhumane treatment, but it continues to seek legal loopholes to permit abuse by U.S. interrogators, said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. This latest example of legal gymnastics shows once more that abuses by U.S. interrogators are the result of policy choices made at senior levels.



Alastair Crooke
Friday December 10, 2004
The Guardian

   The rhetoric that we in the west are engaged in "a war on terrorism" is so embedded in our thinking that most accept the phrase without question. So people in America and Britain recoil when it is suggested that they are not facing "terrorism" in the Middle East, but something quite different: a sophisticated, asymmetrical, broad-based and irregular insurgency.

Acts that we rightly label as "terrorism" do occur (and we certainly need to protect ourselves from them), but what the west is facing is a growing political insurgency. Terrorist acts are but a small tool to gain the psychological upper hand in a broader political struggle. Insistence on the terrorism label carries a high price. It has prompted the west to make the wrong assessment of what challenges we face in Muslim societies, and led us to deploy the wrong means to combat it.



Guardian Unlimited
Naomi Klein
Saturday December 4, 2004
The Guardian

       Dear Mr Johnson, On November 26, your press counsellor sent a letter to the Guardian taking strong exception to a sentence in my column of the same day. The sentence read: "In Iraq, US forces and their Iraqi surrogates are no longer bothering to conceal attacks on civilian targets and are openly eliminating anyone - doctors, clerics, journalists - who dares to count the bodies." Of particular concern was the word "eliminating".

    The letter suggested that my charge was "baseless" and asked the Guardian either to withdraw it, or provide "evidence of this extremely grave accusation"... Here, instead, is the evidence you requested.

    In April, US forces laid siege to Falluja in retaliation for the gruesome killings of four Blackwater employees. The operation was a failure, with US troops eventually handing the city back to resistance forces. The reason for the withdrawal was that the siege had sparked uprisings across the country, triggered by reports that hundreds of civilians had been killed. This information came from three main sources:

1) Doctors. USA Today reported on April 11 that "Statistics and names of the dead were gathered from four main clinics around the city and from Falluja general hospital".

2) Arab TV journalists. While doctors reported the numbers of dead, it was al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya that put a human face on those statistics. With unembedded camera crews in Falluja, both networks beamed footage of mutilated women and children throughout Iraq and the Arab-speaking world.

3) Clerics. The reports of high civilian casualties coming from journalists and doctors were seized upon by prominent clerics in Iraq. Many delivered fiery sermons condemning the attack, turning their congregants against US forces and igniting the uprising that forced US troops to withdraw.

US authorities have denied that hundreds of civilians were killed during last April's siege, and have lashed out at the sources of these reports. For instance, an unnamed "senior American officer", speaking to the New York Times last month, labelled Falluja general hospital "a centre of propaganda"...



By Tom Malinowski, Washington Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch

Published in The Washington Post

  "I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to four hours?"
So reads a note scrawled by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on a memo released by the Pentagon this week, in which he approved for Guantanamo interrogations techniques such as forcing them to stand, stripping detainees nude and threatening them with dogs.

With his characteristic cut-through-the-bull bluntness, Rumsfeld raised a valid question. If interrogators can use methods designed to inflict pain on prisoners, why should they be made to stop before the pain becomes difficult to bear? After all, forcing a prisoner to stand, so long as it's only for a short time, is a bit like allowing the use of hot irons, so long as they're only slightly above room temperature. The contradiction Rumsfeld noticed may help us understand how decisions made by senior officials and military commanders led to the abuse of prisoners in Abu Ghraib.

The policymakers apparently tried to have it both ways, approving highly coercive interrogation techniques, but with limits designed to assuage their consciences and satisfy their lawyers. They authorized or proposed painful "stress positions," but said that no one position could be used for more than 45 minutes. They allowed forced standing, but only for four hours; sleep deprivation, but only for 72 hours; exposure to heat and cold, but with medical monitoring; hooding, but not in a way that limits breathing; and nudity, but not the stacking of nude bodies.

Once these methods were applied in the field on prisoners considered to be hardened terrorists, however, interrogators did not respect the lawyers' boundaries. Indeed, they could not have respected them while still achieving their aim of forcing information from detainees. For by definition, these methods, euphemistically known as "stress and duress," can work only when applied beyond the limits of a prisoner's tolerance. Torture works only (if ever) when it truly feels like torture.

Perhaps one reason these stress and duress techniques were approved at all is that they sound innocuous. But as anyone who has worked with torture victims knows, they are the stock in trade of brutal regimes around the world. For example, the Washington Times recently reported that "[s]ome f the most feared forms of torture cited" by survivors of the North Korean gulag "were surprisingly mundane: Guards would force inmates to stand perfectly still for hours at a time, or make them perform exhausting repetitive exercises such as standing up and sitting down until they collapsed from fatigue."

Binding prisoners in painful positions is a torture technique widely used in countries such as China and Burma, and repeatedly condemned by the United States. Stripping Muslim prisoners nude to humiliate them was a common practice of the Soviet military when it occupied Afghanistan. As for sleep deprivation, consider former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin's account of experiencing it in a Soviet prison in the 1940s:

"In the head of the interrogated prisoner a haze begins to form. His spirit is wearied to death, his legs are unsteady, and he has one sole desire: to sleep, to sleep just a little, not to get up, to lie, to rest, to forget. . . . Anyone who has experienced this desire knows that not even hunger or thirst are comparable with it. . . . I came across prisoners who signed what they were ordered to sign, only to get what the interrogator promised them. He did not promise them their liberty. He promised them -- if they signed -- uninterrupted sleep!"

Rumsfeld eventually rescinded his approval of these cruel methods for Guantanamo. But they still ended up being authorized by commanders and used on prisoners throughout Afghanistan and Iraq. Former detainees report being forced to stand, sit or crouch for many hours, often in contorted positions, deprived of sleep for nights on end, held nude, doused with cold water and exposed to extreme heat.

It's not likely anyone was holding a stopwatch during this treatment or making sure that only "mild" pain and suffering resulted. Why would they have? For the limits that might have made the treatment more humane would also have rendered it ineffective in the eyes of interrogators.

Stress and duress interrogation techniques were invented in the dungeons of the world's most brutal regimes for only one purpose -- to cause pain, distress and humiliation, without physical scars. When Bush administration officials and military commanders told soldiers to use methods designed for that purpose, while still treating detainees "humanely," they were being naive at best and dishonest at worst. They should have known that once the purpose of inflicting pain is legitimized, those charged with the care and interrogation of prisoners will take it to its logical conclusion.


1,625 UN and US inspectors spent two years searching 1,700 sites at a cost of more than $1bn.

*Julian Borger in Washington
Thursday October 7, 2004
The Guardian

  Saddam Hussein destroyed his last weapons of mass destruction more than a decade ago and his capacity to build new ones had been dwindling for years by the time of the Iraq invasion, according to a comprehensive US report released yesterday. The report, the culmination of an intensive 15-month search by 1,200 inspectors from the CIA's Iraq Survey Group (ISG), concluded that Saddam had ambitions to restart at least chemical and nuclear programmes once sanctions were lifted.

However, concrete plans do not appear to have been laid down, let alone set in motion. Nor did Saddam issue direct verbal orders to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD). The main evidence of his intentions are his own cryptic remarks, and the meaning his aides inferred from them.

The ISG conclusions, delivered to Congress yesterday, are badly timed for George Bush's re-election bid, as they starkly contradict his pre-war claims as well as statements he has made on the campaign trail.

Even in recent days the president has insisted that, although Iraq had no WMD at the time of the war, it was a "gathering threat" which had to be confronted. Instead the ISG found Saddam represented a diminishing threat.



  "I've never seen a president --I don't care who he is-- stand up to them [the Israelis]. It just boggles your mind. They always get what they want. The Israelis know what's going on all the time. I got to the point where I wasn't writing anything down. If the American people understood what grip those people have on our government, they would rise up in arms. Our citizens don't have any idea what goes on." --Admiral Thomas Moorer of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

  "The Israeli Prime Minister has a lot more influence over the foreign policy of the United States in the Middle East than he has in his own country." -- Former Congressman Paul Findley, in his book They Dare to Speak Out, p. 92.

  "The Israelis control the policy in the congress and the senate ... somewhere around 80 percent of the senate of the United States is completely in support of Israel -- of anything Israel wants...." -- Chairman Senator Fullbright, 10/07/1973 on CBS' "Face the Nation".



First Bush, and now Putin, have picked up lessons for their wars on terror from Israel's campaign against the Palestinians

Naomi Klein
Friday September 10, 2004
The Guardian

  Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, is so fed-up with being grilled over his handling of the Beslan catastrophe that he lashed out at foreign journalists on Monday. "Why don't you meet Osama bin Laden, invite him to Brussels or the White House and engage in talks?" he demanded, adding that: "No one has a moral right to tell us to talk to child-killers."

  Fortunately for Putin, there is still one place where he is shielded from the critics: Israel. On Monday, Ariel Sharon welcomed the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, for a meeting about strengthening ties in the fight against terror. "Terror has no justification, and it is time for the free, decent, humanistic world to unite and fight this terrible epidemic," Sharon said.

  There is little to argue with there. The essence of terrorism is the deliberate targeting of innocents to further political goals. Any claims its perpetrators make to fighting for justice are morally bankrupt, and lead directly to the barbarity of Beslan: a carefully laid plan to slaughter hundreds of children.

  Yet sympathy alone does not explain the outpourings of solidarity for Russia coming from Israeli politicians this week. An unnamed Israeli official was quoted as saying that Russians "understand now that what they have is not a local terror problem but part of the global Islamic terror threat". The underlying message is unequivocal: Russia and Israel are engaged in the very same war, one not against Palestinians demanding their right to statehood, or against Chechens demanding their independence, but against "the global Islamic terror threat". Israel, as the elder statesman, is claiming the right to set the rules of war.


National Catholic Reporter,

October 2, 1998

  Tell people the truth, Mr. President--about terrorism. If deceptions about terrorism go unchallenged, then the threat will continue until it destroys us.

  The truth is that none of our thousands of nuclear weapons can protect us from these threats. No Star Wars system -- no matter how technically advanced, no matter how many trillions of dollars are poured into it -- can protect us from a nuclear weapon delivered in a sailboat or a Cessna or a suitcase or a Ryder rental truck. Not one weapon in our vast arsenal, not a penny of the $270 billion a year we spend on so-called defense can defend against a terrorist bomb. That is a military fact.

  As a retired lieutenant colonel and a frequent lecturer on national security issues, I have often quoted Psalm 33: "A king is not saved by his mighty army. A warrior is not saved by his great strength." The obvious reaction is, "Then what can we do? Is there nothing we can do to provide security for our people?"

There is. But to understand it requires that we know the truth about the threat.


by Professor James Petras

  Professor James Petras
   U.S.-Israel relations have been described in a variety of ways. Politicians refer to Israel as the U.S.'s most reliable ally in the Middle East, if not the world. Others speak of Israel as a strategic ally. Some speak of Israel and the U.S. sharing common democratic values in the war against terrorism. On the Left, critics speak of Israel as a tool of U.S. imperialism for undermining Arab nationalism, and a bulwark against fundamentalist Islamic terrorism. A few writers point to the "excess influence" which the Israeli governments exercise on U.S. government policy via powerful Jewish lobbies and individuals in media, financial and governmental circles.

While there is a grain of truth in much of the above there is a unique aspect in this relationship between an imperial power like the U.S. and regional power such as Israel. Unlike Washington's relation with the EU, Japan and Oceana, it is Israel which pressures and secures vast transfer of financial resources ($2.8 billion per year, $84 billion over 30 years). Israel secures the latest arms and technology transfers, unrestrictive entry into U.S. markets, free entry of immigrants, unconditional commitment of U.S. support in case of war and repression of colonized people and guaranteed U.S. vetoes against any UN resolutions.

From the angle of inter-state relations, it is the lesser regional power which exacts a tribute from the Empire, a seeming unique or paradoxical outcome. The explanation for this paradox is found in the powerful and influential role of pro-Israeli Jews in strategic sectors of the U.S. economy, political parties, Congress and Executive Branch. The closest equivalent to past empires is that of influential white settlers in the colonies, who through their overseas linkages were able to secure subsidies and special trading relations.


Friday August 20, 2004

Julian Borger, The Guardian

The CIA has taken much of the blame for the security lapses that led to 9/11 and the false intelligence on Iraq's WMDs. But now one spy has broken ranks to point the finger at the politicians - and warn that the war on terror could plunge the US into even greater danger.

These are not happy times at the CIA. In the space of a few short months, two official reports have found the agency principally to blame for failing to prevent the September 11 al-Qaida attack and for claiming that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt there is a lot of blame to go round. The twin fiascos rank as the worst intelligence failures since the second world war. But the two reports, by the September 11 Commission and the Senate Intelligence Committee respectively, were also testaments to political expedience. Both panels were made up of Republican and Democratic loyalists who reached a political compromise by going relatively easy on both Clinton and Bush administrations, and focused on institutional culprits. The CIA, without a defender after the resignation in July of its long-serving director, George Tenet, presented the easiest target.


(New York, July 16, 2004)

   Only an independent 9/11-style commission will be able to shed full light on U.S. treatment of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Human Rights Watch said today.

“Two and a half months after the first pictures from Abu Ghraib, only a few low-ranking soldiers have been called to account,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “There is growing evidence of a high-level policy of abuse. The world is still watching and waiting to see how the United States deals with these crimes.”

Important issues related to the treatment of detainees in the “war on terror” and in Iraq remain unanswered. These include: why inquiries into deaths in custody in Afghanistan and Iraq were so lackluster and late; why detainees were “rendered” to countries such as Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia where torture is systematic; how the administration justifies holding detainees incommunicado in 'undisclosed locations' in light of the United States’ historical condemnation of forced 'disappearances' in other countries; what interrogation techniques were in fact approved for detainees held in Iraq, Afghanistan, and by the CIA (and whether they differed from those authorized at Guantanamo); and how senior officials square the coercive interrogation they have acknowledged authorizing with treaties barring cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.


To read the report, “The Road to Abu Ghraib,” please see: http://www.hrw.org/reports/2004/usa0604/

JUNE 2004

  "The United States has carefully controlled information about the detainees at Guantánamo, barring them from most contact with the outside world.28 As a result, little is publicly known about the more than 700 detainees from forty-four countries, including children as young as 13, who have been held at Guantánamo.29 Human Rights Watch, and others, have had access only to detainees released from U.S. custody – and those released thus far are people whom U.S. authorities did not consider to be a security risk or indictable for criminal offenses. That is, none of them are the sort of high value or important detainees who might have been treated more harshly. What the world has been allowed to see of the Guantánamo detention facility are highly controlled tours for journalists (who have not been able to talk to detainees), and video material released by the U.S. Department of Defense. Guantánamo has been described as a “legal black hole” by Lord Johan Steyn, a judicial member of Britain’s House of Lords.30

Incommunicado detention has been consistently condemned by international human rights bodies as facilitating conditions under which torture and other mistreatment may take place.31

Statements by U.S. officials that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to al-Qaeda detainees -- indeed, the Bush administration’s refusal to acknowledge that any law applies to them -- and that harsher methods of interrogation are therefore permissible, only heighten this concern. In his January 2002 memo to the president, for instance, White House counsel Gonzales endorsed not applying the Conventions to Guantánamo to avoid “Geneva's strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners.”



28 June 2004

  The United States Supreme Court has taken a step towards restoring the rule of law for the hundreds of non-US nationals in military custody in Guantánamo Bay.

Today's ruling that the US courts have jurisdiction to consider challenges to the lawfulness of such detentions moves us one step closer to justice and accountability in the context of the USA's 'war on terror' detention policies.

The US administration chose the Guantánamo naval base as a location to hold indefinitely, hundreds of those it designated as "enemy combatants" because it believed that it could keep them out of the reach of the federal courts. Today's decision punctures this assumption.

The government should take this ruling to heart and adopt an approach that puts human rights and the rule of law at the centre of the pursuit of security.



Ahead of U.N. Resolution on Iraq, U.S. Tries to Exclude Its Troops from Prosecution
(New York, May 20, 2004)

The United States is insisting that its troops be exempt from international war crimes prosecutions while serving in any U.N. force in Iraq, despite U.S. abuse of prisoners there, Human Rights Watch said today.

Without prior notice to members of the U.N. Security Council, the United States yesterday demanded an immediate vote to renew contentious Security Council Resolution 1487. This measure grants immunity to personnel in U.N. authorized or approved operations from states that have not ratified the International Criminal Court (ICC) treaty.

A similar resolution granting immunity to U.S. peacekeepers was first adopted in July 2002, and was renewed by Resolution 1487 last year. Resolution 1487 does not require renewal for another five weeks.

“Given the recent revelations from Abu Ghraib prison, the U.S. government has picked one hell of a moment to ask for special treatment on war crimes,” said Richard Dicker, director of the International Justice program at Human Rights Watch. “The U.N. Security Council should not grant special favors to any country, including the United States.”


Sunday May 16, 2004
The Observer

Now the most powerful nation, the US feels destiny has chosen it to remake the world, says William Pfaff

  "The United States and Britain have an Iraq crisis on their hands, but the US has something worse, a crisis of thought and assumption in the mainstream intellectual community over foreign policy.

The second crisis involves much more than the derailment of US policy in Iraq. It concerns what has been done and said to redefine America's place in global society and, by implication, in contemporary history, since 11 September - after which, as Americans said, nothing could ever be the same. ... but this 'new' America amazingly resembles the isolationist and xenophobic America between 1920 and 1941. What is new is that it has become the most heavily-armed nation on Earth and believes it is, and should remain, number one.

. . . Americans were under attack by enemies who not only were multiple and elusive, malevolent and inventive, but who asserted their own outrageous claim to moral superiority over Americans, as well as a divine mandate of their own. The war on terror, with its adjunct war in Iraq, was meant to reconfirm this pre-eminence. Both, of course, have done the opposite. They have demonstrated the inability of badly overextended military power even to impose stability on the two countries in the developing world which the US has invaded."



13 May 2004

 Coercive interrogation methods endorsed by members of the US government amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and violate international law and the USA's treaty obligations.

Citing current and former officials, today's New York Times claims that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, an alleged leading member of al-Qa'ida held in an undisclosed location for more than a year, has been subjected to interrogation techniques including "water boarding" in which the prisoner is forcibly pushed under water to the point that he believes he will drown.

This would be a clear case of torture, -- water submersion is a technique that has been used by countries notorious for their use of torture.



Jeffrey Blankfort
April 22, 2004
  This is a comprehensive article on Israel's involvement in America's decision to go to war in Iraq. The connections are irrefutable. It would be a mistake to believe all Jewish people are involved in this linkage, there are many American Jewish people who vigorously opposed the war, and have done all they can to stop it; to mention only two: Noam Chomsky, and Starhawk.

  "There is virtually no sector of the American body politic that has been immune to the [American Jewish] lobby’s penetration. That its primary goal has not been to improve the security and well-being of the United States or the American people, but to advance the interests of a foreign country, namely Israel, may be debated, but it was acknowledged, in part, more than a dozen years ago by Sen. Howard Metzenbaum (D-Ohio), who complained to an annual conference of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council that “There’s only one issue members [of Congress] think is important to American Jews – Israel.”

  It was no secret that Israel had long been interested in eliminating the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and redrawing the map of the Middle East to enhance its power in the region. Initiating that undertaking became a task for key individuals in and around the White House with deep roots in right-wing Israeli politics. The attack on the World Trade Center supplied the opportunity. That Iraq had nothing to do with it was immaterial. The lobby’s propaganda apparatus would make the American people believe otherwise.

  The first step has been completed. Saddam Hussein has been removed, not by Israel, but by the U.S. and its “coalition of the willing.” From the perspective of the Israelis and, one must assume, the lobby, it is better that American and foreign soldiers do the shedding of blood, Iraqi and their own, rather than those of Israel, the world’s fourth ranked military power."



Saturday January 31
By STEPHEN GRAHAM, Associated Press Writer

"KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - The Afghan president on Saturday said a U.S. air strike this month killed 10 civilians, including women and children, contradicting American military reports that claimed the casualties were Taliban militants.

The bloody events highlighted the pitfalls of the U.S. mission to defeat an escalating insurgency by supporters of the former ruling Taliban and al-Qaida that threatens summer elections. President Hamid Karzai said an Interior Ministry report had found that the Jan. 17 air strike on a village killed 10 civilians - despite the U.S. military's declaration that five Taliban militants and no civilians died."           READ THE ARTICLE


Sunday January 25, 2004,
By SCOTT LINDLAW Associated Press Writer

   "WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. intelligence agencies need to explain why their research indicated Iraq possessed banned weapons before the American-led invasion, says the outgoing top U.S. inspector, who now believes Saddam Hussein had no such arms.

``I don't think they exist,'' David Kay said Sunday. ``The fact that we found so far the weapons do not exist - we've got to deal with that difference and understand why.''

The White House stuck by its assertions that illicit weapons will be found in Iraq but had no additional response on Sunday to Kay's remarks.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said Kay's comments reinforced his belief that the Bush administration had exaggerated the threat Iraq posed. ``It confirms what I have said for a long period of time, that we were misled - misled not only in the intelligence, but misled in the way that the president took us to war,'' Kerry, a White House contender, said on ``Fox News Sunday.'' ``I think there's been an enormous amount of exaggeration, stretching, deception.''


22 January 2004
    The US Marine Corps lawyer assigned to defend Australian terror suspect David Hicks today criticised the military tribunal process and said it will not allow a fair trial.

Major Michael Mori, who in November was assigned to be the military lawyer for Hicks, said the system set up by the Pentagon for trials of non-US citizens captured during what US officials call the war on terror was unfair.

Hicks has been held at the US Guantanamo naval base in Cuba for the past two year, along with hundreds of other prisoners detained during the US invasion of Afghanistan. None of the roughly 660 prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay has yet been charged with any crimes although Pentagon officials have suggested that military trials for some could begin soon.

"The military commissions will not provide a full and fair trial," Mori told a news conference. "The commission process has been created and controlled by those with a vested interest only in convictions."

             READ THE STORY


Sunday January 11, 2004

A US diplomat has hinted that British prisoners in Camp Delta may soon be repatriated. That's too little too late for human rights campaigners. As the Guantanamo Bay detention centre marks its second anniversary Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, calls for immediate closure.

Today marks the second 'anniversary' of Guantanamo Bay, the moment the world first discovered that fighting the 'war on terror' would mean setting up unaccountable and inaccessible military prisons and filling them with hundreds of prisoners from all over the world.

This is two years too many. From the moment images of manacled and blindfold men kneeling in submission in orange boiler suits flashed around the world, the USA's prestige took a nosedive.

In letter after letter to both the White House and Downing Street, Amnesty International has made the point that legal representation and fair trials should be the bottom line not just for the nine Britons in Guantanamo Bay, but for all 650-plus detainees held in Camp Delta without charge or trial.

With some of the Guantanamo prisoners now entering their third year of captivity without access to lawyers, and without charge or trial, the need for urgent moves to end this travesty of justice could not be clearer.

Did the United States really think that it could set up a modern gulag in defiance of decades of international legal standards and escape censure? In placing prisoners in the legal limbo of Guantanamo Bay's 'no- place' - neither American soil nor Cuban jurisdiction - the American administration appears to have made the rash wager that legal untouchability would equal moral inviolability.

They have been proved staggeringly wrong. Criticism has poured in from such not especially shrill sources as the UN high commissioner for human rights, the Council of Europe, the Pope, a British law lord and countless people who have contacted Amnesty International. The Red Cross has taken the unusual step of going public about the deterioration in mental health it has witnessed among many of the Guantanamo detainees as a result of the indefinite and isolating incarceration regime.

Aside from how it may play in the United States itself, this has been disastrous human rights public relations for a country that has regularly promoted itself as a "beacon" for democracy, justice and the rule of law.



   Human Rights Watch literally wrote the book on Saddam Hussein's worst atrocities, including the genocidal Anfal campaign against the Iraqi Kurds, which killed some 100,000 civilians and destroyed more than 4,000 villages in 1988. That book, 'Genocide in Iraq', and other Human Rights Watch reports documenting Saddam Hussein's brutality may now be used to bring the deposed dictator to justice.

But now that Saddam Hussein has been apprehended, the question has grown more urgent: how will the crimes of the past be prosecuted? Will the trials be seen as legitimate and credible in Iraq, in the region and in the world? As currently proposed, the special Iraqi tribunal falls far short of international standards of justice.

"Iraq has no experience with trials lasting more than a few days," said Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch's executive director. "International expertise in prosecuting cases of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity must be utilized to ensure a fair and effective trial."

Find out more about why justice for past crimes in Iraq is essential, and what the options for trials are: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2003/12/19/iraq6770.htm


6 January 2004

  Two years after the first inmates arrived in the US military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Camp X-Ray and its successor, Camp Delta, have become synonymous with a government's pursuit of unfettered executive power and disregard for the rule of law. As detainees enter their third year held in tiny cells for up to 24 hours a day without any legal process, it seems that the current US administration views human dignity as far from non-negotiable when it comes to "national security".



Former aide says US president made up his mind to go to war with Iraq long before 9/11, then ordered his staff to find an excuse

Julian Borger in Washington
Monday January 12, 2004
The Guardian

Mr O'Neill's account of his two years as Treasury secretary, told in a book published tomorrow and in a series of interviews over the weekend, is a startling tale of an administration nominally led by a disengaged figurehead president but driven by a "praetorian guard" of hardline rightwingers led by vice president Dick Cheney, ready to bend circumstances and facts to fit their political agenda.

... the administration came to office determined to oust Saddam and used the September 11 attacks as a convenient justification.

As Mr O'Neill, who sat in countless national security council meetings, describes the mood: "It was all about finding a way to do it. The president saying 'Go find me a way to do this'."

Mr O'Neill said that even as far back as January 2001, when President Bush took office, no one in the NSC questioned the assumption that Iraq should be invaded.

... Mr Suskind, quotes from memoranda preparing for a war dating to the first days of the administration. "One of them marked 'secret' says 'Plan for Post-Saddam Iraq,'" he told CBS television.

Oil contracts
He quoted from a Pentagon document entitled "Foreign Suitors For Iraqi Oilfield Contracts," which, he said, talks about carving the country's fuel reserves up between the world's oil companies.
            READ THE ARTICLE


by Robert Fisk
January 04, 2004

   'The British said my son would be free soon. Three days later I had his body'

The last time Lieutenant Colonel Daoud Mousa of the Iraqi police saw his son Baha alive was on 14 September, as British soldiers raided the Basra hotel where the young man worked as a receptionist.

"He was lying with the other seven staff on the marble floor with his hands over his head," Col Mousa says today. "I said to him: 'Don't worry, I've spoken to the British officer and he says you'll be freed in a couple of hours.'"

"Three days later, I was looking at my son's body," the colonel says, sitting on the concrete floor of his slum house in Basra. "The British came to say he had 'died in custody'. His nose was broken, there was blood above his mouth and I could see the bruising of his ribs and thighs. The skin was ripped off his wrists where the handcuffs had been."

..."We were put in a big room with our hands tied and with bags over our heads. But I could see through some holes in my hood. Soldiers would come in - ordinary soldiers, not officers, mostly with their heads shaved but in uniform -- and they would kick us, picking on one after the other. They were kick-boxing us in the chest and between the legs and in the back. We were crying and screaming. "

            READ THE ARTICLE


by Hawzheen O. Kareem and Noam Chomsky
January 02, 2004

   Another interesting interview from Noam Chomsky about the continuing saga of Iraq.

"US planners surely intend to establish a client state in Iraq, with democratic forms if that is possible, if only for propaganda purposes. But Iraq is to be what the British, when they ran the region, called an "Arab facade," with British power in the background if the country seeks too much independence. That is a familiar part of the history of the region for the past century."

            READ THE ARTICLE

   "For months George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard have assured us the world was safer because of the invasion of Iraq. Now Tom Ridge, the US Homeland Security Secretary, has raised the alert level to orange with the encouraging warning that security indications suggested the threat of a terrorist attack was greater than at any time since September 11. Now who to believe?"

Catherine Craddock, Hornsby, December 22.


by Naomi Klein
Globe and Mail December 21, 2003

  "The Iraqi people "should not be saddled with the debt of a brutal regime that was more interested in using funds to build palaces and build torture chambers and brutalize the Iraqi people," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

"No argument here. ... I couldn't help thinking about an underreported story from earlier this month. On Dec. 4, The Miami Herald published excerpts from a declassified State Department document. It is the transcript of a meeting held on Oct. 7, 1976, between Henry Kissinger, then-secretary of state under president Gerald Ford, and Argentina's foreign minister under the military dictatorship, navy admiral Cesar Augusto Guzzetti.

"It was the height of Argentina's dirty war, a campaign to destroy the so-called Marxist threat in Argentina by systematically torturing and killing not only armed guerrillas, but also union organizers, student activists and their families and sympathizers. By the end of the dictatorship, about 30,000 people had been 'disappeared.'"
           READ MORE


by Robert Fisk
UK Independent December 22, 2003

The problem I have with the whole Gaddafi saga is that the Libya I know can scarcely repair a drain or install a working lavatory in a hotel. Yet this same Libya, after years of sanctions, was apparently making a nuclear bomb. Libyan nuclear scientists. Say those three words over and over again. Really?
... Libya had not actually acquired a nuclear bomb but was 'close to developing one'. But what does that mean? How close is close? A year? Ten years? Some time?

...No indeed. Far from being another despotic little killer, Colonel Gaddafi is now, according to Jack Straw, "statesmanlike and courageous'. And as long as Mr Blair complains that the whole miserable circus in Iraq persuaded Gaddafi to disarm - even though the Libyans totally deny this - then all the lies told to us by the Prime Minister about Saddam's 45-minute threat can be forgotten. Or so he must hope.



by Stephen R. Shalom
December 15, 2003

    'Saddam Hussein is one of the world's great monsters. Nothing would be more welcome than to have him put on trial, a trial which could offer Iraqis and the world an honest accounting of his many crimes. However, as so often happens, when a trial is organized by those who are themselves guilty of serious crimes, truth is not the goal. Instead the historical record is falsified to make the one monster seem uniquely blameworthy and the ones running the show above criticism.'


by Maria Tomchick
December 15, 2003

   'This past week, both U.S. military planners and Israeli sources have told the press that, yes, U.S. military officers have studied Israeli tactics in the West Bank. And they are now applying those lessons in Iraq.

  Such tactics include: destroying buildings suspected of being guerrilla hideouts, bulldozing the homes of suspected guerrillas and their family members, arresting the relatives of suspected guerrillas and/or people who may have information about the guerrillas, and surrounding entire villages with razor wire, forcing the occupants to pass through a single checkpoint in order to come and go. If people can't make it back through crowded checkpoints before curfew, they have to spend the night in the desert. At these checkpoints, Iraqis must show ID cards issued by the U.S. military and printed only in English.'

   "The death toll from small arms dwarfs that of all other weapons systems -- and in most years greatly exceeds the toll of the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet there is still no global non-proliferation regime to limit their spread."
-- United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan


by Joseph Gerson
December 05, 2003

Missions of Bases:
   ... I want to briefly explain some of the strategic rationales and missions, of the estimated 702 U.S. foreign military bases and installations that are currently located in at least 40 nations. At root, the entire system serves as an integrated global infrastructure for imperial domination. Not even Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar or Benjamin Disraeli had such a host of mighty fortresses. These bases exist to:

· To reinforce the status quo: for example the deterrent role of U.S. bases in South Korea, and the intimidating role of many of the U.S. bases in Middle East which are designed to ensure continued U.S. privileged access to, and control of, the region's oil

· To encircle enemies: as was the case with the Soviet Union and China during Cold War and China to this day. This is a role played by U.S. bases in Korea, Japan, Philippines, Australia, Pakistan, Diego Garcia, and in many of the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia

· To serve & reinforce the aircraft carriers, destroyers, nuclear armed submarines and other warships of the U.S. Navy. This includes bases in Okinawa, Yokuska outside Tokyo, and "visiting forces" and "access" agreements in the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and many other countries.

· To train U.S. forces, as was long the case for bombardiers in Vieques and as jungle war fighting and other training which continues in Okinawa.

· To function as jumping off points for U.S. foreign military interventions as: the cases of Okinawa, the Philippines, now Korea with the changing missions of U.S. forces here, Spain, Italy, Honduras, Germany and the new bases in Eastern Europe, Kuwait and likely in Iraq.

· To facilitate C3I: command, control, communications and intelligence, including essential roles in nuclear war fighting, and the use of space for intelligence and warfare as we saw in Afghanistan and Iraq. U.S. bases in Okinawa, Qatar, Australia and even China serve these functions.

· To control the governments of host nations. Japan, Korea (where U.S. military forces were deeply involved in military coups,) Germany, Saudi Arabia, and today's Iraq begin the list.



19 November, 2003, By Aziz Choudry

  "Terror, invasion, occupation and militarization are hallmarks of the US-led corporate recolonisation of Iraq. But they have long been the hallmarks of colonialism and imperialism the world over."

  "Neoliberal globalization and war are two sides of the same coin. So too are oil and imperialism. Former Shell scientist Claude Ake, described Shell’s activities in Nigeria, as a process of the “militarization of commerce and the privatization of the state”. In 2003, this process is sweeping across the world, perhaps most visibly in Iraq."
                          READ THE ARTICLE

By Noam Chomsky

10 Oct 2003
    The most powerful state in history announced a new National Security Strategy asserting that it will maintain global hegemony permanently: any challenge will be blocked by force, the dimension in which the US reigns supreme....

What is to be "protected" is US power and the interests it represents, not the world, which vigorously opposed the conception. Within a few months, polls revealed that fear of the United States had reached remarkable heights, along with distrust of the political leadership, or worse.

                READ THE ARTICLE


18 August 2003

"The very core of American history, law and culture condemns the ideas of punishment before trial, denial of due process and secret government by fiat... Who is an enemy combatant? Today, it can be anyone the president wants. And that is terrifying."
    -- A former judge on the Superior Court of New Jersey.

   The US has displayed a troubling tendency to seek unchallengeable executive power for itself in the context of its "war on terror". It has created a parallel justice system in which the executive has the power to detain, interrogate, charge or try suspects under the "laws of war"


            "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

President Dwight D. Eisenhower
April 16, 1953


August 12, 2003

   "We live half a world from each other, we have led quite different lives, and yet we are both in the same situation: conscientious objectors to imperial war and occupation, we are both standing military trial this summer. Reading your statement I couldn't help but smile at the basic sameness of military logic around the world - including its inability to understand how anybody could be enough against a war to resist going to kill and die in it."

         READ MORE

Julius Caesar:
  "Beware the leader who bangs the drum of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor. For patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and patriotism, will offer up all of their rights to the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Julius Caesar. "


12 July 2003
by Yiffat Susskind

    "In the period between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the fall of the Twin Towers, much of the world came to see the US as a global empire. With US military bases in 40 countries, Washington's stranglehold on international trade and financial institutions, and American popular culture and language encircling the globe, comparisons to Rome became plentiful. But Americans shied away from the label of 'empire,' preferring the ahistorical designation 'super-power' and euphemisms like 'globalization' to describe US dominance."

             "And if I could, I would send you a bone. Not to call you to war, but away from it. Something you cannot avoid seeing, touching. Something to make the blood on our hands visible, unmistakable. A limb, a shoulder, a hunk of flesh dripping real blood, from the rubble beneath the bulldozer, the doorstep, from the child shot dead in the gunfight or buried under the house, from the bomb shelters of Baghdad and from the bloody busses of Tel Aviv. A bone red with blood to say:
    This is what colonization requires: blood soaked sand, holy earth defiled with death, human sacrifice."         STARHAWK              PHOTO

Wednesday June 4, 2003
Marcus Clark

Oil was the main reason for military action against Iraq. Paul Wolfowitz has finally come out with the magic word: "OIL".

In an address to delegates in Singapore at the weekend he answered a question about why North Korea was being treated differently from Iraq. Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy denfence minister said, "Let's look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil."

02 June 2003

Q: "... To this I ask, if we, who can, do not act with force against tyrants, then what does he suggest be done? That the brutalized populace should use non-violent resistance against their tyrant even though this will result in their own genocide?"

... As for countries suffering under tyranny - yes, it would be very good if somebody would help and support them. Take for example the current administration in Washington. They ... supported a series of monstrous dictators, who subjected their populations to vicious tyranny, including Saddam Hussein, Ceausescu, Suharto, Marcos, Duvalier. It's quite a long list. The best way to deal with that would have been to stop supporting them. Incidentally, support for terror and violence continues. The best way to stop it is to stop supporting them. Often, in fact in every one of those cases, they were overthrown by their own populations, even though the US was supporting the dictator. Ceausescu, for example, was a tyrant perfectly comparable to Saddam Hussein. He was overthrown in 1989 by his own population, while he was being supported by the current incumbents in Washington, and that continues. If there are people resisting oppression and violence, we should find ways to support them, and the easiest way is to stop supporting the tyrants.


by Rebecca Solnit
May 19, 2003

   "Twenty-one years ago this June, a million people gathered in Central Park to demand a nuclear freeze. They didn't get it. The movement was full of people who believed they'd realize their goal in a few years and then go home. Many went home disappointed or burned out. But in less than a decade, major nuclear arms reductions were negotiated, helped along by European antinuclear movements and the impetus they gave Gorbachev. Since then, the issue has fallen off the map and we have lost much of what was gained. The US never ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and the Bush administration is planning to resume the full-fledged nuclear testing halted in 1991, to resume manufacture, to expand the arsenal, and perhaps even to use it in once-proscribed ways. ...    It's always too soon to go home. And it's always too soon to calculate effect.

I once read an anecdote by someone in Women Strike for Peace, the first great antinuclear movement in the United States in 1963, the one that did contribute to a major victory: the end of aboveground nuclear testing with its radioactive fallout that was showing up in mother's milk and baby teeth. She told of how foolish and futile she felt standing in the rain one morning protesting at the Kennedy White House. Years later she heard Dr. Benjamin Spock -- one of the most high-profile activists on the issue then -- say that the turning point for him was seeing a small group of women standing in the rain, protesting at the White House. If they were so passionately committed, he thought, he should give the issue more consideration himself."

READ THE FULL ARTICLE, it's excellent

by Jeremy Brecher

   "The Bush administration is presenting itself to the world as a juggernaut – a “massive inexorable force that advances irresistibly, crushing whatever is in its path.” Bush’s National Security Strategy envisions its “war against terrorism” as “a global enterprise of uncertain duration.” It says the US will act against “emerging threats before they are fully formed.” The Bush administration envisions the coming decades as a continuation of recent US demands, threats, and wars. It intends to continue the aggressive behavior already illustrated by war on Afghanistan and Iraq, armed intervention in the Philippines and Columbia, and threats against Syria, Iran, and North Korea. The Bush administration and its successors are likely to continue this juggernaut until they are made to stop."       READ THE ARTICLE

by Phyllis, Bennis Transnational Institute/Institute for Policy Studies
May 14, 2003

   "As the Bush administration strengthens its military victory and consolidates its occupation of Iraq, it continues its trajectory towards international expansion of power and global reach. The arrogance of its triumphalism, ignoring civilian carnage ...
   The US war in Iraq is certainly not the first time the US has unilaterally, illegally, and without justification attacked another country. But in the past -- whether Grenada, Panama, the first Gulf War, even Kosovo -- Washington generally attempted to validate its wars through some kind of claim (however spurious) of international legality. In giving life to Bush's doctrine of pre-emptive war, the assault on Iraq represents the first time a US president has claimed -- even boasted -- that he had the right to launch such a unilateral attack against a country that had not attacked the US and did not pose any imminent threat, and that international authority was unnecessary."


An Interview with Noam Chomsky by David Barsamian

David Barsamian: What are the regional implications of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq?

Noam Chomsky: I think not only the region but the world in general perceives it correctly as a kind of an easy test case to try to establish a norm for use of military force, ...

The new doctrine was not one of preemptive war, which arguably falls within some stretching of the U.N. Charter, but rather of something that doesn't even begin to have any grounds in international law, namely, preventive war. The doctrine, you recall, was that the United States would rule the world by force, and that if there is any challenge perceived to its domination, a challenge perceived in the distance, invented, imagined, whatever, then the U.S. will have the right to destroy that challenge before it becomes a threat. That's preventive war, not preemptive war.


Dwight Eisenhower

"All of us have heard this term 'preventive war' since the earliest days of Hitler. I don't believe there is such a thing; and, frankly, I wouldn't even listen to anyone seriously that came in and talked about such a thing."

Source: Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman, Bush and America's Willing Executioners would be Guilty at Nuremberg, The Free Press (Columbus, Ohio), 3/2/03