Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bush Props Up Another Saddam

One Year After the Andijon Massacre

By Ted Rall

When George W. Bush crawled into bed with Islam Karimov in the wake of 9/11, the U.S. government knew exactly what kind of man he was. A few years earlier, after a half-dozen bombs destroyed government buildings in downtown Tashkent, the president and former Soviet boss of Uzbekistan appeared on state television, promising to "eliminate the scoundrels" behind the assassination attempt.

I write in my upcoming book Silk Road to Ruin : Is Central Asia the New Middle East?: "Within weeks Uzbekistan was in the throes of a brutal purge of its already beleaguered religious Muslims. That month a presidential decree authorized the punitive arrest of a suspect's father if his extremist sons could not be found. 'If my child chose such a path,' Karimov said, 'I myself would rip off his head.' Head-ripping was a recurring theme of Karimov's rhetoric. He added a promise to 'tear off the heads of two hundred people in order to protect Uzbekistan's freedom and stability.'

It is unknown whether Karimov personally supervises such reprisals; however, published reports claim that exactly that number of bodies of 'Muslim extremists'--often the victims are identified as radicals simply because they wear long beards--were strung up from Tashkent lampposts in May. Exceptionally violent and corrupt even by Central Asian standards, the government of Uzbekistan is proof that a ruler can remain in power despite the near-universal contempt of his subjects."

Karimov's police state is pervasive and brutal. Torture is endemic; the battered bodies of political prisoners are returned to their families showing clear proof that they have been boiled to death. Only one candidate, Abdulhasiz Dzhalalov, was allowed to run against the autocratic Karimov in the most recent presidential "election." Dzhalalov announced that he had voted for Karimov.

After 9/11, however, the U.S. ignored numerous reports of Uzbek atrocities--some authored by its own State Department--and began paying Karimov millions of dollars in exchange for hosting a permanent American military base on Uzbek soil. "The expanded relationship," writes The New York Times, "was both praised as realpolitik strategy and criticized as a shortsighted gesture of support for a dictator with a chilling human rights record."

Bush's pact with the devil came due on May 13, 2005, when thousands of protesters gathered in Bobur Square in the southern city of Andijon to complain about corruption, the shattered Uzbek economy and to demand the release of political prisoners. "We hoped the local government would come to hear our grievances," a man named Dolim told The Guardian. "People said even Karimov himself would come. We went because of unemployment, low salaries not paid, pensions not received."

Indeed, Karimov did go to Andijon--to personally supervise the massacre of the demonstrators.

Uzbek security forces firing automatic weapons killed an estimated one thousand people over the course of 90 minutes. "The dead were lying in front of me piled three-thick," said a survivor. "At one point, I passed out. When I regained consciousness, it was raining--on the ground, I could see water running with blood." He survived by hiding under corpses. "Dead people everywhere, and some alive, just moving. I felt sick, because of all the things splattered on my clothes. I went into the college and saw the armored personnel carriers moving over the bodies. They wanted to kill anyone who was wounded. Soldiers walked down the sidewalk, firing single shots at anyone moving."

The Bush Administration resisted international pressure to close its airbase at Karshi-Khanabad (K-2). "The Pentagon wants to avoid upsetting the Uzbekistan government," The Washington Post quoted White House officials two months after the Andijon massacre. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman urged the Uzbeks to investigate themselves: "The United States has repeatedly urged Uzbekistan to undertake a full and transparent inquiry into the Andijon incident."

Even this pro forma criticism proved too much for the testy tyrant, prompting him to evict the U.S. from K-2 earlier this year. But Andijon refuses to go away. On June 22 The New York Times released a detailed analysis of videotapes taken before and during the bloody crackdown. The images "show no sign that [Uzbek authorities] tried nonlethal methods or a gradual escalation of force to break up the crowd, like giving clear warnings or signals to disperse, using water cannons or tear gas, or having snipers eliminate [men who were armed]."

Despite the United States' loss of an airbase and a new mutual defense treaty between Tashkent and Moscow, however, the Bush Administration continues to ply the butcher of Andijon with cash and military aid.

From Silk Road to Ruin: "RAND Corporation pundit Olga Oliker summarized the Bush Administration's position: 'Cutting all ties between the two nations would be a mistake,' Oliker wrote, because 'the country remains a way station for illegal and dangerous trafficking in drugs, weapons and fighters. This has made the Uzbek government a valuable partner in combating those problems.' True, the weapons and the insurgents who carry them drew much of their strength from Karimov's campaign of anti-Muslim repression. But let's not forget the United States' primary policy motivation: Uzbekistan has some of the world's largest reserves of natural gas."

"Internal developments in Uzbekistan are really worrisome," says Royal Institute of International Affairs analyst Yury Federov. "The ruling regime keeps itself in power through repression, and many people in Uzbekistan believe that repression in the final end cannot save the current regime from the crash, which may lead, in turn, to a general destabilization of the situation in the country and in the neighboring region."

It's 1981 all over again. And again, we're arming and funding Saddam.


Supreme Court: Gitmo war crimes trials are illegal

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that President Bush overstepped his authority in ordering military war crimes trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees.

The ruling, a strong rebuke to the administration and its aggressive anti-terror policies, was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, who said the proposed trials were illegal under U.S. law and international Geneva conventions.

The case focused on Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who worked as a bodyguard and driver for Osama bin Laden. Hamdan, 36, has spent four years in the U.S. prison in Cuba. He faces a single count of conspiring against U.S. citizens from 1996 to November 2001.

The ruling raises major questions about the legal status of about 450 men still being held at Guantanamo and exactly how, when and where the administration might pursue the charges against them.

It also seems likely to further fuel international criticism of the administration, including by many U.S. allies, for its handling of the terror war detainees at Guantanamo in Cuba, Abu Ghraib in Iraq and elsewhere.


Seizure of Hamas MPs raises international alarm

Israel's seizure of Hamas MPs and cabinet ministers raises "particular concerns", the G8 group of industrialised countries said today, echoing appeals for calm from many other parts of the world.

"We call on Israel to exercise utmost restraint in the current crisis," the G8 foreign ministers said in a joint statement. "The detention of elected members of the Palestinian government and legislature raises particular concerns."

Speaking after the group's ministerial meeting in Moscow, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice said diplomatic efforts were continuing to secure the release of the Israeli soldier captured on Sunday.

"There is a full-scale diplomatic effort," she told a news conference. "Responsible Palestinians are also engaged in efforts to get this soldier released - and that is a very important point to make - as well as some regional actors that are engaged."

She was apparently referring to Egypt, which is said to have been in contact with the Palestinian hostage-takers through a delegation sent to Gaza on Sunday. "With restraint, perhaps we can get back to a place where there can be hope for a peaceful resolution," Ms Rice added.

"We confirmed our support for the Quartet ... and called on the parties to take all the necessary steps to calm the situation," Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said after the meeting, referring to the group of Middle East peace mediators - Russia, the US, the United Nations, and the European Union.

China also said it was "deeply concerned" about the latest Israeli-Palestinian crisis. "We urge Israel to exercise restraint and halt military action, and call on Palestine to release the hostage as early as possible," Jiang Yu, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, told journalists.

In Rome, Pope Benedict said he was "apprehensively following" the latest developments. Addressing a crowd in St Peter's Square, he said: "I pray every person kidnapped be quickly returned to their loved ones ... I call on Israeli and Palestinian leaders so that, with the generous contribution of the international community, they responsibly seek the negotiated settlement of the conflict which alone can assure the peace sought by their people."

The 57-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference condemned Israel's "criminal" seizure of Palestinian ministers and said diplomacy was needed to release the Israeli soldier.

"These Israeli measures do not only constitute a flagrant violation of international law and signed agreements but are also a brutal crime and aggression against democracy and the representatives of the Palestinian people," the Saudi-based organisation said.


B'Tselem: Both side condemnable

As B'Tselem points out, both the abduction and execution of Eliahu Asheri and the Israeli attacks on civilian infrastructure are condemnable:
B'Tselem severely condemns the abduction and execution of Eliahu Asheri, 18, a resident of the Itamar settlement, whose body was found last night in Ramallah.

Abduction and execution violates law and morality. The willful killing of civilians is a war crime under international humanitarian law, and is unjustified whatever the circumstances. International humanitarian law requires that the parties taking part in the hostilities distinguish between combatants and civilians, and refrain from attacking civilians.

Certain Palestinian organizations justify attacks on settlers because the settlements are part of Israel military control of the area. This argument is baseless. The vast majority of settlers do not serve any military role, and the illegality of the settlements does not deny the residents their status as civilians. As civilians, the settlers are not a legitimate target of attack, much less of abduction and execution.

B'Tselem calls on Palestinian organizations to refrain from attacking civilians, including settlers.
B'Tselem today sent an urgent request to Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz to instruct Israeli forces to refrain from bombing or deliberately damaging in any way facilities that supply indispensable services to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip.

B'Tselem added that Israel has the right to all legal measures to free the abducted soldier, Corporal Gilad Shalit. However, Israel must refrain from using measures which contravene International Humanitarian Law, which categorically prohibits all sides to a conflict from attacking "objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population".

Israel 's military operation in the Gaza Strip today included Air Force bombing of Palestinian civilian infrastructure. Among the facilities hit was the central electricity relay station south of Gaza City , which caused a widespread blackout. Damage to electricity facilities is liable to severely impair the provision of indispensable services, such as water supply and health care.

John stewart on the Miami seven (video)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Attacking civilian infrastructure is a war crime

Under international law, the targeting of civilian infrastructure like power stations and bridges is a war crime. From the BBC:

Israel's Prime Minister has warned of "extreme action" to free a soldier captured by Palestinian militants.

Soon afterwards, witnesses reported an air strike on a militant training camp in Gaza, after planes bombed a power station and three bridges overnight.

Tanks also moved into the southern Gaza Strip, in the first big incursion since the Israeli withdrawal last year.

There are no reports of clashes but the incursion brought condemnation from the main Palestinian factions.

Note : The points below have been added to Djebs original post by _H_


Israel's Prime Minister had warned of "extreme action" to free a soldier captured by Palestinian militants. Soon afterwards, witnesses reported an air strike on a militant training camp in Gaza.

The incursion began when Israeli Planes bombed the three bridges linking the north and south of the strip, and then hitting Gaza's main electricity transformer.The immediate effects of the power cut were noted 600 miles away in rafuh by Doss Abu-Harb who stated.

We have no electricity, so now I can't watch what is happening on television. I am listening to the radio which is on batteries, I don't know how long they will last. The situation last night was so terrible. I heard alot of shelling. I hear more shelling and guns this morning. I think Israel is planning a huge attack, so everybody will stay inside. I have my small nephews in our home. If I am frightened in front of them I think they will die of fear.....We are living, but we feel as if we are dead.

The Israeli ground forces soon took up positions on farmland outside the disused airport inside the Gaza border. Meanwhile Gaza residents like Lama Hourani were already concerned for the long term effects of this action

It is frightening, it is ugly. On all levels, it is not good. They bombed the main power station which gives power to 40-50% of Gaza.... All water needs to be pumped, so if we don't have power, we don't have water....

Source for quotes

Cpl Shalit was captured when Palestinian militants tunnelled under the Gaza border and attacked an Israeli army position at Kerem Shalom, killing two soldiers.

Hamas political leaders have denied they know of Cpl Shalit's whereabouts and have urged his captors not to mistreat him. Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad said the incursion was unjustified and the crisis could be solved through "contacts with Arab and international parties".

Mahmoud Abbas, leader of rival Palestinian faction Fatah and president of the Palestinian Authority, condemned the Israeli incursion as "collective punishment".

Is he correct ? well according to the Geneva convention it seems that he is .....

"It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population "

The Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949,

Syrian 'Air defenses' opened fire on intruder Israeli jets

Air defenses fired on Israeli warplanes that entered Syrian airspace early Wednesday and forced them to flee, state TV said as Mideast tensions escalated over the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian militants.

State-run Syrian television said two Israeli planes flew near Syria's Mediterranean coast early Wednesday, and "national air defenses opened fire in the direction of the planes, and they dispersed.''

The announcement did not mention a claim by Israeli military officials that the fighter jets buzzed the summer residence of President Bashar Assad in the coastal city of Latakia.

The officials said on condition of anonymity that Assad was targeted because of the "direct link'' between Syria and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group holding Cpl. Gilad Shalit, 19, in the Gaza Strip. Syria hosts Khaled Meshaal, Hamas' exiled supreme leader.

"The overflight by two Israeli planes near the Syrian shores is an aggressive act and a provocation,'' the television news said, quoting an Information Ministry official it did not identify.


Hamas reverses

First the election promises to recognise Israel. Then a series of recent reports that it again does. Now it seems that Hamas is holding off with the hardliners making a clear statment impossible. Or is it perhaps the Israeli assault on Gaza? In either event, Hamas came out clarifying its lack of clarification. From the BBC:
Rival Palestinian political factions Fatah and Hamas have reached agreement on a common political strategy to try to end a damaging power struggle.

However, Hamas negotiators have denied earlier reports that the deal meant the militants would implicitly recognise Israel - a major policy shift.

The full text of the accord has not yet been released. A Hamas minister said it did not have "one word" on the issue.
To agree to the prisoner's proposal, however, is to agree to the 1967 border and international law on the matter. To agree to a border and to international law is to recognise the State of Israel. Will it be possible for the extreme right in Hamas to recognise this?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Iraqi insurgents set conditions for peace

Armed groups fighting US-led forces in Iraq have demanded a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops as a condition for laying down their arms, a Kurdish lawmaker said Tuesday.

At least seven armed groups have been holding indirect dialogue with President Jalal Talabani, and the government Sunday unveiled a reconciliation plan aimed at bringing rebels into the political process in a bid to end the daily cycle of violence in Iraq.

"According to sources close to the presidency, dialogues between the intermediaries of these groups and President Jalal Talabani are continuing," said lawmaker Mahmud Othman.

"The armed groups have put a condition that there must be a timetable for withdrawal of foreign forces and also their resistance to foreign forces must be legitimately recognised."

The United States confirmed Monday that it was considering a plan to sharply reduce its 130,000 strong force in Iraq by the end of 2007, but said it was just one option among many and was not "engraved in stone."

A Shiite lawmaker with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Dawa party told The New York Times that Sunni-led insurgents have approached the government with offers to start negotiations on the basis of the reconciliation plan.

"The Sunni mediators told me there's a kind of positive approach by these armed groups in response to this initiative," Hassan al-Suneid said.

"I think the initiative will open up a new atmosphere for these dialogues and upgrade them."


War's Iraqi Death Toll Tops 50,000

Higher than the U.S. estimate, the tally likely is undercounted. Proportionately, it is as if 570,000 Americans were slain in three years.

At least 50,000 Iraqis have died violently since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, according to statistics from the Baghdad morgue, the Iraqi Health Ministry and other agencies — a toll 20,000 higher than previously acknowledged by the Bush administration.

Many more Iraqis are believed to have been killed but not counted because of serious lapses in recording deaths in the chaotic first year after the invasion, when there was no functioning Iraqi government, and continued spotty reporting nationwide since.

The toll, which is mostly of civilians but probably also includes some security forces and insurgents, is daunting: Proportionately, it is equivalent to 570,000 Americans being killed nationwide in the last three years. In the same period, at least 2,520 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq.

Iraqi officials involved in compiling the statistics say violent deaths in some regions have been grossly undercounted, notably in the troubled province of Al Anbar in the west. Health workers there are unable to compile the data because of violence, security crackdowns, electrical shortages and failing telephone networks.

The Health Ministry acknowledged the undercount. In addition, the ministry said its figures exclude the three northern provinces of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan because Kurdish officials do not provide death toll figures to the government in Baghdad.

In the three years since Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled, the Bush administration has rarely offered civilian death tolls. Last year, President Bush said he believed that "30,000, more or less, have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis."

Nongovernmental organizations have made estimates by tallying media accounts; The Times attempted to reach a comprehensive figure by obtaining statistics from the Baghdad morgue and the Health Ministry and checking those numbers against a sampling of local health departments for possible undercounts.

The Health Ministry gathers numbers from hospitals in the capital and the outlying provinces. If a victim of violence dies at a hospital or arrives dead, medical officials issue a death certificate. Relatives claim the body directly from the hospital and arrange for a speedy burial in keeping with Muslim beliefs.

If the morgue receives a body — usually those deemed suspicious deaths — officials there issue the death certificate. Health Ministry officials said that because death certificates are issued and counted separately, the two data sets are not overlapping.

The Baghdad morgue received 30,204 bodies from 2003 through mid-2006, while the Health Ministry said it had documented 18,933 deaths from "military clashes" and "terrorist attacks" from April 5, 2004, to June 1, 2006. Together, the toll reaches 49,137.

However, samples obtained from local health departments in other provinces show an undercount that brings the total well beyond 50,000. The figure also does not include deaths outside Baghdad in the first year of the invasion.

Three years of fighting have taken their toll on the country. Gauging how many people died in the first year after the invasion, which included the initial invasion and aerial bombardment of Baghdad, and weeks of near-anarchy afterward, has proved difficult.

According to a 2003 Times survey of Baghdad hospitals, at least 1,700 civilians died in the capital just in the five weeks after the war began. An analysis by Iraqi Body Count, a nongovernmental group that tracks civilian deaths by tallying media reports, estimated that 5,630 to 10,000 Iraqi civilians were killed nationwide from March 19 through April 2003.

Health Ministry figures for May in each of the last three years show war-related deaths more than tripling nationwide, from 334 in May 2004 to 1,154 last month. And as the violence has continued to escalate, it also has become increasingly centralized. At least 2,532 people were killed nationwide last month. Of those, 2,155 — 85% — died in Baghdad.

Source Here

Well I think we are getting closer to a more realistic estimate of the number of Iraqi civilian deaths, although (as the article acknowledges) the number could yet turn out to be much higher. It is clearly difficult for mere numbers to portray the level of grief and suffering created by these deaths or to help us to realise that each one of those civilians had a family whom continue to suffer. The article attempts to use an equivalent example to help us to understand "Proportionately, it is equivalent to 570,000 Americans being killed. "

However an equally graphic understanding could be found by looking again at the tragedy of 9/11 and noting that it would take a minimum of 16 such terrorist attacks against the United States to begin to compare(in scale) with the horrors that have been brought to the innocent people of Iraq.

More on Hamas recognising Israel

From AP via Yahoo:
The rival Hamas and Fatah movements agreed on a plan implicitly recognizing Israel, a top Palestinian official said Tuesday after weeks of acrimonious negotiations aiming to lift crippling international aid sanctions.

Moderate President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah has been trying to coax his Hamas rivals into endorsing the document, which calls for a Palestinian state alongside Israel, in effect recognizing the Jewish state. He has endorsed the plan as a way to end sanctions against the Hamas-led Palestinian government and pave the way to reopening peace talks with Israel.

"We have an agreement over the document," said Ibrahim Abu Najah, coordinator of the "national dialogue" over the proposal.

The plan also calls on militants to limit attacks to areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast War and calls for formation of a coalition Palestinian government.


Salah Zeidan, another negotiator, said preparations were being made for a formal signing ceremony.

"All political groups are prepared for a mutual cease-fire with Israel," he said.

The document was formulated by senior Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

However, the deal was overshadowed by a crisis over the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier and opposition to the deal voiced by Islamic Jihad, a small militant group that has carried out numerous attacks against Israel.

Did Iran help in locating Zarqawi?

In fact, a credible Moroccan newspaper, La Gazette du Maroc, is affirming that Zarqawi was caught thanks to Iran and was the first gift to the US.

Sounds like a conspiracy theory? Maybe not.

Citing Iranian sources and Iraqi sources close to ex PM Alawi, the paper states that Jordanian intelligence may have gotten help from Iran in pinpointing Zarqawi's location.

A few weeks ago the Iranian FM met with King Abdullah in Amman to allegedly negotiate the deal. Then a few days later the Iranian FM was in Bagdad meeting with Iraki PM AL Maliki and allegedly US Ambassador Khalilzad.

Coincidence or not the US position softened around that time when for the first time Secretary of State Rice announced a possible ouverture to Iran. People close to Reza Pahlavi, the Shah's son, also believe that Zarqawi was indeed handed by Iran as part of a package.

Source Here

Very speculative but is it accurate. Well quite possibly when you consider how Iran would have felt when Zarqawi declared war on the Shiites. Finding their brothers on the receiving end of Zarqawis brand of terror would be motive enough to pass forward such information.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Tall story of terror a chilling warning

The alarming news flashed across television screens in the United States on Friday: Government agents had thwarted an al Qaeda plot, using home-grown American terrorists, to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago in a ghastly repeat of September 11.

When the dust had settled barely 24 hours later, a rather more modest version of events had emerged. The seven young black men arrested in Miami and Atlanta had never been in touch with al Qaeda, and had no explosives.

Their "plan" to destroy the tallest building in the US was little more than wishful thinking, expressed by one of them to an FBI informant posing as a member of Osama bin Laden's group.Even the FBI admitted as much. Deputy director John Pistole described the plan on Friday as "aspirational rather than operational" and admitted that none of the five US citizens and two Haitian immigrants arrested had ever featured on a terrorist watch list.

In essence, the entire case rests on conversations between Narseal Batiste, the apparent ringleader, with the informant, who posed as a member of al Qaeda but in fact belonged to the South Florida Terrorist Task Force.At a meeting "on or about December 16", according to the indictment made public as the men made their first court appearance in Miami, Batiste asked his contact to supply equipment including uniforms, machineguns, explosives, cars and US$50,000 in cash for an "Islamic Army" that would carry out a mission "just as good or greater than 9/11".

In fact, the conspiracy seems to have extended little further than those words. By last month, it had all but fizzled out amid internal squabbling.Even their religious leanings are in dispute. Neighbours say they were part of a group, Seas of David, that mixes Christian and Islamic elements.

That did not deter the US Attorney-General, Alberto Gonzales, from summoning a press conference in which he denounced an attempt to "wage war against America". But the threat, even he admitted, was not immediate - and those who posed it were in fact merely a few semi-unemployed men, most of them petty criminals, from Liberty City, a poor, black Miami district.If the case has any significance in the "war on terror", it is not as a present danger, but as a harbinger of possible future risks.

Despite countless scare stories in the media, colour-coded alerts from the Department of Homeland Security and grim official warnings of al Qaeda sleeper cells waiting to do their worst, the US has not suffered a single terrorist attack since September 11, 2001.

Nor have the authorities unearthed much of a threat. The Justice Department claims 401 people have been charged with "terrorism-related offences" since the 2001 attacks, and 212 have been convicted. In fact only a tiny number were real terrorists. The tendency - duly followed last week by Gonzales - has been to hype. The precedent was famously set by his predecessor, John Ashcroft, who called a press conference during a visit to Moscow in 2002 to announce the arrest of Jose Padilla, the "dirty bomber" said to be preparing to attack Washington with a radioactive device.

Padilla languished incommunicado in a Navy brig without charge for over three years. He has been transferred to a civilian prison, and faces trial in Miami this year on different, much vaguer, terrorist charges.

An alleged sleeper cell was unearthed in Detroit, but those convictions were quashed in 2004 when it emerged that prosecutors had manipulated evidence.

In December 2005, the trial of Sami al-Arian, accused of links with Islamic Jihad terrorists, ended in embarrassment when the Florida university professor was acquitted.

The biggest successes have had little to do with US law enforcement. Richard Reid, who tried to blow up an American Airlines plane with a shoe bomb in December 2001, was stopped by alert flight attendants, while Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, the Virginia student serving a 30-year sentence for threatening to kill President Bush, was caught by police in Saudi Arabia.

Source Here

Also worth reading : FBI Exploits Mentally Ill in “Homegrown” Terrorism Effort

GOP blowhard calls for arrest of reporting what treasury said it would do

Blowhard Rep. Peter King (R-NY) called for the arrest NYT reporters and editors for reporting what the Treasury Department publicly said it was going to do after 9/11.

Fellow party memeber Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) was a bit more level-headed when he called Representative Blowhard's words "premature" and went on to paraphrase Jefferson's words on the matter: "Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."

Sunday, June 25, 2006

An end to Palestinian shelling of Israeli towns?

From Al Ayyam Newspaper via JMCC:
A meeting between President Abbas and Palestinian PM Ismail Hanieh ended late last night at the Presidential Headquarters in the city of Gaza. The spokesperson for the Presidency Nabil Abu Rdeineh described the meeting as extremely positive and that the course of the meeting is moving in sound directions. He was referring to the meeting held on Friday which was held away from the media... Abu Rdeineh affirmed that a Palestinian consensus has been reached on the military escalation and the firing of Palestinian rockets on the Israeli towns to embarrass Israel and not give it any justification to continue the military escalation in the Palestinian lands.

...On the issue of resistance, Zeidan [Politburo member of the DFLP] affirmed that it has been agreed to focus Palestinian resistance within the 1967 borders along with affirmation that they won't give up resistance in any plot inside the land of Palestine.

Perhaps they are finally following the advice of the late Eqbal Ahmed?

Dismembering the body politic in Iraq

By Ahmed Janabi

The US and British leaders may be getting domestic flak for their perceived mistakes in Iraq, but some observers in the Arab world see them as being quite successful - in carrying out a well-calculated plan to divide the country.

The debate dates back to July 13, 2003, when the Iraqi Governing Council was formed under Paul Bremer, the US administrator. Sectarianism and ethnic extremism were strengthened in that council and various laws have since encouraged an aggressive sectarianism leading to a fierce militia war.

Anis Mansour, an Egyptian editor and author, believes the US is following the historical British policy of divide and rule. He says: "What we are seeing now is just the beginning of a scheme to split the country up into regions.

"It is not true that the US has failed. It did what it wanted to do and this will last for a long time. "It will stay the same whether a Democratic or a Republican president is to follow [George] Bush."

US and other foreign soldiers continue to be killed in Iraq, while Iranian-backed militias take revenge on Iraqi officers who participated in the Iran-Iraq war. Drive-by shootings are a daily occurrence, and mainly Sunni fighters are maintaining the battle against US-led forces as well as the Iraqi army and security forces backed and trained by the US.

The new government of Nuri al-Maliki is unlikely to succeed in curbing the violence.

More than three years since the US-led invasion, the foreign forces and the new Iraqi forces are both incapable of maintaining law and order. Meanwhile, ordinary Iraqis are losing their sense of co-existence, in itself a dangerous characteristic of post-war Iraq.

According to the Iraqi minister of expatriates and displaced people, sectarian violence has caused 14,000 Iraqi families to move. Sunni families who lived in Shia majority areas have gone to Sunni majority neighbourhoods and vice versa. The ongoing creation of ethnic and sectarian cantons worries Iraqi nationalists who fear a break up of their country.

The US is seen as the main instigator of sectarian sentiments, creating the right environment for the division of Iraq into sectarian and ethnic states unable to function without US protection.

Hasan Nasr Allah, the leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon, says: "The US has driven the situation in Iraq to a state where they offer themselves to Shia as a guarantee [of protection] against Sunni, and offer themselves to Sunni as a guarantee against Shia.

"They present themselves to Arabs as a guarantee against Kurds, and present themselves to Kurds as a guarantee against Arabs."Their plot is doing just fine. Look at the situation in Iraq nowadays: What could possibly happen that is more appropriate for separatists to say that they have to split from Iraq to protect their community?"

Certain Iraqi politicians are also signalling that they favour a split. Masoud Barzani, the Kurdish leader who became president of Iraqi Kurdistan last year, cancelled his visit to China last May after Beijing refused to treat him as a head of state.Barzani's move was seen as a renewed attempt to confirm the will of Kurdish politicians to secede from Iraq and form their long-desired independent Kurdish state.

Maintaining the integrity of Iraq was the main issue that delayed approval of the new Iraqi constitution last year.Iraqi nationalists were alarmed by an article in the constitution that allowed any governorate, alone or with other governorates, to form a ''region".

The constitution gives regions the right to form local security forces and freedom in managing the natural resources. Kurds were the first to use that right when they announced their Kurdistan region and elected their government and president earlier this year.

Some Iraqi politicians say such entities will not be large enough to survive without foreign support.

Haroun Muhammad, a London-based Iraqi political activist, says: "In addition to the seeds of separation in the new Iraqi constitution, separatists are getting foreign support, like Kuwait which has been backing both Kurdish and Shia leaders to separate from Iraq.

"It cannot be a coincidence that Ammar al-Hakim, the son of the senior Shia leader Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim, makes periodic visits to Kuwait." The senior al-Hakim had demanded on several occasions that Iraqi Shia be given a federal state in southern Iraq, his last call being made on August 11, 2005, in Najaf as he was delivering a speech to a Shia gathering.

Muhammad says: "The reason for that is that Kuwait fears another future invasion from big Iraq. It is to their benefit to break it up into smaller parts unable to move troops south." Saddam Hussein was not the first Iraqi leader to claim Kuwait, but he was the only one who sent troops across the border.

Abd al-Karim Qasim, the then Iraqi president, claimed Kuwait as a historical part of Iraq and moved troops to the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border, but British and Arab diplomatic efforts ended that crisis peacefully.

Barzani and the al-Hakim clan share the view that separate federal states for Shia and Kurds would protect them from the "suppression of the central government".Iraqi and Shia political parties believe if Iraq were a federated state, Shia and Kurds would have avoided much of the suppression they suffered at the hands of Baghdad's central government in the past.

Khalid al-Atiya, a Shia member of parliament and leading member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri), said in a recent interview that his sect's leaders would not give up its demands to establish a Shia federal state in central and southern Iraq.

"Shia insist on federalism because history has learned the lesson. They have suffered enough from dictatorship and central government."The central government will always be a reason to enrage sectarian violence. Federalism is the only way to secure Shia's rights," al-Atiya said.

Dhafir al-Ani, a Sunni member of parliament and spokesman for the Iraqi Accordance Front, told "I regret to say that it is unlikely we will be able to prevent the partition of Iraq. I think it is going to be the way they want."

Karzai slips off the party line

More of the Afghan president going off message by pointing out that terrorism is set up by conditions which, if addressed vastly reduce the likelihood of terrorism. From Common Dreams:

Experts agreed with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, saying Friday the major military offensive against the Taliban will not fix Afghanistan's larger crises — a lack of reconstruction and jobs, a booming drug trade, and a weak government.

"You won't win unless you can convince people that progress is being made," said Marvin Weinbaum, a former State Department analyst now a scholar at the Washington-based Middle East Institute.

"One of the things we recognize is that we have failed to improve on the development side, especially in the south. In the areas with the greatest need, we have not gotten the reconstruction that was necessary."

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The War Tapes

Iran too fragile for women's rights

The things you can do in the name of national security... But is any nation immune? From Doug Ireland's Direland:

Leading Iranian women's rights activists Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani and Parvin Ardalan have been charged with acting "against national security" by calling for an Tehran_womenfemale_police "illegal" gathering to promote equal rights and publishing related statements, according to Iranian news reports," says Radio Liberty today. The charges stem from a June 12 women's rights gathering in Tehran that was forcefully dispersed by police forces, including baton-wielding female officers (photo left, female police with batons beat women demonstrators at the June 12 demonstration.) Noushin Ahmadi Khorasani and Parvin Ardalan were the 2004 winners of the Latifeh Yarshater Award, given by the Persian Heritage Foundation, for a book they co-authored about a leading Iranian political figure.

Into the Snake pit: O'Really would run Iraq "just like Saddam ran it."

Form Media Matters:

O'REILLY: So because -- what you have here now is a tipping point in history. A tipping point in history. So you have to win the Iraq situation. Now, to me, they're not fighting it hard enough. See, if I'm president, I've got probably another 50-60,000 with orders to shoot on sight anybody violating curfews. Shoot 'em on sight. That's me. President O'Reilly, curfew in Ramadi, 7 o'clock at night. You're on the street, you're dead. I shoot you right between the eyes. OK?

That's how I'd run that country -- just like Saddam ran it. Saddam didn't have explosions. He didn't have bombers, did he? Because if you got out of line, you're dead.

Now, is that the kind of country I want for Iraq? No. But you have to have that for a few months to stabilize the situation so the Iraqi government can get organized, can get security in place and get the structure going. So, any area that is giving you trouble, you have a 7-to-7 curfew. And you can't come out of your house. That's it. And if you do, we shoot you. That's how you control it. All right?

Hmm. Maybe that's the ticket: Embrace your inner despot. Either that or don't go into wars that you know from the beginning have zero justification.

The War Against Women

From the St. Paul Pioneer Press via Common Dreams:

For the last several years, the United States has depicted the battle against terrorism as a contest pitting free societies against those who would impose Islamic rule on the world. But across the globe right now the epochal struggle is not between Islam and the West, but between those societies in which women are free and those in which they are repressed.

Women's lives are controlled in those nations observing some form of Islamic law. The Taliban first came to the world's horrified attention with reports of the beatings, stonings and summary executions of women who were held to have violated Islamic law. Throughout the Islamic world women are not permitted to move freely in public, are denied full access to educational and economic life, and are barred from voting. In Saudi Arabia — our ally in the fight against terrorism — women are even forbidden to drive cars.

Social and political control over women's bodies, however, extends well beyond the Islamic world. In many African societies women are forced to have their genitals mutilated. Rape has routinely been used as an instrument of war from Bosnia to Darfur. The trafficking of women in sexual slavery is now endemic across much of Eastern Europe and Asia.

In the developing world, it has been a truism for a generation that the surest indicators of a country's social and economic progress are the educational levels of its women and women's ability to limit their pregnancies.

Put crudely, as education for women goes up and family size goes down, societies prosper.

During the 20th century, the control of women's reproductive lives marked the most despicable regimes. Among the first things the Nazis did upon seizing power in 1933 was to outlaw abortion. Family planning centers were closed, access to contraception made increasingly difficult and abortion criminalized. By 1943 the Nazis made abortion a capital offense. Stalin, too, outlawed abortion in 1936, and both dictators clearly saw control of women's reproduction as a part of the larger apparatus of state control.

States that are repressive enough to control women's contraceptive options are just as likely to control other aspects of childbearing. The Romanian despot Nicolae Ceausescu made contraception illegal in 1966 for any woman who had fewer than five children. Not satisfied with that, 20 years later, in 1986, he created a monitoring system for all pregnant women, and miscarriages became subject to a criminal investigation. These acts forced women to have children whether they wanted to or not, and 200,000 of those children wound up in those infamous orphanages. Just as tyrannically, China, which limits family size by law, has long been accused of coercing women to have abortions and be sterilized.

So as Ohio and Louisiana rush to join South Dakota in attempting to criminalize abortion, we should ask: Which side are we on? Are we among those societies who permit women the full measure of their freedom or with those who control women's bodies in the service of a larger state agenda?

Remember that for many, abortion and contraception are no different. What they really want is to control the reproductive choices we all make in accordance with their particular ideas. p>

The lesson of the 20th century is clear, at least to the rest of the world. Free societies allow their citizens to make their own reproductive decisions; repressive ones restrict them. Which side are we on when this administration votes with countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia to block funding for family planning initiatives in the United Nations?

For their part, the Romanians deeply understood the intrinsic connection between freedom and reproductive choice. On Dec. 26, 1989, the day after the evil Ceausescu had been toppled, the National Salvation Front issued two decrees: It lifted the ban on the private ownership of typewriters, and it repealed the laws that policed pregnant women.

No society can be called a free society until and unless women are free to make their own decisions about family planning, and this includes the United States. So are we going to join those nations where women enjoy their freedom or are we going to follow places such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and El Salvador, which treat their women as less than free? Which side are we going to be on?

One thousand posts...

Another milestone passed. This is our one thousandth post on Terrorism News.

So thanks to everyone who has passed through to bring dissent or to praise the work that we do. Thank you to DJEB for his immense contribution and also to Toby who has recently joined the team. Hopefully we will be expanding the team again in the near future to widen the range of articles we post.

Apart from that , there is nothing to see here ... move on to the posts below :-)

Taliban takes to hi-tech propaganda

The Taliban have begun broadcasting a pirate station called the "Voice of Sharia" from mobile transmitters in at least two southern provinces.

On the internet, unknown in Afghanistan while the Taliban were in power, there is also a sophisticated website, In Arabic and Pashto it offers news, poetry, messages from the Taliban's spiritual leader, Mullah Omar, and regularly updated videos of the last messages of Taliban suicide bombers.

A DVD called Lions of Islam is one of a number that is widely available. It was largely filmed in Pakistan's tribal areas and includes the beheading of an Afghan alleged to be an American spy and the execution of local criminals according to Taliban Sharia justice.

In response, Western forces in the country are extending a fledgling military funded radio channel called Radio Peace into the south to counter anti-government propaganda.

"It is perhaps something we haven't paid enough attention to in the past," a Nato military spokesman, Major Luke Knittig, said.

The Afghan government issued a directive through its intelligence service on Monday which banned Afghan journalists from filming or interviewing alleged members of the Taliban. The directive also included a ban on reports "that aim to represent that the fighting spirit in Afghanistan's armed forces is weak".

The Afghan media were also told not to lead with stories about "terrorist activities". The directive was later said to bea request by the office of Hamid Karzai reflecting "the need to help the nascent media sector in Afghanistan to approach the complex issue of terrorism and terrorist activities in a principled manner".

One tape purchased by The Independent features two singers engaging in an imagined debate between President Hamid Karzai and the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar; in a style not dissimilar to that of American rappers.

"I have brought peace and stability, I defeated al-Qa'ida and the terrorists," sings the voice that represents Karzai. "You have killed your Muslim brothers to satisfy the Jews and the Infidels," sings back the voice representing Omar.

"I was elected president by free and fair elections," sings Karzai. Omar replies: "What kind of election is it that everywhere there are American and British tanks and infidel soldiers? The infidels have tanks, artillery and air support, but we have God's support."

It continues for half an hour with Karzai eventually admitting defeat.

Source Here

Paper runs 'Rove, Satan' strategy satire as news story

An article sporting the headline, "Rove, Satan plot GOP fall campaign strategy" in the St. Petersburg Times made it seem as though the story was printed as part of the paper's news section. The story, archived Here (A must see link) ran this morning.

A call to the St. Petersburg Times revealed that the paper had run the column neglecting to include the byline of satirist Andy Borowotz.

Source Raw story

Iraqis Call State of Emergency in Baghdad

Iraq's government clamped a state of emergency on Baghdad and ordered everyone off the streets Friday after U.S. and Iraqi forces battled insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades and rifles near the heavily fortified Green Zone.

The military also announced the deaths of five more U.S. troops in a particularly violent week for American forces that included the discovery of the brutalized bodies of two soldiers. Twelve U.S. servicemembers have died or been found dead this week.

The fierce fighting in the heart of Baghdad came despite a crackdown launched 10 days ago that put tens of thousands of U.S.-backed Iraqi troops on the streets as the new prime minister sought to restore a modicum of safety for the capital's 6 million people.

Iraqi and U.S. military forces clashed with heavily armed attackers throughout the morning Friday in the alleys and doorways along Haifa Street and within earshot of the Green Zone, which houses the U.S. and British embassies and Iraqi government headquarters.

Four Iraqi soldiers and three policemen were wounded before the area was sealed and searched house-to-house for insurgent attackers, police Lt. Maitham Abdul Razzaq said. U.S. and Iraqi forces also engaged in firefights with insurgents in the dangerous Dora neighborhood in south Baghdad.

Deadly clashes are not new to Haifa Street, a thoroughfare so dangerous that a sign at one Green Zone exit checkpoint warns drivers against using the street. But Friday's fighting was unusual in its scope and intensity, prompting Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to order everyone off all streets in the capital with just two hours notice and while Friday prayers were still in progress.

Clusters of women shrouded in black head-to-toe robes scurried along to beat the ban, and U.S. soldiers frisked men also dashing home against a backdrop of thick, black smoke rising above the white high-rise buildings of Haifa Street.

Source Here

Friday, June 23, 2006

Katrina Plus Ten Months (video)

Over 7,200 family dwellings sit empty throughout New Orleans. No, not FEMA trailers. These are solid brick public housing projects that survived Katrina.

They only require interior repairs, and thousands of displaced low income families want to move back in. But instead, they are being fenced off and condemned. Why? Chris Hume and L. Wild Horse speak with Professor Bill Quigley and several former tenants.

Windows Media player required : DSL or 56K (5 min video)

Source truthout

depleted uranium (flash)

Warning . The Images in this link are distressing .Only click on the link if you are sure you can cope with pictures of deformed and deceased children .

check out this flash animation about depleted uranium Here

Many thanks to Hype for sharing this link with us.

Hamas recognises Israel

Reiterating what they said in their election campaigning, Hamas takes a further step recognising the State of Israel. From the Guardian via Common Dreams:

Hamas has made a major political climbdown by agreeing to sections of a document that recognise Israel's right to exist and a negotiated two-state solution, according to Palestinian leaders.

In a bitter struggle for power, Hamas is bowing to an ultimatum from the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to endorse the document drawn up by Palestinian security prisoners in Israeli jails, or face a national referendum on the issue that could see the Islamist group stripped of power if it loses.

But final agreement on the paper, designed to end international sanctions against the Hamas government that have crippled the Palestinian economy, has been slowed by wrangling over a national unity administration and the question of who speaks for the Palestinians.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation's executive committee and a lead negotiator on the prisoners' document, said Hamas had agreed to sections which call for a negotiated and final agreement with Israel to establish a Palestinian state on the territories occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem.

"Hamas is prepared to accept those parts of the document because they think it is a way to get rid of a lot of its problems with the international community. That's why it will accept all the document eventually," he said.

Hamas, facing a deep internal split over recognition of the Jewish state, declined to discuss the negotiations in detail.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Saddam lawyer's murder blamed on interior ministry

A lawyer in Saddam Hussain's defence team blamed the Iraqi ministry of the interior for the assassination of his colleague Khamis Al Obaidi yesterday and said that the killing was meant to silence the defence team.

Former Qatari justice minister Najeeb Al Nuaimi, one of the lawyers for the former Iraqi leader, also blamed the Americans for failing to protect the defence team, but added that the assassination will not affect the trial.

"The responsibility for Al Obaidi's assassination lies with the Iraqi ministry of the interior … They have killed him like they have killed the others before. They are trying to hinder us from continuing our work," Al Nuaimi told Gulf News in Doha.

"The statements they [the Iraqi ministry of the interior] gave today about Al Obaidi's death are false … Officials from the ministry went to his house at 7 in the morning and asked him to accompany them for an interrogation. His wife was with him. After an hour his body was found dumped in an area of Baghdad called Hur. It was not true that he was found shot in a car," Al Nuaimi said.

Shopowners told reporters that three gunmen had dumped the body at a roundabout under a poster of a senior Shiite cleric killed by Saddam's agents in 1999. The cleric is the father of Moqtada Al Sadr, the leader of the Mehdi Army.

"They fired into the air and said 'this is the fate of Baathists!'," said a shopkeeper.The area is not far from the Sadr City slum, a stronghold of Sadr's militia.

Al Nuaimi said that the defence team had previously warned the US security forces of the risks Al Obaidi was exposed to, but their demands for tighter security went unheard."Al Obaidi was living in Baghdad without any guards. We asked the Americans to protect him. They did not believe he was running any risks. They gave him a pistol."


Anti-terror law quashes peaceful Kurdish protest

From Human Rights Watch:
The trial tomorrow of three Kurdish activists on anti-terrorism charges after they attempted to stage a peaceful protest near the Iraq border calls into question the Turkish leadership’s commitment to human rights reforms, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

To demonstrate that his government stands by the reform process, Prime Minister Erdoğan must ensure that Ibrahim Güçlü, Zeynel Abidin Özalp and Ahmet Sedat Oğur are released. These three Kurdish activists are scheduled to go on trial tomorrow in the eastern city of Diyarbakir. They were arrested on May 2 as they prepared to walk to the border of Iraq to peacefully protest the recent killings of civilians by security forces in southeastern Turkey and express their concern about tensions between the Turkish government and the Kurdish-led administration in northern Iraq.

The men are being charged under the Anti-Terror Law for “making propaganda for the PKK,” a charge that is all the more ironic in light of the fact that Güçlü has repeatedly and publicly condemned violence by the PKK (the Turkish acronym for the Kurdish Workers’ Party, a prominent illegal armed opposition group). All three are officials of Kurt-Der, a Kurdish association that Turkish authorities closed last month for conducting its internal business in the Kurdish language.

The detention and trial of these activists reflect a broader deterioration of Turkey’s human rights record in recent months, Human Rights Watch said. The Turkish leadership must reverse this negative trend and reaffirm its commitment to human rights reforms, underway since 1999 and driven partly by Turkey’s quest for European Union membership.


Human Rights Watch expressed strong concern about the disproportionate use of force by police dealing with protestors, particularly in the southeast, where 19 people have been killed in demonstrations and disturbances since November. The Turkish government must conduct swift investigations into the widespread allegations of torture and ill-treatment of people detained during violence that erupted after funerals in Diyarbakir of PKK militants killed by Turkish security forces.

Karzai criticises foreign tactics

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai has urged the international community to reassess how it is fighting the Taleban and their allies. He said he was not surprised that so many people were being killed in southern Afghanistan.

His comments came as the US military said four more of its soldiers had been killed in north-eastern Afghanistan.

Speaking in Kabul, President Karzai said improving local government and strengthening the police and army was the way in which to tackle the problem of terrorism.

"I have systematically, consistently and on a daily basis warned the international community of what was developing in Afghanistan... and of a change in approach by the international community in this regard."

The BBC's Alastair Leithead in Kabul says President Karzai's careful criticism is a sign of his growing frustration at the worsening security situation in Afghanistan.

Source Here

Burundi Gov't detaining rather than helping former child soldiers

From Human Rights Watch:

The Burundian government is detaining rather than rehabilitating former child soldiers associated with the rebel National Liberation Forces, Human Rights Watch said in a briefing paper released today.

On the annual Day of the African Child, Human Rights Watch called on the Burundian government to fulfill its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to protect the rights of all children in Burundi, including former child combatants.

Dozens of former FNL child soldiers associated with the National Liberation Forces (Forces Nationales pour la Libération, or FNL) languish in government custody – in prisons, jails, and a newly opened welcome center for former FNL combatants – without any clarity of their legal status or knowledge of when they might be returned to their families. Some are as young as 13 years of age. Human Rights Watch has documented how former FNL child soldiers detained in prisons live in overcrowded cells, eat once a day, and are accused of participating in the rebellion. In contrast, children in the welcome center live in better conditions and are not facing prosecution, though they are held with adult combatants.

Read more.

B'Tselem: Grave Suspicion of War Crime

From B'Tselem:
The Israeli Air Force fired missiles again yesterday into a residential neighborhood in the Gaza Strip. The missile fire, which hit a home in Khan Yunis, killed a 35 year old pregnant woman, Fatmeh Ahmad, and her brother Zachariya Ahmad, 48, and injured 11 others, among them 6 children.

Since 20 May 2006, 25 civilians who took no part in the fighting, including 7 children, have been killed by IDF missile fire in the Gaza Strip.

The circumstances of this incident, as well as the circumstances of previous incidents this month, raise the grave suspicion that this was a disproportionate attack. Attacks of this kind are defined as a war crime. B'Tselem wrote the IDF Judge Advocate General demanding that a Military Police Investigation be opened immediately regarding all those responsible for the operation, including the Chief of Staff and the Commander of the Air Force.

The principle of proportionality, a central pillar of international humanitarian law to which Israel is obligated, prohibits conducting an attack, even against a legitimate military target, if it is known that the attack will cause harm to civilians that is excessive compared to the anticipated military advantage. Israel bears the burden of proof that a particular attack was expected to achieve a military advantage significant enough to justify harming civilians. This burden of proof also requires proof that there was no reasonable alternative to the attack. Violation of the principle of proportionality is defined as a war crime, and therefore carries individual criminal liability for those responsible.

The missiles were launched in the heart of a residential neighborhood. Those planning the attack should therefore have expected that innocent civilians would be harmed, particularly given the incidents that have taken place during the past month. All of these facts raise the grave suspicion that yesterday's operation was a disproportionate attack of a nature defined as a war crime.

About B'Tselem.

Israeli TV condradicts Israeli military

From Democracy Now!:
[T]he Israeli network Channel Two is reporting new developments that bolster accusations the Israeli military was responsible for the recent Gaza beach bombing that killed eight people. Sources inside the Israeli hospital that treated some of the victims said they removed shrapnel used in Israeli shells, and not by Palestinian militants. The claims back the analysis of a Human Rights Watch military expert who investigated the scene of the bombing. The Israeli army maintains the blast was likely caused by bombs planted by Palestinian militants.

Update: From Knight Ridder via Common Dreams:
The Israeli military cleared itself of responsibility for the deaths, saying that whatever exploded on the beach June 9 wasn't an errant shell fired by Israeli soldiers during a barrage of the waterfront. Based on video clips from one of its ships, Israel concluded that the explosion came at least 10 minutes after the military had stopped shelling.

But medical logs, cell phone records and other evidence reviewed by Knight Ridder suggest that the explosion took place during the barrage and probably was due to an artillery round.

According to phone records and ambulance logs, the first emergency call for help at the beach came at 4:40 p.m., while the shelling was going on and about 20 minutes before Israel contends the blast hit the Palestinians.

Defense analysts and human rights advocates say a large piece of shrapnel that a Palestinian family says hit their son that afternoon came from the same type of artillery shells that Israel uses, though Israel disputes that.

Doubts about the military investigation have sparked calls from human rights groups and the Palestinian Authority for an independent examination, something Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has suggested is unnecessary.


Human Rights Watch offered to provide the Israeli military with shrapnel it pulled from a car that had been hit by the blast, but investigators refused, Garlasco said.

"An investigation that refuses to look at contradictory evidence can hardly be considered credible," he said. "The IDF's partisan approach highlights the need for an independent, international investigation."

Third Saddam lawyer killed

One of Saddam Hussein's lawyers was killed yesterday after he was abducted in Baghdad by men wearing police uniforms, court officials said.

Khamis al-Obeidi was abducted from his house at 7am local time. "The police found the corpse of Obeidi tossed in the Good Morning roundabout in the Ur neighbourhood" of Baghdad's mainly Sunni Adhamiyah district, an interior ministry official said.

Mr Obeidi is the third defence team lawyer to be killed since the trial against Saddam and seven co-accused on charges of crimes against humanity began in October.

Saddam's lead lawyer, Khalil Al-Dulaimi, blamed the interior ministry, which Sunnis have alleged is infiltrated by Shiite death squads.

Source Here

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

[No] freedom of speech in Afghanistan

From Democracy Now!:
The BBC has obtained evidence that Afghanistan's intelligence services are putting new restrictions on what Afghan journalists can report. According to a leaked memo, Afghan journalists are no longer allowed to criticize the U.S.-led military coalition, or publish interviews against the government’s foreign policy. The Afghan media has also been instructed to limit the coverage dedicated to the activities of militants and there are now prohibitions on interviewing, filming or photographing men considered terrorist commanders. The government maintains the restrictions are needed to prevent the media from what it describes as glorifying terrorism. A spokesperson for the U.S.-backed President Hamid Karzai said "This request is entirely consistent with the principles of the freedoms of speech and press enshrined in the constitution.” One news agency chief said 95% of his stories would be banned if these rules and regulations became law.

Entirely consistent with the principles of the freedoms of speech, eh? War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

Desperately seeking war

From Democracy Now!:
The Washington Post is reporting the Bush administration ignored an offer from Iran in 2003 to cooperate on a number of key issues now at the center of the dispute between the two nations. According to the report, Iran offered to fully cooperate on its nuclear program, recognize the state of Israel and terminate support for Palestinian militant groups. Iran sent the offer just weeks after the U.S. invaded Iraq. The Bush administration belittled the offer and formally complained to the Swiss ambassador for sending the proposal along.
Yet Bush has recently had the gall to say this:
“If Iran's leaders reject our offer, it will result in action before the Security Council, further isolation from the world and progressively stronger political and economic sanctions..."

Killing Iraqi Children

By Jacob G. Hornberger

In a short editorial, the Detroit News asked an interesting question:

“Some war critics are suggesting Iraq terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi should have been arrested and prosecuted rather than bombed into oblivion. Why expose American troops to the danger of an arrest, when bombs work so well?”

Here’s one possible answer: In order not to send a five-year-old Iraqi girl into oblivion with the same 500-pound bombs that sent al-Zarqawi into oblivion.

Of course, I don’t know whether the Detroit News editorial board, if pressed, would say that the death of that little Iraqi girl was “worth it.” Maybe the board wasn’t even aware that that little girl had been killed by the bombs that killed Zarqawi when it published its editorial. But I do know one thing: killing Iraqi children and other such “collateral damage” has long been acceptable and even “worth it” to U.S. officials as part of their long-time foreign policy toward Iraq.

This U.S. government mindset was expressed perfectly by former U.S. official Madeleine Albright when she stated that the deaths of half a million Iraqi children from the U.S. and UN sanctions against Iraq had, in fact, been “worth it.” By “it” she was referring to the U.S. attempt to oust Saddam Hussein from power through the use of the sanctions. Even though that attempt did not succeed, U.S. officials still felt that the deaths of the Iraqi children had been worth trying to get rid of Saddam.

It’s no different with respect to President Bush’s war on Iraq and the resulting occupation, which has killed or maimed tens of thousands of Iraqi people, including countless children. (The Pentagon has long had a policy of not keeping count of the number of Iraqi people, including children, it kills.) In the minds of U.S. officials, the deaths and maiming of all those Iraqi people, including the children, while perhaps unfortunate “collateral damage,” have, in fact, been worth it.

That’s why U.S. officials gave nary a thought to the death of that five-year-old girl who was bombed into oblivion with the bomb that did the same to Zarqawi. The child’s death was “worth it” because the bomb also killed a terrorist, which U.S. officials believe, brings the Middle East another step closer to peace and freedom.

Wars of aggression versus defensive wars

Some would argue that such “collateral damage” is just an unfortunate byproduct of war. War is brutal. People get killed in war. Compared with the two world wars, not that many people have been killed in Iraq, proponents of the Iraq war and occupation would claim.

Such claims, however, miss an important point: U.S. military forces have no right, legal or moral, even to be in Iraq killing anyone. Why? Because neither the Iraqi people nor their government ever attacked the United States. The Iraqi people had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington. Thus, this was an optional war against Iraq, one that President Bush and his military forces did not have to wage.

Continue reading Here

FBI says, “No hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11”

“Why doesn’t Usama Bin Laden’s Most Wanted poster make any direct connection with the events of September 11, 2001?”

The FBI says on its Bin Laden web page that Usama Bin Laden is wanted in connection with the August 7, 1998 bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. According to the FBI, these attacks killed over 200 people. The FBI concludes its reason for “wanting” Bin Laden by saying, “In addition, Bin Laden is a suspect in other terrorists attacks throughout the world.”

On June 5, 2006, the Muckraker Report contacted the FBI Headquarters, (202) 324-3000, to learn why Bin Laden’s Most Wanted poster did not indicate that Usama was also wanted in connection with 9/11. The Muckraker Report spoke with Rex Tomb, Chief of Investigative Publicity for the FBI. When asked why there is no mention of 9/11 on Bin Laden’s Most Wanted web page, Tomb said, “The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Usama Bin Laden’s Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.”

Surprised by the ease in which this FBI spokesman made such an astonishing statement, I asked, “How this was possible?” Tomb continued, “Bin Laden has not been formally charged in connection to 9/11.” I asked, “How does that work?” Tomb continued, “The FBI gathers evidence. Once evidence is gathered, it is turned over to the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice than decides whether it has enough evidence to present to a federal grand jury. In the case of the 1998 United States Embassies being bombed, Bin Laden has been formally indicted and charged by a grand jury. He has not been formally indicted and charged in connection with 9/11 because the FBI has no hard evidence connected Bin Laden to 9/11.”

It shouldn’t take long before the full meaning of these FBI statements start to prick your brain and raise your blood pressure. If you think the way I think, in quick order you will be wrestling with a barrage of very powerful questions that must be answered. First and foremost, if the U.S. government does not have enough hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11, how is it possible that it had enough evidence to invade Afghanistan to “smoke him out of his cave?” The federal government claims to have invaded Afghanistan to “root out” Bin Laden and the Taliban. Through the talking heads in the mainstream media, the Bush Administration told the American people that Usama Bin Laden was Public Enemy Number One and responsible for the deaths of nearly 3000 people on September 11, 2001. Yet nearly five years later, the FBI says that it has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.

Next is the Bin Laden “confession” video that was released by the U.S. government on December 13, 2001. Most Americans remember this video. It was the video showing Bin Laden with a few of his comrades recounting with delight the September 11 terrorist attacks against the United States. The Department of Defense issued a press release to accompany this video in which Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said, “There was no doubt of bin Laden’s responsibility for the September 11 attacks before the tape was discovered.” What Rumsfeld implied by his statement was that Bin Laden was the known mastermind behind 9/11 even before the “confession video” and that the video simply served to confirm what the U.S. government already knew; that Bin Laden was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

In a BBC News article reporting on the “9/11 confession video” release, President Bush is said to have been hesitant to release the tape because he knew it would be a vivid reminder to many people of their loss. But, he also knew it would be “a devastating declaration” of Bin Laden’s guilt. “Were going to get him,” said President Bush. “Dead or alive, it doesn’t matter to me.”

In a CNN article[4] regarding the Bin Laden tape, then New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said that “the tape removes any doubt that the U.S. military campaign targeting bin Laden and his associates is more than justified.” Senator Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, the vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee said, “The tape’s release is central to informing people in the outside world who don’t believe bin Laden was involved in the September 11 attacks.” Shelby went on to say “I don’t know how they can be in denial after they see this tape.” Well Senator Shelby, apparently the Federal Bureau of Investigation isn’t convinced by the taped confession, so why are you?

Source and continued reading Here

I still believe that Bin Laden is in some way connected to the tragic attacks on 9/11, but the questioned asked in this article are certainly valid and worthy of review(as well as frequently discussed on this site .)

How , why and in exactly what capacity (and with whom (if anyone's) help) is Osama is connected to the terrorist acts of that day. Questions that clearly still puzzle the FBI. If not the western media.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Price of Human Life in Baghdad: US $2.40

Oxfam International report says lack of control over the international ammunition trade is partly responsible for the escalating violence in Iraq. Research published on June 15 shows that the price of taking away a human life in Baghdad is currently US$2.40.

"Our research shows that new ammunition is widely available on Baghdad's black market," says Barbara Stocking, director of Oxfam.

"There are two likely explanations for this: either it was smuggled in from neighbouring countries or it has leaked from coalition or Iraqi forces' supplies. In either case, weak controls mean lives lost on the streets of Baghdad."

Walking on the streets of Baghdad anyone can purchase an AK-47 bullet for US $0.30, says the report "Ammunition: the fuel of conflict," which states that this situation is fuelling conflict and human rights abuses throughout the Iraq.

Read the full article Here

Zarqawi sought US-Iran War

By Juan Cole

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was hoping to provoke a US-Iran war as a way of bogging the Americans down further and defeating them in Iraq.

Remember all those times Bush, Rice and Rumsfeld came out and said they suspected that Shiite Iran was somehow aiding the Sunni Arab insurgency? You remember how baffled I was at this bizarre allegation? You wonder whether they were being fed disinformation by a Zarqawi agent, and falling for it.

After they fell for the biggest whoppers of the 21st century, as retailed by Ahmad Chalabi, have Bush administration officials been gullibly swallowing an al-Qaeda black psy-ops operation intended to mire US troops in the Dasht-i Kavir? For people who think of themselves as tough as nails hardheaded realists, the Bushies seem awfully easy to fool.

American hawks tied to the Israeli Likud Party, such as Michael Ledeen and Michael Rubin, who are also trying to get up an American war on Iran, turn out to have the same goal as Zarqawi!

It is the case that if you did want to see the US completely defeated and humiliated, you could not do better than have Washington open a second conventiional front in Iran. Iran is much bigger than Iraq, more rugged in terrain, and 3 times more populous, and its population is politically savvy, literate and highly mobilized.

So, it doesn't matter whether you listen to Ledeen and Rubin on attacking Iran or to Zarqawi on the same subject. Either way, such a move spells disaster for the United States and should be opposed by genuine patriots who care about this country--until and unless Iran actually does something to the US that calls for a military response.

Juan Cole is Professor of History at the University of Michigan

Source Here

Chalmers Johnson

See the video or read the transcript here.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

More condems please

Internal military documents suggest Canadian soldiers really are getting a lot more action these days.

The troops are being supplied with condoms at what appears to be a staggering pace, with documents suggesting a 12-fold increase from just four years ago.

The military has dispensed just under 300,000 publicly purchased prophylactics in each of the last two years, say figures obtained under the Access to Information Act.

"We hand them out like Kleenex," said one military official. "(The soldiers) just walk into the dispensary and claim them. We don't ask questions."

Source here

I don't particularly know what to make of this. The military is generally dominated by men with relatively few women. One of three things must be happening: women in the military are being taken advantage of, people the soldiers are meant to be protecting are being taken advantage of, or a whole lot of balloon animal fun is being had. My money is on one of the first two.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Just a quick note to inform you all that this is my last post for a few days . I am away until Monday evening (UK time). So any emails or responses required from me will not be processed until that time. I will leave you all in the more than capable hands of DJeb and Toby.

See you all Monday.

US death toll in Iraq hits 2,500

The number of US troops killed in Iraq has reached 2,500 with the death of a marine, the Pentagon has announced.

It did not identify the 2,500th casualty, in line with US policy not to release details until 24 hours after the family has been informed. A Pentagon statement said 1,972 of those who died were killed in action.

The campaign group Iraq Body Count estimates that the number of civilians killed since the outset of the conflict ranges between 38,355 and 42,747. It makes its calculation on the basis of media reports, and believes it to be a conservative estimate. Other reports put the number of civilian casualties much higher.

Thousands of Iraqi security forces, military personnel from other countries, and Iraqi and foreign insurgents have also died.


John Pilger : War by Media

"During the Cold War, a group of Russian journalists toured the United States. On the final day of their visit, they were asked by their hosts for their impressions. “I have to tell you,” said their spokesman, “that we were astonished to find, after reading all the newspapers and watching TV, that all the opinions on all the vital issues were, by and large, the same. To get that result in our country, we imprison people, we tear out their fingernails. Here, you don't have that. What's the secret? How do you do it?”

Fascinating read here