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Signs of the Times for Tue, 21 Mar 2006

By Chitra Ragavan
US News & World Report
27 March 2006 Issue
In the dark days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a small group of lawyers from the White House and the Justice Department began meeting to debate a number of novel legal strategies to help prevent another attack. Soon after, President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to begin conducting electronic eavesdropping on terrorism suspects in the United States, including American citizens, without court approval.

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18/19 Mar 06
The question posed in our title rings historical and true, and nine out of ten readers might surmise it refers to the Marines at Khe Sanh, or perhaps the boys of Pointe du Hoc, or possibly the lost battalion almost 90 summers ago in the fields of France.

But it is artifice, a quote from a movie based on James Michener's novel, The Bridges of Toko-ri. It rings true because we think it ought to be true: because it tidies up the sordid and disjointed reality of violence in the name of a cause.

This process is behind the confidence trick of how the state mystifies and glorifies its underhanded acts. In war, we are supposed to think of Audie Murphy, or Alvin York, or Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain as typical exemplars. We should indeed think of such men, and honor their deeds. But due diligence requires we think of other men, whose acts in the name of the state, the state that acts in your name, were more important--meaning more consequential for our history.

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Gillian Bradford
The World Today
20 Mar 06
ELEANOR HALL: A new opinion poll out today suggests that almost two thirds of people in this country want Australian troops to leave Iraq within the next couple months.

The research, by public affairs firm Hawker Britton, was conducted at the same time that Defence Minister Brendan Nelson was announcing that Australian soldiers would remain with the US-led Coalition well into next year.

And today the Federal Labor Party has said that Australia's "open commitment" is unwise and that the troops should be brought home.

Labor's Defence Spokesman Robert McClelland has been speaking to reporter Gillian Bradford about the survey.

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