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Monday, August 9, 2004
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Yesterday, we ran the following story:
By Mumia Abu-Jamal
As this is written, the obscene whine of bombs pierces the night sky over the capital city of Kabul, in the war-shattered nation of Afghanistan. Once again, the American Empire has come to the Middle East, armed with the glittering array of war.
Although national opinion polls assure us that this nebulous war against "terrorists, and all who support them," is a popular one, high opinion poll ratings mask the very real and very deep anxiety that people feel, in their hearts, and in their guts, about the prospect of victory. That anxiety underlies a deep distrust that Americans have historically felt about the government. What don't they know? What are Americans not being told? How will this end?
In truth, there is a good reason for this sense of anxiety, as many Americans are, without their knowledge or okay, a part of the secret wars that are raging around the world.
When the United States was a very young, and indeed, an infant nation, a well-known national leader hatched a secret plot to invade and overthrow Libya. An agent of his was given tens of thousands of dollars, and 1,000 guns to raise a secret army against Libya. This U.S. State Department official was attached to the Navy and given the title, "Agent for the United States Fleet in the Mediterranean." This secret agent, working without the knowledge or permission of the U.S. Congress, entered Egypt, organized a mercenary army, and waged war against Libya, but was not able to destabilize the government.
The government agent was Capt. William Eaton. He was acting under the secret orders of U.S. President, Thomas Jefferson, after a secret meeting of them on December 10, 1803. (See Jerry Fresia's Toward an American Revolution: Exposing the Constitution & Other Illusions (Boston: South End Press, 1988), p. 102).
Such secret wars have dotted the history of the U.S., and made her the enemy of millions, on several continents. For the poor in Latin America, in the Caribbean, in Africa and parts of Asia, the U.S. is seen as a powerful, yet schizophrenic child. She will arbitrarily remove leaders of governments, insert agents of disorder, and wage vicious propaganda wars against other countries through her media machine.
In an alleged 'democracy', why is there even ever a need for secret war?
In a nation that claims to represent the interests of the people, how can a secret war be waged? The two are simply incompatible, for if the government is (in Lincoln's famous words) "... of the people", how can the government keep secrets from itself?
While the media may manipulate public opinion to justify the waging of wars, the real beneficiaries are rarely known, and indeed, rarely are the real causes known. The causes are, more often than not, economic. While citizens and soldiers wave flags, corporations wave wallets.
For example, you may still find old-timers, who will tell you that the big, "WW II", was fought against the Nazi ideology of Hitler. Few would argue with the old geezer. But how many of us know that American corporations traded with the Nazis, even during the war? Charles Higham, in his 1984 book, Trading With the Enemy (Dell Books) wrote:
There are wars, and there are wars, apparently. Unfortunately, there are also secret wars, and the ones who are in the battle fields, or wave flags, are the last ones to know.
In response to our inclusion of this article on the Signs page, we received the following response from a reader:
We were a little surprised by this response to say the least. Even if Mumia is a "cold-blooded cop killer", as our reader emotionally exclaims, does this automatically mean that his opinion is null and void in our search for the truth? It should be remembered that some of the most incisive and insightful commentaries on humanity, life and the nature of our reality have come from the mouths of some of baddest "bad guys" the world has known.
In fact, about half way down on the left hand side of today's page you will notice a quote which provides a remarkably accurate analysis of the role of lies and truth as regards "the state". The quote is from Dr. Joseph M. Goebbels, Hitler's expert propagandist. Goebbels was a recognised authority on controlling and manipulating the masses, not because he suffered such manipulation himself, but because he was the architect of it. In his case, there is no doubt that he killed in "cold blood", and that he played a large part in creating the right environment that lead to the deaths of millions at the hands of the Nazi regime. Are we to suppose then that our reader above also takes exception to Goebbels words appearing on this page?
On a basic level, our task in life is to understand the nature of the reality in which we reside and then choose based on the knowledge gained. That which is termed "evil", or the "entropic force", exists within, and appears to dominate, our reality. That which is called "good" or the "creative force", acts as a balancing energy. In the middle stand you and I.
For those of us that are in the process of choosing to align with the creative principle, it is extremely important that we understand the nature of the "entropic force" and all the myriad ways in which it exerts itself in our reality and upon us its inhabitants. We cannot achieve this understanding by ignoring or shutting out this "force" - a careful study of its representatives and how it exerts itself is in order.
There is much truth then, about the nature of our reality, and indeed ourselves, to be found in the actions and words of what many would term the "bad guys". We might hypothesise then that the "holier than thou" attitude that many people take is an attempt to merely divert attention away from uncomfortable and nagging questions about their own natures that might otherwise need answering.
Gold nuggets of truth that show the nature of the reality we live in can also be found in the mountains of garbage and lies that are passed off as "truth" to the masses in the mainstream press. If only people would see it as such.
Granted, some media sources make genuine mistakes, but they usually correct their mistake by way of a miniscule comment or two in tiny print in a section of the paper few readers ever get to. Quite often, they simply do not bother to correct the information.
In fact, we have a little story to tell that serves as an excellent example of this. Several years ago, a local American newspaper in a town of about 70,000 people ran an article about an accident at a local theme park. The reader was regaled with tales of riders stranded upside down in one of the park rides, and multiple severe injuries. The problem was that a family member of one of the Signs editors had actually been at the park and witnessed the whole event. In reality, there were no stranded riders hanging upside-down for hours - everyone have been quickly evacuated from the ride. And there were injuries, although only one appeared to be potentially severe.
The newspaper never printed a correction. Although confronted with the fact that the news we take as "objective" is actually often based on lies passed down from "experts" and even the imagination of reporters, the aforementioned family member witness continued to believe every subsequent report printed in that same local paper. And, of course, the national news networks are never to be questioned, since they surely would be more accurate than a small local newspaper...
We at Signs of the Times, however, prefer to try and set prejudice aside and dig for the Truth.
Keeping all of this in mind, we decided to do a little hunting to see what we could come up with on Mumia Abu-Jamal and the article he wrote.
First, the article... Abu-Jamal makes some rather excellent remarks regarding wars, secret wars, democracy, and the general state of the US. We have presented numerous articles along a similar vein for the enjoyment of our readers. While it may seem ridiculous to think that secret wars were being conducted back in the days of Thomas Jefferson, it seems entirely possible - and indeed probable. From MSN Encarta:
But surely such a distinguished and honored American president like Thomas Jefferson - one of the founding fathers, no less - would never stoop to secret operations to destabilize the government of another country?? We are reminded of another honored American president named George Bush. Gore Vidal wrote:
At the very least, Abu-Jamal's article provides much food for thought.
Getting back to the subject of Mumia Abu-Jamal himself. Is he really a cold-blooded cop killer? The site provided by the reader, www.danielfaulkner.com, is designed to tell one side of the story. After having read some of the trial transcripts, it seems to us that Abu-Jamal was certainly placed at a disadvantage. Evidence was withheld from him until his trial began, even though it was in the possession of the lawyer appointed to represent him. Realizing his attorney was fairly incompetent, Jamal asked that a man named John Africa be allowed to represent him. This request was denied on the basis that John Africa was not certified to practice law in the state of Pennsylvania.
As a result Abu-Jamal was forced to "choose" to represent himself just two weeks before the trial opened. The prosecution was less than cooperative in sharing the evidence, the pro-police judge in the case didn't seem to care much about anything (except pushing the trial along as quickly as possible), and neither did the court-appointed defense attorney. Abu-Jamal was certainly less than cooperative in the court room at times - but then what would you do if you knew that you had been framed and were on the fast track to death row?
To gain some perspective, we searched for both sides of the story, starting at the site www.mumia2000.org:
In 1978, Philadelphia Mayor (and ex-police chief) Frank Rizzo blew up at a press conference, threatening what he called "the new breed" of journalists. "They [the people] believe what you write and what you say," said Rizzo, "and it's got to stop. One day—and I hope it's in my career—you're going to have to be held responsible and accountable for what you do."
What the "new breed" was doing in 1978, and is still doing today, was exposing police misconduct. A cop had been killed in a confrontation between Philadelphia police and the radical MOVE organization (the same MOVE that was fire-bombed by the city seven years later), and the police version of who shot first hadn't been accepted without question. Rizzo feared a new trend, and he was right.
The trend has continued. Today, the Mollen Commission, the NYPD "party" in DC, the Rodney King case and hundreds of other local scandals have exposed the dark underside of police misconduct nationwide. Ironically, the most prominent of the "new breed" of journalists at whom Rizzo's outburst was directed is awaiting execution on Pennsylvania's Death Row, the victim--many believe--of a police frame-up.
Mumia Abu-Jamal began his journalism career with the Black Panther Party. The Panthers were the original "affirmative action" employer, and Mumia (then Wesley Cook) was Minister of Information for the Philadelphia chapter at age 15, writing for the national newspaper. A heady beginning for a West Philly kid. After the Panthers fell apart (helped by a stiff dose of FBI harassment) Mumia turned to broadcasting. He had the voice, the writing talent and the ambition, and by age 25, he was one of the top names in local radio, interviewing such luminaries as Jesse Jackson and the Pointer Sisters and winning a Peabody Award for his coverage of the Pope's visit. He was president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, called "one to watch" by Philadelphia magazine.
But Mumia was still a radical. The Philadelphia Inquirer called him "an eloquent activist not afraid to raise his voice," and this fearlessness was to be his undoing. His vocal support of MOVE's uncompromising life-style lost him jobs at Black stations, and he was forced to moonlight to support his family. The mayor's outburst marked the beginning of a campaign of police harassment that included such subtleties as a cocked finger and a 'bang bang' from a smirking cop, and escalated to a late-night police beating of Mumia's brother on the street.
Mumia was driving a cab that night. It is undisputed that he intervened. It is undisputed that both he and officer Daniel Faulkner were shot, and that Faulkner died. What is in dispute is who killed Faulkner. Mumia says it was someone else, and several witnesses saw another shooter flee the scene.
Mumia's legally registered .38 was never decisively linked to Faulkner's wounds.
Mumia's murder trial was a policeman's dream. Denied the right to represent himself, he was defended by a reluctant incompetent who was later disbarred (and who has since filed an affadavit in Mumia's support detailing his delinquencies). Mumia was prosecuted by a DA who was later reprimanded for withholding evidence in another trial. He was allowed only $150 to interview witnesses.
Comment: So, the defense attorney was later disbarred, and the prosecutor seems to have a bad habit of withholding evidence...
But best of all was the judge. A life member of the Fraternal Order of Police, branded as a "defendant's nightmare" by the Philadelphia Inquirer, Judge Albert F. Sabo has sentenced more men to die (31 to date, only two of them white) than any other sitting judge in America. A fellow judge once called his courtroom a "vacation for prosecutors" because of bias toward convictions.
Sabo wouldn't allow Mumia to defend himself because his dreadlocks made jurors "nervous." Kept in a holding cell, he read about his own trial in the newspapers. A Black juror was removed for violating sequestration, while a white juror was given an court escort to take a civil service exam; in the end all the Black jurors but one were removed. A policeman who filed two conflicting reports was never subpoenaed (he was "on vacation"). Mumia's Black Panther history was waved like a bloody flag: Had he said, "All power to the people?" Yes, he admitted, he had said that. Character witnesses like poet Sonia Sanchez were cross-examined about their "anti-police" writings and associations.
Comment: Isn't all power supposed to be in the hands of people? Government for the people, by the people - right??
Thus with Judge Sabo's help, an award-winning radical journalist with no criminal record was portrayed as a police assassin lying in wait since age 15. After Mumia's conviction, Sabo instructed the jury: "You are not being asked to kill anybody" by imposing the death penalty, since the defendant will get "appeal after appeal after appeal." Such instruction, grounds for reversal since Caldwell vs. Mississippi, was allowed in Mumia's case.
Mumia's appeals have so far gone unanswered. After being on Death Row for thirteen years, he is now the target of a police-led smear campaign. Last year NPR's "All Things Considered" canceled a scheduled series of his commentaries after the Fraternal Order of Police objected. Mumia's book, LIVE FROM DEATH ROW, has been greeted with a boycott and a skywriter circling the publisher's Boston offices: "Addison-Wesley Supports Cop Killers" Officer Faulkner's widow has gone on TV claiming that Mumia smiled at her when her husband's bloody shirt was shown--even though the record shows that Mumia wasn't in the courtroom that day.
Mumia and his supporters want only one thing--a new trial, with an unbiased judge and a competent lawyer. Defense attorney Leonard Weinglass has entered a motion to have Judge Sabo removed from the case because he cannot provide even the "appearance of fairness." The struggle became a race against time last month, when Pennsylvania Governor Ridge, though fully aware of the many questions in the case, signed a death warrant scheduling Mumia for execution August 17.
Comment: Well, if it isn't our old friend Tom Ridge!
Mumia Abu-Jamal was not surprised. Several of the essays in his book deal with America's frantic "march toward the death chamber." As he wrote several years ago in the Yale Law Journal, "states that have not slain in a generation now ready their machinery: generators whine, poison liquids are mixed, and gases are measured and readied."
Unless Mumia Abu Jamal's final petition is answered, and he gets the fair trial he deserves, America will see its first explicitly political execution since the Rosenbergs were put to death in 1953. Frank Rizzo's angry threat will be fulfilled, for one "new breed" journalist at least. It will stop. We won't hear any more criticism of the police from Mumia Abu-Jamal. Forever.
The last remaining pillar of the prosecution's case used to convict Mumia Abu-Jamal in 1982 has been knocked down.
Mumia Abu-Jamal, an African American activist and award-winning journalist, was convicted of the 1981 killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Police claimed that Abu-Jamal confessed after the incident while he was hospitalized for gunshot wounds. Mumia Abu-Jamal has always maintained his innocence.
Now, new evidence reveals that cops concocted the "confession."
Attorneys for Abu-Jamal have filed a declaration in the Pennsyl vania Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third District. In the declaration, Kenneth Pate swears that his half-sister Priscilla Durham, during a telephone conversation with Pate in 1983 or 1984, admitted that she had not heard a "confession" by Abu-Jamal.
Durham, a security guard, was on duty at Jefferson Hospital on Dec. 9, 1981, when Abu-Jamal and Faulkner were brought in to the emergency room with gunshot wounds.
According to Pate, Durham told him that the only statement Abu-Jamal made at the hospital was, "Get off me, get off me--they're killing me," when police interferred with his medical treatment.
This directly contradicts Durham's testimony at Abu-Jamal's 1982 trial that she heard him yell out, while surrounded by police, "I shot the motherf---er and I hope he dies."
According to Pate, the police appealed to Durham to "stick with them" because as a security guard she was part of the "brotherhood" of law enforcement officers.
Abu-Jamal's jury was never allowed to hear testimony from the police officer responsible for guarding him at the hospital; the police officer had filed a written report that Abu-Jamal had made no statements.
So why is Mumia Abu-Jamal--viewed by millions around the world as a U.S.-held political prisoner--still sitting on Pennsylvania's death row?
Evidence to prove his innocence still unheard
By Monica Moorehead
On June 29, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit lifted its stay of proceedings in the case of death-row political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal and ordered a briefing on this matter. Robert R. Bryan, his lead attorney, says: "This should be a wake-up call to the movement. Mumia's case is now moving forward. He is in extremely grave danger. The authorities want to silence his voice and pen."
Mumia Abu-Jamal is one victim among millions who have been exploited and oppressed by the anti-poor, unjust U.S. criminal justice system. The significance of his case, however, goes beyond his struggle against a racist judicial frame-up. Despite being physically isolated on death row, Abu-Jamal has used his words and audio commentaries to provide a powerful, distinct voice in the worldwide movement against imperialist war in Iraq and occupation in Palestine, Haiti and Afghanistan.
The circuit court had been awaiting a U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Beard v. Banks, which will lead to Mumia's execution if the prosecution has its way.
Bryan explains the significance of this complicated ruling: "The Supreme Court ruled on the appeal by Pennsylvania state authorities stemming from a Court of Appeals decision that invalidated the death sentence of George Banks, who has been on death row over 20 years for multiple murder. Mr. Banks' death sentence had been overturned by the Court of Appeals on the grounds that the instructions to the jury in Banks' case violated a Supreme Court ruling which held that jurors did not have to agree unanimously on the existence of mitigating circumstances in order to vote against the death penalty. The key issue in the Banks case was whether another case, Mills v. Maryland, 486 U.S. 367, decided in 1988, could be applied retroactively. The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit had ruled that Mills was retroactive and therefore applied to Banks, which became final in 1987.
"In Mumia's case retroactivity regarding Banks/Mills was not an issue, since Mumia's proceeding was technically finalized in 1990 and therefore was fully covered by Mills. ... The U.S. Supreme Court reversed a critical portion of the Banks case on retroactivity, which held as unconstitutional capital sentencing schemes that require juries to disregard mitigating factors not found unanimously.
"The Supreme Court ruled that Mills did not apply retroactively. The court determined that the Banks conviction became final in 1987; thus, the 1988 Mills decision did not affect his case even though what had occurred was unconstitutional. Hence, Mr. Banks and some 30 other Pennsylvania death row inmates similarly situated could not benefit from the Mills decision and their original death penalty judgments must stand."
This crucial decision comes after more than four years of federal appeals. U.S. Federal District Judge William Yohn was assigned to Abu- Jamal's case in October 1999. He was charged with determining whether Abu-Jamal should have an evidentiary hearing and new trial. Such a hearing would have allowed evidence that had been suppressed to finally be heard and entered into court record. That would give Abu-Jamal a chance to prove his innocence in the 1981 killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.
Yohn issued a ruling on Dec. 18, 2001, that threw out the original death sentence for Mumia Abu-Jamal resulting from his 1982 trial. But Yohn upheld Abu-Jamal's conviction on the charge that he shot Faulkner. If Yohn's ruling had not been challenged within 180 days, Abu-Jamal would have gone through a new penalty trial that could have brought about either life imprisonment or, again, the death penalty.
The Philadelphia District Attorney's office, hoping to see Mumia executed, appealed Yohn's ruling. This led to the current ruling by the Third Circuit Court.
Attorney Bryan has appealed to the public: "The government knows that the only way to stop Mumia is to murder him in the name of the law, to execute him. In over three decades of litigating death-penalty cases, I have not seen one in which the government wants so badly to kill a client. We must not rest until Mumia is free."
Bryan is awaiting a ruling on a petition he filed in the Court of CommonPleas in Philadelphia concerning new evidence of innocence andprosecutorial misconduct during Mumia's original trial. Bryan will also be filing a petition in the U.S. District Court regarding a statementmade by Judge Albert Sabo during Abu-Jamal's trial. Court stenographer Terri Maurer-Carter has signed a legal affidavit saying she overheard Sabo say about Abu-Jamal: "Yeah, and I'm going to help 'em fry the n---- r."
The political movement must be ready to mobilize in the streets to demand Abu-Jamal's freedom. Twice when Tom Ridge--now head of the federal Department of Homeland Security--was governor of Pennsylvania, he tried to legally lynch this revolutionary journalist and former Black Panther. Both times, in August 1995 and October 1999, Abu-Jamal's supporters turned out in the thousands to stop his execution.
The powers-that-be want to forever silence him because of his belief in worldwide social revolution. That is why the movement must use every avenue to free him.
Amnesty International has some interesting things to say about Mumia's case, as well:
Mumia Abu-Jamal has been incarcerated on Pennsylvania's death row for the past 17 years. His case has generated more controversy and received more attention, both national and international, than that of any other inmate currently under sentence of death in the United States of America (USA).
Mumia Abu-Jamal, black, was convicted and sentenced to death in July 1982 for the murder of white police officer Daniel Faulkner on 9 December 1981. He has steadfastly maintained his innocence since 1981. Since the trial, those advocating his release or retrial have contested the validity of much of the evidence used to obtain his conviction. These accusations have been countered by members of the law enforcement community and their supporters, who have agitated for Mumia Abu-Jamal's execution while maintaining that the trial was unbiased and fair.
In light of the contradictory and incomplete evidence in this case, Amnesty International can take no position on the guilt or innocence of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Nor has the organization identified him as a political prisoner, although it has previously expressed its concern over the activities of a government counterintelligence program, which appeared to number Abu-Jamal among its targets (see page 24). However, the organization is concerned that political statements attributed to him as a teenager were improperly used by the prosecution in its efforts to obtain a death sentence against him. In any event, the administration of the death penalty in the USA remains a highly politicized affair, sanctioned and supported by elected officials for its perceived political advantages. The politicization of Mumia Abu-Jamal's case may not only have prejudiced his right to a fair trial, but may now be undermining his right to fair and impartial treatment in the appeal courts.
After many years of monitoring Mumia Abu-Jamal's case and a thorough study of original documents, including the entire trial transcript, the organization has concluded that the proceedings used to convict and sentence Mumia Abu-Jamal to death were in violation of minimum international standards that govern fair trial procedures and the use of the death penalty. Amnesty International therefore believes that the interests of justice would best be served by the granting of a new trial to Mumia Abu-Jamal (see conclusion). [...]
Comment: COINTELPRO, eh? On page 24 of the report, we read the following:
The secret monitoring of Mumia Abu-Jamal
In 1995, defence lawyers obtained approximately 700 pages of files on Mumia Abu-Jamal maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), via the Freedom of Information Act. These documents represented only a portion of the total files and were heavily censored. The FBI began monitoring Abu-Jamal in 1969 when he was 15 years old, because of his activities at High School and later with the Black Panther Party (BPP).
According to a sworn affidavit by the attorney who examined the files, Abu-Jamal was under surveillance as part of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Program, COINTELPRO (see footnote 7), which operated with the cooperation and assistance of the Philadelphia police. According to the affidavit:
Although the FBI classified Abu-Jamal as "armed and dangerous", he was not convicted of any crime during this period.
The documents reveal that the FBI was continuing to monitor Abu-Jamal as late as 1990, recording the details of one of his visitors while he was incarcerated.
Of course, COINTELPRO agents couldn't let Amnesty International's report go unanswered. On www.danielfaulkner.com, we found the following response. Note that the article's title already places AI's report in the realm of propaganda, before any arguments - logical or otherwise - are even presented. The word "propaganda" has certain emotional effects that are effectively used by COINTELPRO operatives.
The self-styled guardian of international justice, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), has come down heavily on the side of convicted murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal. Their web site features a "report" on Jamal and his trial, done in a tone that is meant to convince the reader that AIUSA is an objective, unbiased observer rather than a biased advocate with an agenda. That's just the first lie in this one-sided piece of propaganda. For the truth, read on.
In The Introduction, despite the fact that no attempt was made to contact the Philadelphia District Attorney's Officer or the Philadelphia Police Department, AIUSA states that it has performed an "impartial" and "thorough study" of Jamal's case. Based on this one sided "study" they allege that the proceedings "were in violation of minimum international standards that govern fair trial procedures."
Comment: Would that be the same Philadelphia Police Department that is working with the FBI COINTELPRO agents?
Lets recall that this case was reviewed on direct appeal by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 1989, by the United States Supreme Court on a petition for certiorari in 1990, was the subject of extensive "post conviction review" hearings in 1995, 1996, and 1997, was reviewed again by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 1998, and was finally rejected for certiorari by the United States Supreme Court in 1999. Perhaps AIUSA would have us believe that all those courts don't understand the "minimum international standards" for a fair trial. But it's hard to believe that these courts do not know the "minimum USA standards" for a fair trial.
It's even harder to believe that the rest of the world in general -- which includes places like Iraq -- has better "standards" than we do here in the United States. In France, for example, where Jamal enjoys considerable support, one is guilty until proven innocent, and there is no right against self-incrimination as there is in the US system. By comparison, the "minimum" standards in any American court make the maximum standards of some of our most allegedly advanced and enlightened international neighbors look downright shabby.
Comment: Here the writers appeal again to the emotions and patriotism of the reader. They are trying to appeal to the reader's belief that the US is great, and that the American system is way better than those of countries such as Iraq and France.
Well, all right, maybe the folks at AIUSA know more than the combined sixteen Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. So lets give AIUSA a chance to make their case. Here goes.
The Backdrop. AIUSA gets off to a rather poor start. They begin their report with an ad hominem argument. That's a fancy term for an argument that, instead of dealing with relevant facts and issues, attempts to distract attention from those issues by attacking someone or something.
Comment: Yes, we are most familiar with this technique, given that the authors of this article just attacked Iraq and France instead of providing any useful facts or information comparing American courts to those in other countries. Biased statements about the French legal system don't cut it...
It's an appeal to emotion rather than reason, and it's cheap. It's something people do when they're trying to convince you of something they know you just won't buy if they give you time to think about the relevant issues.
Comment: Yes, it is cheap. But it is an effective tool to use on the masses, and COINTELPRO agents and their helpers know it.
That's what we find in "The Backdrop." There's nothing in it about this case. This case is about the murder of Officer Daniel Faulkner. But AIUSA's "backdrop" piece says, in essence, that the Philadelphia police in the 1970's were a bunch of homicidal maniacs. For example, AIUSA points to Mayor Frank Rizzo telling police in 1978, "Even when you're wrong, I'm going to back you." According to AIUSA's interpretation, this means that Rizzo "appeared to tolerate police misconduct." Or did it mean something else. Could Mayor Rizzo have been telling his police force, a force that was working in an extremely difficult environment, that he would not abandon them over mere errors of judgment, while at the same time not "tolerating misconduct"? After all, Mayor Rizzo didn't say "I'll back you even when you commit misconduct." That interpretation -- which seems much more reasonable than the one AI comes up with -- doesn't seem to have occurred to AIUSA. Why is that?
Comment: If you have a bunch of homicidal maniac police officers, and their boss says he'll back them up even if they're wrong, most people will conclude that the homicidal maniacs will interpret the boss's remark as approval of their lunacy. In any case, if Mayor Rizzo actually meant something else, why didn't he say something else??
More important, what does any of the information contained in "The Backdrop" have to do with this case? Is AIUSA claiming that the police officers that handled this case were all "lawless" and corrupt? Well, no. Does AIUSA address anything that specific officers did to make Jamal's trial unfair? Well, no. What AIUSA is saying, is that all of us should dislike and mistrust the police department of that era because of their reputation, and thus, we should conclude that Jamal's trial was unfair. That there's simply no connection between the premise and the conclusion they want you to draw, seems to cause AIUSA no distress.
Here's another one -- AIUSA says the police clashed with the radical group MOVE in 1978; Jamal was "closely involved with" MOVE and had MOVE-style hair; therefore, the police would not have liked Jamal; therefore, the trial was unfair.
How does any of that prove that the trial was unfair? Well, actually, it doesn't. But it sure helps you to get a good hate going against the police, doesn't it? [...]
Comment: Actually, it provides some of the background necessary to understand why Abu-Jamal would be set up by Philadelphia police in cooperation with the FBI. In a related foot note in AI's report, we find another interesting tidbit:
The Defense. Next AI purports to discuss "Jamal's legal representation at trial." It's a legitimate topic. If Jamal didn't have a good defense lawyer, maybe the trial wasn't fair. Ok, lets let AIUSA make their case against Anthony Jackson, Jamal's 1982 lawyer.
Hmm. There's very little here about Jamal's lawyer. AIUSA says that at the time of the trial, Pennsylvania "had no minimum standards" for lawyers in capital cases. That seems to imply that Jamal's lawyer fell below whatever "minimum standards" should have been in place, doesn't it?
But AIUSA never actually comes out and says this; the reason is that, in fact, Anthony Jackson was one of the better criminal lawyers in the city at the time. All AIUSA tells you about Jackson, is that he was a "court-appointed" lawyer, which is apparently meant to conjure up an image of an incompetent hack who couldn't earn a living from paying clients. But lets look at what the record -- which AIUSA supposedly studied -- has to say about Anthony Jackson. Anthony Jackson himself testified that prior to representing Jamal, he had tried approximately twenty first degree murder cases, resulting in six convictions and no death sentences (N.T. 7/27/95, 92-93).
He was not some kind of tyro, but a seasoned and respected criminal defense attorney, with experience comparable to that of the best defense lawyers in the city. Before becoming an attorney, Jackson had worked for years as an evidence technician for the Philadelphia Police Department. He had also worked as an investigator for the Defender's Association of Philadelphia, as well as for Marilyn Gelb, Esq., who later represented Jamal on his direct appeal. Jackson served as an Assistant District Attorney and worked with a Federal Master to reform the Philadelphia prison system. Later Jackson became the director of the Public Interest Law Center Police Project, where he specialized in, and trained other lawyers in how to handle claims of police misconduct. He had also admittedly tried cases in Judge Sabo's courtroom in the past and knew exactly what would be expected of him.
Jackson testified that he got involved in Jamal's case at the request of Jamal's friends at the Association of Black Journalists and that he personally met with Jamal on several occasions in December 1981. Jackson acknowledged that he was not assigned to Jamal's case, but instead approached the court and arranged to be court-appointed on December 15, 1981 (N.T. 7/27/95, 31-34, 95-101, 117-121), so that Jamal wouldn't have to pay him. Jackson was not some random choice made by the Court as AIUSA infers. He was Jamal's handpicked lawyer. Mr. Jackson conducted thorough and intensive pretrial preparation for a period of five months, until two weeks before the trial began. Then, Jamal suddenly decided he wanted to represent himself (N.T. 3/18/82, 9; 7/28/95, 55-59, 67-68). (Perhaps Jamal never heard the old adage -- he who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer and a jackass for a client). [...]
Comment: Why would Abu-Jamal "handpick" a lawyer and then dismiss him two weeks before trial? Why is there no mention of the fact that Jackson was later disbarred? Finally, we have the remark about the old adage, which is nothing more than another attempt to belittle Abu-Jamal and convince the reader that he is an imbecile.
A thorough analysis of all the available information would take quite some time. From what we have presented, it seems that the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal goes, quite literally, to the highest ranks of government. The FBI seems to have been involved with the Philadelphia police in a COINTELPRO operation designed to frame Abu-Jamal, among other things. The footnote in Amnesty International's report indicates that as recently as 1990, COINTELPRO was still alive and well. Our own experiences tend to support the theory that COINTELPRO efforts never ended.
Despite the frenzied efforts of then-governor Tom Ridge to execute him, Jamal remains on death row today. It is rather appropriate that a man like Ridge would end up as the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Unfortunately, this new information does nothing to improve America's outlook. Men who don't think twice of ordering the harassment, framing, and death of fellow citizens obviously do not have the country's best interests at heart.
As George W. Bush so eloquently stated:
Finally, while we sympathize with Abu-Jamal's plight, we cannot and do not support promoting change through violence of any kind. As we have repeatedly pointed out, we believe that the world is as it is, and any change must happen on an individual level. However, we hope that our little report here will be helpful to our readers, some in particular, in clarifying the fact that very often, NOTHING is as it seems as first glance, and the Truth can only be accessed if we first leave prejudice at the door.
Mon Aug 9,
7:39 AM ET
"Last Friday morning, we first learned of detailed information about specific locations scouted by Al-Qaeda for possible attack," Ridge wrote in the Wall Street Journal's Monday edition.
"These casing operations occurred in 2000 and 2001 and were recently updated in January of this year. But regardless of when Al-Qaeda did the groundwork, upon seeing the shocking new detail of their plans we were compelled to share this information immediately," he said.
Ridge announced heightened security around five key financial centers in Washington and the New York area on August 1, after a series of arrests of Al-Qaeda suspects in Pakistan netted computer files containing detailed surveillance plans of the buildings.
The files were 40 pages long, according to Ridge.
"Information on the types of uniforms worn by guards, potential escape routes, places where employees hang out -- detail after detail down to the incline that exists on one of the underground parking garages -- is shockingly black and white," he wrote. [...]
Polls say President George W. Bush is seen as stronger on national security than his opponent, Democratic Senator John Kerry.
Ridge fought back Monday, pointing out that Al-Qaeda cased the US embassy in Nairobi for five years before bombing it in 1998, and that planning for the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon dated to 1996.
"In an election year, there will be those who want to view the release of this information through a political prism. Let me state what should go without stating: There is no place for politics in homeland security," he wrote. [...]
In a scathing editorial against the terror alert system, The New York Times Thursday called on Bush to improve the way it informs the public: "The events of this week showed starkly that the system is not working."
The daily said Ridge, for speaking in "apocalyptic terms" about the terror threat, "is hopeless as a spokesman on this issue," describing his warning as "a campaign pitch" for Bush.
"The administration should also stop dropping dark hints about Al-Qaeda's having election-related motives to attack, as if a vote against the current president were appeasement," said the Times.
The Tyrannous Whims of Government
In the past almost four years, I have come to fear almost everything the Bush administration does. In one way or the other, it has harmed, perhaps irreparably, virtually every aspect of American life. From raising the acceptable arsenic levels in water (a little arsenic is good for us all) to logging and snowmobiling in America's formerly treasured parks, to ripping apart the bill of rights and trampling it underfoot, to using the threat of "terrorist" attacks for political gain, to going to war on a lie and not just spending our money outrageously but being responsible for-and proud of-the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers, the maiming of thousands more (a deep and dirty secret) and the slaying of thousands (but who's counting?) Iraqi civilians. All of this and much, much more literally keeps me awake at night, sick with fear and worry.
But nothing disturbs me more than the case of Ahmed Abu Ali.
Abu Ali is an American citizen, born in Texas in 1981. He is a resident of Falls Church, Virginia, where he lives with his parents. He was valedictorian of his 1999 graduating class in a northern Virginia high school. He attends a Saudi university where he is studying for a degree.
Last June, Ahmed was taking an exam at the International University of Medina. In stormed Saudi police who took him away to a Saudi prison where he has been since that day. It has taken a year for the story to make any sense, and during this time his family and lawyer have kept me informed about the case. However, they asked me not to write about it, for fear that it may jeopardize his potential for release.
Now that it appears their son may never come home, at least not if the Bush administration can help it, they have filed a law suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asking that their son be given the same rights as the Supreme Court recently gave Guantanamo prisoners and American citizen Yaser Hamdi-the right to, at a minimum, challenge his detention. They have also given me permission, through their attorney, to write about their son's case.
Here is the abbreviated version of the undisputed facts, according to court records and discussions with the family and attorney: Ahmed was acquainted with some of the men charged in the notorious case of the Alexandria 11, men who pled guilty or were convicted (all but one of them, and that is important, as you will see) of conspiring to fight for the Muslim cause in the constant battle between India and Pakistan over the territory of Kashmir. Kashmir is divided between Muslim and Christian populations and the Indian Christians and the Pakistani Muslim governments share control over the territory. The interest in fighting for Kashmir is one that is promoted by many Muslims. The men were friends, and in the course of their friendship play paintball and shoot at targets with guns, all perfectly legal in Northern Virginia. In fact, gun use is so legal in Virginia that the legislature recently passed a law affirmatively making it acceptable (indeed promoting) the carrying of weapons into bars and restaurants.
Initially charged under the seldom-used Neutrality Act, which forbids an American from taking sides with an "enemy" of the United States, those who pled to conspiring to aid Muslims were given sentences of four to ten years in exchange for testifying against the others; the men who did not pled guilty were indicted with aiding and abetting terrorism, upping the ante to life prison terms. Of the four men who did not plead guilty to the new charges, three were convicted by Judge Leonie Brinkema and sentenced to 85 to 115 years in prison. These were men who were not a threat to the U.S., who were not anti-American, who never took up arms against any one, but who, it is true, were sympathetic to the Muslim cause. They would have fought for the Muslim cause in Kashmir, if the occasion presented itself (India and Pakistan declared a cease fire early in 2004).
One of the men who pled not guilty had been in Saudi Arabia at the same time that Abu Ali was "detained." He was extradited to the United States, and Judge Brinkema found him not guilty. Though he is free at the moment, he expects to be harassed by prosecutors. Surely, he will be arrested and charged with something-anything to avenge his acquittal by Judge Brinkema.
Abu Ali has been visited in Saudi Arabia by the FBI and perhaps by Alexandria prosecutors. From what little we know (he has been denied an attorney, and the State Department and the Saudi government have conspired to insure that he receives no mail or visits), he was urged to confess to being part of the Alexandria 11, he refused, likely being tortured and mentally and physically abused. He was urged to renounce his U.S. citizenship, in exchange for the promise of being taken to Sweden. (He was smart not to do that; last week it was reported in the Washington Post that the U.S. government aided Swedish officials in "rendering" Saudi citizens back to Saudi Arabia where they were "tried" for "terrorism" crimes and are serving lengthy prison terms. Both maintain their innocence. )
If prosecutors had any case at all against Abu Ali, they would surely have had him extradited at the same time as Sabri Benkhala, who was acquitted by Judge Brinkema. Abu Ali has been threatened with being named an enemy combatant, but that would also mean that he would be brought to the U.S., held like Americans Padilla and Hamdi and, now, entitled to an attorney and the right to file a habeas corpus petition challenging his relief.
But that is not going to happen. The day Abu Ali's parents filed a petition for habeas corpus and other relief, the U.S. State Department informed them that the Saudis were going to charge Abu Ali with unspecified crimes of "terror." Days before the case was filed, the Saudis told the family that they were ready to release Abu Ali, but had to have approval from the U.S. to do so. The Saudis said they had no interest in him. The State Department, at that time, it was up to the Saudis. Clearly, no one is telling the truth. The State Department now says it cannot comment on anything, because Abu Ali never signed "privacy" forms, forms that the Saudis refused to give him (no doubt told to refuse to deliver them by the same State Department that claims they can't obtain them from their detainee).
Here is why I am scared to death of this administration: Abu Ali will surely never come home. There is no way the U.S. government is going to let a man live to tell the tale of his capture by Saudis at the request of the U.S., his incarceration without a charge, without a lawyer, without access to his family, and, no doubt, his being subject to torture during long periods of interrogation. Maybe Kromberg wanted him at some time, found there was nothing to get him on, then told the Saudis to torture him into confession of anything that would make him extraditable. For the present time, it still takes an actual criminal charge to indict someone.
But it takes nothing but the whims of the government, to "render" an American citizen to another country and demand that that country imprison the American until it says to release him or her. But then the U.S. cannot tolerate the word getting out about the whole story, so it will have to silence Abu Ali by keeping him locked up forever (or worse) in a Saudi jail.
Let's be clear about this - the Saudis insist that they are holding him only because the U.S. demands it.
Remember Nicholas Berg, who was beheaded shortly after his release by the U.S. government in Iraq? Remember how the U.S. insisted that it never had him in custody but that that "Iraqi police" held him? Forget for a time that the Iraqi police did nothing without the permission of and payment by the U.S. government-the police said that they had seized Berg at the demand of the U.S. and they released Berg to its custody. Finally, after Berg died, the State Department admitted the U.S. had detained him. When Berg refused the request of the U.S. government that it take him out of Iraq, when Berg insisted that he was going to leave Iraq on his own, he was murdered.
You connect the dots. Or not. But don't turn away from the frightening truth of what your government is up to-successfully, without accountability, violating every right and privilege Americans have under U.S. and international law.
Even if the federal court orders that Abu Ali be brought to the U.S. to have a hearing, don't expect it to happen. Accidents happen in prison, don't they? Especially in foreign prisons. The Pentagon is even now making it near impossible for attorneys for the Guantanamo prisoners to meet their clients and file the petitions the Supreme Court gave them the right to file.
Face it. We are living in a time of anarchy. Our government is imprisoning its citizens without cause and without process. Welcome to George Bush's America.
Elaine Cassel practices law in Virginia and the District of Columbia, teaches law and psychology, and follows the Bush regime's dismantling of the Constitution at Civil Liberties Watch. Her book, The War on Civil Liberties: How Bush and Ashcroft Have Dismantled the Bill of Rights, will be published by Lawrence Hill this summer. She can be reached at: email@example.com
The F.B.I. wants to know why two men were asking questions about a munitions plant in Scranton. It's a homeland security issue, so why hasn't the public been asked to help? The alert about the Chamberlain plant was shared with state homeland security officials Monday but it was not made public. That's the question Newswatch 16 tried to get answered Friday.
Newswatch 16 obtained the computer-generated pictures that officials are circulating of the two men Thursday. They're wanted for questioning. But if this is a homeland security issue why weren't the pictures weren't made public on Monday?
The Chamberlain Manufacturing Corporation on Cedar Avenue in Scranton makes ammunition shells for the military. When the facility got a call from the F.B.I. on Monday about a possible situation, security took action.
"(We) received a call from the F.B.I. first to notify us that there were two suspects that requested information on the plant," confirmed Karl Urban, spokesman for the U.S. Army. The plant beefed up security and notified all employees. "Everyone stayed calm. They understand the situation, understand what's been going on in the area, not just Scranton, but total area. We wanted to make sure they were aware and no surprises," Urban added.
The computer-generated pictures were made by descriptions given to police of the two men wanted for questioning. They are said to be of Middle-eastern descent and one has a British accent.
The state office of homeland security said it is aware of the police investigation in Scranton, and was contacted by the F.B.I. and Scranton police on Monday. At this point, homeland security said it's a local investigation.
But why not make the pictures public to get more response? The state Department of Homeland Security started running a public service announcement last week urging people to get involved. A state homeland security spokesperson said the investigation in Scranton shows the campaign is working because someone did call police with information. But, he said, it's up to the agency in charge of the investigation to decide if and when pictures are released. In this case, it's the F.B.I. that's in charge.
Agents are following up on leads but that they get hundreds of tips and if they were to make that information public every time, it would be information overload. Instead, they try to run down those leads first to determine if there is a legitimate concern.
Comment: Perhaps the FBI wanted to make sure that the two men of "Middle Eastern descent" weren't Israeli agents before going public with the photos.
GENEVA PARK, ONT. -- Suicide bombers are rational, sane human beings whose choice to end their lives as they kill others is considered perfectly normal in the societies they grow up in, says a U.S. psychiatrist who worked for the CIA.
Jerrold Post has put together personality profiles for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency for more than 20 years and spoken to scores of accused Palestinian and al-Qaeda terrorists. In an interview yesterday, he said that the appeal of suicide bombing is broadening.
The practice was once limited to very young men, a huge percentage of them teenagers.
"Now women, mothers, have joined this pathway, and middle-aged men, a 43-year-old father. I see it as a trend," he said.
Dr. Post spoke yesterday at the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs annual conference, held north of Toronto. This year's theme is "God's Back with a Vengeance: Religion, Pluralism and the Secular State."
He said his colleagues have given up asking people why they join their militant organizations to become suicide bombers. "Because we would get these weird looks: 'Why do we join? Everybody is joining. It's only the weird individuals who don't join,' " he said. "This is troubling to hear and understand."
Asked to explain why it has happened, Dr. Post responded with a single word: "Despair."
He said suicide bombers are people who see no other solution for the forces they see arrayed against them, no other way of avenging their family's losses.
"I think one has to look to the despair that they are experiencing. . . . These are not deviant, psychologically disturbed individuals. Every one of them I've talked to has made perfect sense," he said.
"Terrorists groups, in fact, carefully screen those who want to join -- people are lined up to join these groups -- and they do not allow emotionally disturbed people to join. They'd be a security risk."
Dr. Post founded the CIA's Center for the Analysis of Personality and Political Behaviour and directed it for 21 years.
He played the lead role in developing psychological profiles of former Israeli premier Menachen Begin and former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat for U.S. President Jimmy Carter at the Camp David peace talks. He also prepared a psychological profile of Saddam Hussein.
Dr. Post now directs the political psychology program at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
He said that before "the broadening and deepening" appeal of suicide bombing took root, the profile of a suicide bomber was that of a man aged 17 to 22 -- an "uneducated, unmarried, unemployed and unformed youth looking forward to a life of despair.
"At the forefront of revolutions are youth, always. It's part of the psychological imperative of youth to overthrow the parental generation and become adults on their own and, when there is a corrupt authority internationally, that becomes a surrogate for the parent that they need to overthrow," he said.
"Youthful energy is very idealizing and very demonizing."
Dr. Post said the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist hijackers fit a different paradigm. They were older, comparatively well-educated men from middle-class backgrounds, who subordinated their personalities to a destructive charismatic organization and its leader.
"To use this metaphor of a war on terrorism is nonsense. It implies a winner and a loser and a surrender ceremony at the end of it. We need to be struggling . . . for hearts and minds," he said. "You can't win this war with smart bombs and missiles.
"We have abdicated the arena of ideas and values."
God They Trust: Gulf grows between Canada, U.S., on religious issues
That's Canadian pollster and book author Michael Adams' response to the theme of the annual conference on religion being held this weekend near Orillia, Ont., as he told participants Saturday that the great religious divide between Canada and the U.S. continues to grow significantly.
The theme of this year's Couchiching conference is "God's Back -- with a Vengeance: Religion, Pluralism and the Secular State" -- but clearly Adams and his polling numbers don't support it.
In a presentation titled God, Dads, Gays and Guns, Adams used a recent Canada-U.S. poll to demonstrate the divide. The poll shows 58 per cent of Americans saying that it is necessary to believe in God in order to be a moral person, while only 30 per cent of Canadians agree to this.
And while 45 per cent of Americans now say they go to church every week, only 20 per cent (down from 85 per cent in the 1950s) of Canadians can say the same thing.
"In the United States, I guess you can say that there is one category of person who cannot be elected, and that's an atheist. And in Canada, there's a category of person who can't be elected and of course that is a person who is an ostentatious religious person," said Adams.
"In fact, people who believe in God are suspect and we want to know a little bit more about them."
He noted that former Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day suffered at the polls in the 2000 federal election after it was revealed that he questioned evolution because of his Christian fundamentalist beliefs.
As well, he showed that 69 per cent of Canadians believe in heaven but only about 43 per cent believe in hell and the devil. Meanwhile, in the U.S., 81 per cent believe in heaven and 70 per cent in hell and the devil.
The pollster's latest book, released last year, was Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the Myth of Converging Values. The book argued that Canadians and Americans are remarkably different based on scientific surveys performed during the past decade.
Earlier in the conference, Peter Beyer, a professor in the University of Ottawa's department of religious studies, also contradicted the conference's theme.
"God isn't back," said Beyer. "He's always been there -- just not attracting our attention."
He said 1979 was a bumper year for religious movements, noting the rise of the religious right in the U.S. and the Iranian revolution. Beyer noted that the word "fundamentalism" is often used in the media when "religion doesn't know its place" in the world.
In his studies, Beyer has noted that while Islam is growing in Canada as a religion, an increasing proportion of other immigrants to Canada are declaring they have "no religion."
Adams also told the conference that while Canadians and Americans identify with people who put their family above everything else, there is a growing gap when it comes to believing that the father of the family must be master of his own house.
Observers will be part of OSCE's human rights office
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A team of international observers will monitor the presidential election in November, according to the U.S. State Department.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was invited to monitor the election by the State Department. The observers will come from the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.
It will be the first time such a team has been present for a U.S. presidential election.
"The U.S. is obliged to invite us, as all OSCE countries should," spokeswoman Urdur Gunnarsdottir said. "It's not legally binding, but it's a political commitment. They signed a document 10 years ago to ask OSCE to observe elections."
Thirteen Democratic members of the House of Representatives, raising the specter of possible civil rights violations that they said took place in Florida and elsewhere in the 2000 election, wrote to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in July, asking him to send observers.
After Annan rejected their request, saying the administration must make the application, the Democrats asked Secretary of State Colin Powell to do so.
The issue was hotly debated in the House, and Republicans got an amendment to a foreign aid bill that barred federal funds from being used for the United Nations to monitor U.S. elections, The Associated Press reported.
In a letter dated July 30 and released last week, Assistant Secretary of State Paul Kelly told the Democrats about the invitation to OSCE, without mentioning the U.N. issue.
"I am pleased that Secretary Powell is as committed as I am to a fair and democratic process," said Democratic Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, who spearheaded the effort to get U.N. observers.
"The presence of monitors will assure Americans that America cares about their votes and it cares about its standing in the world," she said in a news release.
Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of California agreed.
"This represents a step in the right direction toward ensuring that this year's elections are fair and transparent," she said.
"I am pleased that the State Department responded by acting on this need for international monitors. We sincerely hope that the presence of the monitors will make certain that every person's voice is heard, every person's vote is counted."
OSCE, the world's largest regional security organization, will send a preliminary mission to Washington in September to assess the size, scope, logistics and cost of the mission, Gunnarsdottir said.
The organization, which counts among its missions conflict prevention and postconflict rehabilitation, will then determine how many observers are required and where in the United States they will be sent.
"OSCE-participating [nations] agreed in 1990 to observe elections in one another's countries. The OSCE routinely monitors elections within its 55-state membership, including Europe, Eurasia, Canada and the United States," a State Department spokesman said.
The spokesman said the United States does not have any details on the size and composition of the observers or what countries will provide them.
OSCE, based in Vienna, Austria, has sent more than 10,000 personnel to monitor more than 150 elections and referenda in more than 30 countries during the past decade, Gunnarsdottir said.
In November 2002, OSCE sent 10 observers on a weeklong mission to monitor the U.S. midterm elections. OSCE also sent observers to monitor the California gubernatorial recall election last year.
More recently, OSCE monitored the elections in Northern Ireland in November and in Spain in March.
August 9, 2004
BAGHDAD (AFP) - Prominent Iraqi politician Ahmed Chalabi and his nephew Salem will be arrested the moment they set foot in Iraq, the judge who issued warrants against them said.
"This is not a summons, they will be arrested the moment they return to Iraq and they will appear before an investigating court", Zuhair al-Maliky told AFP in an interview.
That court will decide whether to refer them for trial by a higher tribunal, he added.
Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress, is currently in Tehran, while Salem Chalabi, who heads a court set up to try former dictator Saddam Hussein and top figures of his regime, is in London.
Ahmed is accused in particular of counterfeiting money, on felony charges which Maliky said had been brought by Iraq's central bank following raids on his home in May.
The central bank governor was not immediately available for comment.
Maliky said "significant sums of counterfeit Iraqi dinars", were found in Ahmed Chalabi's Baghdad home during a raid in May by the US military.
He said Salem Chalabi was one of three people accused in connection with the murder of Haitham Fadel, director general of the Iraqi finance ministry, in April. Maliky refused to name the other two. [...]
By Luke David
Immigration officers are questioning Tube travellers because they sound "foreign", the Evening Standard has learned.
Their aim is uncover illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers. The discovery that these tactics are being used prompted a political row today. The Liberal Democrats are set to write to the Home Secretary demanding an explanation for a scheme civilrights groups dubbed "Stalinist".
The existence of the spot-check operation has been kept secret by the Home Office but an Evening Standard investigation discovered that teams of immigration officers have been carrying out the procedures since May 2003.
It is part of a wider programme in which 1,000 suspected illegal immigrants have been detained.
During one operation witnessed by the Evening Standard, a series of people getting off Tube trains were stopped by immigration officers dressed in body armour and carrying handcuffs.
The officer in charge said people were picked out for questioning if they sounded foreign.
One immigration officer said: "If you hear someone speaking a language that's not European we approach them and ask 'do you mind if I ask you what nationality you are?'
"If they get upset or start acting suspiciously we ask the police to assist and demand identification."
Onlookers said they were shocked when they saw the operation at Harrow-on-the-Hill station shortly before the evening rush hour.
Ellen Cook, 23, an admin assistant, said: "They are assuming if people look different they should be harassed. It's despicable."
Today the Home Office faced a barrage of criticism over the tactics. Police are specifically forbidden by Home Office guidelines from stopping people because of their accent or appearance.
A junior Home Office minister promised an investigation when official figures showed a massive jump in the number of Muslims stopped by police under anti-terrorist laws.
Mr Blunkett now faces demands for an explanation of his secret initiative.
Mark Oaten, home affairs spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, told the Evening Standard he was writing to Mr Blunkett to demand answers. "This is a step too far," he said. "The Home Secretary should urgently review powers that allow immigration officers to indiscriminately stop people in this way."
Barry Hugill, of the civil rights group Liberty, said: "Stopping people and checking their papers is what we used to associate with the old communist states.
"It's real stab-in-the-dark stuff. It is not intelligence-led, it's 'lets see what we can get today'."
Keith Best, chief executive of the Immigration Advisory Service, said: "It is a time-consuming and costly way of ending up with just a few people arrested by circumstance.
"It's a rather random blunderbuss approach that offends many ordinary decent citizens, some of whom will be third or fourth generation British."
The Home Office said it had no figures for how many illegal immigrants had been caught in the sweeps of Tube stations.
British Transport police officers are taken away from regular patrol duties to back up the immigration officers.
Today the Home Office defended the policy.
A spokesman said: "The Government has made it clear it will take a robust stance against those who abuse UK laws.
"We will prosecute and will seek to remove those who have no legal basis of stay in the UK."
More Land For The Military Than For Hawaiians
Part One of Two
in Hawaii, the state is considering another generous land donation to
the military and has made homelessness a crime. Under the cover of the
term "Military Transformation" and with the blanket of 9/11,
the military is taking a wide berth in land stealing. And, recently enacted
Act 50 makes criminals out of people who have been displaced by the military
itself, many of them Native Hawaiian.
"We have a right to be here, because our ancestors were from here," Beltran explained to a reporter. "I cannot go to the mainland and say that's my home. I cannot go to Japan and call that my home. This is my home, right here. I will never give this place up."
Sunspot 649, which unleashed five X-class solar flares in July, has returned, and it's growing again. Witness this 3-day (Aug. 6th - 8th) animation from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory: [Link]
Sunspot 649 is the one on the left. If the active region continues to develop, it could soon pose a renewed threat for strong solar flares.
A light earthquake occurred at 09:30:59 (UTC) on Monday, August 9, 2004. The magnitude 4.7 event has been located in the GREENLAND SEA. (This event has been reviewed by a seismologist.)
August 9, 2004
JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - South African relief services said that they were feeding about 15,000 people in emergency shelters after heavy rains hit low-lying shantytowns in Cape Town.
"The number of people affected is about 15,000 going by the fact that we are providing meals for that number," Johann Minnie, spokesman for the city's disaster management centre told AFP by telephone Monday.
But he added: "We don't have a European-style flood situation with fast flowing water but only rising ground water after heavy rains which started last night and are continuing today."
Disaster management set up 12 emergency shelters in affected areas including the shantytowns, and the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and several Muslim-based non-governmental organisations were helping to feed people, Minnie said.
Weather forecasters said the rains would stop on Monday night but resume on Friday, he added.
Monday August 9, 2:58 AM
Four Ukrainian and Czech mountaineers were plucked to safety high in the Central Asian peaks of Kyrgyzstan, but many more may still be trapped in avalanches that killed 11, officials warned.
Forty Russians were unaccounted for as a helicopter lifted out four Ukrainian and Czech survivors and the bodies of three mountaineers after three days of snow and fog hampered rescue attempts.
"We cannot rule out the possibility that more may have been trapped," said Emil Akhmatov, spokesman of the emergencies agency in Kyrgyzstan, a mountainous former Soviet constituent republic.
There was virtually no chance anyone would still be found alive, he said.
"There is no way to survive in such conditions -- we don't expect more survivors," Akhmatov told AFP. [...]
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