Article - The Blair Belief Project
Strike Flash Presentation by a QFS member
of the Day
The World Looks The Other Way
Raghda al-Assar died last week after being hit by Israeli fire while
sitting at her school desk in the Gaza Strip - the fourth child
hit in similar circumstances in 18 months. The BBC's Alan Johnston
visits the scene of the incident:
I step into a classroom full of little girls at an elementary school
in the Khan Yunis refugee camp.
Today, they are getting on with their work as normal, but there
was nothing normal about the scene in this room one Tuesday morning
three weeks ago.
During an English lesson these girls heard firing
outside. They dived for cover, but when the shooting was over, they
found their classmate Raghda al-Assar slumped over a desk up at
the front, covered in blood.
She had been shot through the head.
"We didn't hear the sound of the bullet when it came,"
says Alaa Assad, who was sitting a few places away from Raghda.
Alaa says Raghda was one of the brightest pupils in the class.
"We are very very sad. I am thinking about it all. I have
bad dreams and I get up and I start thinking about Raghda and what
happened to her... I don't sleep... I keep thinking about her,"
The United Nations runs this school. Its investigators
believe that Raghda was hit by a bullet fired by Israeli soldiers.
The shooting began when Palestinian militants who oppose the Israeli
occupation of Gaza launched a series of missiles at a nearby Jewish
In the Israeli town of Sderot, the threat is from crude Hamas rockets
The UN says that the soldiers shot indiscriminately into the crowded
refugee camp for more than half an hour.
The Israeli army says that it never directed fire
at the school.
A spokesman said that it was impossible to say whether the stray
bullet came from the army or from fire by the militants.
Headmistress Um Khalid says the incident has caused a lot of fear
among her pupils, with some crying uncontrollably and others too
afraid to come to school.
"The teachers tried to make them calmer, but they were also
frightened," she says.
A group of psychological counsellors have since been working at
the school, helping the children work out their stress through play
and drawing, as well as talking to the teachers.
'Where's the light?
The UN believes that altogether, over the past 18 months, four
Palestinian children in Gaza have been hit by Israeli bullets while
sitting at their school desks.
It has been particularly bad in Khan Yunis in the last few days:
a 62-year-old man was shot dead visiting an elementary school on
Monday; an 11-year-old girl survived after being struck in the head
as she sat in a classroom two days earlier.
One victim, 13-year-old Huda Darwish, remembers being told to shelter
from the gunfire, but there being no time before she was struck
in the head by a bullet.
"The teacher took me to the hospital and they said that this
is a very serious case... that I might die," she says.
"After 12 days I got up and I felt lots of pain in my head.
I asked about the light, I said 'Where's the light?'
"I told my mum I couldn't see. She said that the lights had
gone out... That they had gone out in the whole world - that it
wasn't just me in the dark.
"But later, they had to tell me that I wouldn't see again.
That was very difficult," she says.
It is not just young Palestinians who are in the firing line.
Israeli children living in the settler communities of the Gaza
Strip are under constant threat.
Four little girls and their pregnant mother were shot dead when
militants ambushed their car in May.
Groups like the Hamas organisation often fire crudely made missiles
into the settlements or nearby towns in Israel where they can fall
on family homes, or on schools or nurseries.
Israel occupation means fear for many Palestinian children
And the militants say that as long as the Israeli occupation of
Gaza continues they will strike at these targets.
They attack from the edges of the refugee camps and the Israeli
army tries to hit them there.
The soldiers fire into some of the most densely crowded places
in the world.
This has gone on here almost every day for four years.
And this is why so many children and teenagers in the occupied
territories have died - 34 Israelis, and more than 550 Palestinians.
Love, Childhood, Friendship
and School Year… Ended by Israeli Bullets
KHANYOUNIS, September 23 2004 (WAFA)- In the early morning of a
sunny day, the 10 -year-old year girl, Raghda al-Assar, left her
house heading to school in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khanyounis.
After less than hour, she was receiving medical treatment in emergency
room of Nasser Hospital after having been struck with an Israeli
gunshot in the head while she was in her classroom listening to
her English teacher. Raghda died yesterday (Wednesday) of her critical
wounds she sustained two weeks ago.
September 7, Raghda was one of hundreds of Palestinian schoolgirls,
dressed in stripped school uniforms (marking the UNRWA schools students),
packed to the streets of Khanyounis refugee camp. They were so enthusiastic
to the new school year, and happy with their new uniforms.
She was so happy for her new jeans she wears for the first time.
Chatting with her cousin, Rula 10 , on her new white clothes and
Heavy gunshots cut the humming of the girls moments before the lesson.
Israeli soldiers, stationed at mobile watchtowers of Neve Dekalim
colony, west of the refugee camp of Khanyounis, opened random fire
at houses of the camp. Raghda was hit with a live gunshot in the
head when her classmates took cover under the desks.
UNRWA's official statement issued on September 7 , said that Raghda
was shot with Israeli gunfire.
A wall of crying and shouting filled the UNRWA's Elementary C Girls
School when her classmates saw blood stains sprinkled in the class.
"It was the firs lesson that day, Raghda put her ruler beside
mine, we arranged the desk together... I was listening to the English
teacher and she was writing. The sound of the gunshot filled the
area. We kept silence for a moment, then a bullet struck Raghda
in her head, her blood covered her face and neck, her English book
and copybook were also tainted with spots of blood," Hanin
Assaf 10 , Raghda's classmate, said.
slumped on the seat...she was so calm while blood streaming on her
cheeks, some classmates dashed out of the class, others hided under
the desks, all of them were shouting and crying, Raghda slowly extended
her two hands to the teacher who dashed to carry he . . . she was
carried to a hospital".
The murder of Raghda left horrible effect and a strong obstacle
between Hanin and the school.
"I began hate my desk because it is without Raghda. It is dangerous
also I do not know why they shot her?...Before having been shot,
I borrowed a rubber from Raghda, I hope she will com back to school
because I want to give her the rubber".
Dr. Fawwaz Abu Ziada, head of Neuro surgical Unit at the European
Hospital, south of Khanyounis, said that a gunshot pierced the face
of Raghda and went out from the back of the head.
"Critical damages in brain and cerebellum put an end to her
life after two weeks of receiving treatment at the Intensive Care
Unit (ICU)," Abu Ziada said.
At the door of ICU, Salwa al-Assar40 , the mother, spent long hours
filled with hope to hear Raghda's voice again. But on Wednesday
overnight, the hopes have "gone with the wind".
"It was around 8 o'clock in the morning. I was helping my son
in organizing his books, the telephone rang, minutes after, my husband
stormed the room and told me that Raghda was shot. I felt my heart
leapt up and an earthquake trembled me," the mother said.
"She waked me up early morning, she dressed her school clothes.
I combed her hair and tied a white ribbon over her head. She was
so happy with her new dark blue jeans and black sandals, it was
the first time she wears. She was so proud with the red badge around
her neck. I gave her an apple she put it in her bag, said [good
bye mum] and left home, it was the last day I talked to her,"
Salwa added while sighing.
"Mum, you see, the teacher awarded this badge to me, she asked
me to participate in imposing order in the school, she asked me
because I am a good girl," the mother recalled her daughter
The father, Adnan al-Assar42 , was so astonished while recalling
his sweet daughter. The father who works as a governmental employee,
said that every year Raghda, and her brothers, had one school uniform.
"This year I bought two uniforms for her, she said that she
is older than before and should enjoy with two uniforms, she also
insisted to have much more pocket money than before.
"Believe me, she was so skillful and so enthusiastic to be
the best in her class. A day before her shooting, she asked me to
buy an advanced book of sciences, I gave her money, but she was
so upset as the new edition has not been available yet," the
father said while wiping his tears and asking why the Israeli soldiers
target children at schools?.
Two 10 -year old children were hit, last June, by Israeli bullets
and ricochets in UNRWA's elementary schools in Rafah. In March 2003
, an Israeli bullet penetrated the head of 12 -year old Huda Darwish,
in Khanyounis, an left her blind, according to UNRWA's statement.
15-year-olds among growing number of children hit by Israeli snipers
during 'Days of Penitence'
Islam Dwidar's classmates were still taking in her shocking death
- the teacher weeping outside before facing the girls, her closest
friend recounting how they walked to school together each day -
when the news arrived about Tahreer Abu El Jidyan.
The two 15-year-old pupils at Jabaliya's
school were both shot in the head by Israeli soldiers inside their
homes just a few blocks and several hours apart.
Islam died almost immediately after the bullet smashed through her
forehead as she baked bread with her mother in their yard on Sunday.
Tahreer is still on life support at a Gaza hospital after an operation
to remove shards of shattered skull from her brain.
She lies motionless, with little to suggest she is alive other
than gentle breathing. Doctors do not expect her to survive.
Tahreer's mother, Intisar, was at her bedside yesterday.
"Oh Tahreer, my heart. I wish I were
lying in this bed, not you," she whispered to her child. "She
was sweeping the floor in front of the door," said Mrs Abu
El Jidyan. "I was standing talking to her.
We knew the Israeli soldiers were around, we knew they had snipers
in the buildings on our street but we didn't expect what happened.
They just shot her in the head. Her brains spilled out. She
said: 'Mum, I'm hit'. She praised God and she collapsed."
There were two bullets. The first struck Tahreer in the head. As
she fell, the second hit the wall behind her. "I've
no doubt a sniper shot her deliberately. There
was no fighting in the area. There were no other shots, only the
ones that hit Tahreer," said her mother.
With her stood Tahreer's 14-year-old brother, Naser, who was wounded
by shrapnel last week. Israeli forces killed their father 11 years
ago during the first intifada.
Mrs Abu El Jidyan regrets preventing Tahreer from walking to school
on Sunday morning. She thought it would be too dangerous to venture
out of their home in Jabaliya's Sikka neighbourhood because it is
on the edge of the area occupied by Israeli troops and tanks last
week. Snipers are posted in buildings overlooking their street and
a tank is less than a block away.
"I wouldn't let her out of the house but it was dangerous
at home too. When there was fighting, bullets came through the walls.
We stopped using some rooms on the side where the Israelis are,"
Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups
say that about half of the nearly 80 people killed by the army over
the past week of "Operation Days of Penitence" are civilians.
The military says it has carefully targeted Hamas and Islamic Jihad
fighters with missile strikes.
But while the numbers are in dispute - in part because it is often
hard to say whether youths in their mid to late teens are bystanders
or part of the Palestinian resistance - there
is no doubt that a growing number of children have been felled by
At Islam and Tahreer's school in Jabaliya yesterday morning, the
headmistress, Rukaya Kamal al Budani, fielded calls from parents
wanting to know if it was safe to send their girls. "If they
can get here, it's safe," was her stock reply. But of 1,150
pupils, fewer than 200 turned up.
Before word reached the school about Tahreer, Mrs al Budani was
getting to grips with the death of Islam.
"This is our first casualty at the school," she said.
"I don't know how to deal with the girls. It's going to have
a big impact on her classmates and friends. I'm
shocked that no one in the free world condemns the killing of a
Then one of the male teachers tells Mrs al Budani about the shooting
of Tahreer the previous day. The headmistress sits in silence.
Until June, the two young women had been classmates, but then Tahreer
failed her exams and was held back for a year. Asmaa Abu Samaan
walked to school with her each morning.
"I met her in front of my house each morning to walk to school.
I did my homework with her. I keep thinking that if she is brain-dead
and not killed perhaps she is still suffering. I can't stand it,"
Asmaa walked to school yesterday morning without her friend."I
walked against the wall hoping the soldiers can't see me. I
want to go to school because I know the Jews do not want us to study
because we need to be educated to build our country,"
But the killing went on as the conflict claimed
the life of another teenage girl in the Gaza strip yesterday. Palestinian
medics said Israeli soldiers fired about 20 bullets into 13- year-old
Iman al-Hams, including five into her head.
The military said she had entered a forbidden
zone in Rafah refugee camp, and that she dropped a bag that soldiers
feared was a bomb.
The Palestinians said Iman was walking to school when troops entered
the camp and that she dropped her bag as she ran away in fear.
The bag was not found to contain a bomb.
JERUSALEM (AP) --
The real objective of Ariel Sharon's offer
to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank is to
freeze Palestinian statehood indefinitely, with U.S. blessing, the
prime minister's point man with the Bush administration acknowledged
in an interview published Wednesday.
The adviser, Dov Weisglass, also said Israel is
avoiding negotiations with the Palestinians because it does not
want to be forced into concessions on issues such as the future
of Jerusalem and the fate of millions of Palestinian refugees.
The unusually frank (ed: read "truthful") comments, published
in the Haaretz daily, contradicted the Israeli
government's assurances that it remains committed to the U.S.-backed
"road map" and its vision of Palestinian statehood, and
that Israelis ready to resume peace negotiations once there is a
change in Palestinian leadership.
Weisglass said Sharon's plan of "unilateral
disengagement" from the Palestinians, to be carried out next
year, is meant to prevent a resumption of negotiations. "It
(the plan) supplies the amount of formaldehyde that is necessary
so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians,"
he told Haaretz. [...]
In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said he hoped
the Israeli campaign in northern Gaza - the deadliest there in four
years of Israeli-Palestinian fighting - would end soon.
"The immediate problem right now is
that Israeli built-up areas are being hit by rockets and Sharon
finds a need to respond to that. I hope it does not expand,"
Powell said. "And I hope ... that this operation can come to
a conclusion quickly."
At the United Nations, the United States
vetoed a Security Council resolution condemning the Israeli raid.
U.S. Ambassador John Danforth called it "lopsided and unbalanced,"
because it did not mention Palestinian rocket attacks.
In Israel, meanwhile, Sharon's adviser delivered the most far-reaching
comments by a senior Israeli official on Sharon's policy toward
"The significance of the disengagement
plan is the freezing of the peace process," Weisglass
told the Haaretz daily. "Effectively,
the whole package called the Palestinian state with all that entails
has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And
all this with authority and permission - all this with a presidential
blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress."
Weisglass said Bush administration officials supported Sharon's
plan to freeze the peace process with the Palestinians and keep
large West Bank settlements.
"What I effectively agreed to with the Americans
was that part of the settlements would not be dealt with at all,
and the rest will not be dealt with until the Palestinians turn
into Finns," he was quoted as saying.
Peter Hansen, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief
and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), has written a strongly-worded
protest to Silvan Shalom, Israel's Minister of Foreign Affairs,
demanding an apology for allegations made against UNRWA's ambulance
drivers in the Gaza Strip.
Israel's military and its ambassador to the United Nations have
alleged that it has footage of a Palestinian rocket being transported
in an UNRWA ambulance. An investigation by UNRWA and analysis of
the footage has established that the object in question was a patient
In the letter, which was sent today, Mr Hansen writes:
"Given the technical means and military
expertise at the disposal of the IDF to enlarge and analyse the
pictures taken by the IDF drone, it is inconceivable that the IDF
could have made this egregiously erroneous allegation in good faith.
While UNRWA's denial has now been acknowledged by responsible media
outlets, there is no such denial shown on the IDF website."
"It is appalling that, with the serious conflict now raging
in the Northern Gaza Strip, where UNRWA ambulances are operating
in constant danger alongside those of other humanitarian agencies
to try to save and transport scores of wounded Palestinians to hospital,
the Government of Israel would put out such deliberately inciteful,
false and malicious propaganda, encouraging IDF soldiers on the
ground (or in the air) to think that UNRWA ambulances and other
humanitarian vehicles are transporting terrorists and weapons."
"Accordingly, I request an immediate public retraction and
apology from the Government of Israel and that the apology and retraction
be transmitted to all the media outlets who received the film clip
in the first instance and be placed on both the IDF and the MFA
Mr Hansen has repeatedly been made the subject
of personally offensive and distorted accusations of bias by the
Israeli authorities. UNRWA believes it is noteworthy that the Agency
and Peter Hansen have most often been the targets of false allegations
following extensive Israeli military operations in the occupied
Palestinian territory in which there have been large numbers of
UNRWA asked the IDF on Saturday to provide it with the original
footage of the incident to assist the Agency in its own investigation.
There has so far been no response to that request.
JERUSALEM - Israel
backtracked on a claim that a U.N. ambulance crew transported a
rocket for Palestinians, with military officials acknowledging Tuesday
they might have made a mistake in analyzing drone footage.
The army removed the video from its Web site and a senior officer
said defense specialists differed over interpretation of the grainy
images, which the U.N. said showed a stretcher not a rocket.
"There are doubts among the experts continuing to this moment,"
head of operations, Maj. Gen. Israel Ziv told news reports. "Some
think this is a type of weapon. Others think there is quite a high
probability this is a harmless object."
Israeli government spokesman Raanan Gissin said the army may have
been too hasty in publicizing the footage, but
other, undisclosed evidence, linked the United Nations with Palestinian
The dispute highlighted the long-running
antagonism between Israel and the United Nations, especially
the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, which cares for Palestinian refugees.
There was no sign of the apology the United Nations demanded over
the rocket accusations. Instead, Israeli officials again criticized
Peter Hansen, UNRWA's head.
"He has been problematic in the past," Israel's former
U.N. ambassador Dore Gold told Israeli television. "He has
supported the Palestinians on every issue."
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said there was no reason to believe
the rocket accusation, but sent a team to examine procedures in
general and the Israeli charges in particular.
The delegation was to arrive Tuesday night, led by U.N. official
Geir Pedersen, formerly Norway's chief diplomatic representative
to the Palestinian Authority, a U.N. official said.
Disputes between Israel and the world body have increased during
the past four years.
U.N. peace envoy Terje Roed-Larsen drew
widespread Israeli condemnation during an April 2003 visit to the
Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. Larsen described the scene,
after an intense Israeli offensive, as "horrifying beyond belief."
In May, Israeli officials said UNRWA vehicles helped sneak remains
of Israeli soldiers away from the site of a bombing attack in Gaza
City. The remains were flaunted before news cameras, outraging Israel.
The allegations against UNRWA were never substantiated or withdrawn.
Neither were charges that U.N. personnel
in Lebanon helped Hezbollah gunmen ambush an Israeli patrol on the
Lebanese border in 2000, killing three soldiers.
UNRWA, with 24,000 workers, most of them locally recruited Palestinians,
has gripes of its own against the Israelis, including a soldier's
killing of a senior British staffer in a West Bank U.N. compound
during a nearby gunfire exchange between troops and Palestinians
in November 2002.
The agency says the allegations it ferries militants
and their arms puts its staff in grave danger of Israeli ground
or air fire.
A letter sent Monday from Hansen to Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan
Shalom and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said the object an Israeli
drone filmed being loaded into an ambulance was a stretcher and
the accusation it was a rocket was "deliberately
inciteful, false and malicious propaganda."
An accompanying UNRWA statement implied the Israelis
fabricated the latest dispute to distract attention from their military
offensive in the northern Gaza Strip. At least 72 Palestinians have
been killed in a week of fighting.
The United States on Tuesday said an Arab-backed U.N. resolution
demanding a halt to the Israeli offensive Strip, calling the resolution
lopsided and unbalanced.
Gissin called on the United Nations to make a full overhaul of
its Palestinian refugee operation.
"I think that a thorough investigation
will reveal the extent to which local workers of UNRWA in various
refugee camps are actually participating in acts of terror or aiding
and abetting them," he said.
But Israeli political analyst Ronnie Shaked said Israel should
thank UNRWA for caring for the more than one million Palestinian
refugees in the West Bank and Gaza, since Israel is actually responsible
for them under international law.
"It is the most important organization operating in the (Palestinian)
territories and it is not worth falling out with," he said.
"What no one seemed
to notice," said a colleague of mine, a philologist, "was
the ever widening gap, after 1933, between the government and the
people. Just think how very wide this gap was to begin with,
here in Germany. And it became always wider. You know it doesn't
make people close to their government to be told that this is a
people's government, a true democracy, or to be enrolled in civilian
defense, or even to vote. All this has little, really nothing, to
do with knowing one is governing.
"What happened here was the gradual habituation
of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise;
to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that
the situation was so complicated that the government had to act
on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous
that, even if he people could understand it, it could not be released
because of national security. And their sense of identification
with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap
and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.
"This separation of government from people,
this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly,
each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary
emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or
with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real
reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow
motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter
"You will understand me when I say that my Middle High German
was my life. It was all I cared about. I was a scholar, a specialist.
Then, suddenly, I was plunged into all the new activity, as the
universe was drawn into the new situation; meetings, conferences,
interviews, ceremonies, and, above all, papers to be filled out,
reports, bibliographies, lists, questionnaires. And on top of that
were the demands in the community, the things in which one had to,
was "expected to" participate that had not been there
or had not been important before. It was all rigmarole, of course,
but it consumed all one's energies, coming on top of the work one
really wanted to do. You can see how easy it was, then, not to think
about fundamental things. One had no time."
"Those," I said, "are the words of my friend the
baker. "One had no time to think. There was so much going on."
"Your friend the baker was right," said my colleague.
"The dictatorship, and the whole process
of its coming into being, was above all diverting. It
provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think
anyway. I do not speak of your "little men", your
baker and so on; I speak of my colleagues and myself, learned men,
mind you. Most of us did not want to think about fundamental things
and never had. There was no need to. Nazism gave us some dreadful,
fundamental things to think about - we were
decent people - and kept us so busy with continuous changes and
"crises" and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations
of the "national enemies", without and within, that we
had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing,
little by little, all around us. Unconsciously,
I suppose, we were grateful. Who wants to think?
"To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice
it - please try to believe me - unless one has a much greater degree
of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion
to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential,
so well explained or, on occasion, "regretted," that,
unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning,
unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what
all these "little measures" that no "patriotic German"
could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing
from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing.
One day it is over his head.
"How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly
educated ordinary men? Frankly, I do not know. I do not see, even
now. Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that
pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice - "Resist
the beginnings" and "consider the end." But one must
foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings.
One must foresee the end clearly and certainly and how is this to
be done, by ordinary men or even by extraordinary men? Things
might have changed here before they went as far as they did; they
didn't, but they might have. And everyone counts on that might.
"Your "little men," your Nazi friends, were not
against National Socialism in principle. Men like me, who were,
are the greater offenders, not because we knew better (that would
be too much to say) but because we sensed better. Pastor Niemoller
spoke for the thousands and thousands of men like me when he spoke
(too modestly of himself) and said that, when the Nazis attacked
the Communists, he was a little uneasy, but, after all, he was not
a Communist, and so he did nothing: and then they attacked the Socialists,
and he was a little uneasier, but, still, he was not a Socialist,
and he did nothing; and then the schools, the press, the Jews, and
so on, and he was always uneasier, but still he did nothing. And
then they attacked the Church, and he was a Churchman, and he did
something - but then it was too late."
"Yes," I said.
"You see," my colleague went on, "one doesn't see
exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act,
each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse.
You wait for the next and the next. You wait for the one great shocking
occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join
with you in resisting somehow. You don't want to act, or even to
talk, alone; you don't want to "go out of your way to make
trouble." Why not? - Well, you are not in the habit of doing
it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains
you; it is also genuine uncertainty.
"Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing
as time goes on, it grows. Outside, in the streets, in the general
community, everyone is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly
sees none. You know, in France or Italy there will be slogans against
the government painted on walls and fences; in Germany, outside
the great cities, perhaps, there is not even this. In the university
community, in your own community, you speak
privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you
do; but what do they say? They say, "It's not so bad"
or "You're seeing things" or "You're an alarmist."
"And you are an alarmist. You are saying
that this must lead to this, and you can't prove it. These are the
beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don't know
the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On
the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate
you. On the other, your colleagues pooh- pooh you as pessimistic
or even neurotic. You are left with your close friends, who are,
naturally, people who have always thought as you have.
"But your friends are fewer now. Some have drifted off somewhere
or submerged themselves in their work. You no longer see as many
as you did at meetings or gatherings. Informal groups become smaller;
attendance drops off in little organizations, and the organizations
themselves wither. Now, in small gatherings of your oldest friends,
you feel that you are talking to yourselves, that you are isolated
from the reality of things. This weakens your confidence still further
and serves as a further deterrent to – to what? It is clearer
all the time that, if you are going to do anything, you must make
an occasion to do it, and then you are obviously a troublemaker.
So you wait, and you wait.
"But the one great shocking occasion,
when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes.
That's the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime
had come immediately after the first and the smallest, thousands,
yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked – if, let
us say, the gassing of the Jews in "43" had come immediately
after the "German Firm" stickers on the windows of non-Jewish
shops in "33". But of course
this isn't the way it happens. In
between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible,
each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C
is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand
at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.
"And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever
sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self deception
has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little
boy, hardly more than a baby, saying "Jew swine," collapses
it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed
and changed completely under your nose. The
world you live in – your nation, your people – is not
the world you were in at all. The forms are all there, all
untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the
mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays.
But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong
mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live
in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do
not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one
is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility
even to God. The system itself could not have intended this
in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled
to go all the way.
"You have gone almost all the way yourself. Life is a continuing
process, a flow, not a succession of acts and events at all. It
has flowed to a new level, carrying you with it, without any effort
on your part. On this new level you live,
you have been living more comfortably every day, with new morals,
new principles. You have accepted things you would not have accepted
five years ago, a year ago, things that your father, even in Germany,
could not have imagined.
"Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you
are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven't done
( for that was all that was required of most of us: that we do nothing).
You remember those early meetings of your department in the university
when, if one had stood, others would have stood, perhaps, but no
one stood. A small matter, a matter of hiring this man or that,
and you hired this one rather than that. You remember everything
now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You
are compromised beyond repair.
"What then? You must then shoot yourself. A few did. Or "adjust"
your principles. Many tried, and some, I suppose, succeeded; not
I, however. Or learn to live the rest of your life with your shame.
This last is the nearest there is, under the circumstances, to heroism:
shame. Many Germans became this poor kind of hero, many more, I
think, than the world knows or cares to know."
I said nothing. I thought of nothing to say.
"I can tell you," my colleague went on, "of a man
in Leipzig, a judge. He was not a Nazi, except nominally, but he
certainly wasn't an anti-Nazi. He was just – a judge. In "42"
or "43", early "43", I think it was, a Jew was
tried before him in a case involving, but only incidentally, relations
with an "Aryan" woman. This was "race injury",
something the Party was especially anxious to punish. In the case
a bar, however, the judge had the power to convict the man of a
"nonracial" offense and send him to an ordinary prison
for a very long term, thus saving him from Party "processing"
which would have meant concentration camp or, more probably, deportation
and death. But the man was innocent of the "nonracial"
charge, in the judge's opinion, and so, as an honorable judge, he
acquitted him. Of course, the Party seized the Jew as soon as he
left the courtroom."
"And the judge?"
"Yes, the judge. He could not get the case off his conscience
– a case, mind you, in which he had acquitted an innocent
man. He thought that he should have convicted him and saved him
from the Party, but how could he have convicted an innocent man?
The thing preyed on him more and more, and he had to talk about
it, first to his family, then to his friends, and then to acquaintances.
(That's how I heard about it.) After the "44" Putsch they
arrested him. After that, I don't know."
I said nothing.
"Once the war began," my colleague continued, "resistance,
protest, criticism, complaint, all carried with them a multiplied
likelihood of the greatest punishment. Mere lack of enthusiasm,
or failure to show it in public, was "defeatism." You
assumed that there were lists of those who would be "dealt
with" later, after the victory. Goebbels was very clever here,
too. He continually promised a "victory orgy" to "take
care of" those who thought that their "treasonable attitude"
had escaped notice. And he meant it; that was not just propaganda.
And that was enough to put an end to all uncertainty.
"Once the war began, the government
could do anything "necessary" to win it; so it was with
the "final solution" of the Jewish problem, which the
Nazis always talked about but never dared undertake, not even the
Nazis, until war and its "necessities" gave them the knowledge
that they could get away with it. The
people abroad who thought that war against Hitler would help the
Jews were wrong. And the people in Germany who, once the war had
begun, still thought of complaining, protesting, resisting, were
betting on Germany's losing the war. It was a long bet. Not many
[...] I have often reflected, wistfully, on
how much happier modern history might have been had Hitler been
brought up as an atheist, an agnostic, or, at least, a Unitarian.
Born and bred a Catholic, he grew up in a religion and in a culture
that was anti-semitic, and in persecuting Jews, he repeatedly proclaimed
he was doing the "Lord's work."
You will find it in Mein Kampf: "Therefore,
I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator. By
fighting off the Jews, I am doing the Lord's Work."
Hitler said it again at a Nazi Christmas celebration in 1926: "Christ
was the greatest early fighter in the battle against the world enemy,
the Jews ... The work that Christ started but could not finish,
I -- Adolf Hitler -- will conclude."
In a Reichstag speech in 1938, Hitler again echoed the religious
origins of his crusade. "I believe today that I am acting in
the sense of the Almighty Creator. By warding off the Jews, I am
fighting for the Lord's work."
Hitler regarded himself as a Catholic until he died. "I am
now as before a Catholic and will always remain so," he told
Gerhard Engel, one of his generals, in 1941.
There was really no reason for Hitler to doubt his good standing
as a Catholic. The Catholic press in Germany was eager to curry
his favor, and the princes of the Catholic Church never asked for
his excommunication. Religions encourage their followers to hold
authority in unquestioning respect; this is what makes devout religionists
such wonderful dupes for dictators.
When Hitler narrowly escaped assassination in Munich in November,
1939, he gave the credit to providence. "Now I am completely
content," he exclaimed. "The fact that I left the Burgerbraukeller
earlier than usual is a corroboration of Providence's intention
to let me reach my goal." Catholic newspapers throughout the
Reich echoed this, declaring that it was a miraculous working of
providence that had protected their Fuhrer. One cardinal, Michael
Faulhaber, sent a telegram instructing that a Te Deum be sung in
the cathedral of Munich, "to thank Divine Providence in the
name of the archdiocese for the Fuhrer's fortunate escape."
The Pope also sent his special personal congratulations!
Later the Pope was to publicly describe Hitler's
opposition to Russia as a "highminded gallantry in defense
of the foundations of Christian culture." Several German bishops
openly supported Hitler's invasion of Russia, calling it a "European
crusade." One bishop exhorted all Catholics to fight for "a
victory that will allow Europe to breathe freely again and will
promise all nations a new future."
Biographer John Toland wrote of Hitler's religion: "Still
a member in good standing of the Church of Rome despite detestation
of its hierarchy, he carried within him its teaching that the Jew
was the killer of god. The extermination, therefore, could be done
without a twinge of conscience since he was merely acting as the
avenging hand of god -- so long as it was done impersonally, without
cruelty. Himmler was pleased to murder with mercy. He ordered technical
experts to devise gas chambers which would eliminate masses of Jews
efficiently and 'humanely,' then crowded the victims into boxcars
and sent them east to stay in ghettos until the killing centers
in Poland were completed."
Jews, of course, were not the only "holy"
victims. In Yugoslavia, Hitler installed a Croatian, Ante Pavelic,
as his puppet, and Pavelic, a Catholic like Hitler, began extermination
of the Serbs, who were Greek Orthodox. One of my relatives
by marriage is a Yugoslavian, a Serb, who survived World War II
by going "underground" with the advent of Nazism in his
country. Out of his immediate family of 17 (this includes his parents,
siblings, aunts, uncles and first cousins), only three survived.
His mother and sister just disappeared, his mother shortly after
being given the opportunity to convert to Catholicism, an offer
she refused. The Vatican was not unaware of the massacres conducted
in Yugoslavia in the name of Catholicism, but Pope Pius remained
diplomatically quiet. In fact, one of his actions was to receive
Ante Pavelic in private audience, thereby giving his blessing to
War's causes, of course, are complex, but it would be difficult
to overestimate the disastrous role religion played in World War
II. Distrust, fear and hatred of Jews was a lesson Hitler learned
early in life. It was taught by his church and reinforced by his
culture. It became his obsession, his version of "the Lord's
work." That Hitler, that supreme villain of the 20th century,
could see himself, and be seen by others, as "providentially"
guided, protected and inspired should certainly serve as an ominous
clue to the dangers of religious belief. Just as the Vatican umbrella
could be maneuvered to shield the massacres of Serbs by Catholics
in Yugoslavia, so can religion validate any behavior, any atrocity,
Using archive film material rarely seen before,
scenes of "Lohengrin" directed by Richard Wagner's great-grandson,
Gottfried Wagner, and interviews with European specialists, this
documentary shows the religious elements of National Socialism.
Nazism as political religion is one explanation
for the enthusiasm with which people in Central Europe followed
Hitler. 50 years after the end of the Third Reich, Gottfried
Wagner staged a new, uncompromising production of Hitler's favorite
opera in Dessau. Besides Hitler, the film draws a portrait of four
men who inspired the Nazi ideology:
Richard Wagner (1813-1883), who already demanded in 1881 a "Germany
free of Jews".
August Strindberg (1849-1912), who accused in his racist novella
"Tschandala", the female devil Eve of being the mother
of subhuman creatures like Jews, Gypsies and Blacks.
Adolf Lanz (1874-1954), who used the word "Tschandala"
for his Aryosophy. He later claimed that Adolf Hitler plagiarised
his Aryan theory in "Mein Kampf" with only minor changes,
making no acknowledgement to Lanz.
Heinrich Himmler (1900-1945), who founded the SS and modeled it
on the Jesuit order. He brought in Karl Wiligut, a follower of Lanz,
to be the doctrinal advisor to the SS. Wiligut produced a graduated
plan for abolishing the Christian religion.
Why do so many Americans dismiss the evidence
that the occupation of Iraq has gone disastrously wrong? Because
the US has a long tradition of putting faith before facts. Jonathan
Raban on George Bush's debt to the Puritans
In the secular, liberal, top-left-hand corner of the US where I
live, the prevailing mood was one not far short of despair as incredulity
mounted that the daily avalanche of bad news from Baghdad, Fallujah,
Tikrit, Samarra, Najaf, Nasiriyah, Kufa, Ramadi, Baquba and elsewhere
was apparently failing to make any significant dent in Bush's poll
numbers, or expose his claim that freedom and democracy are on the
march in Iraq as a blithe and cynical fiction.
What would it take? people asked: How many more American and Iraqi
deaths? When would it sink in that the occupation of Iraq is a bloody
catastrophe? Why was the electorate so unmoved by the abundant empirical
evidence that the administration's policy in the Middle East wantonly
endangers America as it endangers the wider world?
Kerry's performance in the first presidential debate brought a
much-needed lift of spirits to this neck of the woods, but the Democratic
candidate is up against something more formidable than the person
of George Bush: he has to deal with the unquiet spirit of American
puritanism and its long and complicated legacy.
Last Monday, on the school run, I caught an interview on NPR's
Morning Edition with the grieving family of a sergeant in the Oregon
National Guard who was killed in Iraq on September 13. Here's what
Sergeant Ben Isenberg's dad said:
"This war is not about Iraqis and Americans, or oil: this
is a spiritual war. The people who don't understand that just need
to dig into their Bible and read about it. It's predicted, it's
predestined. Benjamin understood that the president is a very devouted
[sic] Christian. Ben understood that the calling was to go because
the president had the knowledge, and understood what was going on,
and it's far deeper than we as people can ever really know. We don't
get the information that the president gets."
In context it's clear that by "information" he wasn't
talking about the stuff that passes from the CIA to the White House.
This information comes from the guy whom Bush likes to call his
"higher Father". As the president said in the closing
lines of his acceptance speech at the Republican convention last
month, "We have a calling from beyond the stars ..." -
a claim that in some societies might lead to a visit from the men
in white coats, but in America, among the faithful, is met with
Every Bush speech is richly encrypted with covert Biblical allusions
and other secret handshakes with his fundamentalist listeners, but
one need not be a fundamentalist to warm to this sort of religiose
rhetoric, for it is every bit as much of an "American"
thing as it is a "Christian" one.
Rationalist liberals, tone-deaf to its appeal, make a serious mistake
in their assumption that facts-on-the-ground, in Iraq or in the
domestic US, can readily explode what the Bush administration has
managed to project as a matter not of reason but of faith.
Faith, as Mark Twain's apocryphal schoolboy said, "is believing
what you know ain't so".
Faith always contradicts the visible evidence, like the putrefying
body or the fossil in the rock - obstacles put in our way to test
the mettle of our belief and reveal the inadequacy of our merely
sublunar knowledge. Ben Isenberg's father was certain of this: "It's
far deeper than we as people can ever really know."
No culture in the world has elevated "faith",
in and of itself, with or without specific religious beliefs, to
the status it enjoys in the United States. Faith - in God, or the
future, or the seemingly impossible, which is the core of the American
Dream - is a moral good in its own right.
In no other culture is the word "dream" so cemented into
everyday political language, for in America dreams are not idle,
they are items of faith, visions that transcend the depressing available
evidence and portend the glorious future as if it were indeed "predicted
. . . predestined", as Isenberg's father saw the war on Iraq.
When Americans tell their own history at the grade-school,
storybook level, they conveniently forget the earliest and most
successful colony of tobacco- aristocrats in Virginia (a bunch of
degenerate smokers) and instead trace themselves back to the zealous
theocrats in tall black hats who founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony,
and whose first harvest is celebrated in the all- American orgy
The names of the Susan Constant, Godspeed, and Discovery, which
put into the James River in 1607, have little resonance now, but
everyone knows about the 1620 voyage of the Mayflower and its Pilgrim
Fathers because the Puritans, who have never gone out of date, left
behind a peculiarly American philosophy of the miraculous power
of faith and hard labour, along with a dangerously uplifting vision
of America's rightful place in the world.
In a sermon of 1651, Peter Bulkeley laid out the essential rhetorical
frame of Bush's foreign policy: "We are as a city set upon
a hill, in the open view of all the earth, the eyes of the world
are upon us because we profess ourselves to be a people in covenant
with God ... Let us study so to walk that this may be our excellency
and dignity among the nations of the world among which we live;
that they may be constrained to say of us, only this people is wise,
a holy and blessed people ... We are the seed that the Lord hath
blessed." The sting in that exclusive only has been lately
felt by almost every foreign ambassador to the UN who's had to listen
to Bush or Powell lecturing the assembly on America's historic moral
It was axiomatic to Puritan belief that the city on the hill had
been raised in a land previously inhabited by devils whose spirits
still walked abroad, conspiring against the holy, wise, and blessed
citizens. At the time of the Salem witch trials in 1693, Cotton
Mather struck exactly the same note as Bush strikes when he speaks
"The devil is now making one attempt more upon us; an attempt
more difficult, more surprising, more snarled with unintelligible
circumstances than any we have hitherto encountered; an attempt
so critical, that if we get well through, we shall soon enjoy halcyon
days, with all the vultures of hell trodden under our feet."
A "horrible plot" had been detected, "which if it
were not seasonably uncovered would probably blow up and pull down
all the churches in the country." More than 21 witches "have
confessed that they have signed unto a book, which the devil showed
them, and engaged in his hellish design of bewitching and ruining
While the Virginia colony brought 18th-century rationalism to America,
and supplied four of its first five presidents (Washington, Jefferson,
Madison, and Monroe), the New England puritans of Massachusetts
gave Americans an intensely dramatic and emotional sense of their
peculiar predicament. They were an exception among nations, uniquely
favoured by Providence. They alone enjoyed the liberty to walk with
God according to their own lights. They were a people of faith beleaguered
on all sides by wicked spirits. Cleaving to their faith, they must
distrust "imperfect reason" (Mather's phrase) as a means
of discerning the mystery of creation and the visible world around
them. Not least, the Puritan plain style (Mather warned writers
of "muses no better than harlots" and of prose "stuck
with as many jewels as the gown of a Russian ambassador"),
which owed much to the teaching of Peter Ramus, the French philosopher
and rhetorician, made these ideas accessible to the least educated,
and gave them the unvarnished vigour that they still have today.
The remarkable survival of this 17th-century worldview in 21st-century
America has as much to do with style as with theological substance:
people who would now find Jefferson or Madison hard going could
easily thrill to the words of Mather, John Winthrop, the rollicking
hellfire poet Michael Wigglesworth, or the poet of domestic sublimity
The Puritans live! And the shrewd men of the Bush
administration have expertly hotwired the president to the galvanic
energy-source of Puritan tradition.
It's as if America, since 9/11, has been reconstituted as a colonial
New England village: walled-in behind a stockade to keep out Indians
(who were seen as in thrall to the devil); centred on its meeting
house in whose elevated pulpit stands Bush, the plain-spun preacher,
a figure of nearly totalitarian authority in the community of saints.
The brave young men of the village are out in the wilderness, doing
the Lord's work, fighting wicked spirits who would otherwise be
inside the stockade, burning down Main Street and the meeting house.
That, at least, is how the presidential handlers have tried to
paint things, and, given the continuing power of the American Puritan
tradition, it's not very surprising that a likely electoral majority
have gratefully accepted the picture at its face value: that the
proportions are all wrong (the world's remaining superpower simply
won't fit into the space of a pious, beleaguered village) doesn't
matter, for the administration has successfully tapped into a toxic
After a faltering start to his presidency, Bush found his role
in the aftermath of the attacks of September 2001 as America's pastor-in-chief.
His inarticulacy without a script was an earnest of his humility
and sincerity, his dogmatic certitude a measure of his godly inspiration.
"His way of preaching was very plain," as Mather wrote
of John Eliot of Roxbury, Massachusetts, "He did not starve
[the people] with empty and windy Speculations."
Confronted a couple of weeks ago with the CIA's
grim forecast of mounting unrest and possible civil war in Iraq,
Bush airily said, "they were just guessing".
The president doesn't guess. As he intimates to his congregation
on every possible occasion, his intelligence is leaked to him by
He Who Holds the Stars in His Right Hand.
To doubt is to succumb to temptation by the wicked spirits.
In the New Testament, empiricism gets a bad press in the person
of poor Thomas Didymus, and Christ's rebuke: "Blessed are they
that have not seen, and yet have believed."
That the facts on the ground in Iraq are in clear contradiction
of all Bush's claims about the flowering of liberty and democracy
there is merely one of those tests of faith to which all true believers
are subject. Of course we can't see it, but that makes the miracle
only more marvellous, its very invisibility an inspiring moral challenge
for the faithful.
In last Thursday's debate with Kerry at the University of Miami,
Bush appeared petulant and bemused (especially in the reaction shots
that were shown by the networks in defiance of the rules agreed
by the Commission on Presidential Debates) to find himself there
at all. There's no space in the meeting house for two rival pulpits,
and Pastor Bush, for the first time since his election, if that's
the right term for what happened in 2000, had to endure standing
on an equal footing with an upstart congregant who was the spitting
image of Doubting Thomas.
There was a note of wounded incredulity in Bush's voice when he
said of Kerry that "He changes positions on something as fundamental
as what you believe in your core, in your heart of hearts, is right
O faithless Kerry! - apostate! - unbeliever! In
Bush's Puritan theology, to change one's mind in the face of overwhelming
evidence is tantamount to denying the very God who rules your "heart
of hearts". How can my belief be wrong if He placed it there?
Yet debates - even ones as stilted as those agreed between the
campaigns this year - are rational exercises with an inbuilt bias
favouring reason over faith. Unsurprisingly, the rationalist on
Thursday beat the preacher at the rationalist's own game, and in
my own political neighbourhood there was hardly less elation that
evening than if the Seattle Mariners had carried off the World Series.
But a debate is a very different thing from an election, and if
Kerry did manage to win on November 2, it would be a surprising
triumph of cold reason over hot religious mythology.
No more classic American sentiment has ever been put into a foreigner's
mouth than when the New York lyricist Joe Darion made Don Quixote
sing, in Man of La Mancha, "To dream the impossible dream,/
To fight the unbeatable foe,/ To bear with unbearable sorrow,/ To
run where the brave dare not go."
Only an entrenched belief in one's own exceptionalism and a wonder-working
Providence could justify such otherwise self-evidently futile activities.
With Bush, we're now dreaming an impossible dream and fighting
an unbeatable foe, and tens of millions of Americans - enough, quite
probably, to give Bush a second term - believe that is the right,
because it's the American thing to do.
Tony Blair has lately given the impression that he's been channelling
the same source (Almighty God and/or Karl Rove) who inspires the
rhetoric of Bush, but in Britain there is no rich mulch of popular
national tradition in which Blair's words can take root.
The historic connection between the Labour party of Keir Hardie's
time and the Methodist church is something altogether different
from the great folk memory of the embattled God-fearing city on
the hill that stirs deep in the American imagination.
When Bush plays the faith card, he summons powerful ancient ghosts.
When Blair tries to bring off the same trick, he merely calls attention
to his conscience, his private religious beliefs, awakening no echoes
in the land of mild, secularised Anglicanism where to speak of one's
own intimacy with God's purpose is to place oneself in the embarrassing
company of the man in the ragged overcoat, haranguing a non-existent
audience from a soapbox at Speakers Corner - which, come to think
of it, is a convenient short stroll from the Blair family's new
quarters in Connaught Square.
Knoxville, TN -- An unknown gunman fired several
shots into the Bearden, Tenn., Bush-Cheney campaign office Tuesday,
WBIR-TV in Knoxville reported.
According to Knoxville police officers on the scene, it is believed
that the two separate shots were fired from a car sometime between
6:30 a.m. and 7:15 a.m. One shot shattered the glass in one front
door and the other cracked the glass in another of the front doors.
There were no witnesses to the shooting.
A customer at a nearby dry cleaning store noticed shattered glass
on the sidewalk in front of the headquarters and called police.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- A group of protestors stormed
and then ransacked a Bush-Cheney headquarters building in Orlando,
Fla., Tuesday, according to Local 6 News.
Local 6 News reported that several people from the group of 100
Orlando protestors face possible assault charges after the group
forced their way inside the Republican headquarters office.
While in the building, some of the protestors drew horns and a
mustache on a poster of President George W. Bush and poured piles
of letters in the office, according to the report.
"We told them to leave, they broke the law," Republican
headquarters volunteer Mike Broom said.
Two protestors received minor injuries when the crowd stormed the
building, including a Republican volunteer.
One of the protestors said she wanted to send a message.
"We want to send a clear message to Bush, we want him to take
his hands off our overtime pay," protestor Esmeralda Heuilar
Local 6 News learned that most of the protestors were from the
AFL-CIO and were taking part in one of 20 other coordinated protests
around the country.
A spokesperson with the AFL-CIO told Local 6 News
that the Orlando protest did not go as planned.
A protest similar to Orlando's demonstration was held at a Bush-Cheney
office in Miami at the same approximate time, Local 6 News reported.
The U.S. Air Force is quietly spending millions
of dollars investigating ways to use a radical power source -- antimatter,
the eerie "mirror" of ordinary matter -- in future weapons.
The most powerful potential energy source presently thought to
be available to humanity, antimatter is a term normally heard in
science-fiction films and TV shows, whose heroes fly "antimatter-powered
spaceships" and do battle with "antimatter guns."
But antimatter itself isn't fiction; it actually exists and has
been intensively studied by physicists since the 1930s. In a sense,
matter and antimatter are the yin and yang of reality: Every type
of subatomic particle has its antimatter counterpart. But when matter
and antimatter collide, they annihilate each other in an immense
burst of energy.
During the Cold War, the Air Force funded numerous scientific studies
of the basic physics of antimatter. With the knowledge gained, some
Air Force insiders are beginning to think seriously about potential
military uses -- for example, antimatter bombs small enough to hold
in one's hand, and antimatter engines for 24/7 surveillance aircraft.
More cataclysmic possible uses include a
new generation of super weapons -- either pure antimatter bombs
or antimatter-triggered nuclear weapons; the former wouldn't emit
radioactive fallout. Another possibility is antimatter- powered
"electromagnetic pulse" weapons that could fry an enemy's
electric power grid and communications networks, leaving him literally
in the dark and unable to operate his society and armed forces.
Following an initial inquiry from The Chronicle this summer, the
Air Force forbade its employees from publicly discussing the antimatter
research program. Still, details on the program appear in numerous
Air Force documents distributed over the Internet prior to the ban.
These include an outline of a March 2004 speech by an Air Force
official who, in effect, spilled the beans about the Air Force's
high hopes for antimatter weapons. On March
24, Kenneth Edwards, director of the "revolutionary munitions"
team at the Munitions Directorate at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida
was keynote speaker at the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts
(NIAC) conference in Arlington, Va.
In that talk, Edwards discussed the potential uses of a type of
antimatter called positrons.
Physicists have known about positrons or "antielectrons"
since the early 1930s, when Caltech scientist Carl Anderson discovered
a positron flying through a detector in his laboratory. That discovery,
and the later discovery of "antiprotons" by Berkeley scientists
in the 1950s, upheld a 1920s theory of antimatter proposed by physicist
In 1929, Dirac suggested that the building blocks of atoms -- electrons
(negatively charged particles) and protons (positively charged particles)
-- have antimatter counterparts: antielectrons and antiprotons.
One fundamental difference between matter and antimatter is that
their subatomic building blocks carry opposite electric charges.
Thus, while an ordinary electron is negatively charged, an antielectron
is positively charged (hence the term positrons, which means "positive
electrons"); and while an ordinary proton is positively charged,
an antiproton is negative.
The real excitement, though, is this: If electrons
or protons collide with their antimatter counterparts, they annihilate
each other. In so doing, they unleash more energy than any other
known energy source, even thermonuclear bombs.
The energy from colliding positrons and antielectrons "is
10 billion times ... that of high explosive," Edwards explained
in his March speech. Moreover, 1 gram of antimatter, about 1/25th
of an ounce, would equal "23 space shuttle fuel tanks of energy."
Thus "positron energy conversion," as he called it, would
be a "revolutionary energy source" of interest to those
who wage war.
It almost defies belief, the amount of explosive force available
in a speck of antimatter -- even a speck that is too small to see.
For example: One millionth of a gram of positrons contain as much
energy as 37.8 kilograms (83 pounds) of TNT, according to Edwards'
March speech. A simple calculation, then, shows that about 50-millionths
of a gram could generate a blast equal to the explosion (roughly
4,000 pounds of TNT, according to the FBI) at the Alfred P. Murrah
Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. [...]
Officials at Eglin Air Force Base initially agreed
enthusiastically to try to arrange an interview with Edwards. "We're
all very excited about this technology," spokesman Rex Swenson
at Eglin's Munitions Directorate told The Chronicle in late July.
But Swenson backed out in August after he was overruled by higher
officials in the Air Force and Pentagon.
Reached by phone in late September, Edwards repeatedly declined
to be interviewed. His superiors gave him "strict instructions
not to give any interviews personally. I'm sorry about that -- this
(antimatter) project is sort of my grandchild. ...
"(But) I agree with them (that) we're just not at the point
where we need to be doing any public interviews."
Air Force spokesman Douglas Karas at the Pentagon also declined
to comment last week.
In the meantime, the Air Force has been investigating the possibility
of making use of a powerful positron-generating accelerator under
development at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash. One
goal: to see if positrons generated by the accelerator can be stored
for long periods inside a new type of "antimatter trap"
proposed by scientists, including Washington State physicist Kelvin
Lynn, head of the school's Center for Materials Research.
A new generation of military explosives is worth developing, and
antimatter might fill the bill, Lynn told The Chronicle: "If
we spend another $10 billion (using ordinary chemical techniques),
we're going to get better high explosives, but the gains are incremental
because we're getting near the theoretical limits of chemical energy."
Besides, Lynn is enthusiastic about antimatter because he believes
it could propel futuristic space rockets.
"I think," he said, "we need to
get off this planet, because I'm afraid we're going to destroy it."
RAW STORY has received numerous e-mails suggesting
that President Bush wore an earpiece during the Florida debate Thursday
with Senator Kerry. While at this point the suggestion is simply
rumor, the volume of emails and the demands of our readers required
we at least post the information for public review.
The crux of the rumor centers around a part of the debate where
President Bush says, "let me finish," though neither Senator
Kerry or moderator Jim Lehrer have moved to interrupt him. The video
file can be seen here.
Viewers also note the numerous pauses during Bush's answers, though
some also note that Bush regularly uses dramatic pauses as part
of his replies.
The final element of the rumor surrounds an alleged wire in the
back of the president's suit jacket, the photograph of which appears
Early in the Bush administration, commentators
poked fun at his inability to accurately read a teleprompter. Then
he seemed to improve. Some Bush watchers believe he now wears a
hidden earplug of some kind and says whatever comes through to him
from his (unseen) handlers. Hard evidence for this theory is hard
to find but... consider this quote from a December 15th press conference.
After Bush makes a mistake (saying "commiserate" instead
of "commenserate") he doesn't correct himself but rather
appears to echo his unseen handlers frustrated comment.
George Bush: "I want to remind you all that in order to fight
and win the war, it requires an expenditure of money that is commiserate
with keeping a promise to our troops to make sure that they're well
paid, well trained, well equipped. ... See, without the tax relief
package, there would have been a deficit, but there wouldn't have
been the commiserate -- not 'commiserate' -- the kick to our economy
that occurred as a result of the tax relief."
An email to Meet The Press asking whether
Bush wore an earpiece during the interview received a lightning
quick response from Executive Producer Betsy Fischer: "The
President was not wearing an earpiece at any time during the interview."
Was Bush wearing an earpiece during today's Meet The Press Interview?
Consider the following excerpt (italics added):
Russert: "In light of not finding the weapons of mass destruction,
do you believe the war in Iraq is a war of choice or a war of necessity?"
President Bush: "I think that's an interesting question. Please
elaborate on that a little bit. A war of choice or a war of necessity?
It's a war of necessity. We-- in my judgment, we had no choice when
we look at the intelligence I looked at that says the man was a
When Bush said "please elaborate on that a little bit"
he did not appear to be asking Russert to elaborate the question.
He seemed to be talking almost to himself. Perhaps he was just momentarily
confused by an unexpected question. However...
If Bush was wearing an earpiece the odd statement makes more sense.
An unseen handler would have had an excellent reason to say "please
elaborate on that" to encourage Bush to give more of an answer
than "I think that's an interesting question." Seen in
this light, when Bush said "please elaborate on that"
he mistakenly repeated an instruction from an unseen handler.
This one small incident alone is (obviously) not proof. But there
have been others. Consider this quote from a December 15th press
conference (italics added):
George Bush: "See, without the tax relief package, there would
have been a deficit, but there wouldn't have been the commiserate
-- not 'commiserate' -- the kick to our economy that occurred as
a result of the tax relief."
Again... he could have just said "not commiserate" by
mistake. But why? A less contradictory explanation would be that
an unseen handler tried to correct him and instead of understanding
the correction, Bush simply repeated what he heard in his earpiece.
Early in the Bush administration, commentators poked fun at his
frequent verbal gaffes and his inability to accurately read a teleprompter.
Then he seemed to improve. Perhaps Bush simply learned to speak
But an earpiece connected to a room of unseen handlers also explains
A few commentators - like Salt Lake City Weekly columnist D.P.
Sorensen - write about the subject as if it's common knowledge (20
Mar 2003 Edition):
[...] When the president appears on public occasions, observers
have noticed that he now wears a tiny earpiece. There is speculation
that God is telling Mr. Bush what to say, using a celestial wavelength
almost impossible for evil-doers to intercept. Some observers think
the divine prompting via the earpiece explains the president's propensity
for verbal gaffes, such as his comment in February of 2000 that
"there is madmen in the world, and there are terror."
Does it matter if Bush wears an earpiece? I think it should.
WASHINGTON - Dick Cheney was every inch the
president so many accuse him of being in Tuesday night's debate.
Unlike the stumbling George Bush of last week's contest, the vice
president turned aside John Edwards's attacks by simply saying the
senator didn't know what he was talking about.
Cheney hammered the Kerry-Edwards ticket as having a record of
being inconsistent and duplicitous. He painted Edwards and John
Kerry as having been AWOL for Senate votes, and as two insignificant
con men not worth talking to or about.
In doing so, Cheney may well have rescued Bush from losing any
further support in the polls. He gave no ground to Edwards and successfully
stuck to the tried- and-true politician's answer to any and all
accusations: Stonewall and repeat your position over and over, no
matter how ridiculous.
Most amazing was that Edwards got nowhere with
Halliburton's performance in Iraq. A former Halliburton boss, Cheney
just said Edwards had the facts wrong. And Edwards dropped the subject.
Domestic policy was treated as an afterthought. Neither candidate
even mentioned inflation and the spiraling cost of oil, which are
badly hurting ordinary people.
Time after time, Cheney trapped Edwards into explaining
Kerry's positions, forcing him to waste time and transform himself
into an often embarrassing P.R. guy.
On domestic issues, neither Republicans or Democrats have much
to offer. The parties long ago abandoned New Deal social policies
in favor of laissez faire private competition. Their economic plans
amount to little more than a complex shell game of shifting tax
Tonight, there was no serious discussion of health care. Nothing
on free trade. Nothing on social issues, such as reproductive choice
and stem cell research, except for both men expressing sympathy—but
not support—for gay people who want to get married.
Neither of the candidates did more than mention in passing the
loss of jobs and decline in wages and standard of living. Instead
they droned on about the cost of lawsuits. On health care, Edwards's
main program—as it was in his campaign—is to promise
he would stand up to misleading drug company ads on television.
Cheney's preposterous claims of Medicare reform went pretty much
The debate took place against a back drop of turmoil and hectic
maneuvering in the Bush camp. [...]
Meanwhile the Bush campaign was maneuvering wildly, trying to get
the president on solid footing before he faces Kerry again on Friday.
The White House scheduled a "significant
speech" for the president Wednesday in which he can clarify
his positions on national security and domestic policies.
After signing the so-called "middle class" tax cut bill,
which in fact offers scant rewards to the middle class, Bush let
it be known that he was opposed to changes in corporate taxes under
discussion in a House-Senate conference. Republican leaders in Congress
have been trying to get the legislation passed and signed into law.
John W. Snow, secretary of the Treasury, said the legislation had
included "a myriad of special-interest tax provisions that
benefit few taxpayers."
Thus Bush, who already offered a spurious tax-cut bill in the name
of relieving the middle class, continues trying to play the good-guy
populist by attacking corporate special interests.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House of Representatives
on Tuesday crushed a bill to reinstitute the draft as Republicans
accused Democrats of raising the specter of compulsory military
service to turn voters against President Bush's reelection bid.
After a bitter debate on Bush's handling of Iraq,
the House killed the bill 402- 2 as Republicans sought to stamp
out rumors of an impending draft that have swept college campuses
and the Internet, worrying young people and parents across the country.
With the presidential and congressional elections less than a month
away, the White House also worked to dampen draft rumors that Republicans
said have been fueled by Democrats. It threatened to veto the bill
it called "both unnecessary and counterproductive."
"This campaign is a baseless and malevolent
concoction of the Democrat party," said House Majority Leader
Tom DeLay, a Texas Republican. "It has one purpose -- to spread
Rep. John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, countered that Bush's Iraq
policies have so strained U.S. forces, that a draft was possible
no matter how unpopular it would be.
"Guess what, we're running out of troops ... Let's not be
astounded that what follows is a draft. The only problem is that
you can't announce it until after the election," Conyers said."
House Democrats accused Republicans of a dirty election-year trick,
and used the debate to attack Bush's Iraq policies which they said
have left the country in chaos and discouraged help from foreign
"This president's foreign policies are what's scaring the
kids of this country," said Rep. Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat.
Some Democrats also said they doubted Bush would have taken the
country to war if members of wealthy families had been called on
to fight it.
"He would never have been able to say bring 'em on with other
people's children," Rangel said.
"This is a rich man's war, and it's a poor man's fight,"
said Rep. John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat. "We do not have
enough troops in the field to prevail," he said, while accusing
Republicans of ducking debate on how to get more forces. [...]
McDermott said Republicans were worried because
new voter registrations were going up "and they know those
people are going to come out and vote against them. So they're trying
their best to tamp down this fire, but they can't get anyone to
believe them any more."
NBC Nightly News NBC's "RATS"? Four
years ago, the NBC Nightly News took seriously the appearance of
the letters "RATS," in a single frame of an enlargement
of part of the word "BUREAUCRATS," in an anti-Gore ad
from the Bush campaign. The September 12,
2000 NBC Nightly News carried two full stories on the controversy.
Jump ahead four years, and on Monday night the NBC Nightly News
displayed the letters "ILIE" for 16 seconds next to President
George W. Bush's face in a "Decision 2004" graphic beside
anchor Tom Brokaw as he introduced a story by David Gregory.
letters came from the word "FAMILIES" in a sign on the
far side of Bush, which read: "TAX RELIEF FOR WORKING FAMILIES"
At the Iowa event, Bush signed bills to extend some provisions
of his tax cuts which otherwise would have expired next year.
NBC Nightly News's Tom Brokaw The right half of NBC's screen was
consumed by a waist-up shot of Brokaw. On the left, at the bottom,
the NBC News "Decision 2004" graphic. Above that, a side
shot of Bush's head turned slightly toward the TV viewing audience.
The letters "ILIE," the MRC's Tom Johnson astutely noticed,
ran from screen edge to his Bush's chin. The rest of the background
was blank. The letter "I" could be seen, but since it
was partially cut off on the lower left side of it, viewers may
have assumed they were only seeing part of another letter and so
saw "LIE." If they identified it as an "I,"
then they saw: "ILIE." Brokaw's intro took 20 seconds,
but for four seconds Bush's movements obscured the last two letters,
To view a picture of what NBC displayed, go to the posted version
of this CyberAlert where the MRC's Mez Djouadi will place it: www.mediaresearch.org
Inadvertent, I'm sure. Just as was "RATS,"
for much less time, in the 2000 anti-Gore ad from the Bush campaign.
But NBC took it quite seriously, covering it for two straight mornings
on Today and devoting campaign stories to it at night.
From the September 13, 2000 CyberAlert, about the Tuesday, September
12, 2000 NBC Nightly News:
Claire Shipman showed the ad and allowed Gore to maintain: "I
find it a very disappointing development. I've never seen anything
quite like it."
Shipman then took the Gore campaign complaint gimmick quite seriously,
trying to nail down who knew what, when: "The Bush campaign
says it's a meaningless flash, silly even. But explanations for
how it got there are confused. Last night, Alex Castellanos the
veteran Republican ad man who made the commercial, says the reference
is unintentional but today he suggests he put it there on purpose
to emphasize the tail end of the word 'bureaucrats,' but he says
he wasn't trying to call Al Gore a rat."
Castellanos: "It doesn't matter, all it was was a drumbeat
to get you to pay attention to the real thing, bureaucrats."
Shipman ominously warned: "A marketing expert on the effects
of so-called subliminal advertising says in his experience, this
sort of word flash is not accidental and it can be effective."
Professor Robert Goodstein, Georgetown University: "I think
it was a curious selection of letters to take the last four letters
in bureaucrats, in saying Gore's health plan is being developed
by rats. I think it's a word that contains a lot of emotions when
you're talking about people's health." Shipman concluded by
admitting the stunt she was gullible enough to buy: "In public
the Gore campaign is trying to stay away from this story, but behind
the scenes aides are pushing it relentlessly, expressing shock,
passing out background materials on subliminal advertising. As for
the ad itself, Republicans say it was due to be pulled off the air
Next, David Gregory noted how the Bush campaign
was "knocked off message" as Bush was "forced to
answer" questions about the "rats" ad. Gregory argued:
"Similar missteps last week and the debate over the debates
consumed most of Bush's efforts to get his message out."
Gregory surreally concluded: "Today Bush says all of this
is just another example of Democrats making quote 'everything out
of anything.' Maybe so, but some believe the problem for Bush is
that it doesn't take much to throw him off his message or his game."
Michael V. Kostiw withdrew from consideration
yesterday as CIA executive director, the third-ranking position
at the agency, after it was publicly disclosed that he had resigned
from the agency under pressure more than 20 years ago.
"Allegations about my past would be a distraction from the
critical work the Director of Central Intelligence needs to focus
on," Kostiw said in a statement released by the CIA yesterday.
He withdrew, he added, because "I thought it was in the best
interests of the agency and all concerned." [...]
The change came after The Washington Post reported Sunday that,
in late 1981, Kostiw was caught shoplifting a $2.13 package of bacon
from a supermarket in Langley, according to two former CIA officials
familiar with the incident. At the time, Kostiw had been a CIA case
officer for 10 years.
In a CIA polygraph test, Kostiw's responses to questions about
the incident and his past tours abroad led agency officials to place
him on administrative leave for several weeks, according to four
sources familiar with the events. Kostiw has told friends he decided
to resign during the leave. Agency officials arranged for the misdemeanor
shoplifting charge to be dropped and the police record expunged
in return for his resignation and agreement to seek counseling,
a former official said.
Kostiw, a colonel in an Army Reserve military intelligence unit
at the Pentagon, has worked as a lobbyist for ChevronTexaco Corp.
and more recently was staff director of the terrorism subcommittee
of the House intelligence committee, which Goss chaired. [...]
The Pentagon said yesterday it was investigating
cockpit video footage that shows American pilots attacking and killing
a group of apparently unarmed Iraqi civilians.
The 30-second clip shows the pilot targeting the group of people
in a street in the city of Fallujah and asking his mission controllers
whether he should "take them out". He is told to do so
and, shortly afterwards, the footage shows a huge explosion where
the people were. A second voice can be heard on the clip saying:
The existence of the video, taken last April inside the cockpit
of a US F-16 fighter has been known for some time, though last night's
broadcast by Channel 4 News is believed to be the first time a mainstream
broadcaster has shown the footage.
At no point during the exchange between the pilot
and controllers does anyone ask whether the Iraqis are armed or
posing a threat. Critics say it proves war crimes are being committed.
Civilian contractors are fleecing taxpayers;
US troops don't have proper equipment; and supposedly liberated
Iraqis hate them. After the release of Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael
Moore received a flood of letters and emails from disillusioned
and angry American soldiers serving in Iraq. Here, in an exclusive
extract from his new book, we print a selection.
Sent: Monday, July 12, 2003 4:57 PM
Subject: Iraqi freedom veteran supports you
Dear Mr Moore,
I went to Iraq with thoughts of killing people who I thought were
horrible. I was like, "Fuck Iraq, fuck these people, I hope
we kill thousands." I believed my president. He was taking
care of business and wasn't going to let al Qaeda push us around.
I was with the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry, 3rd Infantry division
out of Fort Stewart, Georgia. My unit was one of the first to Baghdad.
I was so scared. Didn't know what to think. Seeing dead bodies for
the first time. People blown in half. Little kids with no legs.
It was overwhelming, the sights, sounds, fear. I was over there
from Jan'03 to Aug'03. I hated every minute. It was a daily battle
to keep my spirits up. I hate the army and my job. I am supposed
to get out next February but will now be unable to because the asshole
in the White House decided that now would be a great time to put
a stop-loss in effect for the army. So I get to do a second tour
in Iraq and be away from those I love again because some guy has
the audacity to put others' lives on the line for his personal war.
I thought we were the good guys.
From: Michael W
Sent: Tuesday July 13 2004 12.28pm
Subject: Dude, Iraq sucks
My name is Michael W and I am a 30-year-old National Guard infantryman
serving in southeast Baghdad. I have been in Iraq since March of
04 and will continue to serve here until March of 05.
In the few short months my unit has been in Iraq, we have already
lost one man and have had many injured (including me) in combat
operations. And for what? At the very least, the government could
have made sure that each of our vehicles had the proper armament
to protect us soldiers.
In the early morning hours of May 10, one month to the day from
my 30th birthday, I and 12 other men were attacked in a well-executed
roadside ambush in south-east Baghdad. We were attacked with small-arms
fire, a rocket- propelled grenade, and two well-placed roadside
bombs. These roadside bombs nearly destroyed one of our Hummers
and riddled my friends with shrapnel, almost killing them. They
would not have had a scratch if they had the "Up Armour"
kits on them. So where was [George] W [Bush] on that one?
It's just so ridiculous, which leads me to my next point. A Blackwater
contractor makes $15,000 [£8,400] a month for doing the same
job as my pals and me. I make about $4,000 [£2,240] a month
over here. What's up with that?
Beyond that, the government is calling up more and more troops
from the reserves. For what? Man, there is a huge fucking scam going
on here! There are civilian contractors crawling all over this country.
Blackwater, Kellogg Brown & Root, Halliburton, on and on. These
contractors are doing everything you can think of from security
to catering lunch!
We are spending money out the ass for this shit, and very few of
the projects are going to the Iraqi people. Someone's back is getting
scratched here, and it ain't the Iraqis'!
My life is left to chance at this point. I just hope I come home
From: Specialist Willy
Sent: Tuesday March 9 2004 1.23pm
Subject: Thank you
Mike, I'd like to thank you for all of the support you're showing
for the soldiers here in Iraq. I am in Baghdad right now, and it's
such a relief to know that people still care about the lemmings
who are forced to fight in this conflict.
It's hard listening to my platoon sergeant saying, "If you
decide you want to kill a civilian that looks threatening, shoot
him. I'd rather fill out paperwork than get one of my soldiers killed
by some raghead." We are ta ught that if someone even looks
threatening we should do something before they do something to us.
I wasn't brought up in fear like that, and it's going to take some
getting used to.
It's also very hard talking to people here about this war. They
don't like to hear that the reason they are being torn away from
their families is bullshit, or that their "president"
doesn't care about them. A few people here have become quite upset
with me, and at one point I was going to be discharged for constantly
inciting arguments and disrespect to my commander-in-chief (Dubya).
It's very hard to be silenced about this when I see th e same 150
people every day just going through the motions, not sure why they
are doing it.
[ Willy sent an update in early August ]
People's perceptions of this war have done a complete 180 since
we got here. We had someone die in a mortar attack the first week,
and ever since then, things have changed completely. Soldiers are
calling their families urging them to support John Kerry. If this
is happening elsewhere, it looks as if the overseas military vote
that Bush is used to won't be there this time around.
From: Kyle Waldman
Sent: Friday February 27 2004 2.35am
As we can all obviously see, Iraq was not and is not an imminent
threat to the United States or the rest of the world. My time in
Iraq has taught me a little about the Iraqi people and the state
of this war-torn, poverty- stricken country.
The illiteracy rate in this country is phenomenal. There were some
farmers who didn't even know there was an Operation Iraqi Freedom.
This was when I realised that this war was initiated by the few
who would profit from i t and not for its people. We, as the coalition
forces, did not liberate these people; we drove them even deeper
into poverty. I don't foresee any economic relief coming soon to
these people by the way Bush has already div erted its oil revenues
to make sure there will be enough oil for our SUVs.
We are here trying to keep peace when all we have been trained
for is to destroy. How are 200,000 soldiers supposed to take control
of this country? Why didn't we have an effective plan to rebuild
Iraq's infrastructure? W hy aren't the American people more aware
of these atrocities?
My fiancee and I have seriously looked into moving to Canada as
Sent: Thursday April 15 2004 12.41am
Subject: From KBR truck driver now in Iraq
Mike, I am a truck driver right now in Iraq. Let me give you this
one small fact because I am right here at the heart of it: since
I started this job several months ago, 100% (that's right, not 99%)
of the workers I am aw are of are inflating the hours they claim
on their time sheets. There is so much more I could tell you. But
the fact is that MILLIONS AND MILLIONS of dollars are being raped
from both the American taxpayers and the Iraqi people because of
the unbelievable amount of greed and abuse over here. And yes, my
conscience does bother me because I am participating in this rip-off.
From: Andrew Balthazor
Sent: Friday August 27 2004 1.53pm
Subject: Iraqi war vet - makes me sound so old
Mr Moore, I am an ex-military intelligence officer who served 10
months in Baghdad; I was the senior intelligence officer for the
area of Baghdad that included the UN HQ and Sadr City.
Since Bush exposed my person and my friends, peers, and subordinates
to unnecessary danger in a war apparently designed to generate income
for a select few in the upper echelon of America, I have become
wholeheartedly ant i-Bush, to the chagrin of much of my pro-Republican
As a "foot soldier" in the "war on terror"
I can personally testify that Bush's administration has failed to
effectively fight terrorists or the root causes of terror. The White
House and the DoD failed to plan for recons truction of Iraq. Contracts
weren't tendered until Feb-Mar of 2003, and the Office of Reconstruction
and Humanitarian Assistance (the original CPA) didn't even come
into existence until January 2003. This failure to plan for the
"peace" is a direct cause for the insecurity of Iraq today.
Immediately after the "war" portion of the fighting (which
really ended around April 9 2003), we should have been prepared
to send in a massive reconstruction effort. Right away we needed
engineers to diagnose problems, w e needed contractors repairing
problems, we needed immediate food, water, shelter, and fuel for
the Iraqi people, and we needed more security for all of this to
work - which we did not have because we did not have enough troops
on the ground, and CPA decided to disband the Iraqi army. The former
Iraqi police were engaged far too late; a plan should have existed
to bring them into the fold right away.
I've left the military. If there is anything I can do to help get
Bush out of office, let me know.
From: Anthony Pietsch
Sent: Thursday August 5 2004 6.13pm
Subject: Soldier for sale
Dear Mr Moore, my name is Tony Pietsch, and I am a National Guardsman
who has been stationed in Kuwait and Iraq for the past 15 months.
Along with so many other guard and reserve units, my unit was put
on convoy escorts. We were on gun trucks running from the bottom
of Iraq to about two hours above Baghdad.
The Iraqi resistance was insanity. I spent many nights lying awake
after mortar rounds had just struck areas nearby, some coming close
enough to throw rocks against my tent. I've seen roadside bombs
go off all over, Iraqi s trying to ram the side of our vehicle.
Small children giving us the finger and throwing rocks at the soldiers
in the turrets. We were once lost in Baghdad and received nothing
but dirty looks and angry gestures for hour s.
I have personally been afraid for my life more days than I can
count. We lost our first man only a few weeks before our tour was
over, but it seems that all is for nothing because all we see is
hostility and anger over ou r being there. They are angry over the
abuse scandal and the collateral damages that are always occurring.
I don't know how the rest of my life will turn out, but I truly
regret being a 16-year-old kid looking for some extra pocket money
and a way to college.
From: Sean Huze
Sent: Sunday March 28 2004 7.56pm
Subject: "Dude, Where's My Country?"
I am an LCPL in the US Marine Corps and veteran of Operation Iraqi
Freedom. Mr Moore, please keep pounding away at Bush. I'm not some
pussy when it comes to war. However, the position we were put in
- fighting an enemy th at used women, children, and other civilians
as shields; forcing us to choose between firing at "area targets"
(nice way of saying firing into crowds) or being killed by the bastards
using the crowds for cover - is indesc ribably horrible.
I saw more than a few dead children littering the streets in Nasiriyah,
along with countless other civilians. And through all this, I held
on to the belief that it had to be for some greater good.
Months have passed since I've been back home and the unfortunate
conclusion I've come to is that Bush is a lying, manipulative motherfucker
who cares nothing for the lives of those of us who serve in uniform.
Hell, other than playing dress-up on aircraft carriers, what would
he know about serving this nation in uniform?
His silence and refusal to speak under oath to the 9/11 Commission
further mocks our country. The Patriot Act violates every principle
we fight and die for. And all of this has been during his first
term. Can you imagine his policies when he doesn't have to worry
about re-election? We can't allow that to happen, and there are
so many like me in the military who feel this way. We were lied
to and used. And there aren't words to describe th e sense of betrayal
I feel as a result.
From: Joseph Cherwinski
Sent: Saturday July 3 2004 8.33pm
Subject: "Fahrenheit 9/11"
I am a soldier in the United States army. I was in Iraq with the
Fourth Infantry Division.
I was guarding some Iraqi workers one day. Their task was to fill
sandbags for our base. The temperature was at least 120. I had to
sit there with full gear on and monitor them. I was sitting and
drinking water, and I cou ld barely tolerate the heat, so I directed
the workers to go to the shade and sit and drink water. I let them
rest for about 20 minutes. Then a staff sergeant told me that they
didn't need a break, and that they were to f ill sandbags until
the cows come home. He told the Iraqis to go back to work.
After 30 minutes, I let them have a break again, thus disobeying
orders. If these were soldiers working, in this heat, those soldiers
would be bound to a 10-minute work, 50-minute rest cycle, to prevent
heat casualties. Again the staff sergeant came and sent the Iraqis
back to work and told me I could sit in the shade. I told him no,
I had to be out there with them so that when I started to need water,
then they would definitely need water. He told me that wasn't necessary,
and that they live here, and that they are used to it.
After he left, I put the Iraqis back into the shade. I could tell
that some were very dehydrated; most of them were thin enough to
be on an international food aid commercial. I would not treat my
fellow soldiers in this manner, so I did not treat the Iraqi workers
this way either.
This went on for eight months while I was in Iraq, and going through
it told me that we were not there for their freedom, we were not
there for WMD. We had no idea what we were fighting for anymore.
Will They Ever Trust Us Again? Letters from the Warzone to
Michael Moore by Michael Moore, to be published by Allen Lane on
October 7 at £12.99. Copyright © Michael Moore 2004.
To order a copy for £12.34 with free UK p&p, call the
Guardian Book Service on 0870 836 0875, or go to the Guardian bookshop.
DENVER - Several 9News viewers
e-mailed us with accounts of what appeared to be a low-flying meteor.
One witness says he was walking through Bow Mar around 6:00 a.m.
Tuesday and saw a shooting star, comet or something traveling from
north to south at about 15 degrees off the horizon. It was travelling
horizontal and according to witnesses was much larger than any shooting
star they'd ever seen.
Another witness in Fort Collins saw a similar event around 5:50
a.m. It was described as a flying object which was believed to be
a meteor. It was moving fast and straight from east to west and
had a huge trail of fire behind it.
We contacted the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and workers
there also received calls about the flash in the sky.
The Denver Museum of Nature & Science would like anyone who
saw the event to record what they saw at a web site specifically
designed for that.
TEHRAN, Oct 5: Iran has increased
the range of its missiles to 2,000 km (1,250 miles), a senior official
was quoted as saying on Tuesday. The range would put parts of Europe
within reach for the first time.
Military experts had earlier put Iran's missile range at 1,300
kilometres (810 miles) which would allow it to strike anywhere in
"Now we have the power to launch a missile with a 2,000 km
range," the news agency IRNA quoted influential former President
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani as saying. "Iran is determined to
improve its military capabilities."
"If the Americans attack Iran, the world will change... they
will not dare to make such a mistake," Mr Rafsanjani was quoted
as saying in a speech at an exhibition on Space and Stable National
Washington has accused Tehran of secretly developing nuclear weapons.
Iran insists its nuclear programme is aimed only at generating electricity.
It says its missiles are for defensive purposes and would be used
to counter a possible Israeli or US strike against its nuclear facilities.
In recent months, Iranian officials have frequently Warned that
they have the capability to strike back at any aggressor, and in
August they announced they had successfully tested an upgraded version
of the medium-range Shahab-3 missile.
Military experts say the unmodified Shahab-3 had a range of 1,300
km (810 miles). Shahab means meteor in Persian.
Tehran recently announced plans to launch its own satellite into
space next year. Military experts say a satellite launch rocket
could easily be adapted for military purposes.
TEHRAN, Oct 6 (AFP) - An earthquake
measuring 5.2 on the open-ended Richter scale on Wednesday hit the
far southeastern Iranian town of Jiroft, but there were no immediate
reports of casualties or serious material damage.
"We have no reports of damage or victims, but the quake was
felt in Kerman," situated 240 kilometers (145 miles) to the
north, Kerman province's natural disasters office director Mohsen
Salehi told the state news agency IRNA.
Jiroft has a population of 208,000, and is situated not far south
of the city of Bam -- devastated in a quake in December 2003 that
killed 31,000 people.
Iran is criss-crossed by seismological faults, and tremors and
quakes are an almost daily occurrence.
| The group hunting for banned weapons
inside post-war Iraq is set to report that it has found no chemical,
biological or nuclear weapons.
But the Iraq Survey Group (ISG) will assert that Saddam Hussein
had plans to start producing weapons in defiance of UN sanctions,
US officials say.
US President George W Bush has again defended last year's invasion
He said the risk of Saddam Hussein passing WMD to terror groups
was "a risk we could not afford to take".
Addressing supporters in Pennsylvania, Mr Bush said that after
the 11 September 2001 attacks, the US had to look for sources of
WMD (weapons of mass destruction) available to terrorists.
"We had to take a hard look at every place where terrorists
might get those weapons," he said.
"One regime stood out. The dictatorship of Saddam Hussein."
Before the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration
cited WMD as the main reason for overthrowing the Iraqi regime,
asserting that Saddam Hussein posed a serious and immediate threat.
But later on Wednesday, chief weapons inspector Charles Duelfer
is expected to tell the Senate Armed Services Committee that Iraq
did not possess WMD at the time of the invasion.
That verdict has been widely anticipated since the former head
of the ISG, David Kay, resigned in January, and following the leaking
of a draft copy of the report last month.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the report would show
that Saddam Hussein posed a more serious threat than had previously
Speaking in Baghdad, Mr Straw said "the
threat from Saddam Hussein in terms of his intentions" was
"even starker than we have seen before".
Saddam Hussein would have built up his WMDs had he been left in
power, Mr Straw added.
His comments were backed by Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister, Barhem
Saleh, who said anyone who doubted that Saddam Hussein had WMDs
only needed to visit Halabja - where the former Iraq dictator gassed
thousands of Kurds.
"We know Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. He used them,"
Dr Saleh said, adding that in his view Saddam Hussein was himself
a weapon of mass destruction.
US government officials told the New York Times the report would
include new evidence that Saddam Hussein had plans to break UN-imposed
sanctions and renew the production of banned weapons.
The officials, speaking anonymously, said the report would detail
efforts by Iraq to bypass sanctions while they were still in place,
and to undermine international support for them.
Those efforts were reported to include the use of clandestine laboratories
to manufacture small quantities of chemical and biological weapons
for use in assassinations.
BBC Pentagon correspondent Nick Childs says the report, which runs
to more than 1,000 pages, is being billed as the most definitive
account yet of Iraq's weapons programmes.
Our correspondent says that with the political stakes in the US
so high and Iraq so central to the debate, Republican and Democratic
camps in the presidential race will seize on the different elements
of the report to argue that it bolsters their case for or against
the Iraq war.
However, the document will stop short of offering a final judgement
about the situation before the war.
Instead, the ISG is expected to continue translating and evaluating
an estimated 10,000 boxes of documents seized in Iraq.
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