Article - 911 Eye-witnesses
Article - High Strangeness
Article - The Blair Belief Project
Strike Flash Presentation by a QFS member
of the Day
High Plateaus in Aragon
Washington, Oct. 23 - President Reagan, voicing
outrage over the ''despicable'' destruction of the Marine Corps
headquarters in Lebanon, called on the nation today to be more determined
than ever to keep a force in that country and resist ''the bestial
nature of those who would assume power.''
The President, plunging into a day of emergency strategy meetings
on the bombing, denounced the unidentified
forces behind the attack and said the nation ''must be more
determined than ever that they cannot take over that vital and strategic
area of the earth.''
Administration officials, emphasizing that there would be no change
in the United States' military role in Lebanon, said there
was ''circumstantial evidence''
that fanatic terrorists aligned with Iran may have been responsible
for the truck bomb that razed the four-story Marine Corps
headquarters in Beirut, leaving 161 dead and 75 wounded.
The White House spokesman, Larry Speakes, said this evening that
the Administration was also ''looking into''
Syria's possible role in the incident,
but he did not cite any evidence. [...]
Yes, says Victor Ostrovsky, a former Israeli
secret agent. In a new book, By Way of Deception: A Devastating
Insider's Portrait of the Mossad, Mr. Ostrovsky says the
Israelis had advance notice of the suicide attack that killed 241
Marines in Beirut in October 1983 but withheld the information from
the United States in the hope that the attack would poison American
The Israeli government is desperately trying to block publication
of the book, which also says the Israelis
are "actively spying, recruiting, organizing and carrying out
covert activities mainly in New York and Washington, which they
refer to as their playground."
Although it can hardly succeed and will probably back fire, the
censorship attempt enjoyed initial success in both the U.S. and
Canada. Obliging courts in both countries have ordered that the
book be at least temporarily suppressed When it comes to Israel,
freedom of speech and of the press is considerably less than total,
even in America.
Mr. Ostrovsky says Israeli agents heard he had written the book
and tried to bribe and threaten him to dissuade him from going into
He is now in hiding. [...]
Mr. Ostrovsky's allegations should be shocking. Letting
the troops of a benefactor nation be blown up in their own compound
is hardly the act of a "reliable ally," as Israel is said
But you have to wonder whether anyone will really be shocked.
The act would be consistent with a long pattern
of reprehensible Israeli behavior toward the U.S. Some of it has
been widely publicized; no doubt the largest part of it has never
If anyone ought to be stunned, it's the many pundits who echo
Israeli propaganda to the effect that Israel is America's only valuable
and trustworthy ally in the Middle East. If they mean what they
say, they should be publicly changing their minds, or at least demanding
a thorough investigation into Israeli conduct toward this country.
Congress ought to be shocked, too, to the extent that its all-out
support for Israel has been sincere rather than venal and cowardly.
But how many of our elected representatives will dare, or care,
to ask tough questions about whether our ties to Israel have done
serious damage to this country's interests?
Such questions are not only long overdue, they are especially
urgent right now, when the United States
may be on the verge of a full-scale war in the Middle East, and
the Israel lobby is eager to see America launch hostilities against
Israel's chief enemy, Iraq.
The path of least resistance is to say nothing, to go on pretending
that the interests of the U.S. and of Israel are virtually identical,
to keep repeating that Israel is our "reliable ally" and
"strategic asset." Any politician
or journalist who says otherwise, even for the good of America,
does so at risk to his career. That's why there is so little open
debate on these matters. Even our press isn't fully free.
And now the Israeli government has mounted a direct attack on
press freedom in America itself. It will be instructive to see whether
the press corps goes on acting unshocked.
Extract from 'By Way of Deception' by
Victor Ostrovsky (pp. 322)
In the summer of 1983, this same informant told the Mossad about
a large Mercedes truck that was being fitted by the Shi'ite Muslims
with spaces that could hold bombs. He said it had even larger than
usual spaces for this, so that whatever it was destined for was
going to be a major target. Now, the Mossad
knew that, for size, there were only a few logical targets, one
of which must be the U.S. compound. The question then was
whether or not to warn the Americans to be on particular alert for
a truck matching the description.
The decision was too important to be taken in the Beirut station,
so it was passed along to Tel Aviv, where
Admony, then head of Mossad, decided they would simply give the
Americans the usual general warning, a vague notice that they had
reason to believe someone might be planning an operation against
them. But this was so general, and
so commonplace, it was like sending a weather report; unlikely to
raise any particular alarm or prompt increased security precautions.
In the six months following receipt of this information, for example,
there were more than 100 general warnings of car-bomb attacks. One
more would not heighten U.S. concerns or surveillance.
Admony, in refusing to give the Americans specific information
on the truck, said, "No, we're not there to protect Americans.
They're a big country. Send only the regular information."
At the same time, however, all Israeli installations
were given the specific details and warned to watch for a truck
matching the description of the Mercedes.
At 6:20 a.m. on October 23, 1983, a large Mercedes truck approached
the Beirut airport, passing well within sight
of Israeli sentries in their nearby base, going through a
Lebanese.army checkpoint, and turning left into the parking lot.
A U.S. Marine guard reported with alarm that the truck was gathering
speed, but before he could do anything, the truck roared toward
the entrance of the four-story reinforced concme Aviation Safety
Building, used as headquarters for the Eighth Marine Battalion,
crashing through a wrought-iron pate, hitting the sand-bagged guard
post, smashing through another barrier, and ramming over a wall
of sandbags into the lobby, exploding with such a terrific force
that the building was instantly reduced to rubble.
A few minutes later, another truck smashed into the French paratroopers'
headquarters at Bir Hason, a seafront residential neighborhood just
two miles from the U.S. compound, hitting it with such an impact
that it moved the entire building 30 feet and killed 58 soldiers.
The loss of 241 U.S. Marines, most of them still sleeping in their
cots at the time of the suicide mission, was the highest single
day death toll for the Americans since 246 died throughout Vietnam
at the start of the Tet offensive on January 13,1968.
Within days, the Israelis passed along
to the CIA the names of 13 people who they said were connected to
the bombing deaths of the U.S. Marines and French paratroopers,
a list including Syrian intelligence, Iranians in Damascus,
and Shi'ite Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah. [...]
Extract from 'By Way of Deception', Ostrovsky, Victor and
Hoy, Claire, St.Martin's Press, 1990
FALLUJA, Iraq (Reuters) - Insurgent
commanders in the Iraqi city of Falluja say they are not holding
hostage Margaret Hassan, an aide worker who holds British and Iraqi
citizenship, and condemned her kidnapping.
"This woman works for a humanitarian organisation. She should
not have been kidnapped," the emir, or commander, of one group
of Iraqi insurgents in the town, said on Sunday.
Many of the scores of kidnappings in Iraq since April have taken
place around Falluja, a fiercely anti-American guerrilla stronghold
50 km (30 miles) west of Baghdad.
The U.S. military and Iraqi government officials say Falluja is
a base for foreign militants loyal to declared al Qaeda ally Abu
Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian whose group has claimed responsibility
for kidnappings and suicide bombings.
Commanders of five separate guerrilla groups interviewed
in Falluja said they were not holding Hassan and had seen no evidence
that Zarqawi's organisation had kidnapped her.
Zarqawi's Tawhid wal Jihad (One God and Holy War) group claimed
responsibility for the kidnapping and beheading of two Americans
and a Briton seized in Baghdad last month.
Hassan, who holds Irish, British and Iraqi citizenship, was seized
on Tuesday. She appeared on a video on Arabic Al Jazeera television
on Friday making a tearful plea for her life.
Hassan was sitting in a white room with no indication of which
group was holding her.
Criminals sometimes take hostages in Iraq for ransom, or sell them
to militant groups.
One guerrilla commander in Falluja said he believed Hassan may
have been the victim of a criminal kidnapping.
"She had been living in Iraq for 30 years and she was a humanitarian.
The resistance did not kidnap her because this would have left a
bad impression of the resistance in the world," said the commander,
who asked not to be named.
Hassan was seized from her car on her way to work by gunmen said
by her husband to have included one in police uniform.
She was the eighth foreign woman to have been kidnapped in Iraq
in the last six months. The others, including two Italian aid workers
held for three weeks in September, have been freed.
A Falluja guerrilla commander said he did not
see a political motive for abducting Hassan, who had worked in Iraq
for the aid agency Care International since the early 1990s.
"If she was suspect, Saddam Hussein's intelligence agents
would have found out a long time ago," he said.
Ehud Barak, the former Israeli
Prime Minister, who supported the Bush Administration’s invasion
of Iraq, took it upon himself at this point to privately warn Vice-President
Dick Cheney that America had lost in Iraq; according to an American
close to Barak, he said that Israel “had learned that there’s
no way to win an occupation.” The only issue, Barak told Cheney,
“was choosing the size of your humiliation.” Cheney
did not respond to Barak’s assessment. (Cheney’s office
declined to comment.)
In a series of interviews in Europe, the Middle East, and the United
States, officials told me that by the end of last year Israel had
concluded that the Bush Administration would not be able to bring
stability or democracy to Iraq, and that Israel needed other options.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s government decided, I was told,
to minimize the damage that the war was causing to Israel’s
strategic position by expanding its long-standing relationship with
Iraq’s Kurds and establishing a significant presence on the
ground in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan.
Several officials depicted Sharon’s decision, which involves
a heavy financial commitment, as a potentially reckless move that
could create even more chaos and violence as the insurgency in Iraq
continues to grow.
Israeli intelligence and military operatives
are now quietly at work in Kurdistan, providing training for Kurdish
commando units and, most important in Israel’s view, running
covert operations inside Kurdish areas of Iran and Syria.
Israel feels particularly threatened by Iran, whose position in
the region has been strengthened by the war. The Israeli operatives
include members of the Mossad, Israel’s clandestine foreign-intelligence
service, who work undercover in Kurdistan as businessmen and, in
some cases, do not carry Israeli passports.
Asked to comment, Mark Regev, the spokesman for the Israeli Embassy
in Washington, said, “The story is simply untrue and the relevant
governments know it’s untrue.” Kurdish officials declined
to comment, as did a spokesman for the State Department.
However, a senior C.I.A. official acknowledged in an interview
last week that the Israelis were indeed operating in Kurdistan.
He told me that the Israelis felt that they had little choice: “They
think they have to be there.” Asked
whether the Israelis had sought approval from Washington, the official
laughed and said, “Do you know anybody who can tell the Israelis
what to do? They’re always going to do what is in their best
interest.” The C.I.A. official added that the Israeli
presence was widely known in the American intelligence community.
The Israeli decision to seek a bigger foothold in Kurdistan - characterized
by the former Israeli intelligence officer as “Plan B”
- has also raised tensions between Israel and Turkey. It has provoked
bitter statements from Turkish politicians and, in a major regional
shift, a new alliance among Iran, Syria, and Turkey, all of which
have significant Kurdish minorities. In early June, Intel Brief,
a privately circulated intelligence newsletter produced by Vincent
Cannistraro, a retired C.I.A. counterterrorism chief, and Philip
Giraldi, who served as the C.I.A.’s deputy chief of base in
Istanbul in the late nineteen-eighties, said:
Turkish sources confidentially report that the Turks are increasingly
concerned by the expanding Israeli presence in Kurdistan and alleged
encouragement of Kurdish ambitions to create an independent state...The
Turks note that the large Israeli intelligence operations in Northern
Iraq incorporate anti-Syrian and anti-Iranian activity, including
support to Iranian and Syrian Kurds who are in opposition to their
In the years since the first Gulf War, Iraq’s Kurds, aided
by an internationally enforced no-fly zone and by a U.N. mandate
providing them with a share of the country’s oil revenues,
have managed to achieve a large measure of independence in three
northern Iraqi provinces. As far as most Kurds are concerned, however,
historic “Kurdistan” extends well beyond Iraq’s
borders, encompassing parts of Iran, Syria, and Turkey. All
three countries fear that Kurdistan, despite public pledges to the
contrary, will declare its independence from the interim Iraqi government
if conditions don’t improve after June 30th.
Israeli involvement in Kurdistan is not new. Throughout the nineteen-sixties
and seventies, Israel actively supported a Kurdish rebellion against
Iraq, as part of its strategic policy of seeking alliances with
non-Arabs in the Middle East. In 1975, the Kurds were betrayed by
the United States, when Washington went along with a decision by
the Shah of Iran to stop supporting Kurdish aspirations for autonomy
Betrayal and violence became the norm in the next two decades.
Inside Iraq, the Kurds were brutally repressed by Saddam Hussein,
who used airpower and chemical weapons against them. In 1984, the
Kurdistan Workers Party, or P.K.K., initiated a campaign of separatist
violence in Turkey that lasted fifteen years; more than thirty thousand
people, most of them Kurds, were killed. The Turkish government
ruthlessly crushed the separatists, and eventually captured the
P.K.K.’s leader, Abdullah Ocalan. Last month, the P.K.K.,
now known as the Kongra-Gel, announced that it was ending a five-year
unilateral ceasefire and would begin targeting Turkish citizens
The Iraqi Kurdish leadership was furious when, early this month,
the United States acceded to a U.N. resolution on the restoration
of Iraqi sovereignty that did not affirm the interim constitution
that granted the minority Kurds veto power in any permanent constitution.
Kurdish leaders immediately warned President Bush in a letter that
they would not participate in a new Shiite-controlled government
unless they were assured that their rights under the interim constitution
were preserved. “The people of Kurdistan will no longer accept
second-class citizenship in Iraq,” the letter said.
There are fears that the Kurds will move to seize the city of Kirkuk,
together with the substantial oil reserves in the surrounding region.
Kirkuk is dominated by Arab Iraqis, many of whom were relocated
there, beginning in the nineteen-seventies, as part of Saddam Hussein’s
campaign to “Arabize” the region, but the Kurds consider
Kirkuk and its oil part of their historic homeland. “If Kirkuk
is threatened by the Kurds, the Sunni insurgents will move in there,
along with the Turkomen, and there will be a bloodbath,” an
American military expert who is studying Iraq told me. “And,
even if the Kurds do take Kirkuk, they can’t transport the
oil out of the country, since all of the pipelines run through the
A top German national-security official
said in an interview that “an independent Kurdistan with sufficient
oil would have enormous consequences for Syria, Iran, and Turkey”
and would lead to continuing instability in the Middle East—no
matter what the outcome in Iraq is. There is also a widespread
belief, another senior German official said, that some elements
inside the Bush Administration—he referred specifically to
the faction headed by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz—would
tolerate an independent Kurdistan. This, the German argued, would
be a mistake. “It would be a new Israel—a
pariah state in the middle of hostile nations.”
A declaration of independence would trigger a Turkish response—and
possibly a war—and also derail what has been an important
alliance for Israel. Turkey and Israel have become strong diplomatic
and economic partners in the past decade. Thousands of Israelis
travel to Turkey every year as tourists. Turkish opposition to the
Iraq war has strained the relationship; still, Turkey remains oriented
toward the West and, despite the victory of an Islamic party in
national elections in 2002, relatively secular. It is now vying
for acceptance in the European Union. In contrast, Turkey and Syria
have been at odds for years, at times coming close to open confrontation,
and Turkey and Iran have long been regional rivals. One area of
tension between them is the conflict between Turkey’s pro-Western
stand and Iran’s rigid theocracy. But their mutual wariness
of the Kurds has transcended these divisions.
A European foreign minister, in a conversation last month, said
that the “blowing up” of Israel’s alliance with
Turkey would be a major setback for the region. He went on, “To
avoid chaos, you need the neighbors to work as one common entity.”
The Israelis, however, view the neighborhood, with the exception
of Kurdistan, as hostile. Israel is convinced that Iran is on the
verge of developing nuclear weapons, and that, with Syria’s
help, it is planning to bolster Palestinian terrorism as Israel
withdraws from the Gaza Strip. [...]
“Israel’s immediate goal after June 30th is to build
up the Kurdish commando units to balance the Shiite militias—especially
those which would be hostile to the kind of order in southern Iraq
that Israel would like to see,” the former senior intelligence
official said. “Of course, if a fanatic Sunni Baathist militia
took control—one as hostile to Israel as Saddam Hussein was—Israel
would unleash the Kurds on it, too.” The Kurdish armed forces,
known as the peshmerga, number an estimated seventy-five thousand
troops, a total that far exceeds the known Sunni and Shiite militias.
The former Israeli intelligence officer acknowledged
that since late last year Israel has been training Kurdish commando
units to operate in the same manner and with the same effectiveness
as Israel’s most secretive commando units, the Mistaravim.
The initial goal of the Israeli assistance to the Kurds, the former
officer said, was to allow them to do what American commando units
had been unable to do—penetrate, gather intelligence on, and
then kill off the leadership of the Shiite and Sunni insurgencies
in Iraq. (I was unable to learn whether any such mission had yet
taken place.) “The feeling was that this was a more effective
way to get at the insurgency,” the former officer said. “But
the growing Kurdish-Israeli relationship began upsetting the Turks
no end. Their issue is that the very same Kurdish commandos trained
for Iraq could infiltrate and attack in Turkey.”
The Kurdish-Israeli collaboration inevitably expanded, the Israeli
said. Some Israeli operatives have crossed the border into Iran,
accompanied by Kurdish commandos, to install sensors and other sensitive
devices that primarily target suspected Iranian nuclear facilities.
The former officer said, “Look, Israel has always supported
the Kurds in a Machiavellian way—as balance against Saddam.
It’s Realpolitik.” He added, “By aligning with
the Kurds, Israel gains eyes and ears in Iran, Iraq, and Syria.”
He went on, “What Israel was doing with the Kurds was not
so unacceptable in the Bush Administration.”
Senior German officials told me, with alarm, that their intelligence
community also has evidence that Israel is using its new leverage
inside Kurdistan, and within the Kurdish communities in Iran and
Syria, for intelligence and operational purposes. Syrian and Lebanese
officials believe that Israeli intelligence played a role in a series
of violent protests in Syria in mid-March in which Syrian Kurdish
dissidents and Syrian troops clashed, leaving at least thirty people
dead. (There are nearly two million Kurds living in Syria, which
has a population of seventeen million.) Much of the fighting took
place in cities along Syria’s borders with Turkey and Kurdish-controlled
Iraq. Michel Samaha, the Lebanese Minister of Information, told
me that while the disturbances amounted to an uprising by the Kurds
against the leadership of Bashir Assad, the Syrian President, his
government had evidence that Israel was “preparing the Kurds
to fight all around Iraq, in Syria, Turkey, and Iran. They’re
being programmed to do commando operations.”
The top German national-security official told me that he believes
that the Bush Administration continually misread Iran. “The
Iranians wanted to keep America tied down in Iraq, and to keep it
busy there, but they didn’t want chaos,” he said. One
of the senior German officials told me, “The
critical question is ‘What will the behavior of Iran be if
there is an independent Kurdistan with close ties to Israel?’
Iran does not want an Israeli land-based aircraft carrier”—that
is, a military stronghold—“on its border.”
Another senior European official said, “The Iranians would
do something positive in the south of Iraq if they get something
positive in return, but Washington won’t do it. The Bush Administration
won’t ask the Iranians for help, and can’t ask the Syrians.
Who is going to save the United States?” He
added that, at the start of the American invasion of Iraq, several
top European officials had told their counterparts in Iran, “You
will be the winners in the region.”
Israel is not alone in believing that Iran, despite its protestations,
is secretly hard at work on a nuclear bomb. Early this month, the
International Atomic Energy Agency, which is responsible for monitoring
nuclear proliferation, issued its fifth quarterly report in a row
stating that Iran was continuing to misrepresent its research into
materials that could be used for the production of nuclear weapons.
Much of the concern centers on an underground enrichment facility
at Natanz, two hundred and fifty miles from the Iran-Iraq border,
which, during previous I.A.E.A. inspections, was discovered to contain
centrifuges showing traces of weapons-grade uranium. The huge complex,
which is still under construction, is said to total nearly eight
hundred thousand square feet, and it will be sheltered in a few
months by a roof whose design allows it to be covered with sand.
Once the work is completed, the complex “will be blind to
satellites, and the Iranians could add additional floors underground,”
an I.A.E.A. official told me. “The question is, will the Israelis
hit Iran?” [...]
Clawson told me that Israel’s overwhelming national-security
concern must be Iran. Given that a presence in Kurdistan would give
Israel a way to monitor the Iranian nuclear effort, he said, “it
would be negligent for the Israelis not to be there.”
At the moment, the former American senior intelligence official
said, the Israelis’ tie to Kurdistan “would be of greater
value than their growing alliance with Turkey. ‘We love Turkey
but got to keep the pressure on Iran.’” The former Israeli
intelligence officer said, “The Kurds were the last surviving
group close to the United States with any say in Iraq. The only
question was how to square it with Turkey.”
There may be no way to square it with Turkey. Over breakfast in
Ankara, a senior Turkish official explained, “Before the war,
Israel was active in Kurdistan, and now it is active again. This
is very dangerous for us, and for them, too. We
do not want to see Iraq divided, and we will not ignore it.”
Then, citing a popular Turkish proverb—“We will burn
a blanket to kill a flea”—he said, “We have told
the Kurds, ‘We are not afraid of you, but you should be afraid
of us.’” (A Turkish diplomat I spoke to later was more
direct: “We tell our Israeli and Kurdish friends that Turkey’s
good will lies in keeping Iraq together. We will not support
BAGHDAD - At least 16 Iraqi police officers
were killed and 40 others wounded Saturday in a car bombing outside
a U.S. Marine base in western Iraq.
The bomb exploded outside the gates of the base near the city of
The U.S. military says no American soldiers were hurt in the attack.
Later, a suicide bomber blew up his vehicle near a checkpoint
manned by Iraqi National Guards 100 kilometres north of Baghdad
near Samarra, killing four guards and wounding six.
The bombings were carried out hours after the U.S. military claimed
that it had captured an aide to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in a raid early
on Saturday in Fallujah.
American forces have stepped up operations in Fallujah in an effort
to root out al-Zarqawi's group, which has been blamed in numerous
suicide bombings and beheadings of foreign hostages.
U.S. warplanes struck several buildings in the city in an overnight
raid, killing two people.
Elsewhere, five American soldiers were wounded when an explosive
device destroyed an armoured vehicle in Baghdad, U.S. officials
The attack targeted a convoy travelling along the main highway
leading to Baghdad International Airport.
The highway is the the scene of frequent attacks by insurgents
and is considered one of the most dangerous roads in the country.
A suicide bomber has struck Kabul's most famous
shopping district, Chicken Street, injuring seven people.
Three international peacekeepers are among the
wounded and are believed to have been the target of the attack.
The BBC's Andrew North, at the scene, says the attack happened
at about 1530 local time (1100 GMT) and that the bomber's body was
lying in the street.
A spokesman for the hard-line Islamic Taleban movement has said
it was behind the attack.
A spokesman for the Nato-led multinational force in Kabul said
one of the peacekeepers was seriously hurt. He gave no further details
on their nationality or gender.
It is the first suicide bombing in the Afghan capital since January,
our correspondent says.
"The Taleban takes responsibility
for the suicide attack in Kabul... We plan more attacks," spokesman
Mufti Latifullah Hakimi told Reuters news agency.
Witnesses say a man approached several soldiers who had parked
their vehicle outside a carpet shop.
He then detonated several hand grenades he was carrying, killing
himself in the blast.
The ground and the carpet shop were spattered with blood. [...]
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The bodies of about 50 Iraqi
soldiers were found on a remote road in eastern Iraq, apparently
the victims of an ambush as they were heading home on leave, Iraqi
authorities said Sunday. Also, a State Department security officer
was killed during a mortar or rocket attack at a U.S. base near
the Baghdad airport
Interior Ministry spokesman Adnan Abdul-Rahman said the Iraqi soldiers
were believed to have been killed about sundown Saturday on a road
about 95 miles east of Baghdad near the Iranian border.
There were conflicting reports on the exact number of dead, whether
they were members of the Iraqi army or the Iraqi National Guard
and whether they were all killed execution-style.
Iraqi government spokeswoman Maha Malik quoted witnesses as saying
insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades at about two vehicles
carrying the unarmed troops.
Gen. Walid al-Azzawi, commander of the Diyala provincial police,
said the bodies were laid out in four rows each, with 12 bodies
in each row.
"After inspection, we found out that they were shot after
being ordered to lay down on the earth," he said.
Al-Azzawi said he believed the soldiers had been training at the
Kirkush military camp northeast of Baghdad.
An Associated Press reporter on the scene reported seeing the burned
frames of two minibuses. Blood stains were visible on the ground,
along with human remains. Witnesses said the attackers stole some
buses. Police said they had found 51 bodies from the attack place.
A U.S. military source in the region confirmed the incident, but
was uncertain of the number of dead. [...]
WASHINGTON - The CIA has secretly transferred
detainees out of Iraq for interrogation after asking the US Justice
Department to write a memo justifying the practice, which violates
the Geneva Conventions, The Washington Post reported.
The CIA used the draft memo as legal support for
the transfer up to a dozen detainees in the last six months, concealing
the move from the International Committee of the Red Cross and other
authorities, the Post said, citing an intelligence official familiar
with the operation.
The daily said it had obtained a copy of the confidential memo,
written by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, dated
March 19, 2004 and stamped "draft."
The memo covers both Iraqi citizens and foreigners in Iraq, according
to the Post.
It permits the CIA to take Iraqis out of
the country to be interrogated for a "brief but not indefinite
period," and allows permanent removal of persons deemed
to be "illegal aliens" under "local immigration law,"
the daily said.
Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention protects
civilians during wartime and occupation, prohibiting "individual
or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected
persons from occupied territory... regardless of their motive."
In a footnote to the memo its author wrote that
a violation of this provision constitutes a "grave breach"
of the accord and a "war crime" under US federal law,
the Post said.
"For these reasons, we recommend that any contemplated relocations
of 'protected persons' from Iraq to facilitate interrogation be
carefully evaluated for compliance with Article 49 on a case by
case basis," the footnote says.
In a controversial move, the administration transferred many Al-Qaeda
fighters captured in Afghanistan to a US naval base in Guantanamo
Bay, Cuba, saying these "enemy combatants" were not protected
under the Geneva Conventions.
But the US government had said that former members
of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party and military, insurgents and other
civilians in Iraq, were to be protected by the Geneva Conventions,
the Post pointed out.
The CIA has not disclosed the identities or locations of prisoners
captured in Iraq, the Post said.
"The Geneva Conventions are applicable to the conflict in
Iraq, and our policy is to comply with the Geneva Conventions,"
White House spokesman Sean McCormick told the Post when asked about
The CIA was so sure Iraqis would warmly welcome
American soldiers that it suggested smuggling small US flags into
Iraq ahead of the 2003 invasion, in order them to wave at the soldiers.
The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the CIA was planning
to film the event and distribute it throughout the Arab world.
The report said the plan was ruled out by Lieutenant General David
McKiernan, the commander of allied ground forces, who was concerned
about the Americans being perceived as an occupying army.
The idea was dropped, but the CIA believed that many of the towns
were "ours," one former staff officer told the newspaper.
The Arab Human Rights Committee has expressed
concern over arbitrary arrests of
Gulf nationals in many countries of the region.
The committee in a statement on Friday said some
Gulf states were misusing the "fight against terrorism"
to overlook illegal detentions of its citizens.
In an interview with Aljazeera, committee spokesman Dr Haitham
Manaa said the paranoia over security was resulting in illegal arrests
at border checkpoints.
"The Saudi authorities have arrested nationals from UAE,
Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar," he said.
"We now face a case involving a Kuwaiti
national who has been arrested by the Saudi authorities without
any legal justification and is now jailed in Hayel prison,
but regrettably the Kuwaiti government has not yet objected,"
Dr Manaa pointed out.
"As human rights activists, we hope that cooperation between
Gulf states is based on mutual respect and guarantee of basic freedoms
for the nationals," he said.
"But what is going on now is security cooperation at the
expense of the dignity of Gulf citizens."
Dr Manaa also pointed out that more than
100 Saudi nationals are languishing in Syrian jails without access
"There are also many Gulf nationals in Saudi prisons and
no one is allowed to intervene as their own countries have decided
to keep silent," he said.
NEW YORK (AP) - U.S. arms inspector Charles
Duelfer's report concluding Iraq might have resumed weapons-building
"after sanctions were removed," left out the crucial fact
the UN Security Council had planned controls over Baghdad for years
to come, UN officials said Saturday.
The Security Council, led by the United States, decreed inspections
and disarmament of Iraq were to be followed by tough, open-ended
"It's been a little disturbing," said Demetrius Perricos,
chief UN weapons inspector.
"All the arguments say that when sanctions ended, Saddam
Hussein would have had a free hand. By the council's own resolutions
that wasn't so."
Ronald Cleminson, a retired Canadian intelligence officer and
veteran member of the UN commission that oversaw Iraq's disarmament,
said he believes U.S. officials intentionally played down UN effectiveness
and future monitoring plans.
Otherwise, "they could not have set up a scenario with which
one goes to war," Cleminson said.
In his Oct. 6 report, CIA adviser Duelfer discredited President
George W. Bush's stated rationale for invading Iraq, saying his
Iraq Survey Group found no weapons of mass destruction. But he suggested
Iraq might still have posed a threat.
Saddam "wanted to recreate Iraq's WMD capability - which
was essentially destroyed in 1991 - after sanctions were removed,"
the report said, though adding no such formal plan was uncovered.
This Duelfer finding became a new focus for the Bush administration.
Vice-President Dick Cheney told one audience Oct. 7: "As soon
as the sanctions were lifted, (Saddam) had every intention of going
back" to weapons-building.
An academic expert on the Iraq inspections regime was among those
disputing this, noting lifting the UN Embargo would not have opened
"This is not the case under Resolution 687 and later ones,"
said Yale University's James Sutterlin.
Years of Security Council resolutions preceding the 2003 U.S.-British
invasion mandated UN arms monitors would remain in Iraq once Baghdad's
WMD programs were shut down - as Duelfer now acknowledges they were
in the 1990s. With unusual powers and the best technology, the monitors
in this second stage would "prevent Iraq from developing new
capabilities," said a blueprint for the Ongoing Monitoring
and Verification (OMV) program.
Resolutions also stipulated UN trade sanctions would not be lifted
until the ongoing monitoring program was in place - and lifted then
only for civilian goods.
The Security Council, where Washington has a veto, would decide
how long to keep monitoring in place. Perricos said it was expected
to last years.
"You couldn't have disarmament and stop monitoring afterward,"
In 19 pages of Key Findings, however, while raising the prospect
of future threats, the Duelfer report ignores this plan to prevent
The CIA and Duelfer had no comment this week when asked why the
role of Ongoing Monitoring and Verification went unacknowledged.
Official U.S. statements consistently disregarding this follow-up
stage in Iraq arms control seem to have had an effect.
"Most people don't understand that there was to be a permanent
monitoring system in place to deter any return to WMD," said
Jean Krasno of the City University of New York, co-author with Sutterlin
of the 2003 book The United Nations and Iraq.
In 2002, the Bush administration had demanded and voted for renewed
UN inspections in Iraq. Then, in the lead-up to war, it publicly
questioned their effectiveness, even as UN experts were conducting
700 inspections and finding no WMD.
In early 2003, the inspectors said they could formally certify
Iraqi disarmament with several more months' work, after which long-term
monitoring would take over. In preparation, they set up a northern
office in Mosul and bought $5 million US worth of high-technology
The U.S. attack then aborted the UN work.
The monitoring program would have covered hundreds of sites, from
Iraq's nuclear complex to pesticide plants and breweries that might
concoct chemical or biological weapons. It was originally envisioned
as a $70-million-a-year operation with a staff of 350.
The inspectors would have been armed with sensors, sampling devices
and remote video systems and would have continued onsite inspections
and interviews of ex-weapon scientists. They also would have monitored
sites via aerial surveillance, had the right to inspect vehicles
and monitored Iraqi imports of civilian goods with potential military
David Kay, Duelfer's predecessor as chief of the CIA weapons hunt,
said: "OMV was discounted" because it was believed "that
the Iraqis over time would find out how to manipulate the cameras,
sampling methods, occasional visits."
The UN experts disputed this. Inspector spokesman Ewen Buchanan
noted, for example, the remote cameras could even broadcast to analysts
that they've been tampered with. Besides, the arms-control specialists
said, Kay was discounting a system the world now knows disarmed
Iraq without going to war.
"What happened in Iraq was that an international body of
the UN went over, did the job and came out with results," Perricos
The Federal Government will
reintroduce a package of bills to toughen Australia's anti-terrorism
laws, when Parliament resumes in three weeks time for its first
sitting since the election.
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock says at this stage he is not planning
to revisit measures already defeated in the Senate, such as allowing
children as young as 12 to be strip-searched.
He told Channel Seven there is an urgent need to pass three security
bills which were still before the Upper House when the election
Mr Ruddock says that includes giving ASIO and the Federal police
more powers to use listening devices and intercept emails and preventing
the release of classified information during terror trials.
"It can be quite an impediment to the organisations, such
as ASIO, to outline the methods they use, the equipment that they
have, to outline human intelligence that they may have received
which could identify people who are still involved in providing
information to them," he said.
"To do so in open court exposes to risk your ongoing inquiries."
Iran has turned down a European
Union proposal that it stops enriching uranium in return for nuclear
Diplomats had said that if Iran rejected the proposal, most EU
countries would back a US demand that Tehran should be reported
to the UN Security Council for possible economic sanctions when
the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meets on 25 November.
"The EU proposal is unbalanced ... unlimited uranium suspension
is unacceptable for Iran," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid
Reza Asefi told a news conference.
Washington accuses oil-rich Iran of using its nuclear programme
as a veil for developing an atomic arsenal. Tehran says it only
wants to generate electricity.
French, British and German officials are to meet Iranian negotiators
on Wednesday to discuss the European offer.
The EU "big three" have led a European effort at compromise
that would avoid sending Iran's case to the UN Security Council.
The IAEA, the UN atomic watchdog body, has been investigating Iran's
nuclear programme for more than two years.
It has uncovered many previously hidden activities that could be
related to a weapons' programme, but has found no "smoking
Recently, a radio commentator used the above
phrase in regards to the upcoming presidential elections and each
candidate's stand on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
His point was, even though Bush has not been the most open of trading
partners, that it was better to vote for him as the "known"
candidate, rather than gamble on Kerry who's "unknown"
and could be worse.
It's a take off on the often quoted "better the devil you
know, than the devil you don't know", which highlights the
curious Catch 22 that when making a choice between two evils, it's
wiser to opt with the more familiar evil, because at the very least
one knows what to expect.
This problem of offering "limited and confined choices"
seems to be the very essence of the American two-party system, which
effectively maintains the "illusion" of democracy. Give
the sheeple a choice between two sides of the same coin, and whoever
"owns" the coin is guaranteed to win.
The entire U.S. electoral system is based upon this lie of right
versus left, and as long as the lie continues be accepted by the
majority of American citizens and remains unchallenged within ourselves,
we can expect that this culture of war and bloodshed will continue
to be "business as usual".
The lie of "democracy" has been drilled into our heads
virtually since the day we are born. Passed down from our parents,
brainwashed by our educational system, propagated by the media,
and supported by the hypnotic "consensus reality", the
lie is so ingrained, that it to question it, is to question the
very foundation of America itself.
We believe we are offered a choice, Democrat or Republican. The
act of voting produces pleasurable feelings inside us. We feel we
have voiced our opinion, made a significant difference.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
For Bush and Kerry serve the same master, who endeavors to consolidate
more power by preserving the status quo at all costs.
"Democracy" is the lie we've been conditioned to believe.
The lie is so insidious, so deeply felt, that to even dare challenge
it is to most certainly invite attack in the form of derision, disbelief
and ridicule. What better way to convince people that they are free
while still keeping them in chains, than to offer such a choice
between the "lesser of two evils".
What the lie does not allow, and what might free us from this dualistic
prison, is that of a THIRD choice. And by this we don't mean Ralph
Nader, or any of the other "independant" candidates, for
they too are an inseperable part of the lie. No, this third choice
involves stepping outside the traditional constraints of voting
Democrat or Republican or whatever, to the option of not voting
or participating at all.
Consider this; if we know that our government is committing war
crimes, and that both candidates have gone on record to say that
they will continue to fight in this illegal war, then by voting
for either candidate, we become complicit in the crime itself. By
participating in the illusion of democracy, we become personally
involved in the suffering of others in foreign countries. We become
responsible for the horrible atrocities that the government we elect
carries out in our name, because we continue to blindly support
the process by which such suffering occurs.
If there is a God, and by this we are not talking about that monotheistic
madman Jehova, Yahweh, or Allah, but a universal consciousness that
permeates and animates the entire universe. If there is such a consciousness,
it seems we are inseperable from it, as if the universe express
itself through us, and the greatest gift we have been given is that
of free will.
By exercizing our so-called "right to vote", we are in
fact, voluntarily giving up our free will to others to make decisions
for us. By voting for either Bush or Kerry, we are essentially asking
them to kill and plunder in our name, to continue their psychopathic
slaughter of other human beings by proxy. It is no different than
as if we were the ones pulling the trigger.
In essence, by giving up our free will and abdicating our responsibility
to the universe and ourselves, is perhaps the greatest crime of
all, because we can actually do something about it.
A choice between two evils is no choice at all.
Better the Dubya you know?
Don't count on it.
The above article may be reproduced for educational, non-commercial
purposes, as printed in its entirety and with proper credit given.
| With only nine days to go and
the polls showing Bush and Kerry still neck and neck, the result is
once agin likely to turn on the minutiae of the voting system. But
this time the whole country seems poised to descend into post-election
chaos. Andrew Gumbel reports on the traumatising effects of this bitter
campaign and how, as the world's most powerful democracy talks of
exporting freedom to Iraq, it is at risk of becoming an object of
No need to wonder if
this year's US presidential election is headed for another meltdown:
the meltdown has already started. The voting machines have already
begun to break down, accusations of systematic voter suppression
and fraud are rampant, and lawyers fully armed and ready with an
intimate knowledge of the nation's byzantine election laws have
flocked to court to cry foul in half a dozen states.
Nine days out from election day, we don't yet know whether the
state-by-state arithmetic will lead to a post-election stalemate
similar to the 36-day battle for Florida in 2000. It is, of course,
possible that the margins of victory in the 50 states will be wide
enough to avert the worst - even if overall conditions are likely
to fall short of the usual definition of a free and fair election.
Given the nail-bitingly close numbers in the opinion polls, however,
Election 2004 could just as easily produce a concatenation of knockdown,
drag-out fights in several states at once, making the débâcle
in Florida four years ago look, in retrospect, like the constitutional
equivalent of a vicarage tea party.
Last week saw the start of early voting in Florida and a clutch
of other states, and with it came a plethora of problems. In
three heavily populated counties - around Tampa, Orlando and Fort
Lauderdale - the network connection used to verify voter identifications
broke down on the first day, creating hours of delay. In Jacksonville,
where poor ballot design in 2000 knocked out the votes of 27,000
poor, predominantly black, predominantly Democratic voters, the
county elections supervisor chose the first day of polling to resign,
citing ill health. He had come under fire for failing to
make early voting available in the city's African-American neighbourhoods
- something his interim successor is now going some way to remedy.
Elsewhere, there were computer breakdowns
during early voting in Memphis. Pre-election testing of electronic
machines in Riverside County, California, and in Palm Beach County,
Florida, led to multiple computer crashes. Elsewhere, machines
have manifested problems handling basic addition - especially when
asked to display instructions in a language other than English.
Several county administrators have chosen simply to skip the non-English
language part of the test.
In Nebraska, dead people were found to have applied
for absentee ballots. In Ohio, a representative of the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People was found to have
offered crack cocaine to a known drug addict in exchange for completed
voter registration forms, which he duly submitted in the names of
Mary Poppins, Janet Jackson and Jeffrey Dahmer, the notorious cannibal
This is just the beginning. The Kerry campaign alone has signed
up 10,000 lawyers around the country to oversee registration and
absentee ballot procedures, keep tabs on computer voting companies,
collect stories of alleged disenfranchisement or irregularities
at the polls, and watch state elections officials with hawk-eyed
attention for every ruling that might be construed as having a partisan,
rather than a public interest intent.
"The lawyering won't start the day after the election,"
said Kendall Coffey, a Democratic Party lawyer in Miami who was
deeply involved in the 2000 fiasco. "It's already under way."
Florida Congressman Robert Wexler, who is deep in litigation with
his state government over the failure of Florida's electronic voting
machines to produce an independent paper trail, concurred. "The
dangers are limitless," he said. "They are limited only
by the inventiveness of those who would tamper with the system and
It beggars belief that the world's most powerful
democracy should find itself in this hole for the second time in
a row - becoming an object of international ridicule, scorn and
not a little alarm, even as the country's leaders talk idealistically
about exporting American freedom and democracy to Afghanistan, Iraq
After the last fiasco everyone from President Bush down vowed to
fix the system and ensure another Florida could never happen. But
three big things went wrong. First, the new
generation of computer touchscreen machines - brought in at dizzying
speed and at even more dizzying cost to replace the discredited
old punch-cards - turned out to be poorly programmed, unverifiable,
prone to all manner of failure and susceptible to undetectable foul
Secondly, the Bush administration dragged
its feet about enacting funding its own new election laws.
As a result, most states won't have their electoral procedures fully
updated and coordinated until the next presidential election in
2008. That, in turn, is opening up furious arguments about the ill-defined
rules for provisional ballots, absentee ballots, ID card requirements
at polling stations and other seemingly esoteric bureaucratic niceties
that could have a huge impact on turnout - especially among the
poorer, less educated classes who have traditionally been ignored,
if not excluded, by the two major parties.
Thirdly, the political leadership allowed
itself to be deluded into thinking that the dysfunctions of the
US electoral system were purely a matter of technology. Fix
the machines, the thinking went, and everything else will be fine.
What should have been glaringly obvious in 2000, and is even more
glaringly obvious now, is that the failures
of the electoral process were a direct result of the ferocity of
broader political battles. The blithe incompetence of local election
officials and their wonky machinery were side-effects of these battles,
not the cause.
In 2000, much of the agony of Florida could in fact have been avoided
if the parties had agreed to a state-wide manual recount - as happened
in an equally close, but amicably resolved, Senate race in Washington
state that year. It was the high stakes of the White House, not
the messy accumulation of hanging, dimpled and pregnant chads, that
sparked the crisis. And we know the stakes are infinitely higher
this time, in what has been called the most important US election
There has been nothing to match the current passions
in American politics since the Civil Rights era and the Vietnam
War. Campaigns have never been dirtier, or more intensely fought
or more expensive. Both major parties have vowed to do whatever
it takes to win, and each has accused the other of engaging in out-and-out
The whole country - never mind the woefully inadequate electoral
system - is now living on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Little
wonder, then, if many are predicting some sort of collapse on 2
November. "Only a miracle, it strikes
me, can prevent this election from descending into post-election
chaos," John Dean, the Watergate-era White House counsel who
knows a thing or two about electoral dirty tricks, wrote last week.
What has been striking is the sheer nastiness of
the fight. In Oregon, Pennsylvania and Nevada - all swing states
- a Republican political consulting group called Sproul & Associates
has been accused of passing itself off as a non-partisan or even
a Democratic civic organisation to collect voter registration applications
outside libraries and supermarkets. In at least two instances now
under criminal investigation, company employees have been accused
of processing the applications of declared Republican voters while
throwing the forms marked Democrat into the nearest rubbish bin.
Sproul, which has received more than $600,000 (£330,000) from
the Republican National Committee, has denied ever endorsing such
practices. Still, the discarded voter registration forms have been
paraded on television for all to see.
In Ohio and Florida, it is the Republican
secretaries of state - who oversee elections - who have been accused
of putting partisan preference above their solemn civic duties.
Ohio's Ken Blackwell won points from voting rights activists earlier
in the year when he chose not to go ahead with a massive state-wide
buy of electronic voting machines. Since then, however, he has tried
to insist that all voter registration forms be submitted on 80lb
stock paper - a ruling struck down by the courts after he was accused
of blatantly attempting to suppress the votes of likely Democrats.
He has also tried to make life harder for provisional voters, saying
their ballots will be recognised only if they show up at exactly
the right precinct. This too was struck down in court because it
was deemed likely to suppress votes - especially among transient
students and low-income workers. But Secretary Blackwell has continued
to implement the policy in defiance of the court order, prompting
a harsh rebuke from the judge.
In Florida, Secretary of State Glenda Hood has
been repeatedly accused of doing the political bidding of the man
who appointed her - Governor Jeb Bush, the President's brother.
Her more recent exploits include directing county supervisors to
throw out registration forms where applicants have signed a statement
declaring they are US citizens but have forgotten to check a citizenry
box elsewhere on the form. This, too, is seen as a vote-suppressing
mechanism. It, too, is now in the courts.
Secretary Hood has also been waging a months-long campaign to ban
what limited manual recounts the electronic voting machines permit.
Her initial ruling was struck down by the
courts, but now she has come up with a staggeringly devious rewrite.
The state will now permit analysis of the computerised machines'
internal audit logs in the event of a close race, she said, but
if there is any discrepancy the county supervisors are to go with
the original count. In other words: we will do recounts, but if
the recounts change the outcome we will disregard them.
Secretary Hood's actions illuminate the real attraction of the
electronic voting machines in the states where they have been introduced.
They may work no better than the old punch-card machines - studies
suggest they fail to record as many votes as their predecessors.
In the absence of an independent paper trail, how- ever, all evidence
of problems is hidden away in the binary code of an electronic black
box and is, to all intents and purposes, invisible.
This raises intriguing and troubling questions about what a post-election
contest might look like. One can reasonably anticipate - based on
past experience - an avalanche of stories about voters turned away
from polling stations, told they are on a felons list even if they
have no criminal record, or kept waiting for hours because of technical
glitches. No doubt people will tell some of those thousands of lawyers
how they pressed the screen for one candidate, only to have the
other's name light up.
The problem is, even if lawyers for the losing candidate are able
to prove that the system failed, they will find it very difficult
to talk specific numbers and demonstrate that enough votes were
lost to alter the outcome.
How the courts will react to this hypothetical state of affairs
is anybody's guess. They could accept the given election results,
however flawed. They could allow the arguments to rage until December,
when the electoral college is supposed to meet, or even into the
new year, when an undecided election would be thrown into the House
Or they could be trumped, once again, by the Supreme Court. The
most disconcerting possibility is that the highest court in the
land could remove the electoral process from the voters altogether
and turn it over to the state legislatures. Technically, they can
do this under Article II of the Constitution, which offers no automatic
right to vote. We know from the deliberations
in 2000 that two, possibly five, of the nine justices have doubts
whether the people should be the ultimate arbiters of presidential
elections - a strict, literal reading of the Constitution that no
modern Supreme Court countenanced before the current crop of ultra-conservatives.
"After granting the franchise in the special context of Article
II," the majority declared in its Bush vs Gore ruling, "[the
state] can take back the power to appoint electors."
Were this scenario to play out it would leave the fate of many
of the electoral battlegrounds in the hands of Republican-controlled
state legislatures (in Florida and Ohio, for starters), who would
promptly hand the election to George Bush. Talk about a nightmare
scenario - which is why every elections official and every "small
d" democrat in the land is praying it won't get that close.
Let's hedge this with all the usual qualifiers.
Kerry could pull it out. The spread's within the margin of error.
Respondents to polls are lying out of fear of John Ashcroft. Pollsters
aren't reaching Kerrycrats with cell phones. But whatever way you
cut it, after three debates in which polls assessed him as the victor,
most polls say Kerry is lagging. As of now (October 20), the spread
mostly ranges from an eight-point Bush lead to a dead heat. Worse,
from Kerry's point of view, some postdebate numbers show him dropping
among low-income workers and urban voters, once the lifeblood of
the Democratic Party. Margins in crucial states like Ohio, Pennsylvania
and Florida are razor-thin.
Why? Has a candidate or a party ever been more pleasantly caressed
by the winds of history in an election year than John Kerry and
the Democrats? A majority of Americans don't
think Bush has done a particularly good job, and they've thought
this for months, though more of them like Bush than like Kerry.
On Bush's watch the economy has performed poorly, and people are
scared it will soon get worse. Headlines have blared the news: Real
wages have fallen across the past year. Many people who lost jobs
in the recession aren't getting them back. Under Bush the percentage
of people with jobs has fallen by 2 percent, which translates into
4.5 million people. Middle-class income is falling. More are in
poverty than ever before. The budget deficit is more than 40 percent
of federal revenues, excluding funds ultimately committed to Social
Security and Medicare.
Bush and his closest associates have been directly identified in
almost all major mass media as perpetrators of one of the most colossal
deceits in the history of propaganda, the concoction of Saddam's
nonexistent WMDs as the pretext for attacking Iraq last year. Could
any candidate have hoped for an October thunderclap as sonorous
as that sounded by Charles Duelfer of the government's own Iraq
Survey Group, that when the United States launched its attack Iraq
did not possess weapons of mass destruction and had long since abandoned
programs to produce them?
The war on Iraq itself is unpopular. It has carried other well-publicized
scandals in its slipstream: the Plame investigation into the White
House's outing of the identity of a CIA officer; the devastation
to America's international stature wrought by the tortures ordered
and perpetrated by Americans in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere; the Israeli
spy scandal. In mid-month yet another October surprise was gifted
to Kerry: a mutiny by US troops in Iraq, publicly accusing the Army
of ordering them to risk death without adequate equipment.
So history has dealt Kerry all the high cards, save the one that
bears his own face (against the scenic background of a billionaire
wife and six houses). This card still lies on Bush's side of the
Only two men in US history have gone directly from the Senate to
the White House, Warren Harding in 1920 and John F. Kennedy in the
squeaker of 1960. This year the Democrats put two senators on the
ticket, thereby burdening it with the deficits of incumbency endured
by Bush. Few weapons in Bush's sparse armory in the debates were
as effective as his riposte to Kerry's innumerable, pledge-laden
plans for healthcare: "He's been in the United States Senate
twenty years. Show me one accomplishment toward Medicare that he
The evasions, compromises and contradictions in Kerry's political
biography are there in the record to tally, and the Bush campaign
has done so, to deadly effect. Kerry is a flip-flopper, and his
votes show it. His leaps back and forth over the fence on the issue
of the war across the past months have only compounded this career
record. With the splendid gift of the fake WMDs placed before him,
he has been incapable of unwrapping it. Worse, in early August he
proclaimed that most likely he too, even if he had known the WMD
threat to be bogus, would have authorized an attack on Iraq.
With the Bush Administration's overall record, particularly on
the economic front, as poor as it is, one might have reckoned with
near certainty that a hefty exchange of seats in the House, and
even a handful in the Senate, would see a turnover of control from
Republicans, with consequent splitting of power and a renaissance
of vital important checks on the perils of a Bush second term.
But the Democrats have continued the disastrous displacement, familiar
in Clinton-time, of resources away from winning back the Congress.
To recapture the House the Democrats need to win twelve Republican-held
districts. Overall, only sixteen Republican districts are in serious
contention. Of these, two are rated as slimly tilting toward the
Democrats, fourteen are tossups. In other
words, recapture is a long shot. The Democrats have a slightly better
chance in the Senate.
We are now witnessing the Democratic Party in very
advanced decay. After the Clinton/DLC years, its street cred is
conclusively shot. In formal political function the party is nothing
much more than an ATM machine, spewing out torrents of cash, supplied
by the unions and by corporations seeking favors, to the armies
of consultants and operators who have lived off it for decades.
Its right wing comprises people who could as easily be in the Republican
Party, its center people incapable of standing on any principle.
Its left, this season, is made up of the Anybody But Bush crowd,
who last spring made the decision to let Kerry be Kerry, without
a word of criticism, when he pledged a better war on Iraq and even
a march on Tehran.
And if, against most current indications, Kerry wins? He has proffered
almost nothing to look forward to, aside from a pledge, which can
easily be aborted by a "crisis," to leave Social Security
alone. With the Congress against him, he'll be mostly hogtied domestically.
On the foreign front he's eagerly hogtied himself. No more compliant
serf to the imperatives of Empire and to the government of Israel
than Kerry has been visible this season.
A November 3 movement, to pressure Kerry if he wins, rebuild if
he loses? Many on the left have argued that. But how will they know
which way to march, when they started this year with all the wrong
A pall hangs over this election, a shroud
of darkness that oppresses the heart because its outcome guarantees
no change, only the certainty of continued chaos if Bush should
win and the unknown direction a Kerry victory might take, a direction
that could continue the chaos America's mired in, a darkness, then,
to appall. I read each day the crippling accounts of soldiers caught
in a maelstrom of unseen death lurking on roof tops, in narrow alleys,
behind cement walls and black windows, beneath tires littering the
streets. I see pictures of burned out buses, sidewalks and curbs
bathed with blood, faces twisted in pain, bits and pieces of flesh
scattered about like fallen leaves, blown helter-skelter by the
wind. Faces, I see suffering on so many faces, mothers weeping over
their dying children, old women and men huddled in the debris left
of their bulldozed home, medics carrying the lifeless body of a
man whose hand rests beside his face held there by the torn shred
of his sleeve, his arm gone, his body black with grime.
This is a world gone mad, a madness on all sides,
the madness of greed that sees in oil the riches of Sultans and
Kings, the madness of arrogant pseudo-philosophers who conjure beliefs
of personal superiority that gives them license to conquer and enslave,
the madness of ancient minds that dreamt of power and glory in covenants
with gods, the madness of fanatics that fabricate fantasy out of
indecipherable images lodged in pages of metaphors, the madness
of little minds that grab onto faith as the golden ring that will
bring them salvation, the madness of those born again to the child's
world of impossible dreams forgoing in their new world the reality
Today I read of depleted uranium, 1000 metric tons made from the
deadly U238 isotope dropped on America's killing fields, that wafts
on the wind like aerosol spray, a toxic death that sticks in human
lungs, bringing a slow and painful death. I saw pictures of new
born children bloated and bruised by scars, eyes missing, a nose
of scar tissue and nostrils, no lips, the detritus of our advanced
civilization scattered on hospital beds in Baghdad. I read of soldiers
twisted in mind and spirit by no visible symptom except the phantom
of our cursed nuclear waste that encircles them in their tank and
haunts them the remainder of their lives. Our young return from
this nightmare of devastation devastated themselves courtesy of
our Commander in Chief.
And I read today that 24,010 Americans have been evacuated with
wounds and injuries from our "war" zones, that 37,000
innocent men, women, and children in Afghanistan and Iraq have died
and more than 500,000 have suffered wounds. And I hear the silence,
the deafening silence of indifference that our compassionate conservative
leader offers to those who suffer the consequence of his acts, and
feel with them the utter helplessness of their plight. And I wait
for a word from Kerry that he, too, hears their pain, that he will
stop the slaughter in Afghanistan and Iraq and Palestine ... and
I wait in vain; there is no condemnation,
no plan to end the conflicts, no recognition that states terrorize,
no acceptance of the right of people to fight the oppressor, no
confession of wrong waged against the innocent that had not the
intention or the means to threaten America.
I have heard these men, both Bush and Kerry, attest to their deep
rooted religious principles, the depth of their faith in the teachings
of Jesus, comforting the citizenry that they are fit for the White
House because they believe. But I see nothing
of Jesus in their behavior, nothing of the compassion that attended
his ministry, nothing of the inclusiveness of his teachings, nothing
of the love he proffered as the binding source of peace throughout
I look in vain for this Christ in the Christianity practiced by
the right wing, fanatical sects that preach the Book of Revelation,
reveling in the glory they perceive to be their reward if they destroy
the enemies they identify as the enemies of God. I wonder where
in this acclaimed Christian land of TV Evangelists and literalist
ministers is there a man who acts as Christ would act? I see none.
I see only a God forsaken Tele-Evangelist land of vitriol and bigotry
where none could say I "love the Lord my God with my whole
heart and mind and soul, and my neighbor as myself." They have
buried the teachings of Jesus in the quagmire of a malevolent and
malicious God of the Old Testament, a God that would order one Semitic
tribe to exterminate another. We have not moved beyond the racist
hatred that blotted the landscape 2500 years ago.
I would have thought the founding fathers' voices would have turned
us against such barbarity, for they knew that such religions were
anathema to the rights of the people and to the fledgling Democracy
they desired to create. They expunged such
organized zealots of religion from civil discourse precisely because
they knew its inherent destructive nature. But,
no, we have the airwaves turned into streams of venom that flow
from the mouths of the heralded self-worshipers whose mantra is
hatred for their fellow man, the likes of Pat Robertson, Pastor
John Hagee, Franklin Graham, Hal Lindsey, and, now, even our blessed
generals who defile the houses of worship not with coins but with
cursed bigotry in the person of General Boykin.
I wonder how any person can stand against the tribes that follow
these accursed men? What voice can reach the soul of men, if soul
they still have after their life of crime, that has been lodged
deep in their bloody wallets made fat with their racist hatred for
their fellows whose only sin is their belief in a God different
from their own? They mount their campaigns on fear, fear lodged
in a word that defies definition because it slips and slides, nay,
it slithers through meaning like molten lava over rock burying it
beneath layers of hot and passionate rhetoric, a word without substance
or sense, a word seething with diffidence, anxiety, suspicion, even
horror, the word is faith. No word evokes more fear and mistrust;
no word has caused more chaos and wanton destruction, as the Crusades
and the Conquistadors, rampaging through Central America, attest;
no word can put people in such a state of doubt that they acquiesce
to prophets of doom century after century; no word has been and
continues to be more destructive in the mouths of fanatics. That
is the destructive power of blind faith!
Fanatics have a way, whether they be the Imams guiding Hamas or
the robed ministers of Robertson's TV Club or the ultra right Zionists
in Israel, with those who abdicate responsibility to think for themselves,
those who hand over their minds and conscience to them as they thunder
their prophetic curses in dramatic tirades, bathing their flocks
in fear and loathing. These fanatics in America, who exist through
the courtesy of a democratic secular system that tolerates their
presence if not their message, fetter the minds of their laity with
absolute truths generated out of myths, negating thereby the very
semblance of democratic thought that is premised on individual responsibility;
and the lambs they lead to slaughter do not know it. These fanatics
defy the laws of the secular state by determining for their congregations
what political party they must support, what candidates they must
vote for, and what policies they must accept. And for this defiance
they pay no taxes!
But it's worse than that. These same fanatics literally compel
their congregants, on fear of eternal damnation in Hell's fire,
to strap themselves in the swaddling clothes of death and bring
that gift to all around them, to support terrorists in the occupied
territories of Palestine, to proclaim an enemy identified in the
Book of Revelation, an Arab enemy who worships in the Islamic faith.
And for this incitement to murder they pay no taxes and suffer no
incarceration. What else do we call it but
killing for Christ, killing for Allah, killing for Yahweh!
This is our dilemma. We Americans pay the bill;
they act in our name. How can we, who speak with the conviction
of our conscience, hope to remove the hatred a Hagee or a Robertson
breeds against God's creatures? The pictures I saw today of dead
and dying children in Iraq, pictures too horrific to be put in main
stream newspapers or shown on TV, pictures that cry to the human
soul that the pain and suffering must stop also cry out to every
true Christian that Jesus' teachings never allowed for such wanton
slaughter. Yet these are the innocent victims of our fanatical dependence
on the preaching of these men who sit safely ensconced on their
splendid chairs amidst tall vases of flowers, smiling beatifically
for the cameras.
How can we witness Bush's acceptance, indeed his encouragement,
of Ariel Sharon's savagery and not condemn his acts as anathema
to the teachings of the Christ he proclaims as his God? How can
we suffer in silence the ferociousness of Sharon as he spreads his
hatred and nihilism over the bloodied landscape of the unholy lands
of ancient Palestine? Our indifference, our silence blessed the
rape of Rafah in May, God's month of renewal; our indifference and
our silence blessed a summer of slaughter in the season of God's
increase; and today, our indifference and our silence acquiesce
to a season of harvest that gathers in the dead and maimed in Gaza.
Where is the voice of America that should cry
against these killing fields, these American supported killing fields,
these murderous rampages that defile the love Jesus begged we have
for our neighbor, a love equal to that we have for ourselves?
Where are the Priests, the Rabbis, the Imams, the quiet Buddha
monks, all who claim to love humankind? Why does silence reign?
Whose voice are we afraid of? Where are the voices of our leaders,
where is Kerry, where is Dean, where is Edwards? Why
do we hear words of condemnation when we witness the wanton slaughter
in Beslan of children in school yet hear not a word when the IDF
slaughters the children in the kindergarten in Jabaliya or our missiles
miss their intended target and destroy the lives of innocent people?
Does one mother's weeping reach our ear and another goes unheard?
I would that every mother's cry would reach our ears as it rents
the sky that we might know what Christ meant when he said, "Love
the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and mind and soul, and thy
neighbor as thyself."
William Cook is a professor of English at the University of
La Verne in southern California. His new book, Psalms for the 21st
Century, was published by Mellen Press. He can be reached at: cookb@ULV.EDU
I find the cover page at the
International Republican Institute web site concerning its recent
polling in Iraq to be extremely disturbing. IRI is of course closely
linked to the US Republican party and does the polling with US tax
dollars (i.e. you and I are paying for it). The web site tries to
spin the alarming results of the poll so as to emphasize the positives
for the Bush administration. The only positive signs they can come
up with, though, are that 64% of Iraqis remain optimistic that next
year will be better than this; that 58% of Iraqis believe elections
will be held in January; that 2/3s think a civil war unlikely; and
that 52 percent of Iraqis believe that religion and state should
respect one another but remain separate.
The authors of this screed go out of their way
to debunk press reports that a majority of Iraqis favor religious
parties, pointing out that few parties polled well. This statement
is frankly dishonest; in fact the entire summary is deeply dishonest,
and is designed to help Bush win the election. All Americans should
be outraged at this misuse of supposed social science and of our
Before looking at the actual poll numbers, I can signal my disagreements
with the summary. Optimism is relative and may or may not tell us
much. It is not actually a good sign that over 40% of Iraqis either
do not believe that elections can be held in January or don't know
if they can.
The question is not how many think civil
war likely. It is who thinks civil war is likely. If Kirkuk
does, that is alarming, because they are the ones who would fight
such a war. Obviously a civil war is far from the thinking of a
largely Shiite city like Basra, of 1.3 million deep in the Shiite
Western observers are extremely imprecise in their language about
religion and state. Many say that Grand Ayatollah Sistani favors
a separation of religion and state, which is completely untrue.
He wants Islamic law to be the law of the land, and wants his fatwas
on "social issues" to be obeyed. He just doesn't want
clerics to run the Islamic state-- he wants it to be laypeople.
So the model is more like the Sudan (if Sudan had genuine elections)
than it is like Iran. So how exactly the question was asked in Arabic
would be key to the answer given and to what that answer actually
means. If the Iraqis thought you were asking about clerical rule,
then a bare majority is against it. If they thought you were asking
about implementing Islamic law, the answer might be different. And,
the most popular politicians are the ones who most want Islamic
law. The poll does not even ask about Islamic law.
Although Iraqis did not strongly identify
with parties, they have over and over made it clear in IRI and other
polls who the most popular politicians in the country are. The men
named for whom Iraqis would vote are Ibrahim Jaafari, leader of
the al-Da`wa Party (founded in 1958 as a revolutionary Shiite organization
aiming for an Islamic state) and Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of
the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (the name says
it all). Jaafari for some odd reason was not included in
this most recent poll (perhaps in hopes that leaving him out of
the choices would allow the IRI to deny the clear trend toward theocratic
voting). I could not find the slide at the IRI site that gave al-Hakim
by far the biggest lead among the rest, but it was reported in the
press summaries of the poll.
Some 40% of Iraqis say they would be more likely to vote for a
candidate endorsed by a religious leader. About 11 percent say they
would vote for a candidate endorsed by a political party. But all
the most important political parties in the Arab provinces (Da'wa,
SCIRI, the Association of Muslim Scholars) are religious. So
this result suggests that at least half of the population will vote
as Sistani, Da'wa and so forth instruct them. Another 15%
would vote as their tribal leaders say. But a large number of tribal
leaders are loyal to particular clerics, so that this may not be
such a separate group.
The IRI poll is skewed to begin with. Its
sample is only 55% Shiite, whereas the population is almost certainly
65% Shiite. The sample is 34% Sunni and 9.3% "Muslim."
Sunnis would be far more likely to represent themselves as just
"Muslim" than are Shiites, and therefore the poll is likely
to under-count Shiite views significantly. Since, in turn,
Shiites are more likely to want a theocracy, given that the Sunni
middle classes retain some Baath-era secularism, if Sunnis are over-represented
then so would be secularists.
The "optimism" of the Iraqis, which keeps being touted
by the US Right in justification of the mess they have made over
there, is a more complex issue than they pretend. First of all,
we don't know why they are optimistic about next year being better
than this. It could be that they have been plunged into such unprecedented
misery that they believe it cannot get worse. "Better"
is a relative word, not an absolute one. Second,
this poll shows 45% of Iraqis saying the country is headed in the
wrong direction, a big jump from June. So the optimism is declining
fast, and it is no longer the case that a majority is optimistic.
Indeed, more are now pessimistic (45%) than are optimistic
(41%). The way the question is asked can also influence the answer.
What does "headed in the right direction" even mean to
Iraqis? Did they use the word ittijah? Would it have made a difference
if they had asked a question like, "Are current policies of
the US and Allawi in Iraq likely to produce an improved situation
Not only are people in the Sunni Arab areas pessimistic, which
could be expected, but so are people in Baghdad. And confidence
in the northern mixed cities of Mosul and Kirkuk has plummeted.
Kirkuk is obviously a tinderbox. Indeed, the only places where optimists
form a majority are the deep south around Basra and the Kurdish
regions. Even Kurdish optimism is declining from previous highs.
Some 34% of people in Mosul and Kirkuk believe
that a civil war is possible or imminent!
Since those are the likely sites of a civil war, that over a third
think it a serious threat is quite alarming. Moreover, the people
of a country are not a good guide to how likely civil war is. Virtually
no one in Yugoslavia would have predicted a civil war in 1989. People
can learn to hate really fast, in a week or two;
and then observers later complain about "centuries-old hatreds,"
when in fact very often people had gotten along just fine for decades
before the conflagration.
Suspicion of the United States is so great that 2/3s of Iraqis
believe any civil war that breaks out would likely be instigated
by America! And 22% believe that it would be instigated by Israel.
More Iraqis blamed the US and its allies in Iraq for the current
poor security situation than blamed foreign terrorists! And they
were four times more likely to blame the US & coalition than
to blame armed elements of the former regime!
About 55% say that the current interim government does not represent
people like them. Only 8% enthusiastically say it represents them.
Half of Iraqis blame the government for being ineffective, and only
44% think that it has been at all effective (the same 8% are enthusiastic).
Allawi's effectiveness rating has fallen from 65% last July to 45%
Virtually none of the main points made by the IRI at its website
about its own poll are valid in context, which does not exactly
inspire confidence in the poll takers. The link to the poll results
is given at the bottom of their page, in pdf. Go look at the slides
yourself. It is not in fact a pretty picture.
DOWNTOWN - Cincinnati's headquarters for the
Bush/Cheney re-election campaign was broken into overnight.
Money and a sign were taken from the office, on Seventh Street
near Court Street. The thieves got in by breaking out a window.
The office was also ransacked, officials said. It also houses other
No one had been arrested.
Political motivations turned criminal Thursday
night or early Friday when vandals smashed a large glass door with
a section of cinder block at the Republican Party headquarters in
A pile of shattered glass joined egg shells filling the entryway
to the GOP offices, located on Humphreys Street across from Wheeler
Park. Fliers with information criticizing President Bush were staked
up outside the door.
It joined a spate of torn and damaged signs reported by both Republicans
and Democrats throughout the Flagstaff area. On Sunday, the campaign
for 1st Congressional District Democratic challenger Paul Babbitt
reported a dozen signs torn and damaged at its volunteer office
on Verde Street.
Local GOP coordinator John Echols said he received at 7 a.m. phone
call from an employee at Enterprise Rent-a-Car next door reporting
the vandalism. Echols arrived to find the smashed door, but little
else in the way of damage. Still, police are considerting the crime
as a felony because cost to replace the door is expected to exceed
"Thankfully, none of the office had been vandalized,"
Echols said, but speculated that the vandals
most likely intended to cause more damage. "I think
they may have been spooked. We are on a major thoroughfare."
For Echols, it's nothing new. In 2002, someone threw a rock through
a window at the Republican headquarters, then located at the Bashas'
plaza at the north end of Humprheys Street.
"I still have that rock from two years ago," Echols said,
pulling it out of the closest in his headquarters office.
Echols also reported that a number of Bush-Cheney
supporters have had their signs torn down, and a few "have
had swastikas painted on them."
Babbitt campaign communications director Carlos Vizcarra said that
on Sunday, all of the signs posted out in front of the office had
been slashed. "And we have had other signs that supporters
have had stolen or torn up."
Vizcarra said it was hard to tell if the damage was politically
motivated, but one Babbitt supporter told the campaign that his
signs were destroyed but not the Bush-Cheney signs posted by his
An international human rights group said Thursday
its observers for this year's US election found access to polling
stations difficult in Florida and Ohio.
"One of the surprising things we learned is that most voting
jurisdictions have no mechanisms for nonpartisan polling observation,"
said former Canadian Cabinet minister David MacDonald. "A system
needs to be put in place that allows for international and domestic
nonpartisan poll observation."
The observers, organized by Global Exchange, an international
human rights organization, made an initial US visit last month,
and will return on Oct. 29 for the Nov. 2 vote in Missouri, Ohio
and Florida, the group said in a statement.
"We would like to urge the remainder of the election boards
that we have contacted to certainly seriously consider allowing
the observers, because we do not see any harm except increased accountability
and transparency," said Australian observer Irene Baghoomians.
Conservative groups have opposed access
to polls for observers from Global Exchange, saying
the group is anti-US and biased against President George W. Bush.
"Global Exchange is a very shady group
of leftist agitators whose number-one goal is to stir anti-American
hatred both at home and abroad," said Tom DeWeese, head
of the conservative American Policy Center.
In Florida, only Leon county has consented to the presence of
observers in polling places, the group said, while Miami-Dade, Fort
Lauderdale and Broward counties have not responded.
In Missouri, Columbia and St. Louis counties gave a green light
to the observers and will allow them to recount ballots.
However, in Ohio, the observers have been given permission to
observe voting only in Cuyahoga county, near Cleveland, Baghoomians
Republican Party officials in Ohio took formal
steps yesterday to place thousands of recruits inside polling places
on Election Day to challenge the qualifications of voters they suspect
are not eligible to cast ballots.
Party officials say their effort is necessary
to guard against fraud arising from aggressive moves by the Democrats
to register tens of thousands of new voters in Ohio, seen as one
of the most pivotal battlegrounds in the Nov. 2 elections.
Election officials in other swing states, from Arizona to Wisconsin
and Florida, say they are bracing for similar efforts by Republicans
to challenge new voters at polling places, reflecting months of
disputes over voting procedures and the anticipation of an election
as close as the one in 2000.
Ohio election officials said they had never seen so large a drive
to prepare for Election Day challenges. They
said they were scrambling yesterday to be ready for disruptions
in the voting process as well as alarm and complaints among voters.
Some officials said they worried that the
challenges could discourage or even frighten others waiting to vote.
Ohio Democrats were struggling to match the Republicans' move,
which had been rumored for weeks. Both parties had until 4 p.m.
to register people they had recruited to monitor the election. Republicans
said they had enlisted 3,600 by the deadline, many in heavily Democratic
urban neighborhoods of Cleveland, Dayton and other cities. Each
recruit was to be paid $100.
The Democrats, who tend to benefit more than Republicans from
large turnouts, said they had registered more than 2,000 recruits
to try to protect legitimate voters rather than weed out ineligible
Republican officials said they had no intention
of disrupting voting but were concerned about the possibility of
fraud involving thousands of newly registered Democrats.
"The organized left's efforts to, quote unquote, register
voters - I call them ringers - have created these problems,"
said James P. Trakas, a Republican co-chairman in Cuyahoga County.
Both parties have waged huge campaigns in the battleground states
to register millions of new voters, and the developments in Ohio
provided an early glimpse of how those efforts may play out on Election
Elections officials in Ohio said they hoped the criteria would
minimize the potential for disruption. But Democrats worry that
the challenges will inevitably delay the process and frustrate the
"Our concern is Republicans will be
challenging in large numbers for the purpose of slowing down voting,
because challenging takes a long time,'' said David Sullivan, the
voter protection coordinator for the national Democratic Party in
Ohio. "And creating long lines causes
our people to leave without voting.''
The Republican challenges in Ohio have already begun. Yesterday,
party officials submitted a list of about 35,000 registered voters
whose mailing addresses, the Republicans said, were questionable.
After registering, they said, each of the voters was mailed a notice,
and in each case the notice was returned to election officials as
In Cuyahoga County alone, which
includes the heavily Democratic neighborhoods of Cleveland,
the Republican Party submitted more than 14,000 names of voters
for county election officials to scrutinize for possible irregularities.
The party said it had registered more than 1,400 people to challenge
voters in that county. [...]
ST. LOUIS - Authorities are investigating
whether the shooting of an Indiana truck driver on Interstate 44
may be linked to eight other possible snipings at motorists in recent
months along the stretch of freeway.
The truck driver was shot in the head Thursday and released from
a hospital Friday. She was the first person injured in nine cases
of vehicle windows inexplicably shattering in daylight since Feb.
26 along a 10-mile stretch of I-44 in and near Bourbon, about 70
miles southwest of St. Louis, an investigator said.
"Based on the pattern of other incidents, it's possible we
may be dealing with a sniper-type situation," Bourbon Police
Chief Bill Williams said Saturday. "We're not saying it is,
but we'd be foolish not to acknowledge that it's a concern."
Amy Holder, 34, of Paris Crossing, Ind., was shot near her left
temple while her husband rested in the semi rig's sleeper compartment.
Holder, screaming and bleeding, managed to pull the tractor-trailer
to the shoulder. Her husband drove to a nearby gas station and summoned
police, Williams said.
A bullet fragment found in the truck — the first actual evidence
of a shooting in any of the suspected cases — has been forwarded
to the Missouri State Highway Patrol for testing, Williams said.
The worries parallel those earlier this year in Ohio, where authorities
investigated more than 20 shootings — including one death
— along a five-mile stretch of Interstate 270 in Columbus.
A suspect arrested in March in that case has pleaded not guilty.
The world faces
a growing risk that terrorists will use new biological weapons created
by genetic engineering, the British Medical Association will warn
Advances in research make it more likely that virulent and lethal
forms of influenza and laboratory-enhanced strains of smallpox could
be used as weapons, the BMA claims.
The warnings are spelt out in a report on the threat posed by biological
warfare, released tomorrow by the BMA. The association, which represents
128,000 GPs and medics, will call for international action to curb
the threat posed by these weapons.
Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA's head of science and ethics, said:
"We have a small window of opportunity to make the world safer.
The fact is that window is getting smaller."
The report lists a series of recent experiments creating lethal
new viruses and bugs. The BMA will argue there are grounds for using
biowarfare tests to find defences against threats from terrorist
and rogue states. But it warns there are no international treaties
to control these tests.
It is understood the BMA report will focus on recent tests including:
* Russian admissions that they created genetically enhanced anthrax.
* The creation by US scientists of a new
type of smallpox - which is eradicated worldwide by a global vaccination
programme - from the vaccine itself. This new bug, called SPICE,
is 100 times more potent than the original.
* A new generation of weapons designed to
attack the human nervous system or immune system with "catastrophic
effects", perhaps using genetically modified natural toxins.
TOKYO, Japan -- A series of severe earthquakes
in northern Japan left 21 people dead, more than 1,500 injured and
at least 7 missing, the Kyodo news reported Sunday.
The first earthquake with a magnitude 6.8 on the Richter scale
struck Ojiya, Niigata Prefecture, 125 miles (200 kilometers) northwest
of Tokyo, just before 6 p.m. local time Saturday.
Up to 68,000 people have been evacuated in the Niigata Prefecture
and, while the full extent of damage was still undetermined, at
least 76 homes collapsed, landslides occurred in 37 places, and
roads were damaged or blocked at 211 locations, the National Police
Power was slowly being restored Sunday, but at mid-day officials
said 129,000 homes were still without power, while 56,000 homes
were without natural gas, CNN reported. However, the Tokyo Electric
Power Co. said its nuclear plant in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture,
was unaffected and running normally.
The Japan Meteorological Agency named the quake the "Niigata-ken
Chuetsu Earthquake" and said more than
270 perceptible quakes took place Sunday, including about
30 strong tremors. An earthquake measuring
4.9 on the Richter scale, sturck in the Ojiya area again Sunday
about 2:12 p.m. local time (1:12 a.m. EDT).
The agency also warned of more aftershocks and landslides due to
loose ground caused by massive rainfall from Typhoon Tokage last
The killer earthquake that struck
Niigata Prefecture Saturday evening registered a record high maximum
acceleration in Japan, well above the figure recorded in the Kobe
quake in 1995, a national research institute said Sunday.
Acceleration is an index used to measure the strength of vibrations
An earthquake measurement device called, "K-NET," in
Ojiya shows that the temblor registered the maximum acceleration
rate of 1,500 gals, according to the National Research Institute
for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention (NIED).
The figure far surpassed the maximum acceleration of 818 gals that
the Kobe Marine Observatory recorded at the time of the Great Hanshin
Earthquake on Jan. 17, 1995, which devastated Kobe and surrounding
areas in Hyogo Prefecture.
Experts say people and objects are thrust upward if an earthquake
with 980 gals or above strikes, suggesting that the record high
acceleration is responsible for massive damage caused by the Niigata
The earthquake moved the earth's crust in extensive areas, according
to the government's Geographic Survey Institute (GSI).
The GSI estimated that the active fault that triggered the temblor
shifted 1.4 meters horizontally after examining the movement of
the earth's crust along the fault.
GSI officials noted, however, that the figure may be subsequently
revised because no data at nine observation points near the focus
of the quake are available because of a power failure.
(ENN) - An earthquake with a magnitude of
5.3 at Richter scale shook an area described as 100 kms northeast
of Mekelle town on Friday, Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) reported.
Dr. Ataly Ayele, Geophysical Observatory Education Section Researcher
at the Addis Ababa University, said the quake struck at exactly
3:00 pm on Friday.
The quake was felt in some parts of the Mekelle town but so far
there has been no immediate report of causality or property damage.
Mekelle is located in some of the most seismically active areas
Dr. Ataly said an earthquake measuring 5.6 at the Richter scale
shook the area two years ago in August. The quake hit areas are
found in remote western Artaile, ENA said.
Reports show that some of the most significant earthquakes of
the 20th century in Ethiopia are the 1906 Langano earthquake, the
1961 Kara Kore earthquake, the 1983 Wondo Genet earthquake, the
1985 Langano earthquake, the 1989 Dobi graben earthquake in central
Afar and the 1993 Nazareth earthquake.
SAN DIEGO - A Lear jet crashed in the mountains
near the Mexican border early Sunday, shortly after taking off from
a small air field in San Diego, authorities said.
Five people were believed to be aboard the plane when it crashed
in mountainous, isolated terrain near the border, said Larri Frelow,
operations manager for the Federal Aviation Administration.
Authorities could not immediately confirm whether anyone was killed,
but emergency workers flying over the crash site in a helicopter
reported seeing body parts, Frelow said.
The cause of the crash was not immediately known.
Emergency personnel were hiking to the largely inaccessible area,
Frelow said. A San Diego police dispatcher said it would likely
take several hours to get there.
The plane crashed around 12:30 a.m., about two miles east of Brown
Field. It had been bound for Albuquerque.
The jet was a "lifeguard" aircraft used for transporting
medical patients, but no patients were believed to be aboard when
it crashed, Frelow said.
The identities of the pilot and passengers were not released.
A message left at Brown Field, where the plane had taken off, was
not immediately returned.
The airstrip just north of the border is used as a port of entry
for private aircraft arriving in California from Mexico and by military
and law enforcement aircraft.
SOUTH CAROLINA - A single-engine vintage airplane
crashed Saturday evening in western Lexington County, killing the
pilot and a passenger, authorities said.
About 6 p.m., emergency officials began receiving calls about a
plane sputtering and crashing in a wooded area between U.S. 1 and
Summit, said Lexington County Sheriff James Metts.
Curtis Bell, 22, of Gilbert, who investigators think was the pilot,
and Troy White, 39, of Irmo were killed in the crash. Autopsies
are scheduled for today.
Metts said authorities had started receiving calls around 3 p.m.
concerning a low-flying plane in the area.
The sheriff's department identified the airplane as a 1940s-era
T-6. The plane took off from a private airstrip in the area.
According to the Boeing Co.'s Web site, the T-6 Texan was used
to train fighter pilots during World War II.
Officials with the Federal Aviation Administration were at the
scene of the crash late Saturday, said sheriff's spokesman John
Allard. Accident investigation teams with the National Transportation
Safety Board will be at the site on Monday, he said.
Witnesses who saw the plane before the crash debated
what caused it to go down.
"It sounded like the motor wasn't getting
enough gas," said Geraldine Price. She was outside with
her husband, Ansel, when they saw the plane and heard what sounded
to them like engine problems.
"He was trying to get it going up," Price said. "But
Metts, who is a licensed pilot, said the plane
appeared to have stalled and fell in the wooded area. He said there
were no clipped trees near the crash site.
"It was heading in the direction of the airstrip," Metts
The pilot might have been giving rides, he said.
A friend said Bell had always shown an interest in flying.
"That boy had been flying since he'd been in a car seat,"
said Bryan Couch, 20. "If I had to say anything about Curtis,
I would say he loved the Lord more than anything and you could see
it in everything that he did."
Couch said Bell was related to the owners of Bell Aviation Inc.,
which has offices at Columbia Metropolitan Airport.
A man was killed Saturday as the small plane
he was piloting crashed into a shallow gully near a rural road in
this mountain town.
The man's name was not immediately released, but authorities said
he was from Florida. He died on impact when the single-engine Cessna
crashed shortly after 11 a.m., said Henderson County Sheriff's Sgt.
The cause of the accident was being investigated. Fire
Chief Jimmy Womack said the crash may have been due to engine failure,
though the overcast, foggy skies might also have played a role.
The plane crashed into a narrow valley between rolling hills of
pasture, only about four miles from the Hendersonville Airport but
reachable by four-wheel drive or all-terrain vehicle.
Residents of the area said they heard the plane flying low, its
engine sputtering, moments before the crash.
"I was wondering if it was a bigger plane because it was so
loud," said Rhonda Lively, whose home was closest to the crash
NEVADA - A single-seat motorized glider based
out of the Minden-Tahoe Airport crashed Sunday afternoon at about
12:45 p.m. killing the pilot. The broken craft was found in the
Kirman Field area, between Stephanie Way and Sundridge east of the
The plane apparently began to disintegrate
while in the air. Part of a wing was found at Northern Nevada
Correctional Center grounds, a couple miles to the north, according
A search plane circled above scanning for other pieces of the wreckage.
"We started receiving calls from a number of people saying
they had seen an airplane going down in the general area,"
said Sergeant Dan Britton of the Douglas County Sheriff's Department.
"An eyewitness said he heard an airplane engine revving high
and then heard a loud popping noise, like a gun shot, and then he
saw the plane fall apart," said Britton.
Members of the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal
Aviation Administration were on their way to begin the investigation
into what went wrong, authorities said.
The name of the pilot has not been released pending notification
| The British Armed Forces has officially
recognised its first registered Satanist, according to a newspaper
Naval technician Chris Cranmer, 24, has been allowed to register
by the captain of HMS Cumberland.
The move will mean that he will now be allowed to perform Satanic
rituals on board the vessel.
According to the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Cranmer realised he was a
Satanist nine years ago.
At the time he stumbled across a copy of the Satanic Bible, written
by Church of Satan founder Anton Szandor LaVey.
He said: "I then read more and more and came to realise I'd
always been a Satanist, just simply never knew."
Mr Cranmer, who is from Edinburgh, is now lobbying the Ministry
of Defence to make Satanism a registered religion in the armed forces.
A spokesman for the Royal Navy said: "We are an equal opportunities
employer and we don't stop anybody from having their own religious
The Church of Satan was established in San Francisco in 1966.
LaVey was its high priest until his death in 1997.
Followers live by the Nine Satanic Statements, which include "Satan
represents indulgence instead of abstinence", "Satan represents
vengeance instead of turning the other cheek" and "Satan
represents all of the so-called sins, as they all lead to physical,
mental, or emotional gratification".
| (AGI) - Messina, 23 October - A
joint summit of the inter-institutional work group of the civil protection
forces and the technical consultants of the Mistretta prosecutor's
office (Messina) will take place tomorrow morning. Their task will
be to try and understand what is happening in Canneto di Caronia,
in the province of Messina, where many families have reported cases
of plumbing pipes suddenly perforated, attributing this occurrence
to the dispersion of electrical current. The same thing had happened
at the beginning of 2004 when a series of mysterious fires had taken
place. Stray current, has this time affected Caronia's aqueduct which
has no cathodic protection. The technicians of the prosecutor's office
and the civil protection forces will examine the broken tubes and
will try to draw some initial conclusions on this anomalous incident
which is filling local families with fear and uncertainty.
Staring out from an ancient piece
of pottery, the mysterious face of a bearded man has given scientists
a unique glimpse of what the first settlers of Fiji may have looked
Researchers say the "extraordinary discovery" is a vital
clue in mapping out how the South Pacific came to be inhabited some
3,000 years ago, suggesting the first direct link to islands some
thousands of kilometres away.
Thought to be the work of the Lapita people - a long-lost race
which originated near modern-day Taiwan then migrated to Polynesia
- the fragment is also at least 200 years older than any other piece
found in Fiji.
"This is the first time that a clearly recognisable face design
made in three dimensions on a piece of Lapita pottery has been found
in Fiji," said a statement from the University of the South
Pacific, based in the archipelago.
Preliminary analysis shows that the eerie-looking face consists
of a prominent raised nose, the left eye and what might be eyelashes,
said Roselyn Kumar of the University of the South Pacific's Institute
of Applied Sciences.
There are also designs that suggest what might be head-hair, and
crescent shapes on the base which were possibly intended to represent
The find therefore gives researchers an opportunity to gaze on
the countenance of Fiji's first inhabitants, from whom modern Polynesians
are believed to be descended.
But equally significant is that it is the first time that a facial
design has been found on Lapita pottery outside a group of islands
north of Papua New Guinea - which are some 3,400 kilometres away
"As such it represents an extraordinary discovery," the
The find made it possible to conclude that the early people of
Fiji had at some stage come from the far-off island chain, named
the Bismarck Archipelago, Geography Professor Patrick Nunn said.
It could go some way towards settling the long archaeological debate
on settling of Polynesia - a vast triangle of islands from Hawaii
in the north, to New Zealand in the south-east and Rapanui or Easter
Island in the east.
The new face fragment was found near Natadola Beach, west of the
Fijian capital Suva, in the tourist area of Viti Levu island.
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