Global Game of Survivor: America's Next Four Years
Strike Flash Presentation by a QFS member
Publication! The Wave finally in book form!
Wave: 4 Volume Set
With a new
introduction by the author and never before published, UNEDITED sessions
and extensive previously unpublished details, at long last, Laura Knight-Jadczyk's
vastly popular series The Wave is available as a Deluxe four
book set. Each of the four volumes include all of the original illustrations
and many NEW illustrations with each copy comprising approximately 300
is an exquisitely written first-person account of Laura's initiation at
the hands of the Cassiopaeans and demonstrates the unique nature of the
Volume 1 now. Available at the end of November!
War On Terror
NeoCons - Zionists - Lies - 9/11 - Fabricated War - Fallujah - Controlled
Media - Docile Populace - Cannon Fodder - Israel - Palestine - Arafat
Poisoned 11:11 - War In The Middle East - Is There Life "Out There"?
- Lies - Supernova - Genetics - Comets - 309,000 Years - What Are We Really
| From the Sage of Baltimore:
"As democracy is perfected, ..."
| From a Reader
| As democracy is perfected, the office
of President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of
the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious
day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at
last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
-- - H.L. Mencken 7/26/1920, *Baltimore Sun*
| Obituary, The Electronic Intifada,
10 November 2004
10:07PM US Central Time/6:07AM
Palestine Time -- Today, Yasser Arafat, Chairman of al-Fatah
and the Palestine Liberation Organization and elected President
of the Palestinian Authority, died in Paris from complications
stemming from a blood disorder at the age of 75. Born Muhammad
Abd al-Ra'uf al-Arafat al-Qudwa, Yasser Arafat was related to
the Husayni family and had strong family ties to Gaza and Jerusalem.
He first became active in Palestinian politics while an engineering
student in Cairo in the early 1950s, where he headed the Union
of Palestinian Students at Fu'ad I University (now Cairo University)
from 1952-1957. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Arafat launched
his own contracting firm in Kuwait and quickly prospered. He probably
used his personal wealth to launch al-Fatah, the most prominent
of a number of exile groups advancing armed struggle as a means
of liberating Palestine.
For nearly five decades, Yasser Arafat was a larger-than-life
figure for those who admired him as well as those who hated and
feared him, or, to be more precise, for those who hated and feared
the Palestinian view of history, justice, and politics. Since
the late 1960s, Arafat was the icon of the Palestinian
cause. Like Che Guevara, Arafat's image on a poster, a T-shirt,
or a television screen could convey rich and complex meanings
and sentiments across wide and diverse social landscapes. With
his trademark black-and-white checkered kuffiyah draped
carefully over his shoulder so as to assume the proportions and
shape of the map of Palestine, appearances by Arafat were almost
always electrifying political events.
|TIME magazine cover,
13 December 1968.
|TIME magazine cover,
11 November 1974.
Many are the tales of Israeli, European, South African, and North
American peace activists and journalists who waited hours to meet
"Abu Ammar," Arafat's nom de guerre. After being whisked through
the darkened streets of Beirut, Damascus, Cairo or Tunis in the wee
hours of the morning, many foreigners had a chance to sip coffee in
an office or parlor with the jovial, optimistic, and often emotionally
explosive Arafat. Although having attained international status as
a political leader of a major third world revolutionary movement,
Arafat was a small man, somewhat shy, yet approachable in informal
small group meetings and journalistic interviews. He could also be
extremely funny and often demonstrated a self-deprecating form of
humor. Although he stated for decades that he was married to the cause,
he eventually wed in his 60s, taking Suha Tawil, a woman 34 years
his junior, as his spouse in 1990. Later, she commented, she had "married
a myth." Since 2000, they had been living separately.
Though pro-Israeli commentators' exaggerations of Arafat's viciousness
and bloodthirstiness, coupled with Arafat's poor command of English
and a pervasive 5 o'clock shadow, put off many Western interlocutors,
no one who followed the man's life, comments, transformations, and
public appearances could deny he possessed charisma and an ability
to connect with Palestinians of all classes, religions, and ideological
currents, even after a series of miscalculations on his part that
damaged his credibility among Arabs in general and Palestinians in
particular. We send our condolences to his family and colleagues,
and share the feelings of sadness of the thousands of Palestinians
throughout the world.
|TIME magazine cover,
27 March 1978.
|TIME magazine cover,
28 October 1985.
Few modern figures were as controversial as Yasser Arafat. Lionized
by some and vilified by others, Arafat was a complicated figure. He
was the leader of the PLO since before most Palestinians alive today
were born. Even among his most vocal Palestinian critics, Arafat could
inspire affection and loyalty in a way no other living Palestinian
could. Palestinians, though, were also always his first and most vocal
critics, a reality rarely conveyed by the mainstream press. And in
the last decade of his life, Arafat received considerable and consistent
criticism from Palestinians frustrated by the inevitable disappointments
and injustices of the Oslo Accords, particularly the accelerated settlement
building of this period and the lack of movement on key social justice
and political issues. Arafat also received stinging rebukes from former
friends and supporters in the Arab world as well as in the West for
administrative corruption, mismanagement, favoritism, and a politics
of patronage that made a mockery of democratic practice in the Palestinian
Arafat's backing of Saddam Hussein following the Iraqi Army's occupation
of Kuwait in 1990 was arguably the worst of several major blunders,
costing him, his people, and their cause dearly. Gulf states cut off
financial and political aid to Arafat and the PLO following this decision,
and with the concomitant collapse of the USSR and the emergence of
the United States as the sole arbiter of Middle Eastern politics,
Arafat had little leverage to resist the humiliating requirements
of the Oslo peace process. Though his return to Palestine was met
with joy, parades, wildly ecstatic crowds, and high hopes, the honeymoon
was short-lived, largely because of the relentless and continuing
Israeli colonisation, but partly because of the culture the exiled
symbol brought back with him. Arafat did not return alone, but rather
was accompanied by security forces, politicians, wheelers and dealers,
and other hangers-on whose political styles and personal values frequently
clashed with those of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza who had
just waged a momentous and largely non-violent intifada from 1987-1993.
The end of Arafat's exile marked the beginning of new political and
social class tensions in Palestine and the entrenchment of a political
elite that, like Arafat, did not like to share power and cared little
for transparency and accountability in administrative matters.
|TIME magazine cover,
26 December 1988.
|TIME magazine cover,
13 September 1993.
Despite his actual and figurative weakness over the last two years,
Arafat was still a potent symbol of evil for Palestinians' enemies.
Even in the recent US election campaign, candidates pandering to Zionist
interests routinely flaunted their pro-Israel credentials by attacking
and vilifying Arafat, as President Bush did in his second debate with
Senator John Kerry. The Arafat who was routinely scorned by American
politicians, talk show hosts, and in thousands of American newspaper
editorials for years was not a real human being, but a crude and simplistic
caricature that often relied for its power on racist stereotypes about
Arabs pervasive in American popular culture. The meme had been entirely
conceived to distract from the real issues.
When Arafat appeared to be doing Israel's bidding, he was elevated
to the status of heroic figure and Nobel peace prize winner. When
he refused to obey Israeli and American diktats, he was demonized
as a bloodthirsty terrorist. As Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster,
wrote in a secret report for pro-Israeli US lobbyists in April 2003,
Arafat had been a great asset to Israel because "he looks the part"
of a "terrorist."
|TIME magazine cover,
3 January 1994.
|TIME magazine cover,
8 April 2002.
Arafat was routinely portrayed as a cunning puppet-master who manipulated
all Palestinians, a sly political operator -- a Dr. Evil-type super
villain who could single-handedly stymie the peaceful intentions of
the world's greatest powers. In recent years, President Bush, following
Ariel Sharon's cue, ostentatiously sidelined Arafat, and attempted
to install a new and more pliable Palestinian leadership. We have
no doubt that those who worked hardest to demonize Arafat will be
the quickest to celebrate his death. But we also have no doubt that
they will be the most disappointed by Arafat's demise in the long
run. No longer will Israel have a convenient scapegoat on which to
pin all the blame for the suffering it has caused to its own people
and others through its relentless colonization of Palestinian lands
and destruction of Palestinian lives and homes.
Arafat's death will not change any of the essential underpinnings
of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are still 3.5 million Palestinians
living under a brutal Israeli military dictatorship in east Jerusalem,
the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel still keeps tens of thousands
of heavily armed troops and hundreds of thousands of settlers in these
territories, in violation of international law and UN resolutions.
Millions of Palestinians still live in enforced exile, deprived of
their fundamental human right, encoded in the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights and UN General Assembly Resolution 194, to return
to their own country. These stark facts ensure that suffering will
continue, and possibly even escalate, until the root causes of a conflict
that has taken tens of thousands of Palestinian, Lebanese, and Israeli
lives are directly addressed and resolved.
Because caricatures of Arafat have dominated public and policy discourse
in the United States and Israel, few Americans and Israelis can truly
grasp the lengths to which Arafat and his officials went to try to
work for peace in the Oslo era and also end the current Intifada,
if for no other reason than to preserve their own roles and statuses
in the post-Oslo Middle East. Israel may now find that, with Arafat
gone, a restraining factor on the ground has departed with the deceased
Palestinian leader. This may even suit Ariel Sharon and provide a
pretext for ever greater Israeli violence, but it will certainly not
For the Israeli "peace camp," the progenitors of the discredited and
disastrous Oslo regime, Arafat's death will likely represent the disappearance
of what they see as a credible partner to try to revive an Oslo-style
deal in which Palestinians are given nominal or quasi-statehood within
a Greater Israel, in exchange for accepting most of the settlements
and relinquishing the refugees' right of return. All these schemes
were meant to secure a Palestinian signature to a status quo that
is entirely to Israel's benefit while resolving none of the basic
causes of the conflict. Arafat's death will be a setback to this discredited
"peace camp," and to such initiatives as the recent "Geneva Accord"
because the Palestinian participants in this unworkable plan drew
the little authority they had solely from their association with Arafat.
Although the last two years of Arafat's life were profoundly bleak
and lonely, spent under house-arrest in the company of loyal courtiers
in his bombed-out and isolated muqata`a headquarters in Ramallah,
he had known many moments of triumph and glory in his long and varied
political career. His rise to prominence in the PLO, particularly
during its period of greatest power in Lebanon (1971-1982), his speech
before the UN General Assembly in New York City in 1974, as well as
his important speech before the UN in Geneva in 1988 in which he formally
recognized, as the head of the PLO, Israel's right to exist and the
principle of peace in exchange for territorial withdrawal, stand out
not only as high points in one man's life, but also as key landmarks
in modern Middle Eastern history.
his political obituary was written again and again, Arafat displayed
a legendary tenacity and an amazing ability to pull through at the
eleventh hour, usually thanks to his remarkable skill in cobbling
together coalitions and allies from very disparate backgrounds. Trapped
by Sharon in the rubble of his Ramallah headquarters, though, Yasser
Arafat was marginalized politically and virtually powerless militarily
since the murderous Israeli attack on Palestinian cities in March-April
2002 that killed over 500 people and destroyed most of the infrastructure
of the Palestinian Authority. Yet his steadfastness in maintaining
dignity and decorum as the Palestinian president in the rubble of
al-Muqata'a (tr. "[Ramallah] District Headquarters") showed
much of his true nature: tough, patient, cheerful, and uninterested
in comfort, luxuries, and ostentation. Arafat departs the Palestinian
and Middle Eastern political stage as a wraith of his former self,
with no political heir apparent.
Yasser Arafat is survived by his wife, Suha Tawil, and their daughter,
Ma`a salaameh, yaa Abu `Ammar.
The Electronic Intifada Team
| A military funeral for the Palestinian
leader Yasser Arafat has been held in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.
Heads of state, prime ministers and foreign ministers attended
a short ceremony at an airbase in Cairo, following funeral prayers
at a mosque.
Mr Arafat's widow and young daughter cried as they watched the
coffin being carried to a waiting plane.
The coffin is now being flown to the West Bank town of Ramallah
for burial before sunset.
The plane is heading to Egypt's Sinai peninsula, where the coffin
is due to be transferred to a military helicopter.
The funeral comes two weeks after Mr Arafat, 75, was taken to a
French military hospital near Paris, suffering from a mystery complaint.
He died of multiple organ failure early on Thursday morning.
The funeral began with short prayers at a mosque in the Cairo suburb
of Heliopolis. The coffin was then placed inside a silver hearse
and driven to a military club.
Palestinian officials, including Mahmoud Abbas who has taken over
leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, greeted dignitaries
from around the world in a large, carpeted funeral tent at the club.
The leaders then walked behind Mr Arafat's flag-draped coffin in
a short funeral procession, following a horse-drawn gun carriage
and a military band down a heavily-guarded street to the nearby
Doors and shutters of homes along the route were kept shut, and
the street was closed to the public.
Egypt's top Muslim cleric, Grand Sheik of Al-Azhar Mohammed Sayed
Tantawi, led prayers for Mr Arafat.
"He has served his people all his life, until he faced his
God, with courage and honesty. Let us pray for his soul," he
The Palestinian and Egyptian national anthems were played before
the coffin was placed on board a military plane.
Egyptian television showed pictures of a veiled Suha Arafat, the
Palestinian leader's widow and a rare picture of the couple's nine-year-old
World leaders attending the ceremony - which was closed to the
public - included Jordan's King Abdullah II, Lebanese President
Emile Lahoud and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and US envoy Williams Burns were
No Israeli officials attended.
Mr Arafat's body is due to be buried before sunset, in the grounds
of the Ramallah compound in which he was confined by Israeli forces
for more than two-and-a-half years.
People worked through the night to prepare the grave, under some
trees, next to the wreckage of destroyed buildings.
The BBC's Martin Asser in Ramallah was told that a former prayer
hall of Mr Arafat's - demolished by Israeli forces some time ago
- was the site for the burial.
A huge tent has been erected at offices occupied by Mr Arafat before
they were destroyed by the Israeli air force in 2002.
Many hundreds of Gaza's dignitaries are expected to watch the burial
on a large screen.
The Israeli army has closed off towns and cities in the West Bank
and will not allow ordinary Palestinians to travel there from the
Instead, Gaza City will hold its own symbolic funeral service while
the West Bank burial takes place.
The Palestinians see Mr Arafat's burial site as temporary. They
hope that one day he will be buried at the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem
- a move rejected by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
The exact cause of Mr Arafat's illness and death is still not clear.
Hospital officials have refused to give details, citing French medical
He had been flown to Paris on 29 October after weeks of mystery
stomach pains. He fell into a coma on 3 November and never regained
Mr Arafat's body was flown out of Paris on Thursday on a French
government plane, after being given a high-level send-off at a military
base, attended by French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin.
In Cairo, the coffin, accompanied by Suha Arafat, was met by the
Egyptian president's wife Suzanne Mubarak and leading officials
and given full military honours.
The Palestinian Authority, as well as camps in Lebanon - home to
some 400,000 Palestinian refugees - have declared 40 days of mourning.
planned 25-minute ceremony at a military club in a Cairo suburb
reflects concern for security at an event expected to draw dozens
of statesmen and foreign ministers. But Egypt also apparently sought
to avoid an outpouring of public emotion that might either get out
of control or show that the late Palestinian leader enjoyed more
than other Arab leaders.
After the funeral, Arafat's coffin will be taken
to the Almaza military base and then flown to Ramallah in the West
Bank. Arafat will be buried there before sunset Friday. The short
drive to the base is likely to be the public's only opportunity
to see Arafat's coffin pass. If Arafat's body were to be brought
into the enter of Cairo, it might draw the biggest funeral crowd
since the death of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1970.
That would involve a security risk, and also a prestige risk that
few Arab leaders are willing to take, said Walid Kazziha, a politics
professor at the American University in Cairo. "Other Arab
leaders, would they like to see Arafat commanding this much support,
even in death?" Kazziha asked.
MIDDLEEAST.ORG - MER - Washington - 12 November:
They are racing now to get the funeral over with very quickly and
with no real opportunity for the public outpouring of grief and
anger that would result if everything were not so closed and controlled
by the military. And they are racing as well to get him quickly
buried in a rock tomb. His 'wife' has received a huge payoff, $22
million yearly, for her silence. The top 'new leadership' of the
Palestinians that has approved these arrangements are all known
to be persons closely connected with the Israelis and supported
by the U.S. -- Nabil Sha'ath, Abu Mazen, and Abu Ala -- and all
known themselves to be politically and financially corrupt.
personal doctor DEMANDS 'Official Death Inquiry' and Autopsy
CAIRO, Nov 11 (AFP) - The personal physician
of Yasser Arafat called for an inquiry into the cause of the veteran
Palestinian leader's death on Thursday.
"I demand an official inquiry and an autopsy
... so the Palestinian people can learn in all transparency what
caused the death" of their leader, Dr Ashraf al-Kurdi said
on Al-Jazeera television only hours before Arafat was due to be
He said his suspicions were aroused by the
absence of any information about Arafat's health since he was
admitted to hospital in Paris on October 29 and that Arafat was
conscious when he left his Ramallah compound.
Amid the doubt, rumours have surfaced that
Arafat was poisoned but doctors in Paris and Palestinian foreign
minister Nabil Shaath rejected that speculation.
Kurdi, who was Arafat's personal physician
for more than 20 years, said he had been surprised by the actions
of some members of the veteran leader's office.
He said they took too long to contact him even
though Arafat's health was in rapid decline.
Kurdi, who did not travel to Paris his patient,
said he could not draw any conclusions about the death despite
Mainstream media speak as if Fallujah were
populated only by foreign "insurgents". In fact, women
and children are being slaughtered in our name.
Edward S Herman's landmark essay, "The Banality of Evil",
has never seemed more apposite. "Doing terrible things in an
organised and systematic way rests on 'normalisation'," wrote
Herman. "There is usually a division of labour in doing and
rationalising the unthinkable, with the direct brutalising and killing
done by one set of individuals . . . others working on improving
technology (a better crematory gas, a longer burning and more adhesive
napalm, bomb fragments that penetrate flesh in hard-to-trace patterns).
It is the function of the experts, and the mainstream media, to
normalise the unthinkable for the general public."
On Radio 4's Today (6 November), a BBC reporter in Baghdad referred
to the coming attack on the city of Fallujah as "dangerous"
and "very dangerous" for the Americans. When asked about
civilians, he said, reassuringly, that the US marines were "going
about with a Tannoy" telling people to get out. He
omitted to say that tens of thousands of people would be left in
the city. He mentioned in passing the "most intense bombing"
of the city with no suggestion of what that meant for people beneath
As for the defenders, those Iraqis who resist in a city that heroically
defied Saddam Hussein; they were merely "insurgents holed up
in the city", as if they were an alien body, a lesser form
of life to be "flushed out" (the Guardian): a suitable
quarry for "rat-catchers", which is the term another BBC
reporter told us the Black Watch use. According to a senior British
officer, the Americans view Iraqis as Untermenschen, a term that
Hitler used in Mein Kampf to describe Jews, Romanies and Slavs as
sub-humans. This is how the Nazi army laid
siege to Russian cities, slaughtering combatants and non-combatants
Normalising colonial crimes like the attack on Fallujah requires
such racism, linking our imagination to "the other". The
thrust of the reporting is that the "insurgents" are led
by sinister foreigners of the kind that behead people: for example,
by Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian said to be al-Qaeda's "top
operative" in Iraq. This is what the Americans say; it is also
Blair's latest lie to parliament. Count the times it is parroted
at a camera, at us. No irony is noted that
the foreigners in Iraq are overwhelmingly American and, by all indications,
loathed. These indications come from apparently credible polling
organisations, one of which estimates that of 2,700 attacks every
month by the resistance, six can be credited to the infamous al-Zarqawi.
In a letter sent on 14 October to Kofi Annan, the Fallujah Shura
Council, which administers the city, said: "In Fallujah, [the
Americans] have created a new vague target: al-Zarqawi. Almost a
year has elapsed since they created this new pretext and whenever
they destroy houses, mosques, restaurants, and kill children and
women, they said: 'We have launched a successful operation against
al-Zarqawi.' The people of Fallujah assure you that this person,
if he exists, is not in Fallujah . . . and we have no links to any
groups supporting such inhuman behaviour. We appeal to you to urge
the UN [to prevent] the new massacre which the Americans and the
puppet government are planning to start soon in Fallujah, as well
as many parts of the country."
Not a word of this was reported in the mainstream media in Britain
"What does it take to shock them out of their baffling silence?"
asked the playwright Ronan Bennett in April after the US marines,
in an act of collective vengeance for the killing of four American
mercenaries, killed more than 600 people in Fallujah, a figure that
was never denied. Then, as now, they used the ferocious firepower
of AC-130 gunships and F-16 fighter-bombers and 500lb bombs against
slums. They incinerate children; their snipers
boast of killing anyone, as snipers did in Sarajevo.
Bennett was referring to the legion of silent Labour backbenchers,
with honourable exceptions, and lobotomised junior ministers (remember
Chris Mullin?). He might have added those journalists who strain
every sinew to protect "our" side, who normalise the unthinkable
by not even gesturing at the demonstrable immorality and criminality.
Of course, to be shocked by what "we" do is dangerous,
because this can lead to a wider understanding of why "we"
are there in the first place and of the grief "we" bring
not only to Iraq, but to so many parts of the world: that the terrorism
of al-Qaeda is puny by comparison with ours.
There is nothing illicit about this cover-up; it happens in daylight.
The most striking recent example followed the announcement, on 29
October, by the prestigious scientific journal, the Lancet, of a
study estimating that 100,000 Iraqis had died as a result of the
Anglo-American invasion. Eighty-four per cent
of the deaths were caused by the actions of the Americans and the
British, and 95 per cent of these were killed by air attacks and
artillery fire, most of whom were women and children.
The editors of the excellent MediaLens observed the rush - no,
stampede - to smother this shocking news with "scepticism"
and silence. They reported that, by 2 November, the Lancet report
had been ignored by the Observer, the Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph,
the Financial Times, the Star, the Sun and many others. The BBC
framed the report in terms of the government's "doubts"
and Channel 4 News delivered a hatchet job, based on a Downing Street
briefing. With one exception, none of the scientists who compiled
this rigorously peer-reviewed report was asked to substantiate their
work until ten days later when the pro-war Observer published an
interview with the editor of the Lancet, slanted so that it appeared
he was "answering his critics". David Edwards, a MediaLens
editor, asked the researchers to respond to the media criticism;
their meticulous demolition can be viewed on the [http://www.medialens.org]
alert for 2 November. None of this was published in the mainstream.
Thus, the unthinkable that "we" had engaged in such a
slaughter was suppressed - normalised. It is reminiscent of the
suppression of the death of more than a million Iraqis, including
half a million infants under five, as a result of the Anglo-American-driven
In contrast, there is no media questioning of the methodology of
the Iraqi Special Tribune, which has announced that mass graves
contain 300,000 victims of Saddam Hussein. The
Special Tribune, a product of the quisling regime in Baghdad, is
run by the Americans; respected scientists want nothing to do with
it. There is no questioning of what the BBC calls "Iraq's
first democratic elections". There is no reporting of how the
Americans have assumed control over the electoral process with two
decrees passed in June that allow an "electoral commission"
in effect to eliminate parties Washington does not like. Time magazine
reports that the CIA is buying its preferred candidates, which is
how the agency has fixed elections over the world. When or if the
elections take place, we will be doused in cliches about the nobility
of voting, as America's puppets are "democratically" chosen.
The model for this was the "coverage" of the American
presidential election, a blizzard of platitudes normalising the
unthinkable: that what happened on 2 November was not democracy
in action. With one exception, no one in the flock of pundits flown
from London described the circus of Bush and Kerry as the contrivance
of fewer than 1 per cent of the population, the ultra-rich and powerful
who control and manage a permanent war economy. That the losers
were not only the Democrats, but the vast majority of Americans,
regardless of whom they voted for, was unmentionable. [...]
On the afternoon of 11 September, Donald Rumsfeld, having failed
to act against those who had just attacked the United States, told
his aides to set in motion an attack on Iraq - when the evidence
was non-existent. Eighteen months later, the invasion of Iraq, unprovoked
and based on lies now documented, took place. This
epic crime is the greatest political scandal of our time, the latest
chapter in the long 20th-century history of the west's conquests
of other lands and their resources. If
we allow it to be normalised, if we refuse to question and probe
the hidden agendas and unaccountable secret power structures at
the heart of "democratic" governments and if we allow
the people of Fallujah to be crushed in our name, we surrender both
democracy and humanity.
John Pilger is currently a visiting professor at Cornell University,
New York. His latest book, Tell Me No Lies: investigative journalism
and its triumphs, is published by Jonathan Cape
"The bombs being dropped on Fallujah don't contain explosives,
depleted uranium or anything harmful - they contain laughing gas
- that would, of course, explain [Pentagon chief Donald] Rumsfeld's
misplaced optimism about not killing civilians in Fallujah. Also,
being a 'civilian' is a relative thing in a country occupied by
Americans. You're only a civilian if you're on their side. If
you translate for them, or serve them food in the Green Zone,
or wipe their floors - you're an innocent civilian. Just about
everyone else is an insurgent, unless they can get a job as a
- Riverbend, an Iraqi civilian girl, author of the blog Baghdad
Once again the US has been caught in a giant spider's web. Fallujah
now is a network: it's Baghdad, Ramadi, Samarra, Latifiyah, Kirkuk,
Mosul. Streets on fire, everywhere: Hundreds, thousands of Fallujahs
- the Mesopotamian echo of a thousand Vietnams. The Iraqi resistance
has even regained control of a few Baghdad neighborhoods.
Baghdad residents say there are practically no US troops around,
even as regular explosions can be heard all over the city. Baghdad
sources confirm to Asia Times Online that the mujahideen now control
parts of the southern suburb of ad-Durha, as well as Hur Rajab,
Abu Ghraib, al-Abidi, as-Suwayrah, Salman Bak, Latifiyah and Yusufiyah
- all in the Greater Baghdad area. This would be the first time
since the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003, that the resistance
has been able to control these neighborhoods.
Massive US military might is useless against a mosque network in
full gear. In a major development not reported
by US corporate media, for the first time different factions of
the resistance have released a joint statement, signed among
others by Ansar as-Sunnah, al-Jaysh al-Islami, al-Jaysh as-Siri
(known as the Secret Army), ar-Rayat as-Sawda (known as the Black
Banners), the Lions of the Two Rivers, the Abu Baqr as-Siddiq Brigades,
and crucially al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (Unity and Holy War) - the movement
allegedly controlled by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The statement is being
relayed all over the Sunni triangle through a network of mosques.
The message is clear: the resistance is united.
The mobile mujahideen
Fallujah civilians have told families and friends
in Baghdad that the US bombing has been worse than Baghdad suffered
in March 2003.
The Fallujah resistance for its part seems to have made the crucial
tactical decision of clearing two main roads - called Nisan 7 and
Tharthar Street - thus drawing the Americans to a battle in the
center of town. Baghdad sources close to the resistance say that
now the Americans seem to be positioned exactly where the mujahideen
want them. This is leading the resistance to insist they - and not
the Americans, according to the current Pentagon spin - now control
70% of the city.
There are at least 120 mosques in Fallujah. A consensus is emerging
that almost half of them have been smashed by air strikes and shelling
by US tanks - something that will haunt the United States for ages.
The mosques stopped broadcasting the five daily calls for prayer,
but Fadhil Badrani, an Iraqi reporter for BBC World Service in Arabic
and one of the very few media witnesses in Fallujah, writes that
"every time a big bomb lands nearby, the cry rises from the
minarets: 'Allahu Akbar' [God is Great]".
Badrani also disputes the Pentagon spin: "It is misleading
to say the US controls 70% of the city because the fighters are
constantly on the move. They go from street to street, attacking
the army in some places, letting them through elsewhere so that
they can attack them later. They say they are fighting not just
for Fallujah, but for all Iraq." The mujahideen tactics are
a rotating web - Ho Chi Minh's and Che Guevara's tactics applied
to urban warfare by the desert: snipers on rooftops, snipers escaping
on bicycles, mortar fire from behind abandoned houses, rocket-propelled-grenade
attacks on tanks, Bradleys being ambushed, barrages of as many as
200 rockets, instant dispersal, "invisible" regrouping.
Iraq's borders with Syria and Jordan, all highways except a secondary
road leading to the borders, plus Baghdad's airport, all remain
closed. Baghdad in theory has become an island sealed off from the
Sunni triangle - but not for the resistance, which keeps slipping
inside. Hundreds of Iraqis are stuck on the Syrian border trying
to go back home.
Riverbend, the Iraqi girl blogger quoted above, writes of "rumors
that there are currently 100 cars ready to detonate in Mosul, being
driven by suicide bombers looking for American convoys. So
what happens when Mosul turns into another Fallujah? Will they also
bomb it to the ground? I heard a report where they mentioned that
Zarqawi 'had probably escaped from Fallujah' ... so where is he
He could well be in Ramadi, where hundreds of heavily armed mujahideen
now control the city center - with no US troops in sight.
The Pentagon is pulling out all stops to "liberate" the
people of Fallujah. According to residents, the city is now littered
with thousands of cluster bombs. In an explosive
accusation - and not substantiated - an Iraqi doctor who requested
anonymity has told al-Quds Press that "the US occupation troops
are gassing resistance fighters and confronting them with internationally
banned chemical weapons". The
Washington Post has confirmed that US troops are firing white-phosphorus
rounds that create a screen of fire impervious to water.
Dr Muhammad Ismail, a member of the governing board of Fallujah's
general hospital "captured" by the Americans at the outset
of Operation Phantom Fury, has called all Iraqi doctors for urgent
help. Ismail told Iraqi and Arab press that the number of wounded
civilians is growing exponentially - and medical supplies are almost
non-existent. He confirmed that US troops had arrested many members
of the hospital's medical staff and had sealed the storage of medical
The wounded in Fallujah are in essence left to die. There is not
a single surgeon in town. And practically no doctors as well, as
the Pentagon decided to bomb both the al-Hadar Hospital and the
Zayid Mobile Hospital. So far, the International Committee of the
Red Cross has reacted with thunderous apathy.
The Sunni revolution
When a few snipers are capable of holding scores of marines for
a day in Fallujah - an eerie replay of the second part of Stanley
Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket - and when eight of 10 US divisions
are bogged down by a few thousand Iraqis with Kalashnikovs and grenade
launchers, the fact is the US does not control anything in Sunni
Iraq. It does not control towns, cities, roads, and it barely controls
the Green Zone, the American fortress in Baghdad that is the ultimate
symbol of the occupation.
In 1999, the Russians bombed and destroyed Grozny, the Chechen
capital, a city of originally 400,000 people. Five years later,
Chechen guerrillas are still trapping Russian troops in a living
hell there. The same scenario will be replayed in Fallujah - a city
of originally 300,000 people. All this destruction
- which any self-respecting international lawyer can argue is a
war crime - for the Bush administration to send a brutal message:
either you're with us or we'll smash you to pieces.
The Iraqi resistance does not care if thousands of mujahideen are
smashed to pieces: it is actually gearing up for a major strategic
victory. The strategy is twofold: half of the Fallujah resistance
stayed behind, ready to die like martyrs, increasing the already
boiling-point hatred of Americans in Iraq and the Middle East and
boosting their urban support. The other half left before Phantom
Fury and is already setting fires in Baghdad, Tikrit, Ramadi, Baquba,
Balad, Kirkuk, Mosul and even Shi'ite Karbala.
They may be decimated little by little. But the fact is Sunni Iraqis
are more than ever aware they are excluded from the Bush administration's
"democratic" plans for Iraq. The only Sunni political
party in interim premier Iyad Allawi's "government" is
now out. And the powerful Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) -
the foremost Sunni religious body - is now officially boycotting
the January elections. There are unconfirmed reports that Sheikh
Abdullah al-Janabi, the head of the mujahideen shura (council) in
Fallujah and a very prominent AMS member, died when his mosque,
Saad ibn Abi Wakkas, was bombed.
The Sunni Iraqi resistance is now configuring itself as a full-fledged
revolution. According to sources in Baghdad, the leaders of the
resistance believe there's no other way for them to expel the American
invaders and subsequently be restored to power - especially because
if elections are held in January, the Shi'ites are certain to win.
Contemplating the dogs of civil war barking in the distance, no
wonder Baghdad's al-Zaman newspaper is so somber: "Iraq will
remain a sleeping volcano, even if the state of emergency is extended
Former Staff Sergeant Jimmy Massey, a 12-year
Marine veteran, lives in Waynesville, North Carolina, a small town
in the Smoky Mountains just outside of Ashville, where he spoke
to the World Socialist Web Site. He is one of a growing number of
American soldiers returning from Iraq who have become outspoken
opponents of the war.
Massey entered Iraq as part of the initial US invasion in March
2003. He witnessed—and in some cases participated in—the
killing of innocent civilians. During a single 48-hour period, he
says, he saw as many as 30 civilians killed by US gunfire at highway
The brutality of the US military's retaliation against the growing
resistance of the Iraqi people transformed his view of the occupation
and changed him for life. Massey, horrified and unable to reconcile
himself to what was taking place, began to speak out to his superiors.
He was eventually medi-vaced out of Iraq and diagnosed with depression
and post-traumatic stress disorder. Labeled as a conscientious objector
by his commanders, Massey sought legal counsel and won his honorable
discharge in December 2003. [...]
"You have to look at what was the overall goal of the mission.
That was pretty evident when, eight months before we even left to
go to Kuwait, the Marines were training to shut down and take over
the Ar Rumaylah oil fields. We had detailed schematics and terrain
models of all of the oil fields outside of Basra, and once we took
care of those, all that was left was the ride into Baghdad.
"We were like a bunch of cowboys who rode into town shooting
up the place. I saw charred bodies in vehicles that were clearly
not military vehicles. I saw people dead on the side of the road
in civilian clothes. As a matter of fact, I only remember seeing
a couple of bodies in military uniform the whole time.
"There wasn't a whole lot of direct fighting to speak of.
There were some firefights—I mean I had bullet holes in the
side of my Humvee—but it wasn't like major combat action.
We took the highway the whole way up to Baghdad. They had no artillery;
they had no air support. They were so weakened by all the sanctions.
All of their equipment was in very bad shape. Most of their hardware
was left over from the war against Iran. The first Gulf War just
devastated them. I don't think they had the will or the opportunity
Massey said that the hostility of the Iraqi people to the presence
of the US military grew exponentially over the time he was there
in direct response to the brutal methods employed by American troops
against the entire Iraqi population.
"As far as I'm concerned, the real war did
not begin until they saw us murdering innocent civilians,"
he said. "I mean, they were witnessing their loved ones being
murdered by US Marines. It's kind of hard to tell someone that they
are being liberated when they just saw their child shot or lost
their husband or grandmother."
Massey manned a number of US military checkpoints on Iraqi highways
in the months following the invasion. He described how, when cars
failed to stop, out of confusion or otherwise, the order was to
'light them up' or open fire. It was at one of the checkpoints that
Massey's attitude toward the war reached its turning point.
"We signaled a car to stop and when it didn't we opened fire.
They were innocent civilians. We found no weapons, no explosives—nothing.
Somehow, and I have no idea how he could have done it, but one guy
got out of the car and he wasn't badly wounded. He was the brother
of one of the men bleeding to death in the car. He looked at me
and asked, 'Why did you kill my brother. What did he do to you?'
There were 30-plus civilians killed over
two days at these checkpoints."
Massey described the chaotic and reckless character of the roadside
checkpoints and the indifference of the military leadership to the
culture of the people that they were there supposedly to help.
"When you put your hand up in the air with
a closed fist, in the Marines it means you want them to stop,"
he said. "But, as we later learned, it's actually the international
sign of solidarity. It has a totally different meaning for the Iraqis—to
them it was a sign like hello. And that was just one example of
how we were not trained properly to understand the cultural differences
between us and them.
"The bottom line is they [the military
command] don't see the need to teach culture and humanity to men
whose singular purpose is to kill. And that was just one of the
cultural miscues. I blame the top of the chain of command,
from the President down to Tommy Franks [the former commander-in-chief
of US occupation forces] to General [James] Mattis [commander of
the First Marine Division]. They all knew that the military was
not trained properly when it comes to dealing with Muslim culture
and a foreign land. But that was not our purpose for being there."
In the midst of the widespread killing of civilians, Massey was
struck by the callousness of the military command and the lack of
humanitarian assistance they were offering the Iraqi people. This
further deepened his doubts about the true purpose of the war.
"We actually left all of the humanitarian
MRE's [Meals Ready to Eat] in Kuwait," he recalled. "We
were supposed to give these out for relief, and we left them in
Kuwait. They were just for show when the film crews came into the
camps. We also had this big show with the medical supplies that
we were prepping for Iraqi casualties. We were supposed to get in
there and take care of them.
"But I'll give you an example of what we actually
did. After we shot up this car with civilians, I called in the corpsmen
to bring in stretchers. They came in and put two men on stretchers.
Five minutes later, they brought them back and dumped their bodies
on the side of the road. They were still alive. They were riddled
with bullets—one guy was just rolling in agony on the side
of the road."
At the time, intelligence reports were streaming in describing
insurgents and rebels driving ambulances and civilian cars. In a
growing atmosphere of fear within US military ranks, the entire
Iraqi population was now viewed as the enemy.
"We're thinking everyone is a terrorist," Massey recalled.
"Here we are on no sleep, and there are intelligence reports
coming in right and left about suicide attacks and the Republican
Guard and so on—attacks being mounted against American forces.
So cars come driving through our checkpoints, and our orders are
to light them up. The amazing thing about it is that we were telling
the Iraqis the exact opposite. We were telling them to keep their
schools open, keep the hospitals open, to go about their normal
routine—'we're not here to hurt you, we're just here to overthrow
Saddam.' So these people were just doing their normal routines,
and they were getting frickin' blasted for it."
A recent study estimated the number of Iraqi deaths since the start
of the war in March 2003 at around 100,000. When asked if this number
seemed accurate, Massey responded:
"Yes, but that of course does not include
the thousands more who will be dying from disease because of a lack
of medical supplies, clean water, or proper sanitation. It does
not include the hundreds of thousands that died in Iraq before the
war even began from the sanctions. We are committing genocide in
Iraq, and that is the intention." [...]
Diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, Massey
was sent home to argue his case against a dishonorable discharge
in the summer of 2003.
"I told them, 'If you want to label me a conscientious objector
for not wanting to kill innocent civilians, then I'll see you in
court.' The psychologist that I went to see said 'Well, I don't
deal with conscientious objectors, that's something the chaplain's
going have to do.' So the next day I had a meeting with the regimental
Sergeant Major—who's pretty high ranking, in charge of about
"I had a seat in his office, and he said that the Sergeant
Major over in Iraq had sent him an e-mail explaining everything,
and that I should stop worrying, that he was going to fix everything
and it would all be okay. But just before I started to speak, I
saw him reach into his desk drawer and pressed what I know was the
record button on a tape recorder, and then he closed the drawer
really fast and acted all nonchalant. I was thinking, 'Damn, if
you're going to entrap me then at least try to cover it up a little.'
"So I sat there saying nothing, and finally
he says, 'You know, you only have another seven years to retire—we're
going to move you to a nice little office somewhere or passing out
basketballs or something like that...you've got a lot vested in
the Marine Corps and you need to think about your retirement.'
"I stood up and said 'Well, Sergeant Major, I don't want your
retirement and I don't want your benefits. We killed innocent civilians,
and you have to face that responsibility, and I'm going to tell
everybody what happened.' I remember his face turned red, and he
said that there was going to be legal repercussions that go along
with that decision. I told him that I would not expect anything
less from the Marine Corps."
Massey recalls walking directly from the meeting to the Base Exchange,
where he picked up a copy of the Marine Corps Times and called a
lawyer who was listed in the back. The lawyer was Gary Meyers, whose
practice dates back to the My Lai trials during the Vietnam War.
There was no trial for Massey. In the end, the Marines backed down
and agreed to his honorable discharge. He is currently working on
a book and plans on using whatever proceeds there are from it to
start a post-traumatic stress disorder foundation.
"What do you tell a kid that just came back
from war with the economy the way it is and the lack of jobs, who's
just got finished murdering innocent civilians because his government
has violated every law in the Geneva Conventions?" Massey asked.
"You expect him to come back to the US and be a productive
citizen? What do you do? For me, I keep hanging on to one thing
that my grandfather used to say: 'The truth shall set you free.'
I'll keep talking as long as people listen."
NEAR FALLUJAH, Iraq -- U.S. and Iraqi troops
battling their way through Fallujah stumbled on a horrific find
-- a small, windowless room with blood-soaked mattresses and straw
mats on the floor that U.S. commanders are calling a "hostage
The room is in a small, concrete house is believed to have been
used by militants who captured and possibly killed hostages here.
Marine Maj. Gen. Richard Natonski, who is commanding the offensive
to retake the insurgent-held city, gave grim details of the "slaughterhouse"
Thursday after paying a visit there.
"The room was small. There were no windows, just one door.
Inside, the flag was on the wall. There were two thin mattresses
and straw mats covered in blood," he said. "There was
also a wheelchair, which we believe was used to move the prisoners
around in. We believe they were bound and
moved around the complex in the wheelchair."
Hanging on the wall of the small room was a black banner reading,
"The Islamic Secret Army" with a logo showing a sword
and a Kalashnikov rifle flanking a Quran.
That militant group has claimed responsibility in a number of
kidnapping of foreigners -- including the July abduction of seven
employees -- three Indians, three Kenyans, and an Egyptian -- working
for a Kuwaiti company operating in Iraq.
The group warned the company to stop its activities in Iraq. The
hostages were later released after ransom was paid.
U.S. and Iraqi forces seized the abandoned concrete home in a
small courtyard in the city's northern Jolan district on Wednesday.
Shortly afterward, Iraqi commander Maj. Gen. Abdul Qader Mohammed
Jassem Mohan, announced some of the findings: hostages' documents,
CDs showing captives being killed and black clothing worn by militants
Natonski said U.S. troops also found a computer, computer disks,
and a large arms cache in the home, which included a living space
and a kitchen.
"We are now currently exploiting the material that was found
in the room to see and confirm whether this was in fact a room used
for execution by the insurgents of innocent Iraqis and foreigners,"
He did not give any details on the identities of the hostages
thought to have been kept there.
Marine intelligence officers are combing through the computer
disks and other finds from the site, hoping to glean information
In another building, troops discovered an Iraqi man chained to
a wall, the military said Thursday. The man, who was
shackled at the ankles and wrists, bruised and starving,
told Marines he was a taxi driver abducted 10 days earlier and that
his captors beat him with cables.
Also, a Fox News reporter embedded with India Company of the 3rd
Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment said the unit found five bodies in
a locked house in northwest Fallujah on Wednesday. All
the victims were shot in the back of the head. Their identities
were not known, although there were indications they were civilians,
the report said.
At least 10 foreigners are still in kidnappers' hands in Iraq,
including British aid worker Margaret Hassan, French journalists
Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot and an unidentified American
worker for a Saudi company.
On Thursday, Al-Jazeera television aired a videotape showing what
the station said was an American contractor of Lebanese origin held
hostage in Iraq. The balding, middle-aged man, who carried a U.S.
passport and an identification card in the name of Dean Sadek, was
shown sitting in front of a green wall.
It was unclear when Sadek or where was kidnapped. Last week, the
Interior Ministry said a Lebanese-American was seized by armed men
from his home in the city's Mansour district but gave the name as
Radim Sadeq. It could not be determined if he was the same person
BAGHDAD, IRAQ — Sami Abbas Mijwal al-Rawi
was sleeping one night last winter when he was awakened by an explosion
that blew in his front door.
As al-Rawi walked out of his bedroom and through a kitchen area,
he saw as many as 30 U.S. soldiers scattered about the spacious
villa. They grabbed the wealthy contractor by his dishdasha robe
and shoved him hard to the tile floor. Four of his sons and a son-in-law
were also arrested in the raid. [...]
Al-Rawi said the soldiers took cash and personal property worth
$83,000, which has not been returned, and he was taken away and
held for five days in a large room divided by wooden cagelike dividers.
There, he said, his interrogators forced him to stand on one foot
for up to an hour, threatening, kicking or punching him if he disobeyed
or tired. One hit him with a stick. [...]
Long before the American public learned about the abuses of detainees
in places like Abu Ghraib, Iraqis were complaining about mistreatment
by American soldiers.
Attorney Shereef Akeel didn't know whether to believe the Iraqi
man who came into his suburban Detroit office in March telling tales
of being roped together by his genitals with 12 other naked detainees,
shocked with electric sticks, beaten with
cables and dragged across the floor by a belt buckled around
Then the photographs from Abu Ghraib came out, and Akeel realized
that his client was telling the truth. [...]
[...] Torture's Perverse
In April 2004, the American public was stunned by televised photographs
from Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison showing hooded Iraqis stripped naked,
posed in contorted positions, and visibly suffering humiliating
abuse while U.S. soldiers stood by smiling. As the scandal grabbed
headlines around the globe, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
quickly assured Congress that the abuses were "perpetrated
by a small number of U.S. military," whom New York Times columnist
William Safire soon branded "creeps."
These photos, however, are snapshots not of simple brutality or
even evidence of a breakdown in "military discipline."
What they record are CIA torture techniques that have metastasized
like an undetected cancer inside the U.S. intelligence community
over the past half century. A survey of this history shows that
the CIA was, in fact, the lead agency at Abu Ghraib, enlisting Army
intelligence to support its mission. These
photographs from Iraq also illustrate standard
interrogation procedures inside the
gulag of secret CIA prisons that have operated globally, on executive
authority, since the start of the President's war on terror.
Under field conditions since the start of the Afghan War, Agency
and allied interrogators have often added to their no-touch repertoire
physical methods reminiscent of the Inquisition's trademark tortures
-- strappado, question de l'eau, "crippling stork," and
"masks of mockery." At the CIA's center near Kabul in
2002, for instance, American interrogators forced prisoners "to
stand with their hands chained to the ceiling and their feet shackled,"
an effect similar to the strappado. Instead of the Inquisition's
iron-framed "crippling stork" to contort the victim's
body, CIA interrogators made their victims assume similar "stress
positions" without any external mechanism, aiming again for
the psychological effect of self-induced pain [...]
Although there has been no action for many weeks on either the
Congressional or Administration investigations of the torture scandal,
new revelations have continued to come out, in leaks from military
and other officials, which document the damaging consequences of
the detention and interrogation policies championed by Cheney and
Addington. In the aftermath of the release of some Guantanamo prisoners,
disclosures about widespread abuse and torture at Guantanamo have
been published in the British and Australian press, but the U.S.
press has been largely silent on the matter.
However, the Oct. 17 New York Times featured new information obtained
from military and intelligence personnel who worked at Guantanamo,
documenting that abuse and torture of prisoners
there was much more widespread than has so far been admitted by
Administration officials, or in the report compiled the Rumfeld-appointed
panel headed by former Defense Secretary James Schlesinger.
The personnel, many of whom were angry about what they had seen,
agreed to be interviewed on the condition that their names not be
revealed, for fear of endangering their careers. They described
a range of "highly abusive" interrogation procedures,
which came to an abrupt halt after the disclosures about Abu Ghraib
One regular procedure reported by people who had worked at Camp
Delta, is described as "making uncooperative prisoners strip
to their underwear, having them sit in a chair
while shackled hand and foot to a bolt in the floor, and
forcing them to endure strobe lights and screamingly loud rock and
rap music played through two close loudspeakers, while the air-conditioning
was turned up to maximum levels." These sessions could last
up to 14 hours, "It fried them," said a military official.
Another source described it as follows: "They were very wobbly.
They came back to their cells and were just completely out of it."
The military police soldiers who ran the high-security
wing of the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq kept an unofficial log of
their daily activities, a diary of sorts that documents the conditions
that gripped the prison during the months that detainees were abused
in what would later erupt into an international scandal. [...]
The soldiers also wrote about unclear orders
being passed down orally from military intelligence officials to
"put pressure" on detainees of high intelligence value
-- though none of the entries referred directly to the abuses made
internationally infamous in digital photographs and in reports arising
from multiple military investigations.
"MI handlers will be turning on heat to this one," reads
an entry at 2:30 a.m. on Nov. 12, referring to inmate No. 152529,
identified in investigative documents as Asad Hamza Hanfosh. In
a statement, Hanfosh alleged that soldiers
stripped him, beat him and left him shackled naked to his bed overnight.
"Sleep management program was requested but paperwork
has not been approved yet," the entry reads. [...]
FALLUJA, Iraq—Fighting in Falluja has
created a humanitarian disaster in which innocent people are dying
because medical help cannot reach them, aid workers in Iraq said
"From a humanitarian point of view,
it's a disaster; there's no other way to describe it. And if we
don't do something about it soon, it's going to spread to other
cities," Firdoos al-Ubadi, an official from the Iraqi
Red Crescent Society, told Reuters.
At least 2,200 families have fled Falluja in recent days and are
struggling to survive without enough water, food or medicine, she
said. Some families have fled as far as Tikrit, about 150 kilometres
north of Falluja.
But the biggest concern is people in and around Falluja itself
— they can't be reached because U.S. and Iraqi forces have
set up a wide cordon around the city to prevent anyone from entering
and any insurgents from fleeing.
The Gonzales memos claimed that Bush had
"the right to wave anti-torture law and international treaties
providing protections to prisoners of war." - Associated Press
Bush intends to put an advocate of torture at the head the Justice
Dept. Is this how he rewards the "moral values" crowd
who shoehorned him into the Oval Office?
Alberto Gonzales, name never should have been submitted as a candidate
for Attorney General. His involvement in
the Abu Ghraib scandal is widely known and should have immediately
disqualified him from consideration. The
memos he produced that dismissed the Geneva Conventions as "obsolete"
were critical in developing the rationale for using abusive techniques
to extract information from prisoners. Once his role in facilitating
the torture was exposed, he should have been swiftly disbarred and
unceremoniously deposited in the White House dumpster.
That's not how it works in the Bush Administration though, where
the incidents of crime serve as Brownie-points for promotion. Instead,
Gonzales will be trotted up to Capital Hill and get the requisite
"nod" from the rubber stamp Congress so he can move into
his new digs at the DOJ. Only the signage on the door of the Attorney
General will change to accommodate the transition: "Alberto
Torquemada; America's Grand Inquisitor".
There's no doubt about Gonzales complicity in the torture at Abu
Ghraib. His controversial memos show that he was establishing the
pretext for discarding Geneva as a "quaint" institution
that obstructed the supreme powers of the presidency.
His efforts were designed to deny prisoners of even the "minimal
standards" of humane treatment and to legitimize the (well
documented) brutality that followed.
He is every bit as guilty of the unlawful abuse as if he had affixed
the wires to the genitalia of detainees himself.
Historically the US has always paid lip-service to the cause of
human rights. As signatories to the Geneva Conventions and the 1996
Anti-Torture Convention the Bush Administration is required to comply
with rules that forbid the mistreatment of captives. Beyond that,
the principle of human dignity is enshrined in the 8th Amendment's
ban against "cruel and inhuman punishment"; a crucial
stopgap to excessive government power. These institutions reflect
the national commitment to values that are consistent with democratic
principles. The Gonzales nomination signals a turnaround in this
trend. Bush wants to appoint a known human
rights abuser as the top law enforcement officer in the country.
It's just another darkly ironic gesture from an imperious administration.
Gonzales personal biography is filled with tidbits that challenge
his worthiness as future Attorney General. In Texas he was appointed
the Governors general counsel, which means that he provided advice
to Governor Bush on nearly 160 death penalty cases.
Now, there,s a cushy job; "green lighting"
a bloodthirsty sociopath to dispatch as many people as possible
to their eternal reward (via the electric chair). Is this
what qualifies Gonzales as A.G?
The AP reports that Gonzales has "also built a reputation
of loyalty to the president, fighting sometimes difficult legal
battles. He blocked attempts by Congress to make public details
of Vice President Dick Cheney's energy commission meetings".
Gonzales legal expertise has been primarily devoted to obfuscating
the corporate collusion and venal machinations of Bush Inc.
He has also defended the President's right to incarcerate prisoners
indefinitely without charges; investing the President with the implicit
authority to rescind constitutional protections and overturn international
law. Furthermore, he supports the horrible travesty of justice taking
place at Guantanamo Bay. Gonzales defends
the "so called" military tribunals even though they have
been resoundingly condemned by Army attorneys, civil liberties advocates
and the world press. Just last week US District Judge James
Robertson put a stop to the Guantanamo proceedings, ruling that
detainees are "entitled to protections afforded prisoners of
war under Article 4 of the Geneva Convention" ... and that
they "may not be tried by a military commission."
Judge Robertson's appreciation of the law towers over that of
Gonzales. But let's not kid ourselves, Gonzales
function is to dismantle the law not defend it. Even this
brief summary proves that. As Attorney General his course is already
charted; target political enemies, conceal the activities of the
administration and immolate the law. These are the core principles
that drive the engine of state where Gonzales is now being ushered
to a front row seat.
Alberto Gonzales is the worst possible
choice for the office of Attorney General. His contempt for the
law is painfully conspicuous in every major action he has taken
on the behalf of the administration. Several groups have
already announced opposition to his nomination including the Center
for Constitutional Rights, People for the American Way and Human
Rights First. The paper trail that connects
him to Abu Ghraib should precipitate a criminal investigation, not
plaudits and rewards. His maneuverings
have put him front-and-center with the pin-striped sadists who have
engineered the new regime of torture camps, suspended liberties
and corporate fascism.
We expect that his keen legal mind and his penchant for criminal
activity will transport him quickly through the congressional hearings
and plop him securely in the swivel seat at the Dept. of Justice.
Spielberg film boycotted as Janet
Jackson episode and the morality vote expose censorship threat
More than 20 American TV stations last night boycotted a Veterans
Day screening of war picture Saving Private Ryan because of fears
that they would be censured by a newly aggressive television regulator
over the movie's violence and graphic language.
Network executives said the rebellion by affiliates of the ABC
television network in Dallas, Atlanta, Phoenix and other leading
markets was sparked by fears of reprisals from the Federal Communications
The FCC has commanded new respect and fear among broadcasters after
imposing heavy penalties on CBS and its affiliates after this year's
Super Bowl, when singer Janet Jackson exposed her breast during
the halftime show, provoking widespread outrage.
However, observers feel yesterday's display of nerves about Saving
Private Ryan descends to new levels of timidity.
The Steven Spielberg film aired uncut on ABC television in 2001
and 2002, and the FCC threw out the sole complaint against the film
from the American Family Association. But station owners say they,
and the FCC, operate in a different climate this year.
"It would clearly have been our preference to run the movie.
We think it's a patriotic, artistic tribute to our fighting forces,"
Ray Cole, president of Citadel Communications, which owns three
midwestern stations, told the Associated Press.
But Mr Cole said fear of punishment from the FCC
- and a belief among broadcasters that last week's elections revealed
growing conservatism in the US - had forced the stations into caution.
"We're just coming off an election
where moral issues were cited as a reason by people voting one way
or another and, in my opinion, the commissioners are fearful of
the new congress," he said
(Australia) - The last line of defence for
human rights in the terrorism age are courts and judges across the
world that have been putting a brake on laws that infringe on fundamental
freedoms, Justice Michael Kirby said yesterday.
The High Court judge pointed out that since 2001, 17 items of
legislation restricting civil rights have been adopted by the Federal
Government, as well as complementary state laws.
"There is a tendency in this area to give legislation stirring
names in the hope of rendering exceptions to civil liberties more
palatable and opposition to such laws more difficult," he said.
"In Australia, we have not gone so far as calling such legislation
a Patriot Act [as in the United States]. But the
media have noticed the Orwellian character of ... titles such as
the NSW Freedom of Information (Terrorism and Criminal Intelligence)
Act 2003, whose object is to restrict and not to enhance access
to official information on security grounds."
Justice Kirby was delivering the Robert Schuman Lecture at the
Australian National University's National Europe Centre yesterday
and titled his speech "Terrorism and the democratic response
- a tribute to the European Court of Human Rights".
The judge noted that "nations who are minor players in the
global war on terrorism come under occasional international pressure
for counterpart laws which they cannot resist".
He examined decisions of overseas courts and reserved
special praise for the European court. "It has tackled
cases of the greatest complexity and sensitivity - including for
the protection of the rights of sexual minorities, a matter of keen
interest to me."
The High Court has not been called on to adjudicate on federal
or state terrorism laws.
But there was sharp political criticism of the decision to release
the alleged terrorist, Bilal Khazal, a former Qantas baggage handler,
on $200,000 bail in June.
Justice Kirby said other national courts had demonstrated that
rules which preserve the rights of suspects
"are crucial to the preservation of democracy under the challenges
of the present time".
He said one the most stringent tests came with the challenge to
the death sentences given to the Bali bombers. The Indonesian constitution
forbids retrospective criminal law.
"There would have been many reasons of an emotional and psychological
kind for the Indonesian judges to resist the accused Bali bombers'
appeal to the prohibition against retrospective punishment ... It
is easy for judges of constitutional courts to accord basic rights
to popular majorities. The real test comes when they are asked to
accord the same rights to unpopular minorities and individuals,"
In the US, the Supreme Court had voted 6-3 against provisions
related to the trial of suspects held at a naval base in Cuba.
"By rejecting the contention that the executive was not answerable
in the courts for the detention offshore ... [the court] gave an
answer to the fear that the United States military facility at Guantanamo
Bay had become a legal black-hole."
He said the majority had followed an earlier case which said that
"the essence of a free society" was at risk. In Europe,
courts had upheld complaints by such reviled figures as the kidnapper
of Italian prime minister Aldo Moro.
CBS NEWS interrupted the final minutes of Wednesday
night's episode of CSI: NEW YORK in order to air a special report
about the death of Yasser Arafat. CBS has apologized and says it
will rebroadcast the episode, in its entirety FRIDAY at 9PM CENTRAL
"An overly aggressive CBS News producer jumped the gun with
a report that should have been offered to local stations for their
late news. We sincerely regret the error. The episode of CSI: NEW
YORK will be rebroadcast Friday, Nov. 12."
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- Two members of Veterans
for Peace got a standing ovation when they addressed a high-school
Veterans Day assembly, but their appearance prompted a letter of
apology from the principal.
Sehome High School officials received some complaints that the
Wednesday event was too one-sided, principal Jim Kistner said. He
told The Bellingham Herald that staff members had said that graphic
descriptions of war had upset a number of students.
"I want to apologize for making any student
or staff member uncomfortable because the presentation at Sehome's
Veterans Day Assembly today was used to advance a particular political
agenda," Kistner wrote in the letter distributed to students.
"Our community speakers had agreed that this assembly would
honor our veterans. We deeply regret that
they did not."
"I completely disagree with that last statement," Marshall
Petryni, 17, a student organizer of the assembly, said in a Thursday
telephone interview with The Associated Press.
"A bunch of kids came up to me after - some
were crying, some gave me hugs," Petryni said.
One of the speakers, Mark Polin, who served in the Navy from 1979
to 1997, told the gathering of nearly 1,000 students that Veterans
Day was originally Armistice Day - commemorating an end to war.
In a telephone interview Thursday from his Bellingham
home, Polin said he was at the assembly "to honor the warrior
and not the war. The way to honor veterans is to not keep repeating
the same mistakes and sending young men and women to their deaths."
Army veteran Ben Sherman, author of "Medic: The Story of a
Conscientious Objector in the Vietnam War," described war casualties
in detail to the students and unfurled a scroll with the names of
the more than 1,100 U.S. troops killed so far in Iraq.
They were introduced to the audience by Dr. Bob Olson of Bellevue,
a World War II veteran who founded the Bellingham chapter of Veterans
for Peace, Sherman said, noting that three generations of veterans
"We weren't there to tell them to believe
one way or another," he said Thursday from his home on Mercer
Island, near Seattle. "We were there to say, 'Here's the cost.
Maybe your generation will find ways it won't cost that much.' Any
veteran who's been in a war will tell you there has to be a better
way to solve our problems than this."
The men received standing ovations, and students
gathered afterward to shake their hands.
"It wasn't your normal Veterans Day ceremony,"
Sherman said, adding, "If he'd had three generals talk about
how wonderfully we're doing in Iraq ... would he then write a letter
to parents about how only one side of the story was told? That side
is always told."
Two parents who attended had strong reactions - one pro, the other
"I believe it was totally inappropriate for the venue,"
said Amy Thomas, mother of Sehome junior Hannah Thomas. "It
was an assembly to honor the veterans. This
gentleman (Polin) used it as a platform for his political agenda.
I thought it was disappointing, and hurtful to any veterans who
"The speakers were incredible," said Elizabeth Rocks,
mother of junior Erika Harrington. "They
were veterans who said what it meant to be in a war. I think kids
need to hear that. I can see how people can say it's one-sided,
and yet it's just as one-sided to have a Veterans Day assembly that's
full of nothing but flags and patriotic songs."
The assembly also included recognition of school staff members
who are veterans, recitation of John McCrae's poem "In Flanders
Field," Sehome's choir singing "America the Beautiful"
and a bagpipe rendition of "Amazing Grace." It closed
"One girl said to me, 'I never understood Taps till today,'"
"If the principal wanted to honor veterans,
why did he write a letter apologizing for us standing up and telling
the truth?" Sherman said. "We appreciate the students
who thanked us and showed us such respect."
Kistner's letter said the school would make counselors available
for students or staff who needed them. A second Veterans Day assembly
is planned, he said.
He said he was not told the speakers belonged to
a peace organization, and that he would review the process for arranging
"No blame, nobody is in trouble," Kistner told The Herald.
Security Planned for Inauguration
Military Muscle, High-Tech Screening Are Features of First Swearing
In Since 9/11
| By Sari Horwitz and Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, November 7, 2004
An unprecedented level of
security will frame President Bush's second inauguration, with officials
planning to use thousands of police from across the country, new
screening technology for inaugural guests and
a military contingent that could include a combat brigade of up
to 4,000 troops.
Security is always tight on Inauguration Day, but it will be magnified
for the first inauguration since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Law enforcement officials have been preparing for months to protect
U.S. and world leaders and citizens who attend.
Organizers are planning a traditional inauguration capped by a
parade down Pennsylvania Avenue and the usual evening balls. Bush
has yet to name his inauguration committee, which will oversee planning
of the pageantry and festivities, but law enforcement agencies are
in high gear.
As tens of thousands of people come to Washington
to watch the Jan. 20 swearing in, the city will be filled with military
personnel, FBI agents in full SWAT outfitting, snipers on rooftops
and scores of bomb-detecting dogs. The region's air defenses have
been strengthened to prevent intruder aircraft, and sensors will
be deployed throughout the area to detect biological, chemical or
About 2,000 out-of-town officers will help with security and traffic
details. Undercover officers will work the
crowds, and D.C. police officers will be posted every six
to eight feet along the parade route.
Plans call for sturdier barriers and more checkpoints and metal
detectors along the parade route than in previous years. Officials
also are setting up a higher-security ticketing and credentialing
system for some events, to prevent people from using counterfeit
materials to get into the balls and more restricted areas.
"There will be far more security and more police than four
years ago," said Terrance W. Gainer, chief of the U.S. Capitol
Police, the agency charged with protecting the Capitol, where Bush
will be sworn in. "Everything has changed since 9/11, so there
is a different context in which this inauguration is being planned."
Law enforcement authorities do not have
specific information that al Qaeda or another terrorist group is
targeting the inauguration. But the events will attract political
leaders from throughout the country and the world and will be staged
outside symbols of American democracy, officials said.
"The inaugural is a rich, symbolic, highly visible target,"
said Jim Rice, the FBI supervisory special agent who overseas the
National Capital Response Squad. Rice's squad works closely with
the Joint Terrorism Task Force in the FBI's Washington field office
to monitor and respond to terrorist threats.
This will be the first inauguration since creation of the Homeland
Security Department, which also is a central part of the security
The Secret Service is the lead agency for the inauguration because
the ceremony and celebrations are considered a National Special
Security Event, a designation that brings with it heightened federal
planning and resources.
Officials said the inauguration will be the culmination of a series
of high-security events, including the summer political conventions,
the Sea Island, Ga., summit of leaders from industrialized nations
in June and the funeral in Washington that month of former president
In Northern Virginia, a temporary joint command center is being
set up in a federal facility. It will include representatives from
other law enforcement agencies, including the D.C. police department,
U.S. Park Police, Capitol Police and the FBI.
In addition, officials said the new Joint
Forces Headquarters-National Capital Region is prepared to pre-deploy
4,000 active-duty combat forces in the District -- a significant
departure from past inaugurations.
WASHINGTON - A senior CIA officer who has
become an outspoken critic of the fight on terrorism turned in his
resignation this week, citing a desire to speak more freely about
problems in the hunt for Osama bin Laden and the debate over intelligence
Current government officials are rarely as vocal as Mike Scheuer,
who wrote "Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War
on Terror." But he called the decision to leave the agency
after 22 years "entirely my own."
"I have concluded that there has not been adequate national
debate over the nature of the threat posed by Osama bin Laden and
the forces he leads and inspires, and the nature and dimensions
of intelligence reform needed to address that threat," Scheuer
said in a statement sent to reporters Thursday via electronic mail.
Scheuer's CIA assignments included running the bin Laden unit from
January 1996 to June 1999. He hopes his experience and views will
produce a more substantive debate.
This week, Scheuer ignored agency orders and began granting interviews
about shortfalls in the hunt for bin Laden, the findings and recommendations
of the Sept. 11 and the intelligence community overall.
During a wide-ranging interview Sunday evening, Scheuer was highly
critical of the Sept. 11 Commission's "refusal" to point
fingers at senior government officials whose actions contributed
to the attacks. Rather than changing the structure of government,
as Congress is considering, he said a signal must be sent that people
will be held accountable for their actions.
"No one seems to be capable or inclined to
find anyone responsible for 9/11," he said.
Scheuer doesn't think the 9/11 attack could have been stopped,
but believes the various commissions that have investigated the
attack should have better considered whether the intelligence community
was working optimally.
For instance, Scheuer finds flaws with the FBI agents who were
sent to the CIA to work with the bin Laden unit under his watch.
He said the CIA shared information with the agents, but they didn't
take it back to their headquarters. He said they were more interested
in "travel overseas" and "war stories."
"They were interested in doing everything but work,"
he said. He could think of only limited exceptions.
Scheuer is also critical of how CIA resources and personnel are
now being distributed to go after al-Qaida.
Spokespeople at the CIA and the FBI declined to comment.
Even after his resignation, Scheuer must abide by regulations that
govern all former agency employees. He won't
be able to discuss classified information, and speeches, books and
articles on intelligence subjects will have to be cleared by an
agency review board.
NEW YORK - European nations need to think
more seriously about how terrorism affects them, even in such far-off
places as Afghanistan, NATO's secretary-general said Thursday.
Jaap De Hoop Scheffer told a breakfast meeting with the Council
on Foreign Relations in New York that the European way of thinking
had not caught up with the American perspective that crystallized
after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
"In Europe, we still have complicated discussions,
be it in the European Union or be it national discussions, of how
far governments could go in the relationship with their citizens
in the fight against terrorism," he said. "I think Europe
should catch up here, not the United States."
De Hoop Scheffer wouldn't elaborate, but said the so-called "perception
gap" was one reason that relations between NATO allies had
been strained in recent years.
Europe has suffered its own attacks, the most severe the bombing
of a commuter train in Madrid last March that killed 191 people.
De Hoop Scheffer cited the Nov. 2 killing of Dutch filmmaker Theo
van Gogh, allegedly by an Islamic extremist, as evidence of terrorism's
spread to places once believed safe.
"For me, it's proof that we have to discuss these problems
I think more seriously than we have done," he said.
Changing that attitude could help bring the United States and European
countries closer together, and NATO should do its part, he said.
On Wednesday, de Hoop Scheffer met with President
Bush in Washington. Formerly the Dutch foreign minister, he had
gained the favor of Washington when his government backed the U.S.-led
Iraq war but avoided antagonizing European opponents.
"You can look into the rearview mirror as many times as you
like and say we had a fundamental split ... in the run-up to the
Iraq war about its legitimacy," he said. "But where we
have to agree is that Iraq now going up in flames, becoming a failed
state in a pivotal region, is in nobody's interest." [...]
BEIJING - Large swathes of southern and eastern
China are in the grip of their worst drought in more than 50 years,
prompting calls from the countries top leaders for better management
of water conservation.
A prolonged dry spell has ravaged southern and eastern provinces,
including Guangdong, Hainan, Jiangxi and Anhui provinces and Guangxi
autonomous region, the Xinhua news agency reported Thursday.
In Jiangxi alone, drinking water to 620,000 people
and 260,000 livestock is threatened.
The State Council, China's cabinet, held an emergency meeting Wednesday
to discuss the crisis and hammer out ways to deal with drought relief
and water conservancy construction in the coming winter and spring.
To combat the drought, the government called on residents to save
water as much as possible while local governments were instructed
to improve management of water utilities to guarantee daily water
supplies in urban and rural areas.
The government would also increase relief funds, Vice Premier Hui
Liangyu was cited as saying.
To make matters worse, China's meteorological
department is predicting a warm winter, which could worsen the drought,
increase the risk of forest and grassland fires and trigger the
spread of animal diseases, Xinhua said.
While large parts of the country are suffering drought, many others
areas have been hit by heavy rains and floods this year, with hundreds
of people dying and thousands injured.
Nov. 12 (Bloomberg) -- An earthquake
with a magnitude of 7.3 struck an area in the sea 100 kilometers
(60 miles) north of Dili, the capital of East Timor, the U.S. Geological
The quake occurred at 5:26 a.m. East Timor time today and was centered
at a depth of 38 kilometers in Indonesia's Kepulauan Alor region,
the USGS said on its Web site. It was centered 355 kilometers from
Ende, in the Indonesian island of Flores, the report said.
"Earthquakes of this size sometimes generate local tsunamis
that can be destructive along coasts located near the earthquake
epicenter,'' the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said on its Web
site. "Authorities in the region of the epicenter should be
aware of this possibility.''
The Center said there isn't a tsunami threat from the quake to
coastlines in the Pacific Ocean.
Earthquakes are common in Indonesia and its regions because the
archipelago is on the seismically and volcanically active Pacific
"Ring of Fire.''
Quakes of more than 6 in magnitude may cause serious damage and
casualties in populated areas.
Jakarta - An earthquake registering
6.0 on the Richter scale shook a remote island in eastern Indonesia
on Friday, killing 16 people and injuring dozens more, a government
Muhammad Bere, head of the disaster relief centre in the town of
Kalabahi on Alor island, said the death toll could rise because
rescuers had not reached many affected areas.
"Our latest data shows 16 dead with most of them killed after
their houses collapsed on them. This data may likely go up from
hour to hour, day to day, because it is very difficult to reach
several areas," Bere said. [...]
Earthquakes often occur in Indonesia, an archipelago of 17 000
islands that lies along the Pacific "Ring of fire".
An earthquake registering 7.1 on the Richter scale that hit Indonesia's
easternmost province of Papua in February killed at least 30 people
and left around 26 000 homeless.
| TIMES NEWS NETWORK[ FRIDAY, NOVEMBER
12, 2004 02:15:42 AM ]
DHARAMSALA: Almost the entire Kangra district was shaken by an earthquake
of low-medium intensity on Thursday. Kangra district is in the active
seismic zone-V and is vulnerable to earthquakes.
According to the seismological office at Naddi, about 12 km from
here, the earthquake hit Kangra district at 7.43 am. The duration
of the quake was about seven seconds. The epicentre of the earthquake
was 20 kilometres north-east of Dharamsala, in Bharmour on the Kangra-Chamba
The seismological office spokesman said the intensity of the quake
was more in areas near to the Dhaualadhar hills.
CORONA, Calif. - A shopping mall security camera
videotaped the apparent kidnapping of a woman who was chased through
a parking garage by two men and stuffed into the trunk of a car
in front of shoppers.
Police on Thursday were trying to determine the identities of
the woman and the two men involved in the Sunday evening incident
at the Corona Discount Mall. The woman's videotaped reaction upon
seeing the men suggested she knew them.
"It's obvious that some kind of crime occurred," Detective
Frank Zellers told KCAL-TV.
A security camera recorded the scene as the woman walked from
a parking lot to the sidewalk outside the mall entrance. When a
black car pulled up sharply, the woman looked over her shoulder
at the car and took off running into a parking garage, the car in
Two men jumped out of the car, chased her down,
grabbed her and put her in the trunk.
A few shoppers appeared to turn their heads and
watch but took no action. In addition, several motorists drove through
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