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Bush pressures Congress to renew Patriot act
09/06/2005 - 09:28:04

US President George Bush is pressuring Congress to renew the Patriot Act by highlighting the actions of Ohio police who helped catch a man accused of plotting attacks on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York and a Midwest shopping centre.

Portions of the Patriot Act – signed into law six weeks after the September 11, 2001 attacks to catch other terrorists – are set to expire at the end of the year. The law bolstered FBI surveillance and law-enforcement powers in terror cases, increased use of material witness warrants to hold suspects incommunicado for months and allowed secret proceedings in immigration cases.

Civil liberties groups and privacy advocates say the law undermines freedom. But Bush, who wants to make the law permanent, has said the act was vital to tracking terrorists and disrupting their plans.

Bush was citing the example of the Lyman Faris case during a visit today to the Ohio Patrol Training Academy in Columbus. Faris, a truck driver from Columbus, acknowledged in court documents that he had met Osama bin Laden in 2000 at an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan and provided operatives there with sleeping bags, cell phones and other assistance.

Later, Faris received attack instructions from top terror leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, authorities said, for what they suggested might have been a second wave planned for New York and Washington after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Authorities said he investigated the possibility of using a gas cutter to burn through the Brooklyn Bridge's suspension cables and plotted with a Somali immigrant to blow up a central Ohio shopping centre.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the academy Bush was visiting was a part of the joint terrorism task force that investigated the case. Faris pleaded guilty to charges of aiding and abetting terrorism and conspiracy in 2003 and is serving a 20-year prison sentence.

McClellan said investigators relied on powers in the Patriot Act to follow Faris after his travels to Afghanistan. "Once he was confronted with the evidence against him, he co-operated and provided valuable information to law enforcement authorities," McClellan said.

Bush said yesterday that the Patriot Act gave authorities the tools they needed to fight terror and communicate with those who collect intelligence.

"We've got to do everything we can to protect the homeland," Bush told the Associated Builders and Contractors at their conference in Washington. "And we are. We're doing a better job of collecting and analysing intelligence and sharing intelligence."

Some critics of the Patriot Act have called for tempering its provisions that let police conduct secret searches of people's homes or businesses. Defenders of the law say no abuses have been documented, so it should be renewed intact.

The Bush administration wants Congress to make permanent all 15 provisions of the law that would otherwise expire at the end of the year, despite civil liberties concerns raised by conservatives as well as liberals.

Comment: Ah yes, the Patriot Act and Patriot Act II - "the revenge" - that wonderful piece of compassionate legislation that will allow us all to sleep complacently in our beds at night, while the REAL enemy draws the net ever tighter.

Just to recap, a general consensus is that the Patriot Acts I and II dramatically widen the powers of government to invade the privacy of Americans and others living here, including:

Broad new authority to compel information from ISPs, friends, relatives, businesses and others, all without informing you.

Immunity for businesses that voluntarily turn over your information to law enforcement.

Extra punishment for use of cryptography-- no connection to terrorism needed.

Instant police access to your credit reports upon certification that they are sought "in connection with their duties" -- again, with no connection to terrorism needed.

Relaxed requirement of specificity for warrants for multi-use devices like PDAs and computers with telephonic capabilities.

DNA collected from all terrorism suspects/DNA database information open to all law enforcement.

Less judicial oversight of surveillance.

Federal, state and local officials can now freely share information, regardless of the original reason for gathering it. This includes information in your credit reports, educational records and visa records. It also includes information obtained by administrative subpoenas of any business, from your ISP to your credit card company to your grocer. It also includes DNA database information and information obtained through the secret court processes of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Much of this sharing need not have any relationship to terrorism investigation.

Gag Orders and Increased Governmental Secrecy. The "sunshine of public review" is a key check on abuses of governmental power. But USAPA II makes it even harder for the public to evaluate what the government is doing with its broad new powers. USAPA II allows gag orders for subpoenas that force third parties to turn over information about their friends, loved ones or customers while making it unlawful for them to tell anyone except their lawyers about the subpoena. In a similar vein, the law creates broad new exceptions to the Freedom of Information Act for terrorism detainee information, prevents the Environmental Protection Agency from warning the public about environmental dangers from chemical releases and reduces the ability of judges to force the government to present its evidence in open court.

Be careful what you read on the Internet. The government may now monitor the online activities of innocent Americans, and perhaps even track what Web sites you read, by merely telling a judge anywhere in the U.S. that the spying could lead to information that is "relevant" to an ongoing criminal investigation. The person spied on does not have to be the target of the investigation. This application must be granted and the government is not obligated to report to the court or tell the person spied upon what it has done.

Nationwide roving wiretaps. FBI and CIA can now go from phone to phone, computer to computer without demonstrating that each is being used by a suspect or target of an order, or even specifically identifying the person targeted. The government may now serve a single Title III wiretap, FISA wiretap or pen/trap order on any person or entity nationwide, regardless of whether that person or entity is named in the order. The government need not make any showing to a court that the particular information or communication to be acquired is relevant to a criminal investigation.

As with its predecessor, USAPA II contains many provisions that appear to be nothing more than an opportunistic attempt to increase governmental powers in areas unrelated to terrorism. In other areas, while terrorism is included, the provisions are not limited to terrorism-related investigations. These include government access to credit reports, sentence enhancements for using encryption, and sharing of some FISA-obtained information.

Even before USAPA's passage, Americans found their privacy increasingly eroded through the stockpiling, aggregating, selling and spilling of their personal information by third parties. The government5 has long argued, and several courts have accepted, the proposition that if you reveal this information to one private entity for one purpose (like an ISP storing your e-mail or a mortgage company offering you a loan), you no longer have a Fourth Amendment right to protect the information from unfocused, unchecked law enforcement fishing expeditions.

The danger of this is clearly demonstrated by events in recent memory. In the 1970s Americans discovered that the FBI had maintained dossiers on more than a million of us, including Martin Luther King and Truman Capote, and used the information to harass and threaten innocent people.6 Yet the information available to J. Edgar Hoover and his associates is nothing like the range of information about Americans that exists now and can be easily collected and organized now. Some examples of the increase in third-parties holding once-private information include:

Correspondence Contents. Letters written on paper were traditionally stored in the home or business. The post office neither kept nor stored your letters. To be able to read them, the government normally had to get a warrant to search your home or office by proving "probable cause" that you had done something wrong.

Now, an increasing number of Americans store their correspondence on computers at their ISPs where it can be obtained by law enforcement on much lower standards than those required for a physical search of your home, depending on whether the e-mail has been opened by and how old it is. And while you'd usually know whether someone had invaded your home and rummaged through your papers, you're unlikely to ever find out that your e-mail had been searched while it was sitting on your ISP's mail server.

Envelope Info. As with the content of your letters, the Post Office did not routinely gather or store the information contained on the front of your envelopes, i.e. who you communicate with and when. If law enforcement wanted this information gathered, it had to make a specific request and the information was only gathered after the request was received.

Now this "envelope" information is automatically gathered and stored by your ISP for every e-mail you send and receive. Because of this, the government can now have access to your past as well as future communications records based only on a statement that it is relevant to a criminal investigation; you don't even have to be the target of the investigation.

Activities in the Non-Digital World. Your daily activities, whether wandering through a shopping mall, doing errands down a busy street, stopping for a burger or crossing a local bridge or toll road, used to be largely anonymous -- the only way someone could know where you had gone was to follow you.

Now the ubiquitous use of surveillance cameras and data collection devices like EZ-Passes means that a record of your activities is created almost everywhere you go. That information is completely outside your control and can be obtained by government or even volunteered to them with no notice to you.

Online. All of your activities on the web are generally recorded, from the Google search where you locate information, to the various websites you visit while shopping, researching, or discussing, to your purchases, downloads and printing of information. Nearly all websites keep both a record of what you do while visiting them and your IP address, which can easily be used to identify and locate you. This information can be (and sometimes is) aggregated over time and various web locations creating a mini-dossier of your activities available to law enforcement with a simple subpoena under USAPA II (or in the case of websites such as, simply handed over to law enforcement upon request).

Ultimately, this problem seems unlikely to be addressed in any significant way without broad recognition that the Fourth Amendment guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure include limitations on the government's ability to gather and aggregate personal information about Americans that third parties gathered for other purposes.

Now that you've read the juicy parts, lets look at Bush's justification for needing such draconian legislation that amounts to a severe clamp down on civil liberties. In the above article, we are told that, in lobbying for a renewal of the Patriot Act(s), Bush cited the example of the Lyman Faris case:

Faris, a truck driver from Columbus, acknowledged in court documents that he had met Osama bin Laden in 2000 at an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan and provided operatives there with sleeping bags, cell phones and other assistance.

Later, Faris received attack instructions from top terror leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, authorities said, for what they suggested might have been a second wave planned for New York and Washington after the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Authorities said he investigated the possibility of using a gas cutter to burn through the Brooklyn Bridge's suspension cables and plotted with a Somali immigrant to blow up a central Ohio shopping centre.

The case of Faris is an interesting one. Iyman Faris was a 34-year-old naturalized American citizen from Kashmir living in Columbus, Ohio since 1994 and who became a U.S. citizen in 1999. Since his arrival in the US, his primary occupation was as a truck driver.

Faris was secretly arrested in March 2003 on no specific charges (that's the Patriot Act for you) and held incommunicado (Patriot Act again) for 3 months until June 19th when it was publicly announced that he had been involved in an "al-qaeda plot" to bring down the Brooklyn bridge using a blow torch and making good his escape by way of a micro light plane (we kid you not). At the time, Christian fundie necromancer and then US Attorney General John Ashcroft lauded this plot as a coup in the "war on terror" and a perfect example that the threat was real.

Two months after his arrest (and when the FBI's interrogators were done with him), Faris was tried in a closed court where he unsurprisingly pleaded guilty to the "plot" the the US government had presented to him.

As it turned out, it seems that the actual reason for Faris' arrest was a message (email) that he sent overseas where he commented that "the weather was too hot". Now, to anyone else this might be taken as a simple and innocuous comment, one that is surely made often. Not to those wily tricksters at the FBI however. You see, using a contingent of crack cryptographers, the FB skillfully deciphered Faris comment as a code meaning that the the Brooklyn bridge was "too hot", i.e. too well protected, to attack. However, the authorities refused to provide details of the case against Faris or say how or where he was apprehended or what led them to him. Details cited in court documents indicated that the F.B.I. might have used electronic surveillance or intelligence sources to track his activities, but Ashcroft and other officials refused to discuss the surveillance because they said it could compromise national security.

Which of course, is very, very convenient.

Faris' family are on record as stating that he had been battling mental difficulties for many years, and it is also, and most interestingly, claimed that he was "hearing voices." There is also the likelihood that, while incarcerated incommunicado, the threat of "enemy combatant" status has been used against Faris as it had been in so many others as way to force confessions or other compliance out of patsies prisoners. In the end, Faris was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

So if Ashcroft wouldn't tell us how they hooked Faris, perhaps we can do a little digging ourselves.

The case of Faris is closely tied to that of a Somali man Nuradin Abdi who was arrested in November 2003 officially because of a "lie" on his 1999 asylum application to enter the US. Initially he was found guilty of immigration violation and ordered deported in March 2004. Yet over the next few months of his secret detention a very different case was built against him and - all in complete secrecy, as per the Patriot Act.

Then, on June 14th 2004, just a John Kerry was making a campaign stop in Ohio (coincidence?), ex-Attorney General Ashcroft stole the limelight by calling a press conference and, surrounded by lackeys from the Office of Homeland inSecurity and other obsequious government pawns, announced:

"The American heartland was targeted for death and destruction by an al-Qaeda cell, which allegedly included a Somali immigrant, who will now face justice."

Of course, he was referring to Abdi and went on to link him to Faris, alleging that they were both part of an al-Qaeda "terror cell" operating in the US.

Because Abdi was held in secret, his family only ever caught glimpses of him entering and exiting court rooms. In one report, his family said his face and body looked "swollen."

A Free Press report states:

In court, Abdi looked nothing like a terrorist -- or his former self. His family and the larger Somali community here were horrified to see Abdi enter the courtroom smiling vacantly and failing to recognize his own brother. Apparently unconscious of his surroundings, Abdi banged his head repeatedly on a table and grinned at nothing. Many who know Abdi in the central Ohio community say the vague, sensational charges against him are absurdly out of character.

No photos have emerged of abuse in prison. But Abdi's new attorney, his family and the community who knew him find little else to conclude. Some say he has apparently lost his mind under the conditions of his incarceration.

Indeed, it would appear that, in the space of the few months between his arrest in November 2003 and his secret court hearings in May 2004, Abdi appears to have gone from the successful owner of a small cell phone business in Ohio, father of two children with one more on the way, and someone who loved America and spoke out against terrorism, to a man who Federal Magistrate Mark Abel ordered transferred to a federal psychiatric facility to ascertain his mental stability.

As for the actual case against Abdi; At the time, Ashcroft claimed that, while in prison, Abdi claimed to have gone to Mecca on a pilgrimage but instead went to Ethiopia for terrorist training in an al-Qaeda camp. In a BBC interview however, Abdi's brother, Abdiaziz, told the BBC that Nuradin had no ties to Al-Qa'idah. Abd-al-Aziz Abdi also denied US accusations that his brother had lied about going on a pilgrimage to Mecca and had instead gone to Ethiopia for terrorist training. "This is not true. The pilgrimage trip to Mecca takes 10 days and that would not have been enough for military training," he said. "Nuradin has not been to Ethiopia. He hasn't been to Mecca either." he said.

Ashcroft also alleged that Abdi had bragged that he wanted to blow up a mall in Ohio, but according to CBSNEWS, "no specific mall was targeted, no explosives were in hand, and it was unclear that the alleged terrorist had the wherewithal to do it."

Indeed, it seems that there was no allegation about blowing up a mall in the indictment against Abdi at all. That assertion was made merely in connection with a motion to continue holding Abdi in custody. As such, it need never be tested by proof. 'FBI spokesman James Turgal quoted in the Toledo blade said:

"there was a presumption that a Columbus-area mall was targeted because that is where Mr. Abdi lived. "There was no threat against a specific mall in Columbus,"

Under the Patriot Act then, a person can be presumed to be a terrorist with plans to kill Americans if he is:

a) A Muslim


b) Living in the US

It is also worth noting that both men were alleged to have attended al-Qaeda training camps where they underwent "jihad training" in April 1999, a full two years before the 9/11 attacks. It would seem to be true also then that anyone can be accused of "terrorism" under the provisions of the Patriot Act, even if their activities occurred long before 9/11, the event that gave rise to the Patriot Act.

By all accounts, both men would seem to have been patsies who were setup to look like "Muslim terrorists" in order to provide evidence of the reality of Bush's war on terror and the need for "limitations on American's freedoms in order to make them more secure". In manufacturing the case against both men, federal prosecutors alleged that they had attended the same Mosque and that it was there that they became 'comrades in terror, and were recruited by an al-Qaeda operative, which of course is a subtle piece of government mind programming that all Muslims are possible terrorists.

Readers might remember that over the past few years since the September 11th attacks, US intelligence agencies have initiated various recruitment drives where they target men and women from predominantly Muslim countries. UK intelligence agencies have made similar efforts.

In the case of Abdi and Faris, the most likely scenario is that both men were indeed contacted by "al-qaeda" operatives in their local mosque, the important point being that the "al-qaeda" operative was in fact an undercover FBI agent of foreign (Muslim) extraction. In such a case, the FBI agent is informed by his/her superiors that the agency believes that Muslim terrorists regularly attend the Mosque and that undercover contact should be made in an attempt to bait them into revealing their plans and thereby "protect the homeland."

What the FBI agent probably does not realise, is that the men are completely innocent of any wrong doing, and are being selected and framed as terrorist patsies for later use in Bush's phony war on terror. Once in custody on trumped up charges, the victims can be 'broken' and made to believe that they took imaginary flights to Ethiopia for "jihad training" and confess as much.

A final word should be said on the mention of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in the original article above. US authorities claimed that Faris received attack instructions from this "top terror leader" and alleged 9/11 mastermind who was arrested in Pakistan in March 2003, around the same time that both Abdi and Faris were being held incommunicado. The Bush administration made much of the arrest, lauding it as a major coup in the War on Terror.

Officials claim that he was arrested in a late-night joint Pakistani and FBI raid, in which they also arrested Mustafa Ahmed Al-Hawsawi, the purported main financier of the 9/11 attacks. However, some journalists immediately cast serious doubts on this arrest. For instance, MSNBC reported:

"some analysts questioned whether Mohammed was actually arrested Saturday, speculating that he may have been held for some time and that the news was made public when it was in the interests of the United States and Pakistan"

There are numerous problems surrounding the US-alleged arrest of Mohammed:

Witnesses say Mohammed was not present when the raid occurred.

There were differing accounts about which house he was arrested in.

There are differing accounts about where he was before the arrest and how authorities found him.

Some accounts have him sleeping when the arrest occurs.

Accounts differ on who arrests him—Pakistanis, Americans, or both.

There are previously published accounts that Mohammed may have been killed in September 2002.

There are accounts that he was captured the year before.

There were, in fact, so many problems with the story that one Guardian report stated:

"The story appears to be almost entirely fictional."

Which takes us back to the Bush administration's claims that the Patriot Act I and II are necessary in the fight against terrorism. The simple fact is that there is no terror threat, or, at the very least, no overarching terrorist network determined to attack the US and all freedom loving people throughout the world.

Simple logic dictates that there is nothing fantastical about the idea that corrupt arrogant government leaders would go to great lengths to con a population into thinking that their lives (and way of life) were threatened if they perceived that the benefits to be gained by such manipulations and lies would be worth the effort. In the case of 9/11 and the enduring war on terror, the benefits to the Bush administration and their corporate friends of perpetuating the idea of a terrorist threat are enormous. We need only look at the results:

Free reign to invade an plunder the wealth of any country they choose.

Free reign to impose Orwellian social controls and legislation to ensure that, if their secret ever gets out, the population will be easily contained.

Free reign to pass emergency laws and consolidate their grip on power, ensuring that any threat from rival political parties is effectively neutered.

Free reign to carry out phony terror attacks on the "homeland" as and when needed.

This is an accurate depiction of the state of American today. The road to covert totalitarian government in the US has already been completed. All that remains is for the right conditions to come about for the real face of "democracy" in the US to be exposed for all the world to see.

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Police State
May 24, 2005, 07:12

Some really scary things are happening around here these days.

Congress has become a place of great incivility and rancor, which threaten to undermine any hope of legislative remedy to a myriad of problems, from Social Security to soaring health-care costs to immigration to a steadily crumbling manufacturing base once the envy of the world.

But perhaps the most frightening prospect for Americans is an unfettered national police force with the sole discretion to determine who can be investigated as a potential terrorist. That's the impact of little-known proposals to greatly expand the powers of the FBI, permitting its agents to seize business records without a warrant and to track the mail of those in terrorist inquiries without regard to Postal Service concerns.

Because the government can label almost any group or individual a terrorist threat, the potential for abuse by not having to show probable cause is enormous, prompting civil libertarians to correctly speculate about who will guard against the guardians. Up until now the answer was the Constitution as interpreted by the judiciary. But it is clear that sidestepping any such restriction is the real and present danger of the post-9-11 era.

A wise man, the late Sen. John Williams of Delaware, once counseled that any proposed legislation should be regarded in the light of its worst potential consequence, particularly when it came to laws that enhance the investigative and prosecutorial powers of the government at the expense of civil rights. This is most likely to occur in times of national stress, when the Constitution is always vulnerable to assault _ i.e., the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. The scenario Williams warned about runs something like this.

You are innocently standing on a street corner waiting to cross when you are approached by a complete stranger who politely, but in a low voice, asks directions to a certain address or area. You, of course, are utterly unaware that the person is under surveillance in a terrorist investigation. You respond in a friendly manner. And although the exchange takes only a few seconds, it is enough to make those following the suspect curious about you. You are identified and a background check reveals that you or your spouse has a relative of Middle Eastern extraction or that you recently traveled to a Middle Eastern country or that you contributed to a charity bazaar sponsored by a church or group under suspicion of passing money through to a terrorist cause.

Suddenly, you are caught in a major inquiry, your personal business records are seized and your mail is tracked. It doesn't take long for your friends and neighbors to learn that you are being investigated, and the result of that is predictable. You and your family are shunned. Your business begins to dwindle and before the nightmare has ended, which can take months, your life is in shambles. The truth never catches up with the fiction and the bureau, which has difficulty in saying the word "sorry," leaves you high and dry, twisting slowly in the wind.

Think it can't happen that way? Well, it does all the time. Ask the lawyer in Oregon whom the FBI misidentified as having taken part in the terrorist bombing of the Spanish railway. Ask any number of persons since Sept. 11, 2001, arrested and detained for months without charges or counsel before they were released.

If that isn't enough to satisfy you about the inadvisability of these proposals, think back to the Cold War days when the most casual acquaintance with a group or person on J. Edgar Hoover's anti-communist watch list could land one in water hot enough to make life miserable for a long time _ maybe even put him or her on one of the infamous blacklists.

If you weren't around in those times, read about them. One thing you will learn quickly is that the sole determination of who or what had communist inclinations belonged to the FBI. Even then, however, Congress was smart enough not to rescind the checks and balances that protect our civil liberties. Federal law-enforcement officers outside the FBI have complained of late about the bureau's penchant for seizing jurisdiction over almost any crime by relating it to terrorism.

Both of these over-reactive proposals are as fearsome as the threat of another al Qaeda attack, for they accomplish the same thing: the intrusion on and disruption of the rights of Americans. Like portions of the Patriot Act, which are rightly being challenged by conservatives as well as liberals, they are medicine worse than the cancer.

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Who will save nation from Bush 'police state'?
Earl J. Prignitz, Richmond
Originally published June 2, 2005

For the life of me I can't imagine why the media in the U.S. is so immobilized by the Bush administration. Are they all so much afraid that they might get the same fate that Dan Rather got? Talk about hypocrisy! There was so much to-do about impeaching President Clinton over a personal problem, while letting President Bush order our young people to their deaths for made-up reasons and costing billions of taxpayers dollars.

The top secret British government memo that was leaked to the London Times proves beyond all doubt that Bush invaded Iraq for none of the changing reasons that he has given a too-trusting public. Bush did not invade Iraq because of weapons of mass destruction or because he wanted to bring democracy to Iraq. For a complete copy take a look at my blog at: http://moreyet.homestead. comSG.HTML.

Why did Bush invade Iraq? No one, least of all the Bush administration, has come up with a believable reason. Yet, there is no shortage of patriotic Republicans who sincerely believe that Bush has made America safer by turning the Muslim world against us and stirring up a hornet's nest of terrorists united by their hatred of America.

Newsweek's retraction of its story that U.S. soldiers flushed a Koran down a toilet proves to Republicans that the only problem is an anti-American liberal media. The fact that Newsweek was absolutely correct in reporting desecration of the Koran by U.S. troops -- and only got wrong the particular way in which the holy book was desecrated -- has been totally ignored by Republicans.

Republicans believe everything Bush says. When he tells them he needs a police state to save them from terrorists, they believe him.

Who will save us from Bush's police state?

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How One Tasing Unfolded in Boynton Beach
Palm Beach Post

The Aug. 6, 2004 incident began as a normal traffic stop but took an ominous turn when the driver refused to get out of her SUV. It ended with a Boynton Beach Police officer hitting the 22-year-old woman twice with his Taser during her arrest. [...]

According to [Boynton Beach Police Department training officer Sgt. Sedrick] Aiken, McNevin correctly used the stun gun to subdue the driver instead of:

  • Using his baton
  • Physically forcing driver out of SUV
  • Using pepper spray
  • Getting in SUV to handcuff driver

Comment: Click here to watch the video. The woman in the SUV, Victoria Goodwin, does not get out of her vehicle when McNevin asks her to do so. She replies that she is talking to someone on her phone and telling them where she is. McNevin then threatens to taser Goodwin if she does not get out of the car. When she does not comply, she is hit the first time with the taser. At that point, she is pulled out of her vehicle and ends up laying on the ground. The officers then tell her to put her arms behind her back, or she'll be tased a second time. Goodwin, who is screaming and no doubt in a lot of pain, says she cannot move her arms behind her back. McNevin then gives her another shock from his taser. After the second shock, the officers move in and appear to cuff Goodwin.

So, what was Goodwin's crime? Her driver's license was suspended.

While Goodwin certainly shouldn't have been driving on a suspended license, and while she was definitely less than cooperative, was it really necessary to shock her with a taser - twice? The two officers were substantially larger than Goodwin, and could easily have removed her from her vehicle. Instead, they zap her with the taser. At that point, it would obviously have been quite easy for the officers to handcuff her. Instead, they shock her a second time, apparently for no good reason.

In the "good old days", when police officers didn't have tasers, how would they have handled the situation? Would they have smacked Goodwin with their batons, placed her on the ground, and then clobbered her again when she couldn't put her arms behind her back because she was in pain?

There seem to be two issues that such incidents raise. The first is what can only be called an increase in police brutality in the US. Of course, the police officers and the departments they work for always claim that they were acting within police guidelines, and that any harm caused to the civilian in question was necessary to "protect" the officers. We do not think it is a coincidence that post-9/11 America has seen a rise in harsh and even brutal police tactics as laws like the Patriot Acts were passed and the US decided to invade and occupy foreign countries, detain without charge even US citizens, and employ and support the torture of those prisoners.

The second issue is the taser. While tasers are supposed to be nonlethal, there seem to be a rash of taser-related deaths in recent times:

No Charges in Taser Gun Death

Last Modified: 4/29/2005 10:38:36 PM

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - A Gwinnett County grand jury had decided not to pursue charges in the Taser gun-related death of an inmate at the county jail.

Inmate Frederick Williams died last year after Gwinnett deputies used a Taser gun to subdue him.

Williams' widow, Yanga Williams, said he was in a rage when she called officers to her home last May. She says her husband's violent behavior was due to his failure to take medication for epilepsy. [...]

Dead after cop scuffle

April 24, 2005

Authorities and witnesses differ over officers' struggle with a man who died after being shot by stun gun

(Long Island, N.Y.) - A Ronkonkoma man died Friday night after a violent encounter with nine Suffolk police officers, during which he was shocked five times with a Taser gun, Suffolk police said.

Yesterday, as the Suffolk County medical examiner's office found evidence of cocaine and alcohol in John Cox's blood and began an examination to determine exactly how he died, police and witnesses on the outside offered differing accounts of what transpired inside the battered home on Taylor Avenue in Bellport. [...]

Man dies after Taser shot

By Sheila McLaughlin and Jane Prendergast
Saturday, May 14, 2005

UNION TWP. - A 31-year-old man died about an hour after an officer with Clermont County's Union Township Police shot him with a Taser gun Friday.

Authorities are awaiting autopsy results to determine how Vernon A. Young died.

While Young is the first person in Greater Cincinnati to die shortly after being shot with the 50,000-volt weapon, he is among a growing number of people nationally who have died after being shot with a Taser.

His death comes amid mounting concern about the safety of the weapon and increased calls for further study into the effects of the weapon. [...]

Report Cites 103 Taser-Related Deaths


There were 103 Taser stun gun-related deaths in the United States and Canada between June 2001 and March 2005, according to an Amnesty International report released Friday.

In the first three months of this year, there were 13 Taser-related deaths - compared with six during the same period last year, the report said. [...]

The mainstream media generally reports that taser deaths were the result of drug use by the victim. Isn't it convenient how when we hear that the victims were drug users, we'll just forget all about the fact that police officers didn't used to torture US citizens in public and in their own homes with what amounts to a glorified cattle prod?

We might also tend to believe that those who are tasered are deadbeats - the dregs of society. Nothing could be further from the truth. What about this woman who was eight months pregnant when she was zapped:

Pregnant Woman Tasered by Seattle Cops

May 10, 2005

Woman convicted of refusing to obey Seattle officers

She was rushing her son to school. She was eight months pregnant. And she was about to get a speeding ticket she didn't think she deserved.

So when a Seattle police officer presented the ticket to Malaika Brooks, she refused to sign it. In the ensuing confrontation, she suffered burns from a police Taser, an electric stun device that delivers 50,000 volts.

"Probably the worst thing that ever happened to me," Brooks said, in describing that morning during her criminal trial last week on charges of refusing to obey an officer and resisting arrest.

She was found guilty of the first charge because she never signed the ticket, but the Seattle Municipal Court jury could not decide whether she resisted arrest, the reason the Taser was applied.

To her attorneys and critics of police use of Tasers, Brooks' case is an example of police overreaction.

"It's pretty extraordinary that they should have used a Taser in this case," said Lisa Daugaard, a public defender familiar with the case. [...]

In a two-day trial that ended Friday, the officer involved, Officer Juan Ornelas, testified he clocked Brooks' Dodge Intrepid doing 32 mph in a 20-mph school zone.

He motioned her over and tried to write her a ticket, but she wouldn't sign it, even when he explained that signing it didn't mean she was admitting guilt. [...]

Officer Donald Jones joined Ornelas in trying to persuade Brooks to sign the ticket. They then called on their supervisor, Sgt. Steve Daman.

He authorized them to arrest her when she continued to refuse.

The officers testified they struggled to get Brooks out of her car but could not because she kept a grip on her steering wheel.

And that's when Jones brought out the Taser. [...]

Still, she said, she remains shocked that a simple traffic stop could result in her arrest.

"As police officers, they could have hurt me seriously. They could have hurt my unborn fetus," she said.

"All because of a traffic ticket. Is this what it's come down to?"

No drug use there, and she was zapped because she refused to sign a traffic ticket! And how about this 4-foot-8, 65 pound 13-year-old girl who was tasered by a 6-foot-2, 300 pound officer:

Taser trigger fingers

David Porter
Published May 21, 2005

My favorite quote this week comes from the Duval County Sheriff's Office in Jacksonville.

Allow me to set the scene:

Police get a call about a domestic disturbance between a 13-year-old girl and her mother. The mother told the two officers that she wanted medical treatment for her daughter, who had previously been hospitalized for emotional problems.

The handcuffed girl was put in a patrol car's back-seat prisoner cage. Apparently the girl squirmed until she got her handcuffed arms from her back to her front. Officers said she wouldn't comply with their orders. So an officer gave her two jolts with his Taser.

Important point: The girl is 4-foot-8 and weighs 65 pounds. The officer is 6-foot-2 and weighs 300 pounds.

The notable quote, reported this week in the Jacksonville newspaper, was uttered by a sergeant who arrived after the girl got zapped.

Upon seeing the girl, the sergeant turned to the officer with the Taser and said, "Please don't tell me this is the person you Tased."

The sergeant had good reason to be alarmed. A community uproar followed. Once again a Taser had been used unnecessarily.

What's remarkable, though, is that the officer's use of the Taser during the Feb. 7 incident did not violate Duval County Sheriff's Office guidelines. He was, however, suspended for three days for using bad judgment. [...]

And what about this 6-year-old boy who was shocked with 50,000 volts to prevent him from hurting himself:

Taser use on boy, 6, brings outcry

Fri, Nov. 12, 2004

Miami-Dade police shocked a 6-year-old boy with a 50,000-volt stun gun to keep him from hurting himself with a piece of glass he was waving around in a school office, officials confirmed Thursday.

Police say they followed their Taser guidelines, the child wasn't injured by the shock and he might have hurt himself seriously if they hadn't shocked him.

But the incident, which occurred Oct. 20 at Kelsey Pharr Elementary in Brownsville, has child advocates and experts shaking their heads in disbelief.

''It just sounds excessive to me to Taser gun a 6-year-old when everyone else around there were adults,'' said retired Broward County Juvenile Judge Frank Orlando, who runs a youth-law clinic at Nova Southeastern University. "They couldn't subdue a 6-year-old? Must have been a pretty big kid.''

Police Director Bobby Parker said his department is reviewing the incident, but he defended the officer's decision to use the stun gun. [...]

Finally, there is the case of this 75-year-old woman:

Police stun 75-year-old

By Matt Garfield
The Herald

The Rock Hill Police Department is investigating why an officer used an electric stun gun on a 75-year-old woman who refused to leave a nursing home where she had gone to visit an ailing friend.

The woman, Margaret Kimbrell, said she suffered bruises on her leg and face after she was knocked to the floor by the force of the weapon, called a Taser.

Police Chief John Gregory said Tuesday the department is reviewing whether Officer Hattie Macon's use of the Taser was appropriate -- a step that is taken in unusual or high-profile cases.

"On face value, it looks like it was," he said. "We have a person who was asked to leave, who refused and who attempted to assault the officer." [...]

According to the police report, Kimbrell was sitting in a chair in a waiting area when Macon, 35, ordered her to leave several times. Kimbrell refused, jerking her arms away when Macon tried to lead her toward the door.

Police say Kimbrell eventually got up but walked toward the cafeteria after spotting someone she knew. At that point, the officer blocked Kimbrell and told her she was under arrest. Kimbrell then swung her arm at the officer, according to the police report.

That's when Macon used the Taser and placed Kimbrell under arrest.

Kimbrell on Tuesday disagreed with that version of events.

She said she did not swing her arm or threaten Macon.

"As weak as I am, how could I do that?" said Kimbrell, who has arthritis and suffered six broken ribs in a recent fall in her back yard. "Maybe I was trespassing, but I didn't know it. I thought they would understand."

She said she got upset because no one would tell her where her friend was -- or even if he was alive.

"I thought he had died," she said. "I was trying to keep from crying." [...]

Kinda seems like the police are out of control, doesn't it? To make matters worse, even more officers are being armed with tasers - even officers in US schools:

Police officers to carry Tasers in schools

Jan. 7/05 (UPI)

Jacksonville, FL, -- Police patrolling Jacksonville, Fla., middle and high schools will be armed with Taser stun guns in addition to their regular guns, batons and pepper spray.

The Duval County Sheriff's resource officer will be authorized to shock anyone including students if they resist arrest or demonstrate a threat, the Jacksonville Times-Union reported.

"It's just another tool," said Rick Lewis, director of personnel and professional standards in the sheriff's department. [...]

It is blatantly obvious that a police officer in a school already armed with a gun, baton, and pepper spray doesn't really need a taser, especially given the widespread and clear abuse of the weapons that is occurring. Why not simply give officers better training to deal with the public?

While we often state that people in the US, especially, are being herded to a finer order of control in the so-called "war on terror", we never imagined that the herding and the resultant fear conditioning would be done with "human cattle prods"...

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Terror Probe in Calif. Town Isn't Over Yet
Associated Press
June 10, 2005

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Federal authorities aren't saying much about their terrorism investigation in nearby Lodi but are making two things crystal clear: Their work in the farming town has been going on for years - and it's not over yet.

They denied the implication by some members of Lodi's large Pakistani community that the probe was triggered by a rift between fundamentalist and mainstream factions.

Each side accused the other of contacting the FBI, which is in charge of the investigation. The dispute has led to a leadership struggle at the Lodi Muslim Mosque and a legal fight with a budding Islamic learning center.

"This specific investigation has been going on for several years," FBI spokesman John Cauthen said Thursday.

The FBI alleges several people committed to al-Qaida have been operating in and around the tranquil wine-growing region just south of Sacramento.

Investigators say Hamid Hayat, 22, trained with al-Qaida in Pakistan and planned to attack hospitals and supermarkets in the United States. He is scheduled to appear in federal court Friday for a bail hearing.

Umer Hayat, 47, said his son was drawn to jihadist training camps in his early teenage years while attending a madrassah, or religious school, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, that was operated by Umer Hayat's father-in-law, according to an FBI affidavit.

Hayat allegedly paid for his son to attend the terrorist camp in 2003 and 2004. The affidavit says it was run by a friend of his father-in-law's.

The Hayats are charged only with lying to federal investigators.

Two Islamic religious leaders, or imams, and one leader's son also have been detained on immigration violations. Neither Cauthen nor a spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would reveal specifics of the alleged visa violations.

Saad Ahmad, an attorney for the three men, did not immediately return a telephone call Thursday seeking comment.

The sequence that led to the arrests and detentions began May 29, when Hamid Hayat was trying to return to the U.S. but was identified in mid-flight as being on the federal "no-fly" list. His plane was diverted to Japan, where Hayat was interviewed by the FBI and denied any connection to terrorism.

He was allowed to fly to California, but was interviewed again last weekend. He and his father were charged after he flunked a lie detector test and then admitted attending the training camp, the affidavit said.

The Hayats and the imams are on opposite sides of a struggle between Pakistani factions in and around Lodi: The Hayats are aligned with a faction supporting more traditional Islamic values; the imams with another group seeking greater cooperation and understanding from the larger community.

Adil Khan was trying to start an Islamic center but has been sued by the Lodi Muslim Mosque, which claims he improperly transferred mosque property.

"It may well be that some of this is gamesmanship," said attorney Gary Nelson, who represents Khan in the civil lawsuit. "But we are talking about the FBI and INS, and they don't do this lightly. At least I hope they don't."

Lawyers for the Hayats are questioning why the FBI changed the affidavit. They maintain that copies released in Washington and Sacramento are significantly different.

The Washington version, released first, said Hamid Hayat chose to carry out his "jihadi mission" in the United States and potential targets included "hospitals and large food stores." The reference to the targets was dropped in a later version filed in federal court in Sacramento.

Hamid Hayat's attorney, Wazhma Mojaddidi, said that revision "strikes us as an odd turnabout."

Umer Hayat's attorney, Johnny Griffin III, said he was irritated that the government made public the references to hospitals and supermarkets, and then filed something different with the court.

Cauthen described the changes as routine revisions. Authorities said they had no indication of specific plans or timetables for an attack.

"There is no specific information about hospitals and food stores," he said. "They didn't stand out above other sectors of the infrastructure."

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Bush to Tour New Counterterrorism Center
Associated Press
Fri Jun 10, 4:29 AM ET

WASHINGTON - President Bush is touring the nation's new counterterrorism center where employees charged with pooling and analyzing information about terrorist threats are still waiting for the president to name the person he wants to lead them.

Vice Adm. John Scott Redd, who was executive director of the Silberman-Robb presidential commission on intelligence, has been mentioned as a likely candidate to direct the National Counterterrorism Center. John O. Brennan, the center's interim chief, said last month that he would step down after a replacement was announced. Bush's nominee must be confirmed by the Senate.

The center, which Bush was scheduled to visit Friday, was created as part of the wide-ranging overhaul of the nation's spy community, spurred by what critics called the government's failure to collect, understand and share critical information before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Besides naming a new director for the center, Bush also was being asked to clear up a possible kink in the chain of command. The director of the center reports to the president on non-intelligence joint counterterrorism operations. But the center director is under National Intelligence Director John Negroponte on the spy community flow chart.

The president also is said to be close to naming members of an oversight board that is being created to make sure that the government's efforts to fight terror do not trample privacy and civil rights. Congress created the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board in December.

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Bush nominates CIA veteran to key terrorism post
Thu Jun 9, 6:38 PM ET

WASHINGTON - President Bush on Thursday nominated CIA and FBI veteran Henry Crumpton as the State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism policy.

Crumpton, if confirmed by the Senate, will replace Cofer Black, who quit the job last year after an uproar over a botched report that had been used to argue that Bush was winning the war on terrorism.

The administration was forced to revise the report, which underestimated the number of people who had died from international terrorism.

Crumpton currently serves as head of the CIA's national resources division. Before that, he ran the CIA's counterterrorism center and was deputy chief of the FBI's international terrorism operations section.

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Poll: Bush Job Approval Dips to New Low
Associated Press
June 10, 2005

WASHINGTON - As the war in Iraq drags on, President Bush's job approval and the public's confidence in the direction he's taking the nation are at their lowest levels since The Associated Press-Ipsos poll began in December 2003.

About one-third of adults, 35 percent, said they think the country is headed in the right direction, while 43 percent said they approve of the job being done by Bush. Just 41 percent say they support his handling of the war, also a low-water mark.

"There's a bad mood in the country, people are out of sorts," said presidential scholar and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Charles Jones, who lives near Charlottesville, Va. "Iraq news is daily bad news. The election in Iraq helped some, and the formation of the government helped some, but dead bodies trump the more positive news."

California retiree Carol Harvie was quick to mention Iraq when asked about how Bush was doing his job.

"I don't think he's read his history enough about different countries and foreign affairs," said Harvie, a political independent who lives near San Diego, a region with several military bases. "Anything they try to do in Iraq has spelled trouble. I think he bit off more than he can chew."

Car bombings and attacks by insurgents killed 80 U.S. troops and more than 700 Iraqis last month and Pentagon officials acknowledge the level of violence is about the same as a year ago, when they were forced to scrap a plan to substantially reduce the U.S. troop presence in Iraq.

Bush administration officials say the key to getting U.S. forces out of Iraq is training Iraqis to provide their own security.

While Bush has gotten generally low scores for his handling of domestic issues for many months, most Americans have been supportive of his foreign policy. Not any more.

The poll conducted for AP by Ipsos found 45 percent support Bush's foreign policy, down from 52 percent in March.

Bush's popularity reached its zenith shortly after the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, when various polls found nearly 90 percent approved of the job he was doing. It was close to 80 percent when Ipsos started tracking attitudes about Bush at the start of 2002, and was just over 50 percent when the AP-Ipsos poll was started in December 2003.

But since winning re-election last November, Bush has seen his poll numbers sag.

Bush, who faces no more elections, has responded to past dips in the polls by saying, "You can find them going up and you can find them going down."

David Fultz, a Republican from Venice, Fla., is among those who are sticking with the president.

"In terms of where we're going in the future, President Bush is laying out a plan," said Fultz, an assistant principal at a middle school. "When it's all said and done, we'll be where we want to be. We need to help establish democracy in the Middle East."

Support for Bush's handling of domestic issues remained in the high 30s and low 40s in the latest AP-Ipsos poll.

Thirty-seven percent support Bush's handling of Social Security, while 59 percent disapprove. Those numbers haven't budged after more than four months of the president traveling the country to sell his plan to create private accounts in Social Security.

Support for his handling of the economy was at 43 percent.

Congress gets even lower grades than Bush, a potentially troubling development for those seeking re-election next year.

Only about three in 10 polled said they approve of the job being done by Congress, while 64 percent disapprove.

"Presidents who are low in the polls have a hard time getting Congress to go along with them," said Charles Franklin, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "He has to persuade the people in Congress to follow his legislative agenda and they're all worried about 2006."

The AP-Ipsos poll of 1,001 adults was taken June 6-8 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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Malcom Lagauche
Friday/Saturday, June 10-11, 2005

We have been reading a lot lately about the desecration of a Quran at Guantanamo prison camp in Cuba. The U.S. administration feigns shock at such an incident and says it will never happen again. Then, it says it never happened. A hot debate is raging about the incident.

How blind can people be? This debate is nothing more than a smokescreen to divert attention from the thousands of Iraqi and Afghan prisoners who are being tortured daily. And, the thousands of Iraqi civilians whose houses are being ransacked by both U.S. and Iraqi forces.

When the Abu Ghraib torture became public, many people were aghast. But, that subject quickly left the headlines of U.S. newspapers.

Let me refresh your memory of torture at Abu Ghraib; torture that is so despicable that it sounds incredulous to even those who are warmongers. The following are transcripts of Iraqi prisoners who were released by the U.S. Keep in mind that the majority were innocent civilians who were dragged from their homes by U.S. troops. This atrocity is ongoing, yet it is silent in the halls of the U.S. Congress and the White House. They are quite lengthy, but if you read only a few, you will get the gist.


"I always knew the Americans would bring electricity back to Baghdad.

I just never thought they'd be shooting it up my ass."

—Young Iraqi translator, Baghdad, November 2003

The following are statements from only a small number of Iraqi prisoners who were mistreated by U.S. forces at Abu Ghraib Prison. Once the totality of the torture became known, it became evident that incidents such as those below were widespread and common.


The following were taken at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq by prisoner interview/interrogation teams from the 10th Military Police Batallion, 3rd Military Police Unit. The translators, assigned to the team, were Mr. Johnson ISHO and Abdelilah Alazadi of the Titan Corporation, a civilian contractor.

TRANSLATION OF STATEMENT PROVIDED BY Abdou Hussain Saad FLAEH, Detainee # 18470, 1610/16 JAN 04:

"On the third day after five o'clock, Mr. Grainer came and took me to Room #37, which is the shower room, and he started punishing me. The he brought a box of food and he made me stand on it with no clothing, except a blanket. Then a tall black soldier came and put electrical wires on my fingers and toes and on my penis, and I had a bag over my head. Then he was saying, 'which switch is on for electricity?' And he came with a loudspeaker and he was shouting near my ear and then he brought the camera and he took some pictures of me, which I knew because of the flash of the camera. And he took the hood off and he was describing some poses he wanted me to do, and that I was tired and I fell down. And then Mr. Grainer came and made me stand up on the stairs and made me carry a box of food. I was so tired and I dropped it. He started screaming at me in English. He made me lift a white chair high in the air. Then the chair came down and then Mr. Joyner took the hood off my head and took me to my room. And I slept after that for about an hour and then I woke up at the headcount time. I couldn't go to sleep after that because I was very scared."


"On the date of November 5, 2003, when the U.S. forces transferred to Isolation, when they took me out of the car, an American soldier hit me with his hand on my face. And then they stripped me naked and they took me under the water and then he made me crawl the hallway until I was bleeding from my chest to my knees and my hands. And after that he put me back into the cell and an hour later he took me out from the cellthe second time to the shower room under cold water and then he made me get up on a box, naked, and he hit me on my manhood. I don't know with what, then I fell down on the ground. He made me crawl on the ground. And then he tied my hands in my cell naked until morning time until Joyner showed up and released my hands and took me back to my room and gave me my clothes back. About two days later my interrogation came up, when it was done a white soldier wearing glasses picked me from the room I was in. He grabbed my head and hit it against the wall and then tied my hand to the bed until noon the next day and then two days later the same soldier and he took all my clothes and my mattress and he didn't give me anything so I can sleep on except my jump suit for 3 days. Then Joyner came and gave me a blanket and my clothes for a second time."

TRANSLATION OF STATEMENT PROVIDED BY Mohamed JUMA, Detainee # 152307, 1200/18 JAN 04:

"I am going to start from the first day I went into A1. They stripped me from my clothes and all the stuff that they gave me and I spent 6 days in that situation. And then they gave me a blanket only. 3 days after that, they gave me a mattress, and after a short period of time, approximately at 2 at night, the door opened and Grainer was there. He cuffed my hands behind my back and he cuffed my feet and he took me to the shower room. When they finished interrogating me, the female interrogator left. And then Grainer and another man, who looked like Grainer but doesn't have glasses, and has a thin moustache, and he was young and tall, came into the room. They threw pepper on my face and the beating started. This went on for a half hour. And then he started beating me with the chair until the chair was broken. After that they started choking me. At that time I thought I was going to die, but it's a miracle I lived. And then they started beating me again. They concentrated on beating me in my heart until they got tired from beating me. They took a little break and then they started kicking me very hard with their feet until I passed out.

"In the second scene at the night shift, I saw a new guard that wears glasses and has a red face. He charged his pistol and pointed it at a lot of the prisoners to threaten them with it. I saw things no one would see, they were amazing. They come in the morning shift with two prisoners and they were father and son. They were both naked. They put them in front of each other and they counted 1, 2, 3, and then removed the bags from their heads.

When the son saw his father naked he was crying. He was crying because of seeing his father. And then at night, Grainer used to throw the food into the toilet an said, 'go take it and eat it.' And I saw also in Room #5 they brought the dogs. Grainer brought the dogs and they bit him in the right and left leg. He was from Iran and they started beating him up in the main hallway in the prison."

TRANSLATION OF SWORN STATEMENT PROVIDED BY ----------, Detainee # ------, 1430/21 JAN 04:

"I am the person named above. I entered Abu Gharib prison on 10 Jul 2003, that was after they brought me from Baghdad area. They put me in the tent area and then they brought me to Hard Site. The first day they put me in a dark room and started hitting me in the head and stomach and legs.

"They made me raise my hands and sit on my knees. I was like that for four hours. Then the Interrogator came and he was looking at me while they were beating me. Then I stayed in the room for 5 days, naked with no clothes. They then took me to another cell on the upper floor. On 15 Oct 2003 they replaced the Army with the Iraqi Police and after that time they started punishing me in all sorts of ways. And the first punishment was bringing me to Room #1, and they put handcuffs on my hand and they cuffed me high for 7 or 8 hours. And that caused a rupture to my right hand and I had a cut that was bleeding and had pus coming from it. They kept me this way on 24, 25 and 26 October. And in the following days, they also put a bag over my head, and of course, this whole time I was without clothes and without anything to sleep on. And one day in November, they started different type of punishment, where an American Police came in my room and put the bag over my head and cuffed my hands and he took me out of the room into the hallway. He started beating me, him, and 5 other American Police. I could see their feet only, from under the bag. A couple of those police they were female because I heard their voices and I saw two of the police that were hitting me before they put the bag over my head. One of them was wearing glasses. I couldn't read his name because he put tape over his name. Some of the things they did was make me sit down like a dog, and they would hold the string from the bag and they made me bark like a dog and they were laughing at me. And that policeman was a tan color, because he hit my head to the wall. When he did that, the bag came off my head and one of the police was telling me to crawl in Arabic, so I crawled on my stomach and the police were spitting on me when I was crawling and hitting me on my back, my head and my feet. It kept going on until their shift ended at 4 o'clock in the morning. The same thing would happen in the following days.

"And I remember also one of the police hit me on my ear, before the usual beating, cuffing, bagging, dog position and crawling until 6 people gathered. And one of them was an Iraqi translator named Shaheen, he is a tan color, he has a moustache. Then the police started beating me on my kidneys and then they hit me on my right ear and it started bleeding and I lost consciousness. Then the Iraqi translator picked me up and told me, 'You are going to sleep.' Then when I went into the room, I woke up again. I was unconscious for about two minutes. The policeman dragged me into the room where he washed my ear and called the doctor. The Iraqi doctor came and told me he couldn't take me to the clinic, so he fixed me in the hallway. When I woke up, I saw 6 of the American police.

"A few days before they hit me on my ear, the American police, the guy who wears glasses, he put red woman's underwear over my head. And then he tied me to the window that is in the cell with my hands behind my back until I lost consciousness. And also when I was in Room #1 they told me to lay down on my stomach and they were jumping from the bed onto my back and my legs. And the other two were spitting on me and calling me names, and they held my hands and legs. After the guy with the glasses go tired, two of the American soldiers brought me to the ground and tied my hands to the door while laying down on my stomach. One of the police was pissing on me and laughing on me. He then released my hands and I went and washed, and then the solider came back into the room, and the soldier and his friend told me in a loud voice to lie down, so I did that. And then the policeman was opening my legs, with a bag over my head, and he sat down between my legs on his knees and I was looking at him from under the bag and they wanted to do me because I saw him and he was opening his pants, so I started screaming loudly and the other police started hitting me with his feet on my neck and he put his feet on my head so I couldn't scream. Then they left and the guy with the glasses comes back with another person and he took me out of the room and they put me inside the dark room again and they started beating me with the broom that was there. And then they put the loudspeaker inside the room and they closed the door and he was yelling in the microphone. Then they broke the glowing finger and spread it on me until I was glowing and they were laughing. They took me to the room and they signaled me to get on the floor. And one of the police he put a part of his stick that he always carries inside my ass and I felt it going inside me about 2 centimeters, approximately. And I started screaming, and he pulled it out and he washed it with water inside the room. And the two American girls that were there when they were beating me, they were hitting me with a ball made of sponge on my dick. And when I was tied up in my room, one of the girls, with blonde hair, she is white, she was playing with my dick. I saw inside this facility a lot of punishment just like what they did to me and more. And they were taking pictures of me during all these instances."


"I am Ameen Sa'eed AL-SHEIKH. I was arrested on the 7 Oct 2003. They brought me over to Abu Ghraib Prison, the put me in a tent for one night. During this night the guards every one or two hours and threaten me with torture and punishment. The second day they transferred me to the hard site. Before I got in, a soldier put a sand bag over my head. I didn't see anything after that. They took me inside the building and started to scream at me. They stripped me naked, they asked me, 'Do you pray to Allah?' I said, 'Yes.' They said, 'Fuck you' and 'Fuck him.' One of them said, 'You are not getting out of here health, you are getting out of here handicap.' And he said to me, 'Are you married?' I said, 'Yes.' They said, 'If your wife saw you like this, she will be disappointed.' One of them said, 'But if I saw her now, she would not be disappointed now because I would rape her.' Then one of them took me to the showers, removed the sand bag, and I saw him, a black man, he told me to take a shower and he said he would come inside and rape me and I was very scared. Then they put the sand bag over my head and took me to cell #5. And for the next five days I didn't sleep because they use to come to my cell, asking me to stand up for hours and hours. And they slammed the outer door, which made a loud scary noise inside the cell. And this black soldier took me once more to the showers, stood there staring at my body. And he threaten he was going to rape me again. After that, they started to interrogate me. I lied to them so they threaten me with hard punishment. Then other interrogators came over and told me, 'If you tell the truth, we will let you go as soon as possible before Ramadan,' so I confessed and said the truth. Four days after that, they took me to the camp and I didn't see those interrogators any more. New interrogators came and re-interrogated me. After I told them the truth they accused me of being lying to them. After 18 days in the camp, they sent me to the hard site. I asked the interrogators why? They said they did not know. Two days before Ied (end of Ramadan), an interrogator came to me with a woman and an interpreter. He said I'm one step away from being in prison forever. He started the interrogation with this statement and ended it with this statement. The first day of Ied, the incident of 'Firing' happened. I got shot with several bullets in my body and got transferred to the hospital. And there the interrogator 'Steve' came to me and threaten me with the hardest torture when I go back to the prison. I said to him, 'I'm sorry about what happened.' He said to me, 'Don't be sorry now, because you will be sorry later.' After several days, he came back and said to me, 'If I put you under torture, do you think this would be fair?' I said to him, 'Why?' He said he needed more information from me. I told him, 'I already told you everything I know.' He said, 'We'll see when you get back to the prison.' After 17 or 18 days, I was released from the hospital, went back to Abu Ghraib, he took me somewhere and the guard put a pistol to my head. He said, 'I wish I can kill you right now.' I spend the night at this place and next morning they took me to the hard site. They received me there with screaming, shoving, pushing and pulling. They forced me to walk from the main gate to my cell. Otherwise they would beat my broken leg. I was in a very bad shape. When I went to the cell, they took my crutches and I didn't see it since. Inside the cell, they asked me to strip naked; they didn't give me blanket or clothes or anything. Every hour or two, soldiers came, threatening me they were going to kill me and torture me and I'm going to be in prison forever and they might transfer me to Guantanamo Bay. One of them came and told me that he failed to shoot me the first time, but he will make sure he will succeed next time. And he said to me they were going to throw a pistol or a knife in my cell, then shoot me. Sometime they said, 'We'll make you wish to die and it will not happen.' The night guard came over, his name is GRANER, open the cell door, came in with a number of soldiers. They forced me to eat pork and they put liquor in my mouth. They put this substance on my nose and forehead and it was very hot. The guards started to hit me on my broken leg several times with a solid plastic stick. He told me he got shot in his leg and he showed me the scar and he would retaliate from me for this. They stripped me naked. One of them told me he would rape me. He drew a picture of a woman on my back and makes me stand in shameful position holding my buttocks. Someone else asked me, 'Do you believe in anything?' I said to him, 'I believe in Allah.' So he said, 'But I believe in torture and I will torture you. When I go home to my country, I will ask whoever comes after me to torture you.' Then they handcuffed me and hung me to the bed. They ordered me to curse Islam because they started to hit my broken leg, I cursed my religion. They ordered me to thank Jesus that I'm alive. And I did what they ordered me. This is against my belief. They left me hang from the bed and after a little while I lost consciousness. When I woke up, I found myself still hang between the bed and the floor. Until now, I lost feeling in three fingers in my right hand. I sat on the bed, one of the stood by the door and pee'd on me. And he said, 'GRANER, your prisoner pee'd on himself.' And then GRANER came and laughed. After several hours, GRANER came and uncuffed me, then I slept. In the morning until now, people I don't know come over and humiliate me and threaten that they will torture me. The second night, GRANER came and hung me to the cell door. I told him, 'I have a broken shoulder and I am afraid it will break again cause the doctor told me, "don't put your arms behind your back." He said, 'I don't care.' Then he hung me to the door for more than eight hours. I was screaming from pain the whole night. GRANER and others used to come and ask me, 'Does it hurt?' I said, 'Yes.' They said, 'Good.' And they smack me on the back of the head. After that, a soldier came and uncuffed me. My right shoulder and my wrist was in bad shape and great pain. (When I was hung to the door, I lost consciousness several times.) Then I slept. In the morning I told the doctor that I think my shoulder is broken because I can't move my hand. I feel severe pain. He checked my shoulder and told me, 'I will bring another doctor to see you tomorrow.' The next day, the other doctor checked my shoulder and said to me he's taking me to the hospital the next day for X-rays. And the next day he took me to the hospital and X-rayed my shoulder and the doctor told me, 'Your shoulder is not broke, but your shoulder is badly hurt.' Then they took me back to the hard site. Every time I leave and come back. I have to crawl back to my cell because I can't walk. The next day, other soldiers came at night and took photos of me while I'm naked. They humiliated me and threaten me. After the interrogators came over and identify the person who gave me the pistols between some pictures. And this guy wasn't in the pictures. When I told them that, they said they will torture me and they will come every single night to ask me the same question accompanied with soldiers having weapons and they point a weapon to my head and threaten that they will kill me; sometimes with dogs and they hang me to the door allowing the dogs to bite me. This happened for a full week or more."

TRANSLATION OF STATEMENT PROVIDED BY Kasim Mehaddi HILAS, Detainee # 151108, 1300/18 JAN 04:

"In the name of God, I swear to God that everything I witnessed everything I am talking about. I am not saying this to gain any material thing, and I was not pressured to do this by any forces. First, I am going to talk about what happened to me in Abu Ghraib Jail. I will not talk about what happened when I was in jail before, because they did not ask me about that, but it was very bad.

"They stripped me of all my clothes, even my underwear. They gave me woman's underwear, that was rose color with flowers in it and they put a bag over my face. One of them whispered in my ear, 'Today I am going to fuck you,' and he said this in Arabic. Whoever was with me experienced the same thing. That's what the American soldiers did, and they had a translator with them, named Abu Hamid and a female soldier, who's skin was olive colored and this was on October 3 or 4, 2003 around 3 or 4 in the afternoon. When they took me to the cell, the translator Abu Hamid came with an American soldier and his rank was sergeant (I believe). And he called me 'faggot' because I was wearing the woman's underwear, and my answer was 'no.' Then he told me 'Why are you wearing this underwear?' Then I told them 'because you make me wear it.' The transfer from Camp B to the Isolation was full of beatings, but the bags were over our heads so we couldn't see their faces. And they forced me to wear this underwear all the time, for 51 days. And most of the days I was wearing nothing else.

"I faced more harsh punishment from Grainer. He cuffed my hands with irons behind my back to the metal of the window, to the point my feet were off the ground and I was hanging there for about 5 hours just because I asked about the time, because I wanted to pray. And then they took all my clothes and he took the female underwear and he put it over my head. After he released me from the window, he tied me to my bed until before dawn. He took me to the shower room. After he took me to the shower room, he brought me to my room again. He prohibited me from eating food that night even though I was fasting that day. Grainer and the other two soldiers were taking pictures of every thing they did to me. I don't know if they took a picture of me because they beat me so bad I lost consciousness after an hour or so.

"They didn't give us food for a whole day and a night, while we were fasting for Ramadan. And the food was only one package of emergency food.

"Now I am talking about what I saw.

"They brought three prisoners completely naked and they tied them together with cuffs and they stuck one to another. I saw the American soldiers hitting them with a football and they were taking pictures. I saw Grainer punching one of the prisoners right in his face vary hard when he refused to take off his underwear and I heard them begging for help. And also the American soldiers told to do like homosexuals (fucking). And there was one of the American soldiers they called Sergeant (black skin) three was 7 to 8 soldiers there also. Also female soldiers were taking pictures and that was in the first day of Ramadan. And they repeated the same thing the second day of Ramadan. And they were ordering them to crawl while they were cuffed together naked.

"I saw (name blocked out) fucking a kid, his age would be about 15-18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard the screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn't covered and I saw (name blocked out), who was wearing the military uniform putting his dick in the little kid's ass. I couldn't see the face of the kid because his face wasn't in front of the door. And the female soldier was taking pictures. (Name blocked out), I think he is (blocked out) because of his accent, and he was not skinny or short, and he acted like a homosexual. And that was in cell #23 as best as I remember.

"In the cell that is almost under it, on the North side, and I was right across from it on the other side. They put the sheets together again on the doors. Grainer and his helper they cuffed one prisoner in Room #1, named (name blocked out), he was Iraqi citizen. They tied him to the bed and they were inserted the phosphoric light in his ass and he was yelling for God's help. (Name blocked out) used to get hit and punished a lot because I heard him screaming and they prohibited us from standing near the door when they do that. That was Ramadan, around 12 midnight approximately when I saw them putting the stick in his ass. The female was taking pictures.

"I saw more than once men standing on a water bucket that was upside down and they were totally naked. And carrying their chairs over their heads standing under the fan of the hallway behind the wooden partition and also in the shower.

"Not one night for all the time I was there passed without me seeing, hearing or feeling what was happening to me.

"And I am repeating the oath / I swear on Allah almighty on the truth of what I said. Allah is my witness."

TRANSLATION OF STATEMENT PROVIDED BY Mustafa Jassim MUSTAFA, Detainee # 150542, 1140/18 JAN 04:

"Before Ramadan, Grainer started covering all the rooms with bed sheets. Then I heard screams coming from Room #1, at that time I was in Room #50 and it's right below me so I looked into the room. I saw (name blocked) in Room #1, who was naked and Grainer was putting the phosphoric light up his ass. (Name blocked) was screaming for help. There was another tall white man who was with Grainer, he was helping him. There was also a white female soldier, short, she was taking pictures of (name blocked). (Name blocked) is now in cell #50."

TRANSLATION OF STATEMENT PROVIDED BY Thaar Salman DAWOD, Detainee # 150427, 1440/17 JAN 04:

"I went to the Solitary Confinement on the Sep/10/2003. I was there for 67 days of suffering and little to eat and the torture I saw myself. When I asked the guard Joyner about the time and he cuffed my hand to the door and then when his duty ended the second guard came, his name is Grainer, he released my hand from the door and he cuffed my hand in the back. Then I told him I did not do anything to get punished this way so when I said that he hit me hard on my chest and he cuffed me to the window of the room about 5 hours and did not give me any food that day and I stayed without food for 24 hours. I saw lots of people getting naked for a few days getting punished in the first days of Ramadan. They came with two boys naked and they were cuffed together face to face and Grainer was beating them and a group of guards were watching and taking pictures from top and bottom and there was three female soldiers laughing at the prisoners. The prisoners, two of them, were young. I don't know their names."

TRANSLATION OF STATEMENT PROVIDED BY Abd Alwhab YOUSS, Detainee # 150425, 1445/17 JAN 04:

"One day while in the prison the guard came and found a broken toothbrush, and teyh said that I was going to attack the American Police; I said that the toothbrush wasn't mine. They said we are taking away your clothes and mattress for 6 days and we are not going to beat you. But the next day the guard came and cuffed me to the cell door for 2 hours, after that they took me to a closed room and more than give guards poured cold water on me, and forced me to put my head in someone's urine that was already in that room. After that they beat me with a broom and stepped on my head with their feet while it was still in the urine. They pressed my ass with a broom and spit on it. Also a female soldier, whom I don't know the name was standing on my legs. They used a loudspeaker to shout at me for 3 hours, it was cold. But to tell the truth in daytime Joiner gave me my clothes and at night Grainer took them away. The truth is they gave me my clothes after 3 days, they didn't finish the 6 days and thank you."

TRANSLATION OF STATEMENT PROVIDED BY Shalan Said ALSHARONI, Detainee # 150422, 1630/17 JAN 04:

"One of those days the guards tortured the prisoners. Those guards are Grainer, David and another man. First they tortured the man whose name is Amjid Iraqi. They stripped him of his clothes and beat him until he passed out and they cursed him and when they took off of his head I saw blood running from his head. They took him to solitary confinement and they were beating him every night.

"The evening shift was sad for the prisoners. They brought three prisoners handcuffed to each other and they pushed the first one on top of the others to look like they are gay and when they refused, Grainer beat them up until they put them on top of each other and they took pictures of them. And after that they beat up an Iraqi whose name is Asaad whom they ordered to stand on a food carton and they were pouring water on him and it was the coldest of times. When they torture him they took gloves and they beat his dick and testicles with the gloves and they handcuffed him to the cell door for half a day without food or water. After that they brought young Iraqi prisoners and Grainer tortured them by pouring water on them from the second floor until one of them started crying and screaming and started saying 'my heart.' They brought the doctors to treat him and they thought he was going to die. After they brought six people and they beat them up until they dropped on the floor and one of them his nose was cut and the blood was running from his nose and he was screaming but no one was responding and all this beating from Grainer and Davis and another man, whom I don't know the name. The doctor came to stitch the nose and the Grainer asked the doctor to learn how to stitch and it's true, the guard learned how to stitch. He took the string and the needle and he sat down to finish the stitching until the operation succeeded. And then the other man came to take pictures of the injured person who was laying on the ground. Every time one of them fell on the ground, they drag them up to stand on his feet. Grainer beat up a man whose name is Ali the Syrian and he was beating him until he gotten almost crazy. And he was telling him go up to the second floor as he was naked. And they opened the prisoners cells to see him running naked. And after they put him in his cell for four days they were pouring water on him and he couldn't sleep. Before that he was in cell number 4. They hanged him and he was screaming but no one helped him.

"There was a translator named Abu Adell the Egyptian. He was helping Grainer and Davis and others whom I don't know, like they were watching a live movie of three young guys being put up by Abu Adell on top of each other. And everyone was taking pictures of this whole thing with cameras. This is what I saw and what I remember to be true."

Comment: The most heartless thing of all about this is that the American soldiers that were (and still are) carrying out this abuse have no grievance whatsoever with their Iraqi prisoners. Indeed, there is no reason for any Iraqi to be US prisoner at all! Lest we forget, Iraq posed no threat at all to the US, played no part in the 9/11 attacks and up until 15 years ago was an ally of the US. Yet despite this, 2 years ago, the US military, under the orders of the Bush regime, illegally invaded Iraq on a "pack of lies" and proceeded to indiscriminately round up and torture Iraqi men women and children for no reason at all. Where's the sense? Where's the justice? Where IS that "freedom and democracy"? Is it all a lie? An illusion?

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The War to Deceive America Into War -- And the War to Cover Up the Deception

Before America went to war with Afghanistan, another war was underway -- against its own people: the war to deceive America into attacking Iraq. This is no longer a theory or conjecture; it is a documented fact.

Those in the Mainstream Media, including the New York Times and Washington Post, who choose to ignore this reality, or couch it in qualifying terms (such as "unproven assertions") are no longer trying to debunk a conspiracy, because the deliberate deception that forced America into war with Iraq is not a conspiracy theory.

In fact, the evidence is so abundant and damning, it is those who deny the reality that the Bush Administration intentionally deceived America into a ruinous war based on calculated lies who are part of an untenable conspiracy theory. Yes, the Mainstream Media is right up there with the Raelists (if you recall them, they were a cult the media covered for days because the press believed their unfounded claims that they had cloned a human) when it comes to believability. Their job appears to be to create a conspiracy of credibility around Bush going to war, where none can exist to a person of common sense or integrity.

Consider just some of the following established facts regarding the Bush administration's orchestrated propaganda campaign to deceive America into War:

1) A 2002 (Downing Street) memo is released in Britain in May of 2005 that documents that Blair thought that he had no choice but to go to war because the Bush administration said that it was "going to fix" intelligence to start one.

2) In early June of 2005, a British paper reveals that the U.S. and U.K. flew sorties over Iraq in 2002 to provoke Saddam Hussein and destroy his anti-aircraft infrastructure in preparation for the war. Congressman John Conyers calls this the smoking bullet in the smoking gun.

3) All the Bushevik warnings of WMDs are proven false -- all of them. Not a single WMD was found.

4) Dick Cheney lurked around the CIA prior to the Iraq War putting pressure on analysts to "fix" the data.

5) The analysts who came up with the false allegations that "aluminum tubes" were being used for nuclear enrichment story were promoted by the Bush Administration and given bonuses.

6) Richard Clarke says that Bush personally took him aside and told him to make the facts work for a war with Iraq.

7) Former Secretary of the Treasury O'Neill wrote in his memoirs that Bush was out to get Iraq from the moment he was sworn in.

8) The PNAC (Project for the New American Century) plea to invade Iraq was written in the late 90s, primarily by Bush Neo-cons who guided us into the war.

9) The Bush Administration outed Valerie Plame as a CIA operative specializing in -- ironically and tragically -- tracking the illicit sale and movement of Weapons of Mass Destruction because her courageous husband, Joe Wilson, exposed the Niger documents as a fraud. Thus, the Bush Administration put the national security at risk regarding WMDs to seek vengeance on someone for exposing their phony war based on a lie about WMDs.

10) This past weekend, it was revealed that John Bolton had a U.N. official fired for trying to seek a peaceful way out of the Iraq War, in regards to Iraq's compliance with chemical weapons accords.

11) After 9/11, Rumsfeld is quoted as saying that the U.S. would take Saddam and all of "them" out.

12) Advanced forces were sent into Iraq before the war had even started.

13) Rumsfeld set up a Pentagon psy-ops operation to create PR for going to war with Iraq. (He claimed to have closed it down, but he never did.)

14) The Chalabi-Judith Miller-Cheney axis of information was used to claim that created "factoids" were truths, when they were just propaganda. (The New York Times "apologized" for this, but made no changes in its coverage, including keeping Miller on and standing up for her, even though she published lies from a proxy Bush Administration anonymous source.)

15) The Bush Administration, according to various polls, conducted a successful misinformation campaign to make Americans believe that Saddam Hussein was partly responsible for 9/11 and that the hijackers were Iraqi.

We could go on and on, but it gets tiring after awhile. It's like recalling how many times a lover has betrayed you. What's the point? You've proved your case; the rest is just a masochistic exercise of listing. (And we're sure that some wingers will write to us saying we didn't get one or other of the points EXACTLY correct, as if it mattered whether the bullet that killed someone hit their right or left heart ventricle in order to prove who the murderer is.)

The odds that the Bush Administration didn't lie to the American people for more than a year about the coming war with Iraq are between 0 and -25, but the MSM [mainstream media] technicality of the past two weeks has been caught up on covering the fine distinction between flushing vs. urinating on the Koran.

The purpose of the MSM, including the NYT and Washington Post, is to portray Bush in a way so as not to offend the White House. The truth doesn't factor into it, unless it accidentally is consistent with a Bushevik position. (Stories about Bushevik bad behavior are either buried in the papers or forgotten the next day, for the most part.)

There will be no process to bring this mendacious, fanatical administration to justice. The facts are there, but there is no way to impeach and convict the felons responsible. As the defenders of Nixon showed us this past week, felonies are okay for Republicans to commit. The people who expose the crimes are the traitors to these twisted GOP zealots.

And if the Busheviks were impeached and convicted (which won't happen because of a one-party Pinochet style of government), Bush's back up team on the federal bench would intervene and throw out the convictions or rule the impeachment process unConstitutional.

That's what happens when a creeping dictatorship comes to power -- and the Mainstream Media supports the liars because the liars give them tax breaks for their multi-billion dollar media and entertainment empires and allow them to expand their holdings. Not to mention the coup de grace of scaring off any journalist with integrity by staging intimidating stunts like "Rathergate" and "Koran Flushgate."

Truth is the first casualty of corporate media consolidation in alliance with an arrogant administration that has betrayed the nation. They are the conspiracy theorists who come up with fabulist explanations for avoiding the truth.

One doesn't have to even connect the dots. They have been connected for us. They even glow in the dark.

The Bush Administration lied America into war -- and the press of America not only won't acknowledge it, it still acts as if they can trust the White House.

So, America is betrayed twice: by the chronically lying Bush Administration and by the Mainstream Media and the right wing radio echo chamber for the GOP propaganda message points of the day.
An honest journalist writing the truth about the Bush Administration's betrayal of America knows this: they will only have a target painted on their backs for their efforts.

On the other hand, sing the propaganda of the Bushevik Brown Shirts and your career will not only be safe; it will probably flourish.

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Tortured Logic

Bush's Propaganda Rubicon
By Ted Rall

SACRAMENTO--Pushing the limits of rhetorical credulity has proved one of the Bush Administration's most effective tactics. At a time when leftist postmodernists argue against objective truth and rightist anti-intellectuals promote proven lies as absolute truths, reality has become marginalized by legitimized frauds.

In this twisted post-objective world, White House spinners see every screw-up as a golden opportunity. Not only did he not lose the election, Bush and his media organs drone on, he won a mandate! If WMDs weren't found in Iraq, it just proves that they were moved to Syria--not that the war was based on lies. The former detainees who claim they were tortured at Gitmo? They "hate America," says Bush. Besides, they had been "trained in some instances to disassemble [sic]--that means not tell the truth." Why did the military release anti-American terrorists? They don't have an answer to that. Ye.

Purveyors of propaganda, like pushers of narcotics, seal their doom when they start partaking of their own product. The first signs that the Bushies were breaking this cardinal rule appeared earlier this year after demonstrations led Syria to withdraw troops from Lebanon. Kindly ignore the bombs blowing up scores of Iraqis and American occupation troops, the neoconmen demanded, even arguing that coverage of the carnage plays into the hands of the Iraqis--er, terrorists. Events in Lebanon, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan, they declared, vindicated Bush, preemptive attacks, the war on terrorism--everything. "Well, who's the simpleton now?" crowed conservative columnist Max Boot in the Los Angeles Times as if war were a game. Which it is when you wage it for fun, safely ensconced behind a computer keyboard thousands of miles away from the front lines.

In college I had a pothead pal who liked to score in spectacularly dangerous neighborhoods. "They won't mug me," he'd say, "because they know I'm cool." His rationale mutated after he got beaten and robbed: "They're done with me now; next time they'll go after someone else." He thus talked himself into going back, and got mugged again.

Propaganda, like any other drug, dulls the mind and destroys common sense.

Politicians live or die on their sense of what the average voter cares about and suss out their take on any given issue. Republican leaders put a thumb right on the national pulse after 9/11: Americans were willing to do just about anything in the name of fighting terrorism, including going to war against two countries that had little to nothing to do with the attacks. Working up the gay-bashing anti-abortion bigots proved equally potent in 2004. But victory wasn't the blank check for which they'd hoped. They lost touch. They believed their own hype. They overreached.

People don't want Social Security to be privatized. Nor will they accept, despite Rumsfeld's oughta-be-classic channeling of Rudyard Kipling "it's dangerous to civilize nations," an endless occupation of Iraq. Failing an increasingly elusive military victory against the Iraqi resistance, the American public is looking for any excuse to cut and run. Revelations of systemic torture of innocent civilian detainees by American troops at Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram provide a perfect reason for immediate withdrawal. There are neither WMDs to find nor hearts and minds to win, so why the hell are we there?

It's American common sense at its finest, but Bush is too self-benumbed to see it.

The Pentagon released a report finding that, despite "a consistent, documented policy of respectful handling of the Koran dating back almost two and a half years," military investigators had confirmed five cases of desecration of Islam's holy text by American soldiers. But when Bush and his dogs took to the airwaves to bark "Only five! Only five!," even owners of multiple patriotic car magnets shrugged. An Amnesty International report that called Gitmo the "gulag of our time" and declared the United States the world's most influential torture state stuck. Even Fox News asked whether the GOP would suffer in the 2006 midterm elections as a result.

Standard Bush tactics of blaming the murder and torture of Muslim prisoners on "a few bad apples" like Lynndie England are falling flat. Even people who voted for Bush and supported his wars are changing their minds about torture. What's going wrong?

Where there's smoke there's fire, and most Americans know that if the Pentagon confirms five cases of trashing the Koran there are probably hundreds, possibly thousands more cases, unconfirmed by official channels but no less true. Ditto for the torture allegations. How often have you driven faster than the speed limit? What percent of the time did you receive a ticket? How many times have you fudged your taxes? Ever been audited? Now consider this: How often would you get caught if you had the federal government to cover up for you?

Americans know that torture is the norm and that Bush approves of it. The more they focus on what that says about America, and thus about them, the more their revulsion will grow. It will take more than the usual pooh-pooh propaganda to distract them from their growing disgust.

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US contractors probed over shooting
Thursday 09 June 2005, 11:13 Makka Time, 8:13 GMT

Sixteen private American security guards are under investigation for shooting at US marines and Iraqi civilians during a three-hour period west of Baghdad.

The US Marine Corps said in a statement on Thursday that 16 Americans and three Iraqi contractors were held for three days late last month after they fired on Iraqis and marines from their cars in Falluja.

No charges have yet been laid in the 28 May shootings.

There were no casualties and the circumstances surrounding the shootings remain unclear.

Many Iraqis resent high-profile security details, who speed along Iraqi highways in four-wheel drive vehicles bristling with automatic weapons.

But senior government officials, who are prime targets of fighters wreaking havoc across Iraq, use private security firms for their own protection.

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CIA dismisses claims of terrorist threat
June 9, 2005

WASHINGTON (CP) - The CIA dismissed renewed claims Thursday by a U.S. politician that an Iranian exile provided credible information about a terrorist plot to hijack a Canadian airliner and fly it into a nuclear reactor near Boston.

Republican Congressman Curt Weldon, who first went public with the hijacking scheme in December 2004, repeats the assertion in a new book, Countdown to Terror, which accuses the CIA and others of ignoring information passed to him from a man he code-names Ali.

U.S. intelligence agents have identified the man as a close associate of another Iranian, Manucher Ghorbanifar, branded as a fabricator by the CIA in the 1980s.

The CIA said Thursday that Ali's information has already been thoroughly assessed.

"We looked into his information, more than once," said agency spokeswoman Anya Guilsher.

Weldon's book reproduces faxes he's received since 2003 from the informant and calls for a "mass purge of the intelligence community."

Last December, Weldon said a source with high-level Iranian government contacts told him there was a plot in 2003 to fly a hijacked Canadian airliner into the Seabrook nuclear power plant near Boston.

At the time, U.S. nuclear regulatory officials said there was no credible threat against a specific power plant.

Weldon credited his source with disrupting the attack and pointed to the August 2003 arrest in Toronto of 19 men, most Pakistani, on suspicions of terrorism.

However, all security-related charges were dropped and the case was quickly downgraded to routine immigration fraud.

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Draft system prepared for unlikely call
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 06/09/05

When the Pentagon releases its May recruiting figures Friday, the numbers are expected to show a continuing decline in those signing up for the Army and Marine Corps.

If that downward trend continues, the specter of a military draft to fill the ranks with able bodies is likely to loom large in Washington once again.

But William Chatfield, the new head of the nation's Selective Service System, said he did not anticipate that happening any time soon.

"Congress, not the president, would have to approve it and I have seen nothing to indicate there is any support for it there," Chatfield said Wednesday during a visit to Atlanta.

The Army and the Marines, which are carrying the brunt of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and suffering the bulk of the casualties, have been struggling in recent months to meet recruiting goals.

A congressional resolution introduced last fall by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), a Korean War veteran, called for the draft — which was abolished in 1973 — to be reinstituted.

While that resolution was largely seen as a ploy to embarrass President Bush in an election year, Chatfield believes the 402-2 vote against it reflects the true congressional opposition to the issue.

Military officials also oppose a draft, saying the all-volunteer force is easier to train and maintain than a force of reluctant draftees.

Chatfield, a Marine Corps Reserve chief warrant officer, said it was nevertheless incumbent on the Selective Service to be prepared in the event Congress changes its mind.

"I like being ready to go, although not necessarily needing to use it," he said of the system.

Chatfield said modern technology would enable the Selective Service to conduct specialized drafts in the event that people with specific skills such as linguists, medical personnel or computer experts were in critical demand by the military.

But any future draft will be significantly different from the Vietnam-era draft, he said.

Among the new Selective Service guidelines if a draft is implemented:

• Few student deferments or exemptions would be allowed.

• Conscientious objector exemptions would be based on moral, ethical or religious beliefs, not solely on religious beliefs.

• Men would be most draft eligible in the year they turn 20, with 21- to 25-year-olds less likely to be called. In the previous draft, local boards often first drafted the oldest men who had not yet turned 26.

• Local draft and appeal boards would better reflect the racial, ethnic and cultural makeup of the communities in which they are based.

"One of our missions is to make sure that any future draft is fair and equitable," said Keith Scragg, a retired Air Force colonel who is director of the Selective Service's Southeast region.

Federal law requires all young men to register with the Selective Service within 30 days of turning 18. Failure to do so is a felony and those who do not register can be denied student and other federal loans.

Scragg said the national average for registration is 76 percent for 18-year-olds and 90 percent for those 19 to 25.

In Georgia, 95 percent of 18-year-olds register while 99.9 percent of those 18 to 25 register. One reason for the higher registration in Georgia, Scragg said, is the fact that Selective Service registration is linked to application for a driver's license or identification card.

By federal law, women are still not required to register.

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When Marine recruiters go way beyond the call
Wednesday, June 8, 2005

For mom Marcia Cobb and her teenage son Axel, the white letters USMC on their caller ID soon spelled, "Don't answer the phone!"

Marine recruiters began a relentless barrage of calls to Axel as soon as the mellow, compliant Sedro-Woolley High School grad had cut his 17th birthday cake. And soon it was nearly impossible to get the seekers of a few good men off the line.

With early and late calls ringing in their ears, Marcia tried using call blocking. And that's when she learned her first hard lesson. You can't block calls from the government, her server said. So, after pleas to "Please stop calling" went unanswered, the family's "do not answer" order ensued.

But warnings and liquid crystal lettering can fade. So, two weeks ago when Marcia was cooking dinner Axel goofed and answered the call. And, faster than you can say "semper fi," an odyssey kicked into action that illustrates just how desperate some of the recruiters we've read about really are to fill severely sagging quotas.

Let what we learned serve as a warning to other moms, dads and teens, the Cobbs now say. Even if your kids actually may want to join the military, if they hope to do it on their own terms, after a deep breath and due consideration, repeat these words after them: "No," "Not now" and "Back off!"

"I've been trained to be pretty friendly. I guess you might even say I'm kind of passive," Axel told me last week, just after his mother and older sister had tracked him to a Seattle testing center and sprung him on a ruse.

The next step of Axel's misadventure came when he heard about a cool "chin-ups" contest in Bellingham, where the prize was a free Xbox. The now 18-year-old Skagit Valley Community College student dragged his tail feathers home uncharacteristically late that night. And, in the morning, Marcia learned the Marines had hosted the event and "then had him out all night, drilling him to join."

A single mom with a meager income, Marcia raised her kids on the farm where, until recently, she grew salad greens for restaurants.
Axel's father, a Marine Corps vet who served in Vietnam, died when Axel was 4.

Clearly the recruiters knew all that and more.

"You don't want to be a burden to your mom," they told him. "Be a man." "Make your father proud." Never mind that, because of his own experience in the service, Marcia says enlistment for his son is the last thing Axel's dad would have wanted.

The next weekend, when Marcia went to Seattle for the Folklife Festival and Axel was home alone, two recruiters showed up at the door.

Axel repeated the family mantra, but he was feeling frazzled and worn down by then. The sergeant was friendly but, at the same time, aggressively insistent. This time, when Axel said, "Not interested," the sarge turned surly, snapping, "You're making a big (bleeping) mistake!"

Next thing Axel knew, the same sergeant and another recruiter showed up at the LaConner Brewing Co., the restaurant where Axel works. And before Axel, an older cousin and other co-workers knew or understood what was happening, Axel was whisked away in a car.

"They said we were going somewhere but I didn't know we were going all the way to Seattle," Axel said.

Just a few tests. And so many free opportunities, the recruiters told him.

He could pursue his love of chemistry. He could serve anywhere he chose and leave any time he wanted on an "apathy discharge" if he didn't like it. And he wouldn't have to go to Iraq if he didn't want to.

At about 3:30 in the morning, Alex was awakened in the motel and fed a little something. Twelve hours later, without further sleep or food, he had taken a battery of tests and signed a lot of papers he hadn't gotten a chance to read. "Just formalities," he was told. "Sign here. And here. Nothing to worry about."

By then Marcia had "freaked out."

She went to the Burlington recruiting center where the door was open but no one was home. So she grabbed all the cards and numbers she could find, including the address of the Seattle-area testing center.

Then, with her grown daughter in tow, she high-tailed it south, frantically phoning Axel whose cell phone had been confiscated "so he wouldn't be distracted during tests."

Axel's grandfather was in the hospital dying, she told the people at the desk. He needed to come home right away. She would have said just about anything.

But, even after being told her son would be brought right out, her daughter spied him being taken down a separate hall and into another room. So she dashed down the hall and grabbed him by the arm.

"They were telling me I needed to 'be a man' and stand up to my family," Axel said.

What he needed, it turned out, was a lawyer.

Five minutes and $250 after an attorney called the recruiters, Axel's signed papers and his cell phone were in the mail.

My request to speak with the sergeant who recruited Axel and with the Burlington office about recruitment procedures went unanswered.

And so should your phone, Marcia Cobb advised. Take your own sweet time. Keep your own counsel. And, if you see USMC on caller ID, remember what answering the call could mean.

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'Good and honest' Iraqis fighting US forces
Published: 9/6/2005, 06:25 (UAE)
By Phil Sands, Staff Reporter

Tikrit: A senior US military chief has admitted "good, honest" Iraqis are fighting American forces.

Major General Joseph Taluto said he could understand why some ordinary people would take up arms against the US military because "they're offended by our presence".

In an interview with Gulf News, he said: "If a good, honest person feels having all these Humvees driving on the road, having us moving people out of the way, having us patrol the streets, having car bombs going off, you can understand how they could [want to fight us]."

General Taluto, head of the US 42nd Infantry Division which covers key trouble spots, including Baquba and Samarra, also said some Iraqis not involved in fighting did support insurgents who avoided hurting civilians.

He said: "There is a sense of a good resistance, or an accepted resistance. They say 'okay, if you shoot a coalition soldier, that's okay, it's not a bad thing but you shouldn't kill other Iraqis.'"

However General Taluto insisted the US and other foreign forces would not be driven out of Iraq by violence. "If the goal is to have the coalition leave, attacking them isn't the way," he said. "The way to make it happen is to enter the political process cooperate and the coalition will be less aggressive and less visible and eventually it'll go away."

His comments come in stark contrast to the assertions of other top US figures, who persist in claiming all insurgents are either Baathists or Al Qaida terrorists.

General Taluto also admitted he did not know how many insurgents there were. "I stay away from numbers how can I quantify this? We can make estimates by doing some kind of guesswork," he said.

"I think there is a small core of foreign fighters. I don't know how big that is but there is some kind of capability here, and it's being replenished.

"Then there is a group of former regime personnel they're the facilitators. They make all the communications, move the money, they enable things to happen. Their goal isn't the same as the foreign fighters but they're using them to do what they want to do.

"Then we have the foot soldiers. Some are doing it for the money. Some are doing it because they're offended by our presence and believe we are a threat to their way of life. There are various levels."

He added: "Who knows how big these networks are, or how widespread? I know it's substantial enough to be a threat to the government and it will be for some time."

General Taluto said "99.9 per cent" of those captured fighting the US were Iraqis, but was also adamant most people in Iraq wanted a free, democratic and independent country.

He predicted attacks would continue to surge in intensity, as key milestones were reached, including the upcoming constitutional referendum.

Comment: Every once in awhile the truth leaks out. Not in an American newspaper, of course, where it might actually be seen and read by an American citizen and where the publisher could be sued and taken to court for inflicting life-threatening trauma upon the hapless victim. No, it comes out in papers in other countries where the major portion of population has not yet been absorbed into the Bush Borg.

The neocons would have us believe that the fighting in Iraq is due to "foreign elements", "terrorists" who are there to prevent the Iraqis from becoming free. However, 99.9% of those captured fighting are Iraqis. So either the foreign fighters are very fortunate and have guardian angels on their side keeping them from harms' way, or the Bush gang is lying about the number of foreign "terrorists".

Gee, tough choice.

In truth, the foreign terrorists in Iraq are American. The American army is the invader, the occupier, the enemy. They are the killers, the war criminals, and the guilty.

That's a tough shift in perspective for most Americans to make, raised as they have been on a steady diet of America as the protector and defender of freedoms. It means putting into question their most fundamental beliefs, their deepest ideas of who they and their leaders really are. It means taking responsibility for the fact that their leaders do represent them and act in their name. It means seeing that their actions to not match their ideals, that these ideals are a mask for acts they so brutally denounce in others.

The United States is more and more isolated. By this we mean that the view of the world shared by Americans is diverging more and more with the people elsewhere on the planet. Most of the rest of the world receives news reports on how awful the situation in Iraq really is for Iraqis; most of the rest of the world knows that Bush lied all along the line to justify this criminal invasion; most of the rest of the world is horrified to see what the United States has become. If Americans could see it, they might well be horrified themselves. But they don't.

Some suffer a certain embarrassment because Bush represents their country to others, and they see what a contemptible being he is. They disagree with his politics, with his lies, with his use of the Christian right. And yet, if Kerry had won the election, they would have heaved a sigh of relief and considered the problem solved, the matter closed.

The following article shows that Bush's approval rating is at a new low. We remember that his figures were also low prior to 9/11 when they then shot up to 90% approval. Fear works wonders in controlling a population. Unfortunately, it is still inconceivable for most Americans to consider that it was the neocons and their Israeli friends who were behind the 9/11 attack. The gap between expressing disapproval and really seeing the truth right before your face is immense. The gap between displeasure because one is uncomfortable and the horror with which one is overcome when one sees the real state of the world and has all of one's illusions shattered is so great that very few are willing to make the leap. If one chooses not to see, events may take over and force it upon you whether you want it or not.

Is it too outrageous to imagine another 9/11-like event as Bush's disapproval rating soars in order to give the "Commander-in-Chief" the shot of Gallup adrenalin he needs?

"He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999," said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. "It was on his mind. He said to me: 'One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.' And he said, 'My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.' He said, 'If I have a chance to invade·.if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency." Herskowitz said that Bush expressed frustration at a lifetime as an underachiever in the shadow of an accomplished father. In aggressive military action, he saw the opportunity to emerge from his father's shadow. The moment, Herskowitz said, came in the wake of the September 11 attacks. "Suddenly, he's at 91 percent in the polls, and he'd barely crawled out of the bunker."

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Suspicious packages sent to five Australian embassies
10.06.05- REUTERS

CANBERRA - Five embassies in the Australian capital, including the U.S., British and Japanese missions, were shut down on Thursday after they received suspicious packages containing white powder, police said.

Similar parcels were also posted to the South Korean and Italian embassies, Australia's Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and parliament house in Canberra, forcing the closure of part of the parliament building for the second time in a week.

Police said two of the packages had been cleared as harmless.

"All seven packages are being tested. The packages sent to the British High Commission and the Italian embassy have already been cleared as harmless," a police spokesman told Reuters.

"It is too early to be specualating on whether these incidents are linked or what the motive might be."

He said the packages were delivered through the post.

All the missions involved in the security scare have troops in Iraq, while Australia is a staunch U.S. ally and among the first to join the war on Iraq two years ago.

"We received an envelope containing white powder. We closed off the area and appropriate precautions were taken," said a U.S. embassy spokeswoman, adding that police had restricted access to the embassy.

The Indonesian embassy, which twice closed in the past week after being sent parcels containing harmless white powder, said it did not receive any packages on Thursday.

The Australian government has said it believes the Indonesian embassy security scares are most likely linked to Indonesia's jailing of an Australian woman on drug smuggling charges, which has sparked public anger in Australia.

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Israeli Nuclear Secrets Caught Up In Computer Hacking Scandal
June 09, 2005

Jerusalem -- Israel's rigorously guarded nuclear secrets could have been tampered with in an international computer hacking scandal known as the Trojan Horse affair, the Yediot Aharonot newspaper reported Thursday.

Police are investigating a complaint by water company Gal-Al that a rival firm stole drawings and formulas on how to produce and separate heavy water in a project at Israel's Dimona nuclear reactor.

Producing and separating heavy water is needed to manufacture a hydrogen bomb. Israel has never admitted having a nuclear arsenal, but is widely believed to have around 200 nuclear warheads.

Gal-Al director Baruch Zisser refused to make any comments on the case on public radio.

Twenty people, including top business executives, have been arrested in an unprecedented industrial espionage scandal in Israel that has so far implicated 15 companies - including some of the most prestigious in Israel.

Evidence gathered by the police shows among those infiltrated were car importers, television stations, PR firms and telephone companies, to track all actions carried out in the system and even to control the computer remotely.

The investigation has spread from Israel to Britain, Germany and the United States.

On Wednesday, a key Israeli suspect in the hacking scandal, Yitzak Rath, fell from the second storey of a police station after undergoing a lengthy interrogation in what police believe was a suicide attempt.

Comment: Yeah, right...

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Israel's former Shin Bet chief supports Gaza disengagement 2005-06-10 17:45:57

JERUSALEM, June 10 (Xinhuanet) -- Avi Dichter, former head of Israel's Shin Bet security service, supports the Gaza disengagement plan and does not believe that it will worsen Israel's security situation, local newspaper Ha'aretz reported Friday. [...]

In fact, Israel will have greater freedom for military action if needed, because once the settlements and the IDF are out of Gaza, the number of Israeli targets in the strip will be much smaller, Dichter said.

The former Shin Bet chief also believed the disengagement will be implemented, saying "extreme scenarios are possible, but the critical mass of the evacuees will resist passively."

"It will be difficult and unpleasant and it isn't going to look good on television, but we'll get through it," he added.

Comment: According to Avi Dichter, getting the settlers out of Gaza means there will be fewer Israeli targets... and this is a good thing -- not because it will diminish attacks on those targets by Palestinians (or Israeli black flag operations), but because it will give the Israeli military "greater freedom for military action". Just what kind of "military action" are they planning that they need this greater room to move?

We're still not convinced, however, in spite of the wonderful possibilities for further annihilation the withdrawal opens up, that the government will actually go through with it. The date has been delayed once, and it is certainly within reason, based upon the historical record, that the government will use the pretext of "Palestinian refusal to combat terror" to delay it yet again. As long as they can report in the US press that the "delay" is caused by the Palestinians themselves, Sharon and his gang of war criminals can continue their genocide by attrition.

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Eyes and Ears (Secrets of Posner - Part2)
Jihad Al Khazen Al-Hayat - 07/06/05//

In his two books "Why America Slept" and "Secrets of the Kingdom" Gerald Posner refers to Abu Zubaydah as the third man in al-Qaeda. But then the terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is mentioned and Posner refers to him as "an even higher ranking" al-Qaeda man. How is this? If he is higher than Abu Zubaydah were does that leave Ayman Al-Zawahiri and Usama bin Laden himself? Who is second? Who is first in this overcrowded room?

This is nothing compared with the more outrageous claims by the author. Since his first book he must have discover that Prince Ahmed bin Salman was a businessman and a very successful thoroughbred owner and that no one believed that he could possibly have any kind of connection with al-Qaeda, so Posner comes up in his second book with a new twist to the old lie. He claims that Prince Ahmed might have been "a conduit of information for someone higher ranking" like his father Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz. Posner knows that Prince Salman is governor of Riyadh but then goes on to say that "he is one of the Kingdom's most influential ministers…"

He claims that Prince Salman's office overlooks Sahat al-Adl, or Justice Square. It does not. Posner is talking about the Prince's old office. For over ten years now Prince Salman's office overlooks the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque. Sahat al-Adl is on another side and anyway the big window of the office is behind the Prince's desk and visitors cannot see through it.

With his wealth of knowledge, Posner claims that Prince Salman, Prince Sultan and Prince Abdullah (in this lopsided order) are "the de facto rulers of Saudi Arabia". Where does that leave the King, or Prince Nayef among others? The book claims that the governor of Riyadh has "strong ties to the religious conservatives, particularly those in the regional strongholds of Buraydah and Darriya".

Is there more than one Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz in Saudi Arabia? Is there one who is governor of Riyadh, another a minister and a third with political and religious alliances? Posner talks about Prince Faisal bin Salman and says he is the head of a media company that is violently anti-American and anti-Israli disseminating propaganda. Now this is becoming personal; I was the first editor-in-chief of Asharq al-Awsat and I hired every single member of the editorial staff. Posner should know about propaganda as his book is a classic case of cold war disinformation and shear ignorance.

He is ignorant enough to claim that Prince Feisal bin Salman is the head of education in Saudi Arabia. I feel bad that I did not congratulate him on this exalted position, or Prince Salman on his cabinet position.

All the above is contained in the first chapter of the book, which ends with Posner quoting himself. When I saw some of the outrageous mistakes made I went to the Notes at the end of the book and discovered that he also quotes the clown Stephen Schwartz and Dore Gold, a one time ambassador of Benjamin Natanyahu to the UN, so I don't need to explain his objectivity and humanity.

All this expertise however, does not help Posner and in the short second chapter he talks about the history of the House of Saud and their country. He knows that "bin" means "son" in Arabic, but after he mentions Imam Mohammed bin Abdul Wahab he starts referring to him as al-Wahab not realizing that Abdul Wahab is one word and that al-Wahab (Giver) is one of the 99 names of God in the Koran. The poor Imam must be rolling in his grave at the thought of him being called God.

More serious is mixing up Ibn Saud, the popular name of King Abdul Aziz, and Saud. The index lists the names of all the Saudi kings. The index guides me to this line, Ibn Saud eldest son and heir was also named Saud. Of course, Ibn Saud is Abdul Aziz, which is definitely not Saud. Posner also refers to Crown Prince Feisal visiting New York in 1944, a year when the Saudi Crown Prince was Saud.

The worst case of ignorance, one that destroys any semblance of real knowledge or research, is Posner's presentation of Wahhabis and Wahhabism. He does not seem to know that there are four sects of Sunni Islam and that Imam Mohammed bin Abdul Wahab was an interpreter of the Hanbali sect found mostly in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. It is by far the smallest of the Sunni sects. Posner says that Sayyid Qutb, "a prolific Muslim scholar, who did a watershed six volume commentary on the Koran, setting the guidelines for modern Wahhabi adherence." Of course Sayyid Qutb was a Shafei like all Egyptians, and extremist Wahhabis reject his thinking altogether. I may add that the Lebanese are Shafei, the Palestinians Malki or Shafei, the Sudanese and Moroccans Malki, the Iraqis and Afghanis Hanafi.

All the detailed ignorance is contained in the first three chapters, in 37 pages out of a 254-page book. I could not continue and I would not have reviewed the book to the readers had I not known that Posner is seen in the US as an expert and an authority in his chosen field. He is not. If he is then I can claim that I am a Talmud scholar.

Comment: Gerald Posner was recently on the Daily Show promoting this book. Readers with a strong stomach can go to the Daily Show site and see the clip. The usually intelligent Jon Stewart was buying Posner's story hook, line, and sinker. Could it have something to do with the religious affiliations of the two men influencing the way they see Saudi Arabia? Could it have something to do with Israeli propaganda?

Posner's work is part of the disinformation campaign around Saudi Arabia that would have us believe that it was the Saudi princes who were behind 9/11. Think Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911, think Daniel Hopsicker. Think neocon agenda. The neocons are explicit in their view that the defence of Israel is as important -- if not more -- than the defence of the US. The neocon wars in the Middle East and Central Asia have done nothing to make America any safer. On the contrary, young men and women have become yet again the cannon fodder for an imperial adventure and the crackdown on civil liberties at home proceeds apace.

Much of the intelligence used to "fix" the need for an invasion of Iraq in the minds of Americans came from Israeli intelligence. Much of the "information" about Saudi Arabia's "involvement" in 9/11 comes from the same Israeli sources. US policy in the Middle East is the application of Israeli policy for the establishment of Great Israel from the Mediterranean to Mesopotamia. Many neocons have served as advisors for the Israeli government. Many neocons are dual citizens of Israel and the United States.

Whose interests are they really defending?

Jihad Al Khazen's two other pieces on Posner's new book can be found here and here.

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Rodriguez sworn in as Bolivia's new president 2005-06-10 13:39:52

LIMA, June 9 (Xinhuanet) -- Bolivia's Supreme Court President Eduardo Rodriguez was sworn in as the country's new president late Thursday night after Congress unanimously accepted the resignation of his embattled predecessor Carlos Mesa in an emergency session.

Rodriguez was given the job after both Senate leader Hormando Vaca Diez and House leader Mario Cossio refused to accept the postin succession, said reports from Sucre, the constitutional capitalof Bolivia.

Under constitution, new elections must be held within the next six months under current circumstances.

However, in his inauguration speech, Rodriguez did not set a date for early elections, but said: "one of my tasks will be to call an electoral process to renew and continue building a democratic system that is more just."

Late on Monday, Mesa announced his decision to resign after mass anti-government protesters paralyzed the country for several weeks. Earlier this year, he also offered resignation, but was turned down by Congress.

For the past months, protests and social disorder have frequently hit the South American country, often paralyzing traffic.

The unrest erupted after Congress passed a law on May 17 to levy a 50-percent tax on foreign oil and gas companies operating in Bolivia, which has the second largest gas reserves in South America after Venezuela.

The opposition demands higher taxes on foreign firms and the nationalization of the country's lucrative oil and gas industry.

Demonstrations have escalated into riots since May 24 when demonstrators blocked a downtown square in La Paz, where the executive and legislative branches of government are located, and began to smash windows in buildings and cars in the surrounding streets.

In a bid to halt oil and gas production, hundreds of peasants in the eastern Santa Cruz province have blockaded roads and entrances to four natural gas fields operated by foreign firms.

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The Bolivian pressure cooker
Rising instability in Bolivia is tearing that Andean country apart, writes Hisham El-Naggar from Buenos Aires

As Al-Ahram Weekly went to press, Bolivian President Carlos Mesa who tendered his resignation late Monday, warned that the country was on the brink of civil war. He called for the holding of immediate elections as the only way out of Bolivia's political impasse.

Bolivia, an impoverished, landlocked country, has been monopolising the news lately in much of South America. As civil unrest increases, observers are wondering what the threatened violence in this traditionally unstable nation may mean for the rest of the region.

For a long time, Bolivia was touted as a success story by the IMF crowd, who couldn't stop congratulating themselves, and, less noisily, the Bolivians, for having been the first to adopt a far-reaching "stabilisation" programme. It is true that Bolivia did manage to recover from the hyperinflation which plagued two of its more prosperous neighbours, Brazil and Argentina. But the promised economic renaissance, which was to result from rigorous respect for recipes more concerned with fixing numbers than doing something about prevailing poverty, simply never materialised.

For years Bolivia's poor have been not only abandoned to their fate, but in fact made to feel irrelevant in the decision-making process of the country's elite. Complicating the situation is the fact that there are two separate elites, the traditional mining elite which holds sway in the western, poorer region, of the country, and the newer elite which rules the more prosperous east, where the presence of natural gas reserves promises to bring about a bonanza for a fortunate few.

Since the natural resources of the west have been largely depleted, all eyes are on the natural gas reserves of the east, where the proportion of "whites", that is to say, those not of indigenous descent, is more pronounced. This has given rise to pressure from two different directions on the central government in La Paz. The west, represented by indigenous associations and the maverick leader, Evo Morales, himself of Indian descent, have been leading the resistance against attempts to export Bolivian natural gas at what they consider to be disadvantageous terms for the country. The east, on the other hand, whose leaders would dearly love to see the natural gas flowing out of the country, has been clamouring for autonomy, which some believe may be the first step in a process which could end in the dismemberment of Bolivia.

Even by the standards of Bolivia's unsettled past -- the unpopular President Sanchez Losada was recently forced to resign as a result of a popular uprising which took place in the west of the country -- the current situation is highly explosive. This week, the no less unpopular President Carlos Mesa attempted to resign as well, but the Bolivian congress refused to accept his resignation. Meanwhile, the powerful Catholic Church has called for national conciliation.

Is Bolivia about to fall apart? Certainly the situation is critical. In the western region, a two- week-old strike calling for the resignation of Mesa, the dissolution of congress and a new constituent assembly, has left La Paz and nearby El Alto with serious food shortages. Meanwhile, heavily armed right-wing militias, calling themselves "blackshirts", have been promising to "defend" the interests of the east. Indigenous demonstrators who "dared" to set foot in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, the major city in the east, have been brutally beaten in what many agree were horrifyingly racist incidents which television cameras recorded.

It is clear that Bolivia has a serious identity problem. Different Bolivian factions describe the strife plaguing their country through the lens of white versus indigenous, rich versus poor, "jackbooted fascists" versus "subversives".

Both Argentina and Brazil, Bolivia's largest neighbours and traditionally regarded as friendly by the Bolivians, have offered to mediate, but have thought better of it, as it became clear any intervention on their part could be misinterpreted. Corporate interests from both countries have invested heavily in the Bolivian natural gas sector, and as such could be viewed as politically motivated parties. As for the Organization of American States, of which Bolivia is a member, it too must tread carefully as to avoid being accused of taking sides.

The pressure is on for Mesa to resign, for a constituent assembly to be convened, as demanded by the indigenous protesters and by Morales, and for a referendum to be held in the western provinces, as demanded by leaders of the region, to decide whether these provinces should have more "autonomy". But for many, these demands are seen as impossible, as they threaten to divide the country's elite and hence, inevitably, the entire population.

The Catholic Church's call for national dialogue may be the only ray of hope. Though Bolivia may not get much attention outside the region, what happens there may have far-reaching implications. In the past two decades, military coups and calls for outright secession by disgruntled regions have been considered far- fetched scenarios in this part of the world, as democracy has begun to take hold.

If Bolivia's crisis results in either of these dramatic scenarios, a dangerous precedent will have been set in a continent where precedents mean a great deal. The only hope is that common sense and a renewed desire to forge a national identity may bring peace to a troubled country which has suffered more than most.

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Powerless ... but Dubai powers on
Published: 10/6/2005, 09:07 (UAE)
Gulf News Report

Dubai pulled together yesterday when a power failure caught the city unawares.

Just as traffic seemed to get out of control, just as nerves started to fray when ATMs did not work and there were long queues at petrol stations, and just as the heat brought beads of sweat to foreheads, residents rose to the occasion and overcame.

The bond that makes this city so vibrant triumphed.

According to a release by by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), a sudden failure in one of the main transmission substations at the Jebel Ali Power Station caused a power failure at 9.47am.

It said emergency and maintenance teams were dispatched to attend to the fault and gradual restoration of power to vital areas started in less than two-and-a-half hours. [...]

Most mobile phone users in Dubai said they could not make or receive calls, but Etisalat said otherwise in a release.

It said: "Mobile, fixed line and the internet network continued to function with normal efficiency. It has been brought to Etisalat's attention that approximately 35 per cent of mobile coverage area in Dubai, concentrated in the commercial buildings area, was affected.

"The space and facilities available in these locations for back-up power supply is very limited, which is the reason for the service drop."

There were no major accidents or fires, with police deploying personnel immediately at traffic signals to ease the flow.

Yesterday being the start of the weekend, traffic flow was not as heavy. Residents too lent a hand, directing traffic sometimes, giving water to thirsty policemen and calming tempers.

But for business it was a bad day. Dubai's 1.2 million residents could have lost in excess of Dh268.46 million in potential business.

Dubai's gross domestic product reached Dh97.98 billion last year, which averages Dh268.46 million a day. This translates to a Dh11.18 million hourly loss in GDP.

Dubai's share market cancelled deals and suspended trading shortly after opening yesterday as communications between investors and brokers snapped. [...]

The impact

Emergency: An alert city saves the day with roads remaining calm
Business loss: Outage could cost millions of dirhams
Airport: Passengers in long wait for some flights
Services: Motorists queue up at petrol stations while ATMsfail to work

Comment: Iraq is at war with the occupier. Daily bombings and fighting are killing men, women, and children. It is unsafe to go out at night. Criminals are taking advantage of the chaos to use kidnappings to extort ransom. Hell has descended upon the country.

Several hundred miles further along the Persian Gulf, Dubai had a few hours without electricity yesterday.

Just as traffic seemed to get out of control, just as nerves started to fray when ATMs did not work and there were long queues at petrol stations, and just as the heat brought beads of sweat to foreheads, residents rose to the occasion and overcame.

The bond that makes this city so vibrant triumphed.

Isn't the human spirit indomitable?

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Chirac opens hostilities with Blair over UK rebate

LUXEMBOURG, June 9 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac on Thursday called on Britain to "make a gesture of solidarity" over its European Union budget rebate ahead of an EU summit next week.

Chirac made the appeal in Luxembourg, after a meeting with that country's prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, who currently holds the rotating EU presidency.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday bluntly ruled out any negotiation over the EUR 4.6 billion (USD 5.7 billion) annual rebate, setting the scene for a feud between him and Chirac at the summit.

The gathering of EU heads of state and government is to take place in Brussels June 16-17, just before Britain takes over the six-month EU presidency on July 1.

Many taking part - especially Chirac - hope it will show a united face for the 25-state bloc in the wake of embarrassing 'no' results in referenda in France and the Netherlands in the past two weeks on whether to adopt an EU constitution.

"The time has come for our British friends to understand that they must now make a gesture of solidarity" at the summit, Chirac told journalists.

However he excluded any challenge to a Franco-German deal on the EU budget's biggest outlay: the Common Agricultural Policy, which greatly benefits France's farmers.

"We cannot accept any reduction whatsoever of the direct aids to our farmers," he said. The CAP, as it is known, is to remain as it is until 2012 under the deal, which was struck in 2002 much to the anger of Blair.

Chirac also said he wanted to see the ratification process of the EU constitution continue across Europe, despite his country's rejection of it. Blair said Monday he had suspended plans to hold a referendum in Britain on the issue. Theoretically, it requires approval from all 25 EU member states before it can come into effect.

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German court orders acquittal of Sept 11 attacks suspect
Thu Jun 9, 6:36 AM ET

KARLSRUHE, Germany - Germany's federal appeal court has ordered the acquittal of a Moroccan student, Abdelghani Mzoudi, who was accused of involvement in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Mzoudi, 32, had been tried in Hamburg in 2003 but his trial collapsed.

The appeals court on Thursday rejected an appeal from federal prosecutors for a new trial, citing a lack of evidence.

The court therefore confirmed the judgement of the Hamburg appeals court which acquitted Mzoudi in February 2004.

After the verdict, the interior ministry of Hamburg announced that Mzoudi had 14 days to leave Germany, although he can appeal against this decision.

Hamburg, a northern port city, was one of the planning nerve centres of the suicide plane attacks on the World Trade Center and the
Pentagon which killed around 3,000 people.

Prosecutors had claimed Mzoudi was part of the 'Hamburg cell' run by Al-Qaeda and called for him to receive a 15-year jail sentence.

Another Moroccan, Mounir El Motassadeq, is currently in the middle of a retrial on charges of assisting the attackers which is being held in Hamburg.

Motassadeq denies having any knowledge of the planning for the attacks.

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Blast near Spanish airport after ETA warning
Fri Jun 10, 7:13 AM ET

MADRID - An explosion occurred close to the entrance to Zaragoza airport in northeastern Spain but there were no casualties, airport officials said amid reports that the blast followed a warning attributed to the armed Basque separatist group ETA.

The Basque newspaper Gara said it had receiving a phone call purporting to be from ETA and warning of a blast before the incident occurred, just before midday.

Airport officials said there were no injuries in the explosion, which occurred some 300 metres (yards) from the airport terminal.

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Ground zero of labs vs. animal-rights activists
By Kirsten Scharnberg and Tim Jones, Tribune national correspondents
Published June 9, 2005

IOWA CITY -- The shaky, amateurish video shows everything in graphic detail: Four masked people break into darkened university labs, pour toxic chemicals onto computers and stacks of files, and release hundreds of research rats and mice. They spray-paint walls with slogans such as "Science not Sadism" and "Free the Animals."

The November break-in at the University of Iowa's Spence Laboratories--an act for which there have been no arrests but for which the group Animal Liberation Front, or ALF, has claimed responsibility--is characterized by university and law-enforcement officials as terrorism.

The incident has made the University of Iowa, a school in the heart of one of America's most farm-centered, meat-producing states, ground zero in a national battleground over animal-based research at taxpayer-funded institutions.

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, animal-rights activists are protesting research getting under way that uses pigs to measure the impact of police stun guns. No violent incidents have been reported in Madison, but officials there have increased security at research buildings.

Animal research labs have been targeted at the University of Minnesota, the University of California, San Francisco, Western Washington University and Louisiana State University.

And last month in Washington, John Lewis, the FBI's deputy assistant director for counterterrorism, told a Senate committee that animal-rights and environmental activists resorting to arson and explosives are the nation's top domestic terrorism threat.

In Iowa City, the break-in has unnerved the research community.

"All the people who work in animal labs are now worried about the security of their labs and of themselves and their families," said Joseph Kearney, the associate dean for research at the University of Iowa's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

"The actions of some of these groups who target our researchers and our facilities are no longer a nuisance," he said. "It is no longer vandalism. It is terrorism." [...]

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The Maine border chainsaw mystery

Customs took his 'bloody' weapon, then let him in
Jun. 8, 2005. 06:42 AM
Gregory Despres, 22, now in jail in Massachusetts, faces murder charges in New Brunswick.

BOSTON—On April 25, Gregory Despres arrived at the U.S.-Canadian border crossing at Calais, Me., carrying a homemade sword, a hatchet, a knife, brass knuckles and a chainsaw stained with what appeared to be blood. U.S. customs agents confiscated the weapons and fingerprinted Despres.

Then they let him into the United States.

The following day, a gruesome scene was discovered in Despres' hometown of Minto, N.B.: The decapitated body of a 74-year-old country musician named Frederick Fulton was found on Fulton's kitchen floor. His head was in a pillowcase under a kitchen table. His common-law wife, 70-year-old Veronica Decarie, was discovered stabbed to death in a bedroom.

Despres, 22, immediately became a suspect because of a history of violence between him and his neighbours, and he was arrested April 27 after police in Massachusetts saw him wandering down a highway in a sweatshirt with red and brown stains. He is now in jail in Massachusetts on murder charges, awaiting an extradition hearing next month.

Bill Anthony, a spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said the Canada-born Despres could not be detained because he is a naturalized U.S. citizen and was not wanted on any criminal charges on the day in question.

Anthony said Despres was questioned for two hours before he was released. During that time, he said, customs agents employed "every conceivable method" to check for warrants or see if Despres had broken any laws in trying to re-enter the country.

"Nobody asked us to detain him," Anthony said. "Being bizarre is not a reason to keep somebody out of this country or lock them up. ... We are governed by laws and regulations, and he did not violate any regulations." [...]

Comment: In the U.S. these days, being bizarre may not be a reason to lock someone up, but being Arabic or voicing criticism of the government certainly seems to be.

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Child killings show pattern
By John Keilman
Tribune staff reporter
Published June 9, 2005

Two people accused of murdering their children are due to be arraigned Thursday, the start of what could be long and complex prosecutions. But even at this early stage, their cases have fallen into a familiar pattern.

Tonya Vasilev, a Sunday school teacher from Hoffman Estates whom friends and relatives describe as a loving mother, allegedly stabbed each of her two young children more than 200 times to save them from imagined abuse. Her lawyers say they will pursue an insanity defense.

Jerry Hobbs, an ex-convict whose rap sheet includes several violent crimes, is charged with slaying his 8-year-old daughter and her 9-year-old friend in Zion during a sudden rage over his child's disobedience. His attorney says it's too soon to map out a court strategy.

The murder of a child by a parent is rare, but when it happens, legal experts say, a stereotype usually takes hold: Mothers are thought to kill in the grip of madness, fathers in a spasm of anger.

"Mothers are seen clearly as the protector, so when [a child is killed], the assumption that many jurors have is that there's something wrong with mom," said Robert Hirschhorn, a Texas jury consultant who has researched child murder. "Whereas when the same terrible thing goes on and the dad's accused, the dad is bad, evil."

Some researchers have found that fathers are more likely to serve prison time or be executed for the slaying of their children, while mothers more often receive a stint in a mental hospital.

Others, however, say the picture is more complicated. Fathers tend to use more violent means to kill their children, are more likely to murder a spouse along with the children and are less often diagnosed with a mental illness--factors that can play into how their crimes are perceived and punished. [...]

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Bird flu: we're all going to die
By Charles Arthur
Published Thursday 2nd June 2005 11:25 GMT

The theme of the person awaking from a deep sleep or coma to find a world utterly changed is a popular one in science fiction. From John Wyndham's book The Day of The Triffids through The Omega Man to the recent film 28 Days Later, the trope of the man arising from his hospital bed to find that nothing is as it was has become well-worn.

That's fine - as long as it remains just a story. But if - when - a flu pandemic comes, and millions of people die around the world over a period of months, the reality will be one of two alternatives. It's either going to be like those films, with videoconferencing suddenly all the rage, local farm produce making a big profit, empty supermarket shelves (you have to ship the oil, and distribute the fuel, but can the Armed Forces really do all that?), tumbleweed blowing in the streets, a medieval attitude to anyone not from "around here".

Or else governments will impose a police state that will make all the ID cards and airport checks look like a tea party. You'd not be allowed to move anywhere without showing off a vaccination certificate. (Sure, you'd get those on the black market, and they'd cost more than £300, but would you really want them? If you're not vaccinated would you really want to travel among people who might be carriers?) Or it might be both at once.

One more thing. You might well be one of those millions who die in such a pandemic. If you travel to work on public transport; if colleagues in your company travel by air to Asia; if you're travelling abroad through a busy airport. You'll probably touch someone or share air with someone who's infected. The premise of Terry Gilliam's Twelve Monkeys will become reality.

You may think this is overblown. But discussion of the possibility of a flu pandemic has fallen out of the news. And as the security consultant Bruce Schneier says: "One of the things I routinely tell people is that if it's in the news, don't worry about it. By definition, 'news' means that it hardly ever happens. If a risk is in the news, then it's probably not worth worrying about. When something is no longer reported - automobile deaths, domestic violence - when it's so common that it's not news, then you should start worrying."

The risks posed by an outbreak of flu passed from chickens in the Far East, in coutries such as Vietnam and Thailand, burst into the news in February. But now they've passed out of the news. Since then we've had more important things, like the Crazy Frog ringtone, to concern us.

Time to worry. And the scientists are. In fact, they're edgier than I've seen them since the BSE outbreak was in its earliest days and people were wondering if it might pass to humans. Quite a few scientists stopped eating beef at that point. Oh, you didn't know?

Now, their reaction is to write papers and watch what's happening, very closely. If you read the scientific journals (we do, so you don't have to) the articles are piling up. Last week the journal Nature pulled together an entire online resource on the threat of avian flu.

That's the trouble with scientists. They get an idea into their heads - CFCs and ozone, carbon dioxide emissions and the greenhouse effect, the transmission of BSE to other species such as humans - and they worry away at it until they determine what the answer and the mechanism is.

Here's what's they're worrying about now. The First World War killed seven million people. But the strain of flu that followed it - incubated, experts reckon, in pigs that were kept near the front lines to help feed the troops - killed up to 100 million, helped by the movement of troops returning home from the war.

Pandemics come around, on average, about every 70 years or so. There were small ones in 1957 and 1968/9, when "Hong Kong flu" - strain H1N1 - spread around the world, and one million died. That was tiny by pandemic standards. The scientists reckon we're overdue for an infectious, fatal strain of flu, one which can pass from human to human by the usual methods - sneezing or contact.

There's already a deadly strain of flu around - "chicken flu", better known to the scientists by the strain of flu virus that causes it: H5N1. But it only passes from chickens to humans, not from from person to person. If it could do that, it would have the potential to turn pandemic.

But maybe it already can. There have already been a couple of cases of deaths from H5N1 where the only logical pathway is human-to-human. The UK government announced in February that it will buy in thousands of doses of Tamiflu as part of the UK Influenza Pandemic Contingency Plan (PDF, 160kB).

Too bad - the latest results (reported by New Scientist; limited-time free access) suggest that Tamiflu isn't effective against H5N1. And anyway, New Scientist reports, the UK's order for 14.6 million five-day courses of Tamiflu treatment will take its patent owners Roche two years to fulfil. The company is still trying to develop ways to synthesise it from scratch.

The consequences of a really big, fatal flu epidemic on modern society are hard to imagine, partly because they're so enormous. Air passengers would be the first vector of infection, followed by the people who travelled with them in the train or Underground train or coach from the airport, followed by the family and friends of those people. Give it a few days and people would be falling ill, then over the next weeks dying.

If the strain is new and unexpected, there wouldn't be time to produce enough vaccine to treat it. According to a New England Journal of Medicine article by Dr Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis - who is also director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy - titled "Preparing for the Next Pandemic", the 1950s-era methods of producing vaccines means we would need (ironically enough) one chicken egg per person to produce the vaccine, plus six months to culture it.

"The global economy would come to a halt, and since we could not expect appropriate vaccines to be available for many months and we have very limited stockpiles of antiviral drugs, we would be facing a 1918-like scenario," notes Dr Osterholm, who calculates that given current technology, we could vaccinate about 500 million people, tops - about 14 per cent of the world population.

Of course, most of those will be in the developed world. But are you sure you'd be one? Are you in the Armed Forces? Do you or your business count as an essential service? If you're not involved with the electricity, water, fuel distribution, phone or gas industries, then probably not. "And owing to our global 'just-in-time delivery' economy, we would have no surge capacity for health care, food supplies, and many other products and services," Dr Osterholm adds.

Let's have some more numbers from Dr Osterholm, just to encourage you. He writes: "It is sobering to realize that in 1968, when the most recent influenza pandemic occurred, the virus emerged in a China that had a human population of 790 million, a pig population of 5.2 million, and a poultry population of 12.3 million; today, these populations number 1.3 billion, 508 million, and 13 billion, respectively. Similar changes have occurred in the human and animal populations of other Asian countries, creating an incredible mixing vessel for viruses. Given this reality, as well as the exponential growth in foreign travel during the past 50 years, we must accept that a pandemic is coming - although whether it will be caused by H5N1 or by another novel strain remains to be seen."

All this has been noted by virologists and disease experts around the world. But what can we do? For one thing, listen to what they're saying, and put some pressure on the politicians who are ignoring this threat, in the hope it will go away. Climate change may be a greater threat than terrorism, but a flu pandemic is a more immediate threat than either.

Or, as Canada's deputy chief public health officer, Dr Paul Gully, put it to the Toronto Star: "Frankly the crisis could for all we know have started last night in some village in Southeast Asia. We don't have any time to waste and even if we did have some time, the kinds of things we need to do will take years. Right now, the best we can do is try to survive it. We need a Manhattan Project yesterday."

Let's hope they got started. Now, where's the number of that forger for my vaccination certificate?

Comment: We usually go to The Register for information on the latest news from the computer world, not reports on the dangers of bird flu and the next pandemic, so we were surprised to find this article that comes to pretty much the same conclusions we have about the danger of depopulation through disease.

How bad could it be? Figures for the world population in 1910 give us 1.75 billion people. 100,000,000 people died, about 5.7% of the world's population.

While troop movements in 1918/19 contributed to the spread, today's movement of populations around the globe may well be a more important percentage, thus the consequences could be ever more dramatic. Coupled with the pronouncements of certain figures in high places about the need to reduce the population of the planet if we are to survive, or more accurately, if "our way of life" is to survive, we might wonder about the origins of said viri...

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Babies Show High Levels of Chemical
By Marla Cone, Times Staff Writer

A study of infants in intensive care finds a substance used in medical supplies that causes testicular damage in animals.

A Harvard study of babies in hospital intensive care units has found new evidence of high levels of a hormone-altering chemical in newborns treated with plastic medical devices.

Some intravenous lines, blood bags, feeding tubes and a variety of other medical equipment contain the chemical, a phthalate called DEHP, which is widely used to make vinyl soft and flexible. In a study conducted at two hospitals in the Boston area, babies undergoing the most intensive care with the plastic devices, particularly endotracheal tubes and umbilical vein catheters, had five times more DEHP in their bodies than babies who were not treated with them.

The findings add to a growing body of research that has found that phthalates, also used in cosmetics, are ubiquitous in human bodies and has raised questions about their safety, particularly for baby boys. [...]

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Alien thinking
Wednesday, 8 June, 2005, 14:17 GMT 15:17 UK
By Angela Hind

Not many scientists are prepared to take tales of alien abduction seriously, but John Mack, a Harvard professor who was killed in a road accident in north London last year, did. Ten years on from a row which nearly lost him his job, hundreds of people who claim they were abducted still revere him.

Professor John E Mack was an eminent Harvard psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and Pulitzer Prize winner whose clinical work had focused on explorations of dreams, nightmares and adolescent suicide.

Then, in 1990, he turned the academic community upside down because he wanted to publish his research in which he said that people who claimed they had been abducted by aliens, were not crazy at all. Their experiences, he said, were genuine.

They were not mentally ill or delusional, he said, and it was the responsibility of academicians and psychiatrists not only to take what they said seriously, but to try to understand exactly what that experience was. And if reality as we know it was unable to take these experiences into serious consideration then what was needed was a change in our perception of reality.Professor John E Mack: Turned academic community upside down

"What are the other possibilities?" said Mack. "Dreams, for instance, do not behave like that. They are highly individual depending on what's going on in your sub-conscious at the time.

"I would never say, yes, there are aliens taking people. [But] I would say there is a compelling powerful phenomenon here that I can't account for in any other way, that's mysterious. Yet I can't know what it is but it seems to me that it invites a deeper, further inquiry."


For many people who claimed they had been abducted, John Mack was a lifeline. He worked with more than 200 of them, including professionals, psychologists, writers, students and business people.

Many had never told anyone else of their experiences apart from Mack for fear of ridicule from colleagues, friends and family. Here at last was a highly respected psychiatrist who was not only prepared to listen - but also take what they were saying seriously.

An abductee - or "experiencer" as they prefer to be known - says that alien encounters begin most commonly in their homes and at night. It can however happen anytime, anywhere. They say they are unable to move; they become extremely hot and then appear to float through solid objects, which their logical mind tells them can't be happening.

Usually the experiencer says they are accompanied by one or two or more humanoid beings who guide them to a ship. They are then subjected to procedures in which instruments are used to penetrate virtually every part of their bodies, including the nose, sinuses, eyes, arms - abdomen and genitalia. Sperm samples are taken and women have fertilised eggs implanted or removed.

Hybrid offspring

"Have I questioned my own sanity"? says Peter Faust an experiencer and close friend of John Mack's. "Absolutely, every day to a certain degree because the majority of the world says you're crazy for having these experiences. But if it was just me who had contact with aliens, who had intimate experience with female aliens and producing hybrid offspring, I would say I'm certifiable, put me away, I'm crazy.

"And that's how I felt when I initially had these experiences. My wife thought I'd lost it. But then I began to look at the experience outside myself and realised that hundreds if not thousands of people reported that exact same experience. And that gave me sanity. That gave me hope. I knew I couldn't be fantasising this."

The whole experience is often accompanied by a change in the experiencer's understanding of humanity's place in the universe. And it was this that forced Mack to question who we are in the deepest and broadest sense.

"I have come to realise this abduction phenomenon forces us, if we permit ourselves to take it seriously, to re-examine our perception of human identity - to look at who we are from a cosmic perspective," he said.

Extraordinary work

In 1990 John Mack's book Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens was published. It shot to the top of the best sellers list and John Mack appeared on radio and television programmes. Harvard decided enough was enough.

Mack was sent a letter informing him that there was to be an inquiry into his research on alien abductions. It was the first time in Harvard's history that a tenured professor was subjected to such an investigation. John Mack decided to fight back and hired a lawyer, Eric MacLeish.

"It was appalling that John had to go through this," says MacLeish now. "And we made it clear that if we were to have a full blown trial here, then we were going to have a very public trial and call on everyone who worked with John - all of whom had nothing but praise for his extraordinary work and dedication to his patients - and I don't think that's what Harvard had in mind at all."

There followed 14 months of stressful and bitter negotiations. "They tried to criticise me, silence me - by saying that by supporting the truth of what these people were experiencing, possibly I was confirming them in a distortion, or a delusion. So instead of being a good psychiatrist and curing them, I was by taking them seriously, confirming them in a delusion and harming them," said Mack.
The inquiry made front page headlines all over the world and eventually Harvard dropped the case and a statement was issued reaffirming Mack's academic freedom to study what he wished and concluding that he "remains a member in good standing of the Harvard Faculty of Medicine".

He continued to work and write. But Mack was killed in a car collision last year in north London after leaving a Tube station. He was visiting the city to deliver a lecture on the subject which had won him the Pulitzer Prize in 1977, T E Lawrence.

But Mack's work lives on with an institute which now bears his name; the hundreds of people who count themselves in "the experiencer community" still hold him in particular affection.

His search for an expanded notion of reality, which allows for experiences that might not fit traditional perceptions and worldviews, is one they, at least, will be hoping continues.

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Cyberspace attack on military a solo quest for proof of UFOs
June 10, 2005 - Associated Press

London: A British man wanted in the United States for what US authorities have called the largest hacking effort against American military networks has been freed on bail by Bow Street Magistrates Court.

The court heard allegations on Wednesday that Gary McKinnon, 39, illegally accessed 97 US Government computers between February 2001 and March 2002, causing $US700,000 ($916,000) worth of damage.

Police arrested the former computer engineer, known online as Solo, at his home in north London on Tuesday.

Lawyers for McKinnon, who was first arrested three years ago, said he would vigorously resist extradition to the US.

His solicitor, Karen Todner, confirmed a published report that McKinnon was motivated by a desire to expose the ease with which a civilian could breach government computer systems, and by a strong conviction that the US Government was concealing evidence of UFOs.

A lawyer acting for the US Government, Janet Boston, told the court McKinnon had installed unauthorised software on computers in the US army, navy and air force, NASA and the Department of Defence that allowed him to "completely control the computers".

"On one instance, the US Army's military district of Washington network became inoperable," Ms Boston said.

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Chicago boy, 11, crashes van after mom lets him drive to school
06:25 AM EDT Jun 10

CHICAGO (AP) - A Chicago woman allowed her 11-year-old son to drive the family's minivan to his elementary school, where the boy crashed the vehicle near a group of children.

No one was hurt. The boy, however, was expelled from school and both he and his mother were ordered to traffic court later this month.

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Warning over crow attacks
By Luke David And Katharine Barney
Evening Standard
10 June 2005

Joggers are today being warned about violent crows in London parks after an attack left a man bloodied and needing hospital treatment.

Justin Keay was swooped on by two crows in what experts have called a severe case of "mobbing" - where two or more birds gang up on an assumed predator to keep them away from their young.

Now other runners are being told to stay well away from fledgling crows to avoid further attacks.

Mr Keay today told how he was running his usual route through Battersea Park when the birds swooped on him. The crows clawed his head with their talons and pecked at him furiously.

With blood gushing from his head, he had to fight for several minutes before they would stop attack - reminiscent of the Alfred Hitchcock film The Birds.

Mr Keay, 44, who was attacked at lunchtime on Wednesday, said: "These two massive crows just swooped down on me. I hit them but they wouldn't get off my head.

"They kept on at me and I kept hitting them until I noticed blood was pouring down my neck. My T-shirt was drenched with blood."

Mr Keay was so shaken by his ordeal he went to the park police, who gave him antiseptic wipes and sent him to Chelsea and Westminster hospital for an anti-tetanus injection. "They said it was the first occasion they'd heard of anyone being injured," he said.

The father of two, from Battersea Church Row, said he jogs past the same crows every day.

"They're big and look really menacing," he said. "They have swooped at me before but this was totally different. I had to hit them off me."

Although it is extremely unusual for crows to attack humans, joggers are now being warned to be extra vigilant. [...]

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Volcano of fire erupts
10/06/2005 07:35 - (SA)

Mexico City - Western Mexico's Volcano of Fire erupted anew with a loud rumble late on Thursday, unleashing a column of ash that shot high in the air but without enough force to reach nearby communities.

The explosion inside the crater of the 3 820-metre volcano, occurred shortly after 22:00, but it was not immediately clear how intense it was.

Straddling the border of Colima and Jalisco states, the Volcano of Fire has unleashed six spectacular eruptions in the past three weeks, the strongest of which came on Monday night, when it hurled glowing lava five kilometres into the air and showering the nearby city of Colima with ash.

Melchor Ursua, civil defence director for Colima state, said Monday's eruption did not send ash raining down on Colima city and witnesses said the skies above communities closer to the volcano also remained clear.

"It's not causing any problems, which is the main thing," Ursua said.

After Monday's eruption, which officials called the strongest in two decades, officials in Jalisco announced a voluntary evacuation of three villages nearest the crater and people in other towns were urged to be ready to move.

The off-limits zone extended at least 7.5 kilometres around the crater and an alert zone was in effect for 11.5 kilometres.

The first eruption seen by settlers came in 1560. The volcanic system is considered to be among the most active and potentially the most destructive of the volcanoes in Mexico.

Seismologists say the increasing frequency of the eruptions and their intensity signalled the volcano was returning to an explosive stage like one that started in 1903 and climaxed with a massive explosion 10 years later that left a 2 640-metre-deep crater at the volcano's peak and scattered ash on cities 385 kilometres away.

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Tropical storm forms in Caribbean
Thursday, June 9, 2005 Updated at 3:05 PM EDT
Associated Press

Miami — Tropical Storm Arlene developed Thursday as the Atlantic hurricane season's first named storm, edging closer to western Cuba and prompting authorities in parts of battered Florida to remind coastal residents to beware.

Arlene had maximum sustained winds of 64 kilometres an hour after strengthening from a tropical depression that formed Wednesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

At 2 p.m. EDT, the storm's centre was about 250 kilometres south-southeast of the western tip of Cuba. It was moving north about 13 km/h, and this motion could bring the storm's centre near western Cuba as early as Thursday night, forecasters said.

The large storm's wind and rain extended 250 kilometres the north and east from its poorly organized centre, meaning parts of the Florida Keys could start getting rain later Thursday, forecasters said.

Arlene was expected to enter the Gulf of Mexico by Friday, and residents from the Florida Panhandle to Louisiana were told to keep an eye on the storm. [...]

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Brrr! Snow in the Alps, a chill in Scotland as a cold snap sweeps much of Europe
Associated Press
June 8, 2005

VIENNA, Austria - It's nearly summertime _ and the living is chilly across much of Europe.

Fresh snow fell Wednesday on parts of Austria _ so much in some places that authorities closed roads to cars without tire chains _ and temperatures dipped below freezing in corners of Croatia and Scotland, fouling moods and spoiling picnic plans.

The unseasonably cold June has even caused headaches in Italy, a country that's normally balmy at this time of year: Officials say cooler-than-usual temperatures and hailstorms have inflicted millions of euros (dollars) in damage on crops.

In agricultural areas near Verona in northeastern Italy _ one of the hardest-hit areas _ between 30 and 40 percent of peaches and apples were lost after the hail pummeled trees, according to Coldiretti, an Italian farmers' association.

Heavy rains and strong winds flooded some of Rome's cobblestone streets overnight, uprooting trees and forcing authorities to close several roads to traffic. The gusts continued Wednesday, rustling Pope Benedict XVI's white vestments during his open-air audience in St. Peter's Square and forcing the pontiff to take off his skullcap.

Parts of Austria's Alps were blanketed with up to 40 centimeters (nearly 16 inches) of fresh snow early Wednesday, and the country's automobile club said numerous tow trucks were called to aid stranded motorists. No injuries were reported.

Although the snow was limited to higher elevations, temperatures have dipped to 7 degrees Celsius (44 degrees Fahrenheit) in Vienna. Austrians call the late spring chill "Schafskaelte," or sheep's cold _ invoking the image of sheep shivering in the fields after being shorn of their first wool of the season.

To be sure, not all of Europe was chilly. In three of Portugal's northern districts, firefighters were on maximum alert Wednesday as a heat wave sharply increased the risk of forest fires.

But in Croatia, a few centimeters (inches) of snow fell overnight on the southern mountain of Biokovo, where the mercury plunged to minus-3 degrees C (37 degrees F) Wednesday morning, officials said.

Strong winds that reached 100 kilometers per hour (60 miles per hour) in the area around the town of Makarska on the southern coast prompted police to warn drivers and cancel ferry service between the town and the popular resort island of Brac.

Rescue teams in southern Croatia were searching for a German tourist who fell off his sailboat Tuesday when it got caught in storm at sea. They managed to save his wife. A surfer also went missing in northern Croatia after heavy winds whipped up waves.

It's been a far colder than usual in parts of Germany, where overnight temperatures recently have dropped as low as 2 degrees C (35 degrees F) in the east, and in neighboring Switzerland, where high winds swept away several tents at a fairground last weekend.

Many parts of Britain also have had an unusually cold June.

Temperatures fell below freezing on Tuesday, with thermometers in the village of Aboyne, Scotland, recording minus-1.1 degrees C (30 degrees F), the Meteorological Office said, predicting more chilly nights this week.

The Royal Air Force base at Benson in Oxfordshire notched its lowest June temperature ever at minus-0.3 degrees C (31.46 degrees F) on Tuesday, beating the zero degrees C (32 degrees F) mark recorded in June 1962.

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Synagogue sued over missing ashes
Houston Chronicle
June 10, 2005, 6:48AM

When relatives of Vivian Shulman Lieberman went to visit her final resting place in a Houston mausoleum one year ago today, they discovered that the cedar chest containing her ashes was missing.

In its place, behind the locked, glass door of Lieberman's niche in Congregation Beth Israel's mausoleum, was a can of sour-cream-and-onion potato chips.

The ashes are still missing, says Philip Hilder, an attorney for Lieberman's two daughters.

"We have been devastated," Marcelle Lieberman said this week. "We hope we will be able to find her remains before we die, to give us closure of some sort."

The strange disappearance led Marcelle Lieberman and her sister, Harriet Lieberman Mellow, to file a lawsuit recently against Congregation Beth Israel and two funeral businesses.

Officials with the synagogue and the two companies deny responsibility. [...]

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Russian Man Hammers Nail Into Head After "Hearing Voice"
Created: 08.06.2005 18:12 MSK (GMT 3) MosNews

The resident of a Russian village has hammered a nail into his own head. While alone at home 37-year-old Yuri Dedov took a hammer and drove a 122-millimeter nail into his forehead all the way down to the nailhead, Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper wrote.

When Dedov's mother came home, she found her son had a fever. Upon seen the nail in his head, she called for an ambulance. Dedov was taken to hospital and operated on. After the successful operation, he said that he had heard a voice saying "Take a hammer and do it."

Neurosurgeon Yuri Tanvel, who operated on Dedov, said a piece of iron had almost gone through the latter's head and stopped near the eyeball. "If its trajectory had been 15 degrees different, he would have died immediately. As it is, no vital function was violated. The main thing is the nail did not reach the brain," the paper quoted the doctor as saying.

In April, doctors in the Voronezh region pulled a 35 cm knife out of a man's head who lived to tell the tale. The patient's friend had plunged the knife into his eye.

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