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An Open Letter to Senator John Kerry

February 29th, 2004 - by admin

by S. Brian Willson / CA Veterans for Peace – Global Research

http://globalresearch.ca/articles/WIL402A.html

FROM: S. Brian Willson
TO: John Kerry

22 February 2004

Dear John,

It has been a long time since we have had contact. As you might remember, our very first meeting was at VVAW’s Dewey Canyon III, “A Limited Incursion Into the Country of Congress,” April 19-23, 1971, in Washington, D.C. I’m sure you remember asking the Senate that week in an impassioned speech, “How do you ask a man to die for a mistake?” You also stressed the importance of being “totally nonviolent.”

Our second and many subsequent meetings occurred in Massachusetts after you were elected Lt. Governor, 1982-84, while I was active in veterans’ issues in Western MA. As director of a veterans’ outreach center in Greenfield, and the Western Massachusetts Agent Orange Information Project, I served on the Massachusetts Agent Orange Task Force under Governor Dukakis’ veterans’ commissioner and your office as Lt. Governor. I subsequently also served on Dukakis’ homeless veterans task force.

When you decided to run for the Senate in 1984 against Ray Shamie, a wealthy businessman, remember that I loyally supported your campaign as one of the dozen or so Vietnam veterans the press called Kerry’s Commandos, you called “Doghunters.” We accompanied you throughout the state, and fended off right-wing criticism from folks such as General George Patton III, who accused you of “giving aid and comfort to the enemy” for your earlier VVAW activities.

I’m sure you remember with fondness that critical time that launched you into national office. Your lawyer brother, Cameron, concluded that it was the veterans’ support that pulled your first campaign out of a nose-dive and created the necessary “galvanizing energy.”

The Conflict between Principle and Ambition
Your critics had suspected that your activities, both in the war and in years following, were prompted, at least in part, by an intense political ambition, even as you addressed your Yale graduating class with an anti-Vietnam War speech shortly prior to enlisting in the U.S. Navy. Your career in the Senate has revealed your all-consuming ambition, but that is quite typical of politicians.

The first hint of a bit of disconnect in your style was when during your first Senate campaign you denied returning your war medals, with a thousand other veterans, in protest of the war during Dewey Canyon III. That was a bit of a shock, since for most veterans who returned their medals in that emotional ceremony on Friday, April 23, 1971, it was a very proud and healing moment.

Your 1984 campaign response: You had returned the medals of a WWII acquaintance at his direction. All those 13 years. everyone thought you had had the courage and leadership to return medals that, to veterans who returned them, represented medals of dishonor drenched in the blood of innocent Vietnamese who did not deserve to die for a lie, any more than our fellow US Americans. I guess you knew then that you were to be running for office.

The second hint occurred at the celebration party you organized for us “doghunters” at your friend John Martilla’s Beacon Hill house in Boston in late June 1985, six months into your term as a junior Senator.

In the wee hours of the morning, you made two comments that troubled me:
(1) you stressed your initials as “JFK” that would help you one day in your quest for the White House, and
(2) that after War Department briefings (and perhaps CIA as well) about the need for funding and training Contra terrorists in Afghanistan and Nicaragua, you had a new appreciation for their importance in furthering US policies.

That did not mean that you necessarily voted for Contra aid but that, once in power, information becomes part of an elite circle preempting genuine democracy.

I had driven in from Greenfield for that celebration party, and after those remarks, I immediately left the party and drove the two hours home. I never forgot it, obviously.

Contra-indications of Kerry’s Copromises
In late September 1986, you, along with some other Senators and Representatives, reluctantly supported the four veterans (myself being one of them) participating in the open-ended Veterans Fast For Life (VFFL) on the east steps of the Capitol building, protesting aid to the Contras.

During that fast, one of your fellow Senators, Warren Rudman (R-NH), stated in October 1986 that our “actions are hardly different than those of the terrorists who are holding our hostages in Beirut.”

Shortly thereafter, both our VFFL offices and separate housing accommodations were broken into with many files of our activities and addresses of supporters taken. The FBI initiated a “domestic terrorist” investigation of the members of the VFFL which was revealed later when an FBI agent refused to comply and was fired after nearly 22 years service in the agency.

In September 1987, as you remember, I was severely assaulted by a US weapons train in Concord, CA, during a peaceful protest of a Pentagon munitions train moving lethal weapons to Central America, suffering permanent injuries. Later it was revealed that they suspected me of planning to “hijack” the train, and had accelerated the train 12 miles above the legal speed limit of 5 mph rather than stopping and awaiting police arrest.

Nonviolent Protestors Again Branded as ‘Terrorists’
Such is life. Contra “terrorists” in Nicaragua called freedom fighters by US presidents, while nonviolent protestors of terrorist policies are labeled the “terrorists” to be investigated. Then look what happened with our terrorists — the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.

Now the Congress is giving the resident of the White House virtual carte blanche authority to launch pre-emptive strikes against more evil lurking beyond our borders. It is a no-brainer to many outside the beltway that we are really experts at knowing how to create rage, then revenge, with our policies of aggression and arrogance.

Power Corrupts… and Blinds
In the life of being a Senator, John, I’m afraid that your career again proves that power corrupts (and blinds), and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Of course you have many friends in the same camp.

With your vote for essentially agreeing with the selected resident of the White House’s request for incredible authority in advance to wage wars against whomever he wants, you have contributed to finalizing the last of the world’s empires, and the likely consequent doom of international law, peaceful existence, and hope for the future possibilities of Homo sapiens.

Of course, it also means that searching for the motivations of other people’s rage and desperate acts of revenge will be overlooked, dooming us to far more threats and instability than if we had seriously pursued a single-standard in the application of international law equally with all nations in the first place. We are too much of a bully to do that, and have stated over and over again that the American Way of Life is not negotiable. Can you understand that this means species suicide?

I’m sorry and terribly fearful for this state we are in. Your vote is terribly misguided, John. Now that veterans have reorganized throughout the nation as once again an important part of the growing movement, know that we shall work hard for your defeat, whether as a Presidential candidate or for another Senate term.

Sincerely, S. Brian Willson, Arcata, California Veterans For Peace

US to Stop Using ‘Persistent’ Landmines After 2010

February 29th, 2004 - by admin

by Gerry J. Gilmore / American Forces Press Service –

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Feb2004/n02272004_200402274.html

WASHINGTON (Feb. 27, 2004) – The US military will stop using always-armed, live landmines after 2010 under a new government policy announced by senior officials at a State Department news briefing today.

The United States will become “the first major military power to adopt a policy ending use of all persistent landmines and maintaining the international standard of detect ability for landmines of any kind,” said Lincoln Bloomfield, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs.

American military de-miners, as well as those from other nations, Bloomfield said, already are involved in marking, monitoring and clearing live minefields left at the end of hostilities in at least 40 countries.

Landmines Kill Innocents
Each year thousands of people fall victim to live landmines buried around the world, Bloomfield said. US forces, he pointed out, didn’t leave those mines behind — except for the potential exception of landmines remaining after the Vietnam conflict from three decades ago.

“The worldwide humanitarian (landmine) crisis is very much the product of persistent landmines used by other militaries or non-state actors who did not observe the international conventions relating to the use of these munitions,” Bloomfield said.

Future American military use of landmines engineered to self-deactivate after a specific period of time should save civilian lives without taking away a key defensive weapon, he noted.

New Policy ‘Doesn’t Include Korea’
Bloomfield said the new policy doesn’t impact on old-style contact landmines used on the Korean Peninsula to deter possible North Korean aggression against South Korea.

Joseph Collins, deputy assistant secretary of defense for stability operations, also at the briefing, said the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff and the military services were involved participants in the development of the new landmine policy.

The new policy requires DoD to develop and use more sophisticated, civilian- friendly landmines in the future, Collins said, noting that landmines would remain an important component of the US military’s weapons inventory.

Landmines are employed as force-multipliers, Collins explained, “allowing us to fight and win with fewer forces … against numerically superior opponents,” while protecting American troops.

Related AFPS Article:
US Humanitarian Mine Action: Making the World Safer

Army Study to Dispel Drug Suicide Myths

February 29th, 2004 - by admin

by Sgt. 1st Class Marcia Triggs / Army News Service –

http://www4.army.mil/ocpa/read.php?story_id_key=5710

WASHINGTON (Feb. 26, 2004) – The surgeon general of the Army told Congress that there is no correlation between the anti-malaria drug Lariam and a recent spike in suicides in combat zones.

There have been 21 confirmed suicides in the Iraq theater, but only four of the Soldiers were in units that were taking Lariam, and only one had traces of the drug in his system, Lt. Gen. James Peake, the Army’s surgeon general, told members of the House Armed Services Total Force Subcommittee Feb. 25.

“We do know the documented side effects of this medicine, but the key causes of the suicides were failed intimate relationships, legal and financial problems,” Peake said. “The same kind of issues that you see back home related to suicides seem to be the predominant triggers in theater as well.”

A 12-person Mental Health Advisory Team went to Kuwait and Iraq from August to October to assess mental health issues and behavioral heath care for Soldiers serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom after it was reported that there is an annual rate of 15.8 suicides per 100,000 Soldiers per year. This is an increase from the 9.1 to 14.8 annual Armywide rates between 1995 and 2002.

Larium Is Known to Cause Depression, Paranoia
Suicide, depression and paranoia are some of the reported side effects of Lariam. But Peake said that if a Soldier has a history of depression, then an alternate anti-malaria drug is given. Chloroquine is a daily anti-malaria drug, but the weekly dose of Lariam is preferred, Peake added.

This summer Chloroquine may be given to Soldiers in Iraq, or there may not be a need for any anti-malarial medicine in Iraq, said officials from Office of the Surgeon General. The Central Command surgeon will make the decision after the mosquitoes are tested for malaria, officials said.

Two task forces are studying the perception troops have of Lariam and to see if it causes adverse outcomes, Dr. William Winkenwerder, assistant secretary of defense for Health Affairs, said during testimony.

The scientific study may take several months to two years to complete, Winkenwerder said. The study on perception is ongoing to see how service members feel about the drug, and how they came to that conclusion, he added.

Cpl. Victor Thibeault, from the 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y., said he stopped taking Lariam because he started having nightmares and it made him physically ill.

Thibeault, who served in Afghanistan, saved the lives of local civilians and his buddy by grabbing a grenade that had been thrown in his vehicle and securing it his hand. He testified that everyone he knew who was taking the drug also had similar complaints.

Lariam has been approved by the Federal Drug Administration, and it is used to protect Soldiers from a deadly form of malaria, Peake said. There have been Soldiers and Marines who have died from malaria, Peake added.

Winkenwerder said Thibeault’s feelings toward the drug worries him, and he’s hoping that the ongoing studies can dispel myths about Lariam and give Soldiers confidence in the drug.

The 12-member advisory team that went to Iraq to study the behavioral heath of Soldiers places more emphasis on adapting current garrison-based Army suicide prevention initiatives in the deployed regions.

“We’re seeking to elevate suicide awareness beyond the medical field,” said Dr. William Winkenwerder, assistant secretary of defense for Health Affairs. “We want everyone to know about the impact of stress and anxiety and how it can lead to depression and suicide.”

One Veteran’s Outrage: Bush, Iraq and the Dead

February 27th, 2004 - by admin

by Commentary by Jack Dalton / Freelance Writer –

http://www.islamonline.net/English/In_Depth/Iraq_Aftermath/2004/02/article_06.shtml

There is a trend toward autocratic takeovers of imperial republics… especially after they reach a certain stage of growth.

Even now this process is underway in the USA — the President, like the first Roman emperors, decides when and where to wage war, and his Senate rubber stamps and extorts the funding for his imperial adventures, just as the original came to do in the time of Caesar and Octavian.

— Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrow of Empire (Metropolitan Books)

(February 23, 2004) — 548 American soldiers have died as of February 24, 2004.
Bush, like all good, upstanding autocratic imperial heads of empire cares about one thing and one thing only — power and expansion.

God help anything or anyone that has the nerve to get in the way! After all, his “majesty” must make the world safe for “democracy.” He must “civilize” the “uncivilized.” It is such a “short mental leap for people superior in power to infer that they were (are) superior in intellect, morality and civilization as well.”

Achievement of an “end” is all that matters and the “means” of achieving that end are irrelevant. Whatever the cost, the end must be achieved. No matter the cost economically, socially, politically, the end is all-important. No matter the cost in human life, the end is all-important. English political economist John Hobson sums it up rather nicely:

“[I]mperialists are parasites upon patriotism. They are the people who anticipate profitable business and lucrative employment in the course of creating and exporting an empire.”

Currently this country operates over 725 permanent military bases everywhere but Antarctica — with more being built. And the dead keep piling up. A grotesque monument to his “Imperial Majesty’s” empire expansion.

• The Rising Death Toll of US Troops in Iraq
• War Profiteers Flourish; Soldiers and Their Families Pay the Price
• No Help for the Masters of Chaos and Fear

Does Bush or anyone in his cabal care about the mounting death toll? I think not! After all, as we keep being told, we are at war and people die in wars. And the dead keep growing in numbers.

534 Dead; 26,000 Wounded
True to form as head of the “American Empire,” Bush ignores the mounting death toll and the enormous number of wounded and medical evacuations (534 dead, 26,000 evacuated… this is all in the public domain and all over my web site).

His mouthpiece, in the form of corporate media, has taken instructions well: no footage or photos of returning coffins. Out of sight, out of mind… this in and of itself is disrespectful — an outrage and a betrayal of the fallen!

Bush could care less how many of our young people are killed or wounded. Twice he has been asked about the mounting death toll and both times he glibly dismissed the question.

When Tim Russert interviewed Bush on Meet the Press he asked him, “Now looking back, in your mind, is it worth the loss of 530 American lives and 3,000 injuries and woundings simply to remove Saddam Hussein, even though there were no weapons of mass destruction?”

Did Bush show any signs of understanding, compassion, sympathy or loss about the dead and dying? Not by any stretch of the imagination.

Instead, he went into one of the most obscene diatribes, an “instruction” for the families of the fallen, about Saddam being a “bad” man.

So What?! We knew he was a “bad” man; the entire 20-plus years he was our bad man. It didn’t seem to matter much when Rumsfeld was having “tea” with him back in the 1980’s and giving him the things necessary to manufacture bio/chem weapons. Or when Cheney’s Halliburton was doing business with him in 1998!

Bush Calls for ‘Sacrifice’ and Calls on Others to Do the Sacrificing.
As an American, a former Marine (if there is such an animal — former that is), as a disabled Vietnam veteran, I am outraged over the glib, cavalier and dismissive attitude of Bush and his cabal when it comes to the wholesale slaughter of our young men and women, which is being done only to further their quest for empire.

Bush talks of the “sacrifices” that “we” must make. After all we are at war, he tells us.

D**m it! The only people doing the sacrificing are the poor, people of color, and what is left of an ever decreasing middle class.

He does not care! If he did, even just a little, he would show some sign of respect for the dead, the wounded and their families.

Instead, he goes into a ten-minute “lecture,” attempting to convince us and the families of the fallen that he, Bush, is making the world a safer place. After all, didn’t he get rid of that bad man Saddam?

And the dead keep growing in numbers.

To Bush and his cabal, we are just numbers on paper, pieces on a chessboard to be moved around at his “pleasure.”

In the meantime, the dead keep growing in numbers.

Bush stated he is a “war president,” that his policy decisions are made with “war in mind.” Welcome to militarism and the “American Empire.”

And the dead keep piling up.

Empire and its accompanying “might makes right” dogma — by any of the Orwellian double-speak terms or the euphemisms currently in vogue — is still “empire.”

While Bush keeps beating his chest about being a “war president,” the pile of bodies, arms, legs and other assorted body parts of our young people in uniform keeps getting larger and larger.

While he tells us “the American people have got to know they got a president who sees the world the way it is,” I wonder how much of what he sees is left-over brain rot from the years of cocaine and alcohol abuse.

And the number of dead keeps growing.

Jack Dalton is a 60-year-old service-connected, disabled veteran. He spent two years at Vietnam (1965, 66, 67). He holds an MS in Labor and Political Economics. He can be reached at Jack_Dalton@ommp.org.
Jack Dalton’s wbesite is:
www.Oregon-Medical-Marijuana-Project.org

US Military Accused of Rights Violations in Iraq

February 27th, 2004 - by admin

by Chris Spannos, Electronic Iraq –

http://www.envirosagainstwar.org/edit/index.php?op=edit&itemid=1156

(January 25, 2004) — According to a new report, the US military in Iraq is arrogant and cruel when dealing with Iraqis seeking compensation for wrongful death, injuries and property destruction. The report, authored by Iraq Occupation Watch and The National Association for the Defense of Human Rights in Iraq (NADHRI), slams US military practice in Iraq since March 1, 2003 and charges that the US compensation system in Iraq is useless.

The “Joint Report on Civilian Casualties and Claims Related to US Military Operations” investigates cases of civilian casualties caused by random shootings, house searches, car accidents between civilian and military vehicles, and deaths caused by cluster bombs. It also explores how the compensation system is working.

The Occupation Is ‘Bloodier’ than the Invasion
Bush declared heavy fighting in Iraq to be over last May. However, the report claims that “the postwar situation is often bloodier than the war itself”.

Up to 512 American soldiers have died as of January 24, 2004. The Associated Press reports that most of the deaths have occurred since Bush’s May 1 declaration. According to the Christian Science Monitor there aren’t any reliable statistics on the numbers of Iraqis killed since the war but, “most analysts in Iraq say the local civilian death toll…is numbering well into the thousands”.

After May 1, the US created a legal system where Iraqi civilians who have suffered can present claims for compensation to US military authorities. This system operates anytime the US military is deployed to a foreign country.

The US military said it would hear claims from Iraqis whose family members were killed or wounded in incidents involving US troops as long they took place in non-combat circumstances. The claims are dealt with under the Foreign Claims Act and cover material damage, injury and death. These incidents must have occurred after May 1, during a non-combat situation and be generated by wrongful action or negligence.

More than 5,000 Claims Filed against US Troops
According to Human Rights Watch, the US military has received nearly 5,400 claims as of mid-September, 4,148 of which had been adjudicated and 1,874 denied. The New York Times reports that the US military has paid out more than $2 million in compensation for damage and injury claims since May.

Lawyers for NADHRI have filed 120 cases for compensation with the military. Occupation Watch has filed 20 and logged more than 80. None of these claims have received compensation.

Many Obtacles to Filing Claims
To file claims Iraqis have to go to Civilian Military Operation Centers (CMOC). The report documents an extensive list of difficulties experienced at CMOC offices. These include no Arabic copies of the Foreign Claims Act procedures, all replies are written in English, lack of female soldiers for interactions with Iraqi women and loss of seized documents, safes, money and gold.

The report describes one case outlining the death of Mazen Antoine Hanna Noraddin, a 32-year-old pharmaceutical company sales representative. Mazen was killed in military crossfire while waiting on the side of the road for a taxi.

American military units shot Mazen seven times while firing randomly across a 200-meter stretch of road in response to an attack.

The American units took Mazan’s corpse to the airport for a forensic examination allowing Mr. Antoine, Mazen’s father, 72, to accompany them. He waited two hours at the airport before being told to take his son’s corpse back home — by taxi. Mr. Antoine refused, telling the soldiers that no taxi would pick him up and that it’s difficult to find a taxi near the airport.

After some discussion, the same unit received orders to return Mazen’s body and his father to his home. The unit insisted that he get out at the nearest intersection instead.

Mazen’s father, told to carry the body the rest of the way, replied that he could not and that there was no problem for the unit in reaching the house. They agreed on the condition that he run in front of the truck as a human shield. Mazen’s father ran until they reached Mazen’s road, where they refused to go any further. Mazen’s father, with some friends on the street, carried Mazen’s corpse back to the house.

A compensation claim was filed for the case of Mazen and the family received $2,500 “sympathy money”.

Families of Innocent Civilians Killed by US Receive ‘Sympathy Money’
Occupation Watch researcher Paola Gasparoli commented that, in the case of “sympathy money”, the US military authority “doesn’t recognize responsibility. They simply say ‘our units were acting in the respect of the rules of engagement. But we understand that for your family it’s a tragedy. So, we pay $2,500′”.

Reconsideration of Mazen’s case was requested but refused. The case is now closed.

Refused Cliams ‘Another Form of Disresepct’
Gasparoli said, “The fact they don’t want to investigate combat situations is increasing the impunity between soldiers because there is no inquiry about the disproportionate use of force or to see if the reaction of the soldiers was useful to catch the attacker. So the units know that nothing happens to them.”

When asked if there is a process for holding troops accountable, she responded, “No, because [Iraqis] don’t go to a court or tribunal. Here there are judge-lawyers. They are military so they arrive in uniform and they are armed. And it’s just up to them to accept or reject the case. Lawyers and judges are the same person.”

She said that for Iraqis the compensation claims “are not only a question of money. But, that they see the refusal to accept the claim as another insult, as another form of disrespect.”

The report concludes by observing that “the way the compensation system is structured and managed, the American troops have adopted an atmosphere of impunity. Arrogant and violent behavior goes unpunished and continues.”

Chris Spannos produces radio in the Redeye collective, heard on Vancouver’s Cooperative Radio, CFRO. He is a founder and collective member of Vancouver’s Participatory Economics Collective.

This page is part of Electronic Iraq/electronicIraq.net, a joint project from Voices in the Wilderness and The Electronic Intifada. Views expressed on this page may or may not be representative of Electronic Iraq or its founders. All material on this website is copyright ©2003 of the author or original source.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.)

Kucinich Criticizes US Nuke Testing

February 27th, 2004 - by admin

by Thomas Burr / The Salt Lake Tribune –

http://www.sltrib.com/2004/Feb/02232004/utah/utah.asp

During a brief stop in Salt Lake City two days before the Utah Democratic primary, presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich vowed that if elected he would stop any nuclear tests and work to rid the world of atomic weapons.

Calling Tuesday’s party-run election a referendum on nuclear testing, Kucinich asked voters to check his name to show Utahns oppose tests in the adjacent Nevada desert. Past tests and their fallout have been blamed for cancer throughout the region.

“I want the people of Utah to know that as president of the United States, I will bring an end to all the nuclear testing,” Kucinich said Sunday during a rally at Salt Lake City International Airport. “We will stop the sacrifice of the health and the welfare of the people of Utah and every other state [who] would be affected by the testing of nuclear weapons. This must stop.”

Kucinich, an Ohio congressman who has yet to win any primary or caucus contests, shook hands with supporters and made a short speech to stump for votes before the primary, at which 23 Utah delegates are at stake. He is the only candidate to visit the state in recent months.

During a telephone news conference earlier Sunday, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic front-runner, said he also opposed the resumption of nuclear tests, as proposed by the Bush administration. Kerry said computers could be used for further simulations.

“I have consistently been opposed to the testing,” Kerry told Utah media outlets. “The notion that you have to have domestic ground testing, or any kind of testing beyond simulation, is ridiculous, given the redundancy and the threat level that our redundancy carries compared to any other nation on the planet today.”

Campaign officials for North Carolina Sen. John Edwards said he planned to make himself available to Utah reporters today. His and Kerry’s campaigns have focused on the bigger states in the March 2 “Super Tuesday” primaries that will yield 1,151 delegates.

People in Utah Being Used as ‘Guinea Pigs’
Kucinich, who surrounded himself with children for the rally, told about 40 supporters that if elected he would stop the development of biological and chemical warfare agents in the United States.

He referred to reports saying the Pentagon was quietly setting up four germ labs at Dugway Proving Ground, west of Salt Lake City. “Your state is being used as kind of a guinea pig on all of these tests,” Kucinich said.

Kerry didn’t address that issue Sunday. He attacked President Bush on economic issues, saying Bush is ignoring the outsourcing of jobs to other countries and the increase in deficit spending. “There is nothing conservative or mainstream Republican about the fiscal policies of this administration,” Kerry said.

“Their priority is tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans,” he said. “We should roll back George Bush’s unaffordable tax cuts for the wealthiest people and protect the middle class.”

The Kerry campaign has five national staffers in the state working with local officials to promote the candidate. And Kucinich has recorded a voice message that is being sent to Utahns urging them to vote for him.

TONIGHT: US Police Are Becoming Agents of Political Repression

February 27th, 2004 - by admin

by Bill Moyers / NOW — PBS –

http://www.pbs.org/now

At this year’s Republican Convention scheduled for late summer in New York City, protestors have promised that 1 million people will be out on the streets. How is the government preparing to handle massive dissent?

Disturbing clues have emerged in what happened at a trade conference in Miami last November where hundreds of protesters were detained, searched, and some seriously injured in violent clashes with police.

While official Miami hailed the event as a model for “homeland security,” others called it a preemptive strike on dissent and an assault on civil liberties.

On Friday, February 27, 2004 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings),

NOW with Bill Moyers takes a hard look at the protests and their aftermath to examine whether law enforcement was maintaining order or abusing power.

As other cities turn to Miami for examples of how to police their major events, the segment asks, were they protecting the public or serving special interests?

This story will be broadcast on NOW this Friday, February 27th on PBS at 9PM EST/10PM PST (check local listings at the following site):
http://www.pbs.org/now/sched.html

Mr. Bush Is Right! Let’s Bomb Ireland!

February 26th, 2004 - by admin

by Terry Jones / The Observer (London) –

http://www.envirosagainstwar.org/edit/index.php?op=edit&itemid=1126

To prevent terrorism by dropping bombs on Iraq is such an obvious idea that I can’t think why no one has thought of it before. It’s so simple.

If only the UK had done something similar in Northern Ireland, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in today.

The moment the IRA blew up the Horseguards’ bandstand, the Government should have declared its own War on Terrorism. It should have immediately demanded that the Irish government hand over Gerry Adams.

If they refused to do so — or quibbled about needing proof of his guilt — we could have told them that this was no time for prevarication and that they must hand over not only Adams but all IRA terrorists in the Republic.

If they tried to stall by claiming that it was hard to tell who were IRA terrorists and who weren’t, because they don’t go around wearing identity badges, we would have been free to send in the bombers.

Cluster Bombs over Dublin
It is well known that the best way of picking out terrorists is to fly 30,000-ft above the capital city of any state that harbours them and drop bombs — preferably cluster bombs.

It is conceivable that the bombing of Dublin might have provoked some sort of protest, even if just from James Joyce fans, and there is at least some likelihood of increased anti-British sentiment in what remained of the city and thus a rise in the numbers of potential terrorists.

But this, in itself, would have justified the tactic of bombing them in the first place. We would have nipped them in the bud, so to speak. I hope you follow the argument.

Having bombed Dublin and, perhaps, a few IRA training bogs in Tipperary, we could not have afforded to be complacent. We would have had to turn our attention to those states which had supported and funded the IRA terrorists through all these years.

Take the War to Ireland’s Backers in the USA!
The main provider of funds was, of course, the USA, and this would have posed us with a bit of a problem. Where to bomb in America? It’s a big place and it’s by no means certain that a small country like the UK could afford enough bombs to do the whole job.

It’s going to cost the US billions to bomb Iraq and a lot of that is empty. America, on the other hand, provides a bewildering number of targets.

Should we have bombed Washington, where the policies were formed? Or should we have concentrated on places where Irishmen are known to lurk, like New York, Boston and Philadelphia?

We could have bombed any police station and fire station in most major urban centres, secure in the knowledge that we would be taking out significant numbers of IRA sympathizers. On St Patrick’s Day, we could have bombed Fifth Avenue and scored a bull’s-eye.

In those American cities we couldn’t afford to bomb, we could have rounded up American citizens with Irish names, put bags over their heads and flown them in chains to Guernsey or Rockall, where we could have given them food packets marked ‘My Kind of Meal’ and exposed them to the elements with a clear conscience.

And Bomb the Aussies, Too!
The same goes for Australia. There are thousands of people in Sydney and Melbourne alone who have actively supported Irish republicanism by sending money and good wishes back to people in the Republic, many of whom are known to be IRA members and sympathizers.

A well-placed bomb or two Down Under could have taken out the ringleaders and left the world a safer place. Of course, it goes without saying that we would also have had to bomb various parts of London such as Camden Town, Lewisham and bits of Hammersmith and we should certainly have had to obliterate, if not the whole of Liverpool, at least the Scotland Road area.

And that would be it really, as far as exterminating the IRA and its supporters. Easy.

The War on Terrorism provides a solution so uncomplicated, so straightforward and so gloriously simple that it baffles me why it has taken a man with the brains of George W. Bush to think of it.

So, sock it to Iraq, George. Let’s make the world a safer place.

Stop the Return of Torturers to Haiti

February 26th, 2004 - by admin

by Jennifer Harbury – Torture Abolition Network / Haiti Action Committee

http://www.envirosagainstwar.org/edit/index.php?op=edit&itemid=1154

The letter below comes from Jennifer Harbury, who knows first hand about state-sponsored torture when she insisted on determining the wherabouts of her “disappeared” husband. His torturers were part of a Reagan/Bush-backed operation that freed right-wing death squads to kill peasants all over South and Central America.

What follows is just another example of censorship and media-spin by Bush’s right-wing regime, which consistantly favors anti-democratic rule for its client-states, knowing that real democracy makes it a little bit harder for the Big Businesses. Brutal military/police state rule is always at the bottom of every type of fascism.

The followers of Aristide and Haitain democracy are being deceptively lied about by the members of the Bush administration. Those of us in line for similar treatment in this country had better speak up for the currently targeted or nobody will be left to speak up for us when it’s our turn.
— Gary Kohis / Peace Friends


An Appeal from Jennifer Harbury

Dear Friends:

We urgently need your support and telephone calls on the growing crisis in Haiti. I am sure you have all seen the recent press articles about what is described as the popular unrest there, but far more than civil disobedience is at stake now.

We are looking at yet another grab for power by the same death squads that ravaged Haiti a few years ago. The self-proclaimed uprising has been extremely violent and people are dying.

While members of the political opposition are indeed part of this uprising, so too are many of the most notorious torturers and death squad members who devastated Haiti before Aristide’s return to power.

When we remember that FRAPH and many other military human rights violators were in fact backed by the CIA in those years, the recent insinuations by US officials that they would not oppose an ouster of President Aristide take on a rather sinister light.

Mr. Aristide was legally and popularly elected by the people of Haiti not once, but twice, in the more recent elections by 92% of the vote. (The claims of electoral error arose in a senate election, not his presidential victory). Why are we suggesting that he leave office or accept US-dictated changes in his policies?

The Return of the FRAPH?
The opposition demonstrators have seized the town of Gonaives, killing more than 50 people the first week, including three hospital patients and 14 policemen who were mutilated and dragged through the streets.

A number of key roads and a bridge have been obstructed, preventing the arrival of badly-needed medical personnel as well as humanitarian supplies.

According to reports, the “Resistance” has proclaimed that anyone not supporting the overthrow of Aristide would be attacked. They backed up this threat with beatings and killings, and destroyed several homes, two of which happened to belong to the survivors of the Raboteau massacre.

(In 1994 the army and paramilitary troops had entered Raboteau, shooting, beating and arresting people in masses. As the people fled towards the harbor to swim to safety, they encountered armed men on the beachfront, who opened fire on them. Undeterred, the people of Raboteau pressed their human rights case through trial, winning a verdict against 16 of the 22 defendants despite the US refusal to hand over thousands of FRAPH documents).

US-Trained Killers Are Leading the ‘Resistance’
Two of the opposition leaders reported to have engaged in killings of police officers in Haiti’s Central Plateau, include Guy Philippe, a US-trained former Haitian soldier who has attempted at least three coups in the last four years, and Louis Jodel Chamblain, the #2 ranked leader of the notorious CIA-backed FRAPH death squad.

Chamblain was convicted in both the assassination of Antoine Izmery, a pro-democracy businessman in 1993, and the 1994 Raboteau massacre.

Jean Pierre, alias Tatoune, was a local FRAPH leader and was serving a life sentence for the Raboteau massacre, until his escape in a 2002 jailbreak. The opposition also includes civilians like sweat shop owner and US citizen Andy Apaid, who opposed an increase of the minimum wage last year, when Aristide attempted to raise it from the $1.60 per day where it now stands.

Rebellion Leaders Have Long-standing Ties to the CIA
Since so many of the more brutal members of the “opposition” in fact have long standing ties to the US intelligence community, we should be calling off our dogs instead of pressing Aristide to bend his policies to US demands.

Haiti really does not need the FRAPH or other death squads, let alone the CIA, to interfere with a lawfully elected government, let alone to return to power for a new round of blood baths.

Who can forget the massacre in the Saint-Jean Bosco Church of 1988, which took place as Aristide was giving his Sunday mass? Thugs and secret police broke down the church doors and opened fire, attacking and stabbing the people as they prayed. A pregnant woman was stabbed through the stomach, more than a dozen others were killed, many more badly hurt, and the Church was burned to the ground.

Miraculously Aristide survived, became President, survived a violent coup, and became President yet again.

The people of Haiti have spoken clearly enough about their choice of their national leader. There are no masses of refugees fleeing Aristide as there were under Duvalier and the FRAPH. We should respect this choice instead of supporting yet more terror.

Call or Write the State Department’s Haiti Desk:
(202) 736-4628.

Tell Them:
• The United States should fully support any legally and popularly elected government, including that of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, President of Haiti..

• Because many of the persons involved in the current violence by the opposition, were in fact death-squad members and extreme human-rights violators, with long standing links to the US intelligence services, the US government should take all steps possible to control these assets and allies, and require the immediate cessation of violence and intimidation on their part. Any and all covert funding to them should be halted forthwith.

• The US government should respect and comply with any request by President Aristide for reasonable assistance to his understaffed and under-equipped police force. The US should respect the sovereign status of the government of Haiti and not interfere in the socio-economic policies of that country by threatened intervention or sanctions of any kind.

If you wish to make additional calls, please give your support and thanks to Maxine Waters, and ask for help from other allies and friends on the Hill, such as Sen. Leahy, Sen. Dodd, Rep. Conyers, Rep. Rangel, and Rep. Lantos. The Switchboard number is (202) 224-3121.

Thank you everyone. Your calls do make a difference, and always have.
Abrazos,
Jennifer

STATE DEPARTMENT Contact Information:

• Colin Powell, Secretary of State,
US Department of State, 2201 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20520
Phone: 202.647.5291 or 202.647.7098 Fax: 202.647.2283 or 202.647.5169
E-mail:
http://contact-us.state.gov/ask_form_cat/ask_form_secretary.html

• Haiti Desk Officers, State Department:
Joseph Tilghman
Fax: 202.647.2901
Phone: 202.647.5088
email: tilghmanjf@state.gov

• Lawrence Connell
Fax: 202.647.2901
Phone: 202.647.6765

UK Woman Freed for Blowing Whistle on US Spies

February 26th, 2004 - by admin

by The Observer (London) –

http://www.envirosagainstwar.org/edit/index.php?op=edit&itemid=1147

A GCHQ translator sacked for revealing a secret e-mail has been cleared of a charge under the Official Secrets Act. Katharine Gun, 29, from Cheltenham, claimed the e-mail was from US spies asking British officers to tap phones of nations voting on war against Iraq. She walked free on Wednesday when the prosecution offered no evidence.

Mrs Gun had always said she had acted in an effort to prevent the war, and outside court said: “I have no regrets and I would do it again.”

The leaking of the e-mail to the Observer newspaper generated a row and saw Mrs. Gun’s case become a cause celebre in the US, with civil rights activist Jesse Jackson and actor Sean Penn lending their support.

Human rights group Liberty, which supported Mrs. Gun throughout her trial, said it was possible the prosecution’s decision followed political intervention.

Trial Halted by Fear Invasion would Prove Illegal?
There has been speculation the government was worried about the disclosure of secret documents during the trial, particularly the advice by Attorney General Lord Goldsmith about the legality of war.

Under the Official Secrets Act, the attorney general has the final decision on whether or not to prosecute. But the attorney general’s office told the BBC the decision to drop the charge had nothing to do with Lord Goldsmith’s advice.

Mrs Gun’s legal team served documents on the government on Tuesday demanding to see any advice given to ministers about the legality of the war.

But BBC political correspondent Guto Harri said a government spokesperson insisted the decision to drop the case was taken before the demand for documents was made.

The same spokesperson suggested the case might have been dropped as Mrs. Gun planned to argue she leaked the e-mail to save lives from being lost in a war, something that could persuade a jury and would lead to the reputation of the Official Secrets Act being damaged.

Our correspondent said this suggested the government had made a political calculation that a random selection of a dozen jurors would be likely to be so instinctively anti-war than an acquittal would be likely.

‘Baffled’
Mrs. Gun, who was sacked from GCHQ in June and charged on 13 November, thanked her family and friends for helping her through the case. She told a news conference: “Obviously I’m not prone to leak secrets left, right and centre… but this needed to get out, the public deserved to know what was going on at the time.

“I was pretty horrified and I felt that the British intelligence services were being asked to do something that would undermine the whole UN democratic processes.”

Mrs. Gun revealed she was strongly anti-war but said she had not been looking for a piece of information to leak and embarrass the government. “I’m just baffled in the 21st century we as human beings are still dropping bombs on each other as a means to resolve issues.”

The memo, from January last year, reportedly said the National Security Agency had begun a “surge” in eavesdropping on UN Security Council countries crucial to the vote on a second resolution for action in Iraq.

Officials from Angola, Cameroon, Chile, Bulgaria, Guinea and Pakistan all had their phones tapped in what the Observer described as a “dirty tricks” operation.

‘Political Charges’
BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said managers within the intelligence service might now be thinking about talking to members of staff about their concerns to prevent future whistleblowing.

Shami Chakrabarti, of Liberty, said the decision to charge Mrs. Gun in the first place had been political. “One wonders whether disclosure in this criminal trial might have been a little too embarrassing,” she said.

The Liberal Democrats’ foreign affairs spokesman Sir Menzies Campbell said: “It is possible the attorney general’s legal advice might have been published at last. This is a government retreat.”

Mrs Gun pleaded not guilty on Wednesday, after which the prosecution announced it would not be going ahead with its case. Mark Ellison, for the prosecution, said: “There is no longer sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction. It would not be appropriate to go into the reasons for this decision.”

No Explanation
The judge, the Recorder of London Michael Hyam, recorded a formal verdict of not guilty. The defence inquired why it took until Wednesday for the case to be dropped, but the prosecution offered no explanation. They also want to know why news of the charges being dropped was apparently leaked to the Guardian newspaper last week.

All that is needed for a successful prosecution under the Official Secrets Act is for the prosecution to demonstrate the accused is covered by it, which Mrs. Gun was, and they have revealed information covered by it, which she also admitted.

Her solicitor James Welch described the prosecution’s excuse as “rather lame”.

Former spy David Shayler, jailed for revealing secrets, said a blanket of secrecy was used to protect intelligence matters that did not affect national security. “If the intelligence services are going to do things that are illegal they have to expect people to whistleblow.”

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