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Falluja’s Health Damage

November 30th, 2004 - by admin

Miles Schuman / The Nation – 2004-11-30 23:20:58

http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20041213&s=schuman

(November 24, 2004) — While the North American news media have focused on the military triumph of US Marines in Falluja, little attention has been paid to reports that US armed forces killed scores of patients in an attack on a Falluja health center and have deprived civilians of medical care, food and water.

Although the US military has dismissed accounts of the health center bombing as “unsubstantiated,” in fact they are credible and come from multiple sources. Dr. Sami al-Jumaili described how US warplanes bombed the Central Health Centre in which he was working at 5:30 am on November 9.

The clinic had been treating many of the city’s sick and wounded after US forces took over the main hospital at the start of the invasion. According to Dr. al-Jumaili, US warplanes dropped three bombs on the clinic, where approximately sixty patients — many of whom had serious injuries from US aerial bombings and attacks — were being treated.

US Bombed Hospital, Killing 35 Patients
Dr. al-Jumaili reports that 35 patients were killed in the airstrike, including two girls and three boys under the age of 10. In addition, he said, fifteen medics, four nurses and five health support staff were killed, among them health aides Sami Omar and Omar Mahmoud, nurses Ali Amini and Omar Ahmed, and physicians Muhammad Abbas, Hamid Rabia, Saluan al-Kubaissy and Mustafa Sheriff.

Although the deaths of these individual health workers could not be independently confirmed, Dr. al-Jumaili’s account is echoed by Fadhil Badrani, an Iraqi reporter for Reuters and the BBC.

Reached by phone in Falluja, Badrani estimated that forty patients and fifteen health workers had been killed in the bombing. Dr. Eiman al-Ani of Falluja General Hospital, who said he reached the site shortly after the attack, said that the entire health center had collapsed on the patients.

Another US War Crime?
It was well-known that the Falluja facility was a health center operating as a small hospital, a protected institution under international law. According to James Ross of Human Rights Watch, “the onus would be on the US government to demonstrate that the hospital was being used for military purposes and that its response was proportionate. Even if there were snipers there, it would never justify destroying a hospital.”

US airstrikes also leveled a warehouse in which medical supplies were stored next to the health center, Dr. al-Jumaili reports. Ambulances from the city had been confiscated by the government, he says, and the only vehicle left was targeted by US fire, killing the driver and wounding a paramedic. Hamid Salaman of the Falluja General Hospital told the Associated Press that five patients in the ambulance were killed.

US and allied Iraqi military forces stormed the Falluja General Hospital, which is on the perimeter of the city, at the beginning of the assault, claiming it was under insurgent control and was a center of propaganda about civilian casualties during last April’s attack on the city. The soldiers encountered no resistance. Dr. Rafe Chiad, the hospital’s director, reached by phone, stated emphatically that it is a neutral institution, providing humanitarian aid.

US Banned Medical Aid to Fallujah
According to Dr. Chiad, the US military has prevented hospital physicians, including a team of surgeons, anesthesiologists, internists and general practitioners, from entering Falluja. US authorities have denied all requests to send doctors, ambulances, medical equipment and supplies from the hospital into the city to tend to the wounded, he said.

Now the city’s only health facility is a small Iraqi military clinic, which is inaccessible to most of the city’s remaining population because of its distance from many neighborhoods and the dangers posed by US snipers and crossfire.

“Falluja is dying,” said Dr. al-Ani. “We want to save whoever we can.” Jim Welsh, health and human rights coordinator for Amnesty International in London, notes that under the Geneva Conventions, “medical personnel cannot be forced to refrain from providing healthcare which they believe is their ethical responsibility.” The 173-bed Falluja General Hospital remains empty, according to Dr. Chiad.

Health Conditions ‘Catasrophic’
The Iraqi Red Crescent Society has called the health conditions in and around Falluja “catastrophic.” One hospital staff member who recently left the city reports that there were severe outbreaks of diarrheal infections among the population, with children and the elderly dying from infectious disease, starvation and dehydration in greater numbers each day.

Dr. al-Jumaili, Dr. al-Ani and journalist Badrani each stated that the wounded and children are dying because of lack of medical attention and water. In one case, according to Dr. al-Jumaili, three children died of dehydration when their father was unable to find water for them. The US forces cut off the city’s water supply before launching their assault.

“The people are dying because they are injured, have nothing to eat or drink, almost no healthcare,” said Dr. al-Ani. “The small rations of food and water handed out by the US soldiers cannot provide for the population.”

For the thousands living in makeshift camps outside the city, according to Firdus al-Ubadi of the Red Crescent Society, hygiene and health conditions are as precarious as in Falluja. There are no oral rehydration solutions or salts for those who are dehydrated, she says.

These reports demand an immediate international response, an end to assaults on Falluja’s civilian population and the free passage of medical aid, food and water. Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has vowed to investigate “violations of the rules of war designed to protect civilians and combatants” in Falluja and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The San Francisco-based Association of Humanitarian Lawyers has petitioned the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States to investigate the deaths.

The bombing of hospitalized patients, forced starvation and dehydration, denial of medicines and health services to the sick and wounded must be recognized for what they are: war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Miles Schuman is a family physician and member of the medical network of the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture.

 

The US Government Is Missing the Mark on Bin Laden

November 30th, 2004 - by admin

Michael Scheurer and Peter Jennings / ABC World News Tonight – 2004-11-30 23:12:56

http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/story?id=261233

(November 17, 2004) — Michael Scheuer, a former CIA analyst who headed the agency’s Osama bin Laden unit, tells ABC News’ Peter Jennings in an interview that the US government has a fundamental misunderstanding of the al Qaeda leader.

Scheuer, who published the book Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror under the name “Anonymous,” started profiling bin Laden in the mid-1980s. He resigned from the CIA this month so he could speak freely about what he regards as a general failure to understand bin Laden.

Following is an excerpt of the interview:

Peter Jennings: Can you tell me, first of all, what do you think of Osama bin Laden?

Michael Scheuer: He is a dedicated pious Muslim. An apparently devout family man. He is also that odd combination of a 12th century religious person, and a modern, almost the CEO-type, officer. He manages an entirely unique multinational organization and does it very well. His actions, of course, are reprehensible in our perception. And we need to kill him and defeat him.

Jennings: Why is his “piety,” or his “religion,” if you will, relevant to our security?

Scheuer: It’s relevant, sir, because, many Muslims in the Islamic world regard as an “assault on their religion” — certainly our presence on the Arabian peninsula remains a grievous offense to many, many Muslims, whether they support bin Laden or not.

Jennings: Because that’s where two of the holy places are located.

Scheuer: And the homeland of the prophets, sir. It’s the first holiest place in Islam. With the war in Iraq, we now occupy the second holiest place in Islam. And with the Israelis holding Jerusalem, they occupy the third holiest place. So in a sense, we have managed to portray ourselves as the “invaders of Islamic sanctities.”

Jennings: When we, at the media, get a tape of Osama bin Laden, we always look for the headline. I’d like to know, when you see the tape, what do you look for?

Scheuer: This is the fourth time Osama bin Laden has talked directly to the American people, saying, “It really doesn’t matter if President Bush or Mr. Kerry are elected, if the policies don’t change. I know you live in a democracy. I know that you elect the leader. And if you don’t like his policies, you elect a new leader. And we will only take it as an act of war, if you again elect a leader who doesn’t change his policies regarding the Islamic world.”

Jennings: So what can we, either collectively or in terms of government, learn from this?

Scheuer: I think one thing we can learn is that he is truly a man of his word. The single most important thing to understand the enemy we face is to review what he said since 1995, because his actions have tracked exactly with his words. If he was a politician in the United States, the Democrats or the Republicans would love him, because he stays on message. He never slips from it. He is entirely reliable in what he is going to say.

Jennings: I think you are saying that it’s not an enemy that’s really defeatable.

Scheuer: I think you are exactly right. The choice, at the moment, is between war and endless war. And I think we need to devise a strategy that combines the work of the intelligence services and the US military with a discussion — at least a democratic discussion within the United States — about whether the policies that have been identified as “amicable to Muslims,” still serve US interests.

Jennings: Support for the Saudis, support for the dictator in Egypt, support for the dictator in Jordan, and the complications of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle.

Scheuer: Right. It’s a very difficult debate to have. But we need to find a way to stem the growth of support for “Osama bin Laden-ism,” if you will, in the Muslim world.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

 

Torture as Hidden Policy: Bush’s Dirty War

November 30th, 2004 - by admin

Christopher Paine /Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists – 2004-11-30 23:01:37

Home

(November/December 2004) — Following 9/11, some time in late 2001 or possibly January 2002, George W. Bush signed a still-secret presidential intelligence “finding” creating a covert Special Access Program to track down and either kill or capture high-value Al Qaeda terrorists worldwide. Those captured would be indefinitely detained at secret locations and coercively interrogated.

For less senior Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters captured in Afghanistan, the administration created a visible regime of indefinite detention at the leased US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and asserted that this domain was beyond the reach of both international humanitarian law and the US Constitution.

Curiously, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s terse January 19, 2002 Memorandum to the Joint Chiefs and US Combatant Commanders, denying “prisoner of war status” under the Geneva Convention to Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees, predated the president’s recently declassified order on this subject by almost three weeks.

In the interim, a flurry of memos and National Security Council meetings involving Attorney General John Ashcroft, Counsel to the President Alberto Gonzales, and legal advisers to the State and Defense departments, sought to identify a legal posture that would, in Ashcroft’s words, “provide the highest assurance that no court would subsequently entertain charges that American military officers, intelligence officials, or law enforcement officials violated Geneva Convention rules relating to field conduct, detention conduct, or interrogation of detainees.” [1]

President Bush determined that “none of the provisions of Geneva” — not merely prisoner of war status — “apply to our conflict with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan or elsewhere throughout the world.” He also “accepted” Ashcroft’s conclusion that he had “the authority under the Constitution to suspend Geneva as between the United States and Afghanistan,” but would “decline to exercise that authority at this time.” He then proceeded to accept the Justice Department’s conclusion that “common Article 3 of Geneva does not apply to either Al Qaeda or Taliban detainees” — an utterly specious and inept legal conclusion, as common Article 3 runs through all four Geneva Conventions and provides an inescapable minimum threshold for humane treatment for all detainees under all conceivable circumstances.

The president’s decision memorandum continues in this incoherent vein, making one legal blunder after another, and concludes with the following convoluted formulation: “I hereby reaffirm the order previously issued by the Secretary of Defense to the United States Armed Forces, requiring that the detainees be treated humanely and, to the extent appropriate and consistent with military necessity, in a manner consistent with the principles of Geneva” (emphasis added).

With a stroke of the pen, Bush erased 50 years of US support for international humanitarian law and secretly made continued US observance of the Geneva Conventions the handmaiden of “military necessity.”

Opening the Door to Torture
Apparently content with the theory that Bush’s imperial screed would insulate them from future prosecution for violations of international humanitarian law, the president’s men set about killing and capturing Al Qaeda and possibly other terrorists and stashing them in a clandestine network of lockups at various sites around the globe, where they could be aggressively interrogated using a range of “counter-resistance” strategies. These reportedly included such techniques as prolonged isolation in bare dark cells, being kept naked, exposure to extreme heat and cold, prolonged hooding, sleep denial, stress positions, continuous loud music, sexual humiliation, diet manipulation (bread and water), the withholding of medications, and the manipulation of phobias, such as fear of dogs.

According to the May 13 New York Times, the interrogation of Khalid Sheik Mohammed (a CIA Al Qaeda detainee who is believed to have helped plan the 9/11 attacks) went further, including a technique known as “water-boarding,” in which a prisoner is strapped down with his head hanging over the edge of a board, and the board pivoted in and out of a tank of water, thereby inducing intense feelings of suffocation and a fear of death by drowning.

Other CIA “ghost detainees” in Afghanistan and Iraq, never registered with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as required under international law, were reportedly beaten to death during their interrogations. To avoid possible culpability under US anti-torture statutes, the harshest interrogations are said to be accomplished through rendering detainees into the temporary custody of cooperative foreign intelligence services, such as those of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, with a record of employing torture.

Two related developments led to the partial uncovering of this dirty war. The first was a prolonged internal debate, from October 2002 to April 2003, regarding the permissible range of “counter-resistance techniques” for interrogation of mid-level detainees held at the US prison at Guantanamo Bay. The tenor of these discussions so alarmed a number of Pentagon lawyers — JAGs — that they alerted the New York Bar Association, leading to the leak of bizarre and downright repulsive documents that should have prompted the sanctioning of their authors for unethical conduct.

One document, a memorandum from then-Assistant Attorney General (now federal judge) Jay Bybee to White House Counsel Gonzales, titled “Standard of Conduct for Interrogation,” is a 50-page, single-spaced exegesis of possible ways to erode the prohibitions established in the federal statute implementing the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment. Bybee concluded that “for an act to constitute torture as defined in [US law], it must inflict pain . . . equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.” Therefore there remains, he opined, a “wide range” of techniques for inflicting “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment” that do not “rise to the level of torture.” [2]

Rumsfeld’s Torture Memo
For “resistant” detainees at “Gitmo,” Rumsfeld initially approved a list of interrogation techniques in early December 2002 (later partially rescinded) that included “deprivation of light and auditory stimuli,” “20-hour interrogations,” “removal of clothing,” “stress position for a maximum of four hours,” “isolation up to 30 days,” “hooding during transport and interrogation,” and “inducing stress by use of detainee’s fears (e.g. dogs).”

Snarling dogs would make a memorable reappearance on the night shift at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, biting one naked prisoner on the leg and terrifying others into urinating on themselves to [the amusement of] the guards. Rumsfeld’s original December 2002 list bears an uncanny resemblance to the list of interrogation “rules of engagement” techniques approved nine months later by Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the combined task force commander in Iraq.

How the rules traveled from Bush’s specially constructed legal black hole at Gitmo (since punctured by a US court ruling) to a prison in Iraq, where for once even the administration conceded that Iraqi detainees were “protected persons” under the Geneva Conventions, has been the subject of much public — but disingenuous — befuddlement on the part of senior Pentagon officials.

As the spring and summer months rolled by, Pentagon officials buffaloed Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner’s inquiry into the scandal by repeatedly pleading ignorance, or only partial knowledge, and urging the committee to await the results of numerous Pentagon investigations before proceeding further with its own. But Rumsfeld and his Undersecretary for Intelligence Stephen Cambone have obviously known from the outset how the mysterious migration of coercive practices to Iraq occurred, since they either concurred in the transfer or, more likely, directed it as the supervisors of the president’s classified Special Access Program to combat terrorism.

Arrest Every “Suspect”
By late summer 2002, a mounting insurgency was fulfilling Saddam’s public pre-war pledge to make life “hell” for US occupiers, thereby deflating the public myth of “Mission Accomplished” and sabotaging any hope of continued progress toward reconstruction. Desperate to find out who was organizing the attacks, US forces began rounding up large numbers of Iraqi civilians “in the general vicinity of a specified target” using a “cordon and capture technique.”

According to a February ICRC report, they usually entered Iraqi homes “after dark, breaking down doors. . . . Sometimes they arrested all adult males, including elderly, handicapped, or sick people.” The military’s detention and interrogation system was soon overwhelmed by a huge population of civilian detainees, an estimated 85-90 percent of whom were of no intelligence value.

Rumsfeld, Cambone, and the Joint Chiefs responded to the crisis by sending Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, commander of the US detention camp at Guantanamo, to Iraq in early September 2003. A follow-up team from Gitmo arrived soon after, bearing a copy of Rumsfeld’s revised “counter-resistance” interrogation procedures already approved for use on Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees.

Miller’s still-classified September 5, 2003 report on his trip (discussed in open Senate hearings) recommended that a guard force of military police at Abu Ghraib be subordinated to the military intelligence operation in the prison and trained “to set the conditions” for “successful interrogation and exploitation” of detainees. In his trip report, Miller noted that his recommended action was already “in progress.”

Joint Task Force 121
Unknown to the ICRC, the media, and all but a few select members of Congress, also operating at Abu Ghraib prison were elements of the secret Joint Task Force (JTF) 121, linked to the Bush-Rumsfeld-Cambone chain of command that controls the Special Access Program. This unit worked out an arrangement with military intelligence to sequester dozens of “ghost detainees” and conceal them from the ICRC, a blatant violation of the Geneva Convention.

This is perhaps why Rumsfeld, when he was asked early on in the scandal whether the protections of the Geneva Convention applied in Iraq, replied that it did not apply “precisely” — a judgment that was at variance with the administration’s public posture, suggesting there might be yet another secret presidential finding extending the hardline treatment authorized for Al Qaeda detainees to terrorist organizations operating within Iraq.

In recent Senate testimony, Harold Brown, a former defense secretary and member of Rumsfeld’s handpicked Schlesinger Panel to Review Department of Defense Detainee Operations, implied as much, noting that in Iraq “the Geneva Conventions continued to apply, according to the president’s decision, except for foreign terrorists–foreign to Iraq” (emphasis added). This loophole seems to have widened to include Iraqi nationals suspected of terrorism.

During the same Senate hearing, Rhode Island Democrat Jack Reed noted that in October 2003, “Secretary Rumsfeld, at the request of [then-CIA Director George] Tenet, ordered the military chain of command to deny the — at least the registration rights — of the Geneva Convention to an individual who I believe is an Iraqi citizen, part of Ansar al-Islam.”

Red Cross Appalled by ‘Purposeless Sadism’
According to the August 2004 report prepared by Maj. Gen. George Fay on the conduct of the military intelligence unit at Abu Ghraib, Sanchez approved an interrogation policy on September 14, 2003 that melded elements of JTF-121’s coercive techniques with elements from the Rumsfeld-approved Gitmo policy, despite knowing that neither conformed with the minimum standards of treatment required for protected persons under the Geneva Conventions.

Although the Sanchez policy was cosmetically revised at least twice to be less draconian, ICRC delegates visiting in mid-October “directly witnessed . . . the practice of keeping persons . . . completely naked in totally empty concrete cells, and in total darkness, allegedly for several consecutive days. . . . Other persons . . . allowed to dress following periods when then had been held naked . . . had been given women’s underwear to wear under their jumpsuit (men’s underwear was not distributed) which they felt to be humiliating.”

Appalled by these conditions, the ICRC “interrupted its visits and requested an explanation from the authorities. The military intelligence officer in charge of interrogation explained that this practice was ‘part of the process.'”

The overlap between this deliberate program to “condition” detainees for investigation and the supposedly off-the-reservation “purposeless sadism” demonstrated by the night-shift military police who are now standing trial, is unmistakable. So are the policy and personnel links to the secret “high-value” detainee techniques and secret counterterror program run by Rumsfeld and Cambone.

Bush, Rumsfeld and the Erosion of Humanitarian Law
By expanding the CIA’s secret campaign against Al Qaeda into the ranks of the professional military establishment, this administration has fostered an erosion of respect for international humanitarian law within the US military establishment, including a noxious disregard for the ICRC’s repeated efforts to document the abuse of detainees.

Possible criminal liability is at issue because at least five detainees have been tortured to death while under interrogation, and some of these deaths might not have occurred absent the promulgation of secret policies voiding Geneva protections for a widening circle of detainees — policies that were devised and implemented by senior Bush administration officials, up to and including the president.

Without the continuing failure, amounting to criminal negligence, to act immediately upon the ICRC and other reports of abuse, detainee deaths might have been prevented. And of course there is a good possibility that at least some who died were apprehended by mistake — not even the intended targets of the president’s get-tough policy. Indeed, the entire Abu Ghraib scandal, with its iconic images of abuse and lasting damage to US foreign policy, could have been averted.

Not only did Rumsfeld and Cambone withhold all information from Congress about the abuses until the publication of photos from Abu Ghraib made some level of disclosure inevitable, their sworn testimony in May 2004, soon after the scandal broke, reads like a deliberate effort to mislead Congress and forestall a deeper investigation of the president’s dirty war, raising the possibility that either one or both have lied under oath.

If Congress should ever be so bold as to probe the remaining patchwork of deception, it will likely find impeachable and potentially prosecutable offenses.

FOOTNOTES
1. Letter to the President, February 1, 2002, p. 1.

2. Memorandum for Alberto R. Gonzales, Counsel to the President, August 1, 2002, p. 1-2.

Christopher Paine (chrispaine@earthlink.net) is a senior analyst in the Natural Resources Defense Council’s nuclear program.

November/December 2004 pp. 78-80 (vol. 60, no. 06) © 2004 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. © 2004 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

 

Beyond the Bomb: Tears, Laughter and Hope

November 30th, 2004 - by admin

Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy and Western States Legal Foundation. – 2004-11-30 23:01:30

A silent art auction to benefit Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy and Western States Legal Foundation will be held on Thursday, December 2, 2004; 6 – 9 PM (Preview: 2 – 6 PM) at the Tribeca studio of Linda Stein, 100 Reade Street, New York

Please join us for a very special evening of art, food, wine and music, to support the work of Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP) and Western States Legal Foundation (WSLF) for a peaceful, just, environmentally sustainable, nuclear free world.

Artwork includes paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, political cartoons, tapestries and jewelry, by a variety of prominent and upcoming New York and California artists – Yoko Ono, Milton Glaser, Jules Feiffer, David Goines, Mary Frank, and many others (see below).

NEW release — Milton Glaser’s new poster, “Endgame”! Special event price: $100 signed. Unsigned, $25

Light fare and wine. Jazz guitar and flute by Karl Spicer. Door prizes and other surprises!
Tickets: $40 per person (may be applied to purchase); MasterCard and Visa accepted
For advance purchase and RSVP, see below

Participating Artists:
Yoko Ono, Milton Glaser, Jules Feiffer, Mary Frank, Bruce Davidson, Percival Goodman, Signe Wilkinson, Linda Stein, David Goines, Edward Sorel, Bara Diokhane, Danielle Mailer, Roger Phillips, Marguerite Kahrl, Jerome Carlin, Sid Garrison, Ellen Berger, Leonard Rosenfeld, Lorenzo Pace, Janet Hoffman, Danny Simmons, James Lerager, Elizabeth Shafer, Soheyla Ben-Amotz, Meri Furnari, Siri Margerin, Chaim Tabak, Sarah Shriver, Anne Hunter Hamilton, Charles Keller, Carol Aust, Arngunnur Yr, Augustin Pozo, Khalil Bendib, Dorothy Churchill Johnson, Fay Wood, Victor Cabasso, Vivienne Verdon-Roe, Gail Alien, Michael Porter, Sara Hart, Walt Cudnohufsky, Stephen Shafer and more…

Host Committee:
Linda Stein, Jonathan Schell, Leslie Cagan, Gary Ferdman, Daniel and Patricia Ellsberg, Peter and Cora Weiss, Elizabeth and Stephen Shafer, Alice Slater, Robert and Frances Boehm, Saul Mendlovitz and Sybil Baldwin, Pamela and James Morton, Phyllis and Bill Olin, Dale and Erika Nesbitt, Randy Rydell, Shirley Fingerhood, Bara Diokhane, Bruce Stedman, Jonathan Granoff, and Kathleen Sullivan

See our websites for catalogue and additional artists: www.lcnp.org or www.wslfweb.org
Unable to attend? You can submit bids online prior to midnight, November 30, at http://lcnp.org/artauction/bidding.htm!

For more information: John Burroughs, LCNP (212) 818-1861 or Jackie Cabasso, WSLF (510) 839-5877

Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy (LCNP), in New York, founded in 1981, is a non-profit group engaged in research, advocacy and outreach on rule-of-law based nuclear abolition, human security, and justice. LCNP led the international civil society campaign to obtain the 1996 opinion of the International Court of Justice declaring the illegality of threat or use of nuclear weapons and affirming the obligation to eliminate nuclear arsenals through good-faith negotiation. (212) 818-1861; www.lcnp.org

Western States Legal Foundation (WSLF), in California, founded in 1982, is a non-profit group that monitors and challenges US nuclear and other high-tech weapons programs and policies, with a special focus on the nuclear weapons laboratories. Committed to environmental protection, international law and nonviolence, WSLF engages in research, education, and advocacy at local, national and international levels. (510) 839-5877;
www.wslfweb.org

LCNP and WSLF are affiliates of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms(www.ialana.org), and founding members of the Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons. www.abolitionnow.org
Directions: 100 Reade Street, between W. Broadway & Church St. (Reade is one block north of Chambers St.) Subways: A, C to Chambers St.; R, W to City Hall; 1, 2, 3, 9 to Chambers St.; 4, 5, 6 to Brooklyn Bridge. Parking: on some side streets at 6 pm; on Reade Street at 7 pm. Regrettably, no wheelchair access.

Please make checks payable to Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy. All contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law. For those attending the art auction, $25.00 is tax-deductible if not applied to purchase. All proceeds go to Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy and Western States Legal Foundation.
Mail to:
Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy
211 E. 43rd Street, Suite 1204
New York, NY 10017

 

‘They Hate Our Policies, Not Our Freedom’

November 30th, 2004 - by admin

Tom Regan / Christian Science Monitor – 2004-11-30 23:00:35

(November 30, 2004) — Late on the Wednesday afternoon before the Thanksgiving holiday, the US Defense Department released a report by the Defense Science Board that is highly critical of the administration’s efforts in the war on terror and in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Muslims do not hate our freedom, but rather they hate our policies,” the report says. “The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing, support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states. Thus, when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy.”

The Pentagon released the study after The New York Times ran a story about the report in its Wednesday editions. The Defense Science Board, reports Disinfopedia, is “a Federal advisory committee established to provide independent advice to the Secretary of Defense.”

The current Board is authorized to consist of thirty-two members plus seven ex officio members: the chairmen of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Policy, Ballistic Missile Defense Advisory Committee, and Defense Intelligence Agency Science and Technology Advisory Committee. Members, whose appointed terms range from one to four years, are selected on the basis of their preeminence in the fields of science, technology and its application to military operations, research, engineering, manufacturing and acquisition process.

America’s ‘Flawed Policies’
China’s Xinhuanet reported that the board’s report criticized the US for failing in its efforts to communicate its military and diplomatic actions to the world, and the Muslim world in particular, “but no public relations campaign can save America from flawed policies.”

The report also takes the administration to task for talking about Islamic extremism in a way that offends many Muslims.

In stark contrast to the cold war, the United States today is not seeking to contain a threatening state empire, but rather seeking to convert a broad movement within Islamic civilization to accept the value structure of Western Modernity – an agenda hidden within the official rubric of a ‘War on Terrorism,’ [the report states].

MSNBC notes that the report, in a comment that directly goes against statements made by President Bush and senior cabinet members, says the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have united otherwise-divided Muslim extremists and given terrorists organizations like Al Qaeda a boost by “raising their stature.”

We Cannot Presume to Impose ‘The American Way’ on the World
In fact, Wired News reported the board as saying, the US has not only failed to separate “the vast majority of nonviolent Muslims from the radical-militant Islamist-Jihadists,” but American efforts may have “achieved the opposite of what they intended.”

Al Jazeera reported Thursday that the board called for the creation of a strategic communication’s “apparatus” within the executive branch and “an overhaul of public diplomacy, public affairs and information dissemination efforts by the Pentagon and State Department.”

If we really want to see the Muslim world as a whole [the report states], and the Arabic-speaking world in particular, move more toward our understanding of moderation and tolerance, we must reassure Muslims that this does not mean that they must submit to the American way.

As columnist Thomas Freidman of The New York Times wrote Monday in an opinion piece, the lack of planning and a ‘clear channel of communication to the Muslim world’ means that the US is losing the PR war to people that “saw off the heads of other Muslims.”

Wars are fought for political ends. Soldiers can only do so much. And the last mile in every war is about claiming the political fruits. The bad guys in Iraq can lose every mile on every road, but if they beat America on the last mile – because they are able to intimidate better than America is able to coordinate, protect, inform, invest and motivate – they will win and America will lose.
The New York Times reported last Wednesday that although the board’s report does not constitute official government policy, it captures “the essential themes of a debate that is now roiling not just the Defense Department but the entire United States government.”

 

US Officials Face Iraq War Crimes Case in Germany

November 30th, 2004 - by admin

IslamOnline.net – 2004-11-30 20:44:21

http://www.islam-online.net/English/News/2004-11/30/article01.shtml

BERLIN (November 30, 2004) –- A US advocacy group will file war crimes charges in Germany on Tuesday, November 30, against US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior officials involved in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal.

“German law in this area is leading the world,” Peter Weiss, vice president of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a human rights group, was quoted as saying in Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper’s Tuesday edition.

Those to be named in the criminal complaint to be filed at Germany’s Federal Prosecutors Office by the group and four Iraqi victims include Rumsfeld, CCR said on its website.

Former Central Intelligence Agency chief George Tenet and former top US commander in Iraq Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez and eight other officials are also named in the case.
The Washington Post said Saturday, June 12, that Sanchez, gave free reign to US officers in charge of Abu Ghraib prison to adopt various torture and abuse tactics used at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo.

The American New Yorker magazine also disclosed on May 16 that the torture at Abu Ghraib was Okayed by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Historic Effort
The US advocacy group called it a historic effort to hold high-ranking US officials accountable for “brutal acts of torture including the widely publicized abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib, on Tuesday November 30.” The four Iraqis were “victims of gruesome crimes including severe beatings, sleep and food deprivation, hooding and sexual abuse.”

The group called in an online petition on supporters for filing the criminal complaint to write the German prosecutor in support of the investigation. “It is critical that he hear from as many people as possible so he feels worldwide pressure to pursue the case,” read the petition.
The group said that under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction suspected war criminals may be prosecuted irrespective of where they are located.

The US came under heavy fire after the Abu Ghraib scandal was first revealed by the American press and after major General Antonio Taguba said in a report that he found evidence of “sadistic, blatant and wanton criminal abuse” at the notorious prison.

Cases of abuse that were reported include a detainee who was shoved to the ground before a soldier stepped on his head; a man was forced to stand naked while a female interrogator made fun of his genitals, and a woman who was repeatedly kicked by a military police guard.

Guantanamo Petitions
CCR is moving towards another effort to organize attorneys to file habeas corpus petitions in the Washington federal court on behalf of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. The first five were filed on July 2, 2004. CCR currently represents 53 individuals who have been held at Guantanamo for over two years.

Responding to the Supreme Court’s historic decision on the rule of law in Guantanamo Bay, CCR is spearheading the effort to get detainees their day in court; the legal community is stepping up to provide the detainees with the basic right to challenge their detention, the group said on its website.

Amnesty International condemned in May last year US breaches of international law in Guantanamo under the cloak of its so-called global war on terror.

The New York-based Human Rights Watch had called on the Bush administration to promptly investigate and address charges of torture of the Guantanamo detainees or risk criminal prosecution.

Also in January last year, Amnesty asked Washington to resolve the “legal limbo” of the detainees, slamming its continuing defiance of international law. The accusations shed a light on the US record of human rights.

The US and its allies were reported to have been running a wanton global network of detention camps allowing the U.S. to fly so-called terror suspects to other countries where they are tortured for information.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for nocommercial, educational purposes.


Explaining the Code of Crimes against International Law
Deutsche Welle

(November 30, 2004) — Germany’s Code of Crimes Against International Law is a unique piece of legislation that allows Germany to prosecute crimes against international law anywhere in the world.

The law has been in effect since July 2002 and was implemented in response to the formation of the International Criminal Court, which became operative at the same time.

The law is meant to enable Germany to prosecute all crimes against humanity.

“Regardless of the law of the place of commission, the German criminal law is also applicable to … acts committed outside of Germany,” the law reads.

While the law could be interpreted as an obligation to act in cases of crimes against international law, a clause leaves it up to prosecutors to decide whether alleged crimes should be brought before a German court.

Prosecution can be dropped in cases where neither the victim nor the perpetrator of a crime are German citizens. If the accused is not in Germany nor can be expected to come to Germany, prosecution can also be dropped.

Germany’s Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries justified these limitations by saying that Germany should not act as a “global policeman” by prosecuting all crimes against international law regardless of where they have been committed.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for nocommercial, educational purposes.

 

America’s Neglected Veterans: 1.7 Million Have No Health Coverage

November 29th, 2004 - by admin

Health Research Group / Public Citizen – 2004-11-29 23:40:03

http://www.citizen.org/publications/release.cfm?ID=7339

Executive Summary
This report presents data on the health insurance coverage and problems in access to health care of America’s veterans, based on analyses of two recently released national surveys carried out by the government: The Current Population Survey and the National Health Interview Survey.

In 2003, 1.69 million military veterans neither had health insurance nor received ongoing care at Veterans Health Administration (VHA) hospitals or clinics. The number of uninsured veterans has increased by 235,159 since 2000. The proportion of non-elderly veterans who were uninsured rose from 9.9% in 2000 to 11.9% in 2003.

Many of the 1.69 million uninsured veterans in 2003 were effectively barred from VHA care because they had incomes above the eligibility threshold, or because of waiting lists at some VHA facilities, unaffordable co-payments for VHA specialty care, or the lack of VHA facilities in their communities. An additional 3.90 million members of veterans’ households were also uninsured and ineligible for VHA care.

The Medicare program (which covers Americans over age 65) covered virtually all Korean War and World War II veterans. However, 681,808 Vietnam-era veterans were uninsured (8.7% of the 7.85 million Vietnam-era vets). Among the 8.27 million veterans who served during “other eras” (including the Persian Gulf War), 12.1% (999,548) lacked health coverage.

More than one in three veterans under age 25 lacked health coverage, as did one in seven veterans age 25 to 44 and one in ten veterans age 45 to 65.

Many uninsured veterans had major health problems. Less than one-quarter indicated that they were in excellent health; 15.6% had a disabling chronic illness.

A disturbingly high number of veterans reported problems in obtaining needed medical care. While only 2.5% of insured veterans failed to get needed care in the past year because of costs, 26.1% of uninsured veterans failed to get needed care due to costs; 29.0% had delayed care due to costs. Among uninsured veterans, 42.1% had not seen a doctor within the past year, and two-thirds failed to receive preventive care. By almost any measure, uninsured veterans had as much trouble getting medical care as other uninsured persons.

More than two-thirds of uninsured veterans were employed and 86.4% had worked within the past year; 7% of the uninsured vets worked at two or more jobs.

Millions of America’s veterans and their family members are uninsured and face grave difficulties in gaining access to even the most basic medical care. It seems particularly abhorrent that services are denied to those who have served.

Background
Forty-five million Americans were uninsured in 2003, the latest year for which reliable data are available. While the Census Bureau’s annual survey on health insurance includes questions about previous military services, the Bureau’s report on coverage does not include tabulations of veterans’ coverage. In addition to the sources of health coverage available to other Americans – Medicare, Medicaid and private coverage – some military veterans obtain care through the network of hospitals and clinics run by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

While many Americans believe that all veterans can get care from the VHA, even combat veterans may not be able to obtain VHA care. The 1996 Veterans Health Care Reform Act expanded eligibility for VHA care to all veterans, but instructed the VHA to develop priority categories for enrollment. The VHA priority list includes eight priority categories, with veterans offered care based on their priority status and the resources available (Appendix).

As a rule, VHA facilities provide care for any veteran who is disabled by a condition connected to his/her military service, and care for specific medical conditions acquired during military service. Any veteran who passes a means test is eligible for care in VHA facilities but has lower priority status (Priority 5 or Priority 7, depending upon income level) and is enrolled on a space-available basis. Veterans without service-connected illnesses or disabilities, and with incomes above 80% of the median income in their area are classified in the lowest priority group, Priority 8.

In the 7 years after the passage of the Veterans Healthcare Reform Act, VHA enrollment grew 141%, from 2.9 million to 7.0 million. However, funding increased by only 60%. Because VHA funding did not keep pace with the demand for care, long waiting lists developed at many VHA facilities. By 2002, there were almost 300,000 veterans either placed on waiting lists for enrollment or forced to wait for 6 months or more in order to receive an appointment for necessary care (Memorandum from Department of Veterans Affairs to Chairs and Ranking Members of Senate and House Veterans’ Committees and VA-HUD Appropriations Sub-Committees, July 2002).

In January 2003, President Bush’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs halted enrollment of Priority 8 veterans. Since that time these veterans have remained ineligible for VHA enrollment.

VHA analysts have estimated that about three-quarters of VHA-enrolled veterans have other health coverage such as Medicare or private insurance, and that 1.013 million VHA patients were uninsured in 1999 (Donald Stockford et al. Uninsured Veterans and Veterans Health Administration Enrollment System, 2003. Department of Veterans Affairs, April 2003.). The 2001 National Survey of Veterans (NSV) found that 10.0% of veterans – 2.52 million vets – were uninsured, 0.9 million of whom used VHA hospital, outpatient or emergency care (2001 National Survey of Veterans: Final Report and supplemental tabulations, available at: http://www.VHA.gov/vetdata/SurveyResults/). Thus, the NSV data indicate that more than 1.6 million veterans had neither health insurance nor VHA care in 2001.

This report uses data from two large, recent surveys of the U.S. population to examine two related questions: (1) How many veterans and their family members lacked any health coverage in 2003 (i.e. they had neither insurance nor VHA care)?; and (2) What problems in access to health care did these uncovered veterans and their families experience?

Lack of Health Coverage Common Among Vets
1,694,312 American veterans were uninsured in 2003, according to the CPS data, including 11.9% of all non-elderly (age <65) veterans. In this survey, veterans with “Champus, Tricare, veterans or military health care” were categorized as having health coverage. Hence, the 1,694,312 figure represents persons with neither health insurance nor ongoing access to VHA medical facilities. As expected, because of their age virtually all World War II and Korean War veterans had Medicare coverage. However, many veterans with more recent military service were uninsured. Among the 7.85 million Vietnam-era veterans, one in eleven lacked any coverage. Among the 8.27 million veterans who served during “other eras,” including the Persian Gulf War, one in eight was uninsured. Younger veterans were more likely to lack coverage than older veterans. 15.1% of those age 25-44 had no health insurance, vs. 9.9% of those age 45-64. Veterans were about one third less likely to lack coverage than other persons of similar age. The 2003 figures represent an increase of 235,159 in the number of uninsured veterans since 2000. In 2000, 9.9% of veterans under the age of 65 were uninsured, rising to 11.9% in 2003. In addition to the 1.69 million uninsured veterans in 2003, 3.90 million members of veterans’ families lacked coverage. The percentage of non-veterans, family members of veterans, and veterans lacking health insurance is shown in Table 2. Veterans Without Health Coverage Not Currently Receiving VHA Care
According to the NHIS, 1,670,410 honorably-discharged veterans had neither health insurance nor “military or veterans’ health care” in 2002. This number is statistically indistinguishable from the estimate of 1.69 million uninsured veterans in 2003 which we derived from the 2004 CPS. In the NHIS, an additional 1,426,897 veterans indicated that they had military or veterans’ health care but no other coverage.

Which Veterans are Uninsured?
The typical uninsured veteran was an employed male in his late forties living with one or two family members. Compared to the uninsured non-veteran population, uninsured veterans were older, and more often employed, male and high school graduates (data not shown). For instance, 86% of uninsured veterans had worked in the past year (7% held two or more jobs), as compared to 75% of other uninsured adults.

Compared to veterans with health coverage, uninsured veterans were younger, more likely to be working, and had lower incomes. 68.3% of uninsured veterans were working at the time of the survey, and 9.3% were in the labor force but currently unemployed or laid off. 22.4% were out of the labor force (e.g. students or retired). 70.6% of uninsured veterans had family incomes at or above 150% of the Federal poverty level, and 47.6% had incomes above 250% of poverty (a level that would likely place them above the income threshold for Priority Group 7, leaving them ineligible for VHA enrollment).

Veterans Lacking Health Coverage Are Not in Good Health
Many uninsured veterans had serious health problems. When asked to rate their health as “excellent”, “very good”, “good”, “fair” or “poor”, less than one-quarter of uninsured veterans indicated that they were in excellent health (Table 5); 15.6% had a disabling chronic illness.

Uninsured Veterans and Family Members Forego Needed Health Care Due to Cost
Uninsured veterans indicated that they faced major barriers to obtaining medical care. Among veterans age 18-64, those without coverage were five times more likely than insured veterans to delay care because of costs, six times more likely to forego medications because of costs, and seven times more likely to forego medical care because of costs than those with insurance (Table 6).

Uninsured Veterans and Family Members Use Less Health Care
Our analyses of the amount of care actually used by uninsured veterans and their families confirmed that they, indeed, lacked access to care. Two thirds of uninsured veterans did not get any preventive care. More than two of every five uninsured veterans had not made any office visits to any health professional in the past year, and a similar number had no usual place to go when they got sick (Table 7).

Uninsured Veterans’ Access is No Better, and in Most Respects Worse, Than That of Other Uninsured People
Indicators of access to care for uninsured veterans were strikingly similar, and in some cases worse, than those for other uninsured individuals (Table 8). This indicates that VHA care did little or nothing to fill the gaps for uninsured veterans.

Discussion
Almost 5.6 million American veterans and members of veterans’ families are uninsured and not receiving care in the VHA system. They account for 1 out of 8 uninsured people in our nation. Like other uninsured adults, most of the uninsured veterans were working; many had two jobs. All Americans deserve access to high quality, affordable health care. Yet it is especially troubling that many who have made sacrifices and often placed themselves in harm’s way are later denied the health care they need.

Were the veterans who were classified as uninsured in the surveys we analyzed truly denied access to the care they need? Several pieces of evidence suggest that the doors to medical care – including the VHA system – are effectively closed to most of this group.

First, both surveys we analyzed asked respondents if they had “veterans or military health care” and considered anyone answering “yes” as insured. The National Health Interview Survey was highly specific in this regard, identifying 1.43 million veterans with military/veterans’ medical care but with no other insurance. We considered all 1.43 million of these veterans to have coverage. Hence, veterans who lacked insurance but were enrolled in the VHA system would be considered insured in our analysis. The data suggest that the VHA currently cares for only about 45% of the 3.15 million veterans without any other coverage.

Second, the veterans we identified as lacking coverage had substantial problems in gaining access to health care. Like other uninsured people, they were often unable to afford care, had low rates of health care utilization, and frequently went without needed services. Indeed, for virtually every measure of access to care, uninsured veterans were indistinguishable from other uninsured persons, and they fared much worse than insured veterans. Even if some of these uninsured veterans are theoretically eligible for VHA care, their real-world access to health care is just as bad as – and by some measures worse than – that of other uninsured people (see Table 8).

Finally, many uninsured veterans had incomes that would make them completely ineligible for VHA enrollment (priority 8). For many others (Priority 7), care would only be available with substantial co-payments (e.g. $50 for specialty care). Moreover, low-priority veterans are generally ineligible for free transportation to VHA facilities, leaving care inaccessible to many vets.

It is clear that the VHA currently lacks the resources to provide care for an influx of 1.7 million uninsured veterans – tens of thousands of vets are already on VHA waiting lists. Even if the VHA system were to gain the additional resources needed to care for all uninsured vets, millions of their family members would remain uncovered.

Millions of veterans and veterans’ family members have joined the ranks of the uninsured. This shocking fact highlights the urgent need for health reform that will assure universal coverage. We believe that only a single payer national health insurance system can affordably cover all Americans – including veterans.

Acknowledgment
Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo assisted in the analysis of the Current Population Survey data.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

 

Condoleezza Rice and the Murder of Danil Anderson

November 29th, 2004 - by admin

Toni Solo / Venezuela’s Electronic News – 2004-11-29 23:25:36

Home

(November 24, 2004) — On Tuesday November 16, George W. Bush put forward Condoleezza Rice as his proposed Secretary of State to take over the diplomacy of US warmongering from the outgoing fraud, Colin Powell. Two days later, on November 18, leading Venezuelan state prosecutor Danilo Anderson was killed in a car bomb attack eerily reminiscent of the murder of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffit in Washington in 1976 by Cuban terrorists working for Augusto Pinochet and protected by the CIA.

Venezuelan authorities believe Anderson was killed by two charges of C4 plastic explosive fixed to his car and detonated remotely, apparently by cell phone. The timing of Rice’s nomination and Anderson’s murder are unlikely to be fortuitous.

With Rice’s appointment, George Bush sustains the incestuous link between his regime and earlier, still extant, plutocrat state terror Godfathers like George Bush Sr., James Baker and George Schultz. Rice, a protege of Schultz, the former Bechtel president, could hardly be a more emblematic representative of the nexus between state terror and big business.

Chevron may have renamed the former Condoleezza Rice oil tanker Altair Voyager, but that all-too-recent link to an outfit boasting it “now ranks among the most important international petroleum producers in Venezuela and Colombia, is one of the largest private integrated oil companies in Brazil and is the third-leading producer in Argentina” bodes ill for people in Latin America.

Why Was Anderson Murdered?
Danilo Anderson was an investigating magistrate in charge of several prominent and politically sensitive cases. His work proceeded in the context of recent elections confirming overwhelming popular support for President Hugo Chavez Frias.

Among the cases within Anderson’s brief were those against the leader of a mob that attacked the Cuban Embassy in Caracas during the failed coup d’etat of April 12 (2002) and against members of the Caracas Metropolitan (PM) police accused of unlawful attacks under opposition ex-Metropolitan Mayor Alfredo Pena.

Anderson was also processing cases against owners of Venezuelan print & broadcast media implicated in the April coup of 2002 as well as the signatories of the coup declaration overthrowing the elected government.

Perhaps the most internationally sensitive case he was working on was that against the Sumate organization … a supposedly impartial NGO funded by the CIA’s companion organization the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). In fact, Sumate actively campaigned with US government money to defeat President Chavez throughout the long process ending in last August’s recall referendum. Such activity contravened Sumate’s neutral non-profit status, breaking Venezuelan law in the process.

Writer and academic Heinz Dieterich has written cogently about Anderson’s murder: “The menace of Danilo for Washington’s terrorist project was two-fold … he threatened one of its main instruments of power, Venezuela’s corrupt class justice system and too he was becoming a symbol of the honest patriot and servant of the majority of the new Bolivarian nation.

Danilo Anderson’s murder shows that the subversion has made a qualitative leap to a generalized offensive.

From now on, people emblematic of the process whose death may have a high propaganda value for Washington will be in danger. Likewise, the subversion will begin attacks against energy and transport infrastructure and carry out more murders and incursions along the Colombian border…

Looking back in history, we can say that the Bolivarian revolution has entered the phase of the Cuban revolution of 1960 when the US-Cuban counter-revolution launched attacks, sabotage and murders from nuclei in the Sierra Escambrey or, too, Nicaragua from 1983 onwards.”

The silence from international media has been eloquent … an ever ready litmus test of mainstream media hypocrisy is to check out the less reactionary media that preen themselves on their “balance.”

But, if you review the web sites of UK media like the Guardian, the Independent or the BBC you will look in vain for any report on the murder of Danilo Anderson. Why is this?

Presumably for the same reasons UN supervision of the murder and rape of opponents to the US puppet regime in Haiti fails to make the news — lazy complacency, herd instinct, advertiser-conscious self-censorship and jobs worth respect for the limits of dissent.

Rice on the April 2002 Coup
In effect, mainstream media serve as the echo chambers of empire, colluding in imperial silences as well as projecting hyperbolic PR spin. Condoleezza Rice’s commitment to the subversion of Venezuela’s elected government has been clear ever since the coup of April 2002. The perversity of her analysis of Venezuelan affairs can be seen in this quote from NBC’s “Meet the Press” on April 14, 2002. Interviewed by Tim Russert after Chavez was returned to power by massive popular demonstrations against the coup plotters, here’s what Rice had to say:

“I hope that Hugo Chavez takes the message that his people sent him that his own policies are not working for the Venezuelan people, that he’s dealt with them in a high-handed fashion. And I hope what he said in his speech this morning, that he understands that this is a time for national reflection, that he recognizes it’s time for him to reflect on how Venezuela got to where it is. He needs to respect constitutional processes…”

Perhaps only in the United States could an analysis so totally contrary to the facts be taken seriously. But the profound mendacity of individuals like Rice is nothing new. Their conscious doublespeak — averring concern for democracy while doing all in their power to destroy it — serves as a cover for deniable operations by Rice’s shadowy covert operations colleagues — operations like the murder of Danilo Anderson.

Destabilization — Breaking Out the Standard Tool Kit
The United States terror machine has always used covert armed violence to complement bribery, political subversion, economic thuggery, trade and aid blackmail, media falsification and electoral dirty tricks.

Proof of the well-armed subversion in Venezuela … probably abetted by United States covert agencies like the CIA … came on Tuesday, November 23 when a young lawyer wanted for questioning in relation to Anderson’s murder died in a shootout with Venezuelan police. In his house the police found explosives, rocket launchers and missiles. The discovery is yet more evidence indicating a well-financed terrorist network organized from outside Venezuela, based mainly in Colombia and the United States.

Venezuelan authorities have good reason to be suspicious of US motives despite last week’s statement by US Ambassador Brownfield condemning Anderson’s murder. No action has been taken by US authorities against Venezuelan opposition terrorist training camps in Florida or against opposition figures like well known Venezuelan actor Orlando Urdaneta who recently in Miami publicly called for assassinations of leading members of the Venezuelan government. Former Venezuelan army officers wanted by the Venezuelan courts in relation to the bombing of foreign embassies in Caracas have found sanctuary in the US.

Similarly, earlier this year exiled and disgraced former President Carlos Andres Perez was widely reported calling for the violent overthrow of Venezuela’s elected government. Colombia protects the leader of the April 2002 coup, Pedro Carmona Estanga. Venezuela has requested his extradition, so far without result. It’s worth remembering that Colin Powell held at least one meeting with the exiled Carmona in Bogota in December of 2002.

In June this year, Miami’s Channel 41 TV station broadcast a program featuring anti-Castro and anti-Chavez terrorists in what was in effect a fundraiser. Counterpunch reported: “Adding weight to recent accusations of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, former Venezuelan army captain Eduardo Garcia was also present in full uniform to discuss the help Comandos F4 were giving in his efforts to bring down Chavez by force. Chavez has frequently charged that Miami Cuban-American terrorist organizations are involved with Venezuelans seeking to assassinate him….The host of the Round Table program, Randy Alonso, simply asked viewers to form their own conclusions after seeing such an astonishing program, commenting that the message that Frometa gave was clear: his paramilitary organization was ready and trained — it just needed the money. And, said Alonso, the money is there — $36 million recently earmarked by the US government to support such groups.” http://www.counterpunch.org/wire06112004.html

Continent-Wide Offensive
The Bush regime has begun to pay more urgent attention to Latin America. Just this month, Donald Rumsfeld visited Nicaragua on his way to Ecuador for a summit meeting of Defense Ministers from the Americas.

In Quito, Rumsfeld pressed, among many other things, for the region’s military to take on civilian policing roles.

In Chile, President Bush himself attended the Asia Pacific Economic Conference, making time also to visit Alvaro Uribe, propped up by narco-paramilitaries as President of Colombia. Uribe’s dismal repressive army dominated security regime has led to increasing numbers of disappearances of members of the civil opposition and murders of trades unionists.

President Bush promised even more support from the US taxpayer for Colombia’s state terrorist government.

As its economic position weakens in relation to Europe and Asia, the US plutocrat class-warrior government will increasingly need to rely on control of Latin America to sustain their budget and trade profligacy. Everything they do in Latin America is inter-related: trade and investment deals, military bases, ruthless pressure for more failed neo-liberal policies through the IMF and World Bank, corporate pillage of energy and mineral resources, legal or illegal introduction of genetically manipulated grains, insistence on multinational-friendly intellectual property rules, training paramilitaries in Colombia, promoting subversion in Venezuela, continuing economic and armed terrorism against the people of Cuba. The list of activity goes well beyond legitimate defense of US interests and reaches far into the realms of terrorism and militarist aggression.

It is reasonable to suggest that when George Bush named Condoleezza Rice as his next Secretary of State, he signaled the all clear for an escalation in covert action against opponents of US policy in Latin America.

Danilo Anderson was the first victim of that escalation in Venezuela.

Rice’s appointment and Bush’s personal enthusiastic endorsement of Alvaro Uribe sends a clear message that Venezuela in particular and Latin America in general can expect higher levels of US government inspired terrorism from now on.

Toni Solo is an activist based in Central America.
Contact: tonisolo@nicaliving.com www.tonisolo.net

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Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

 

Iraq: The Uncounted Wounded

November 29th, 2004 - by admin

Sixty Minutes / CBS – 2004-11-29 23:14:39

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/11/19/60minutes/printable656756.shtml

NEW YORK (November 21, 2004) — Approximately 300,000 American men and women have served at one time or another in Iraq. Most will return to the United States more or less intact. But some come home the hard way — on a stretcher, bloody and broken. And, as Correspondent Bob Simon says, there are few bloodier or more broken than Chris Schneider.

Schneider says he believed in the war in Iraq, and liked wearing the uniform. “[I was] proud to wear it. I loved wearing it,” says Schneider, a Kansas boy straight off the recruitment poster.

He went to college on a wrestling scholarship, started a family, and joined the Army Reserves. This past January, his unit was providing security for a supply convoy traveling through 100 miles of dangerous Iraqi desert. He was riding in a two-and-a-half ton cargo truck, armed to the teeth.

“In my vehicle there was my driver, there was my 50-cal gunner who was in a turret on top,” says Schneider. “And then there was myself and another individual in back. We both had M249 machine guns.”

Schneider saw another convoy coming in his direction — a line of HETS (heavy equipment transports), big rigs on steroids, hogging the road. The first HET just missed hitting his truck. The second one did not.

“It threw me up over my vehicle, over the HET and about 50 feet into the field on the left,” says Schneider. “When I landed, the next HET in line had locked up their brakes to keep from rear ending the one that we hit. And when he came to rest, the first set of tires on his trailer were parked on my pelvis. And the second set had my lower leg wedged in it to the axle. I’ve been told a rough estimate of approximately 120,000 to 140,000 pounds.”

Today, Schneider walks with a limp, on his artificial leg. But even though he was injured while on a mission in a war zone – and even though he’ll receive the same benefits as a soldier who’d been shot – he is not included in the Pentagon’s casualty count. Their official tally shows only deaths and wounded in action. It doesn’t include “non-combat” injured, those whose injuries were not the result of enemy fire.

“It’s a slap in the face. Although it was through no direct hostile action, I was on a mission that they’d given me in hostile territory. Hostile enough that we had to have a perimeter set up at the time of my accident to prevent from an ambush or an attack,” says Schneider. “For those of us that were unfortunate enough to get injured. Whether it was hostile action or not, we’re all paying the same price.”

How Many Hidden Casualties?
How many injured and ill soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines — like Chris Schneider — are left off the Pentagon’s casualty count?

Would you believe 15,000? 60 Minutes asked the Department of Defense to grant us an interview. They declined. Instead, they sent a letter, which contains a figure not included in published casualty reports: “More than 15,000 troops with so-called ‘non-battle’ injuries and diseases have been evacuated from Iraq.”

Many of those evacuated are brought to Landstuhl in Germany. Most cases are not life-threatening. In fact, some are not serious at all. But only 20 percent return to their units in Iraq. Among the 80 percent who don’t return are GIs who suffered crushing bone fractures; scores of spinal injuries; heart problems by the hundreds; and a slew of psychiatric cases. None of these are included in the casualty count, leaving the true human cost of the war something of a mystery.

“It’s difficult to estimate what the total number is,” says John Pike, director of a research group called GlobalSecurity.org.

As a military analyst, Pike has spoken out against both Republican and Democratic administrations. He’s weighed all the available casualty data and has made an informed estimate that goes well beyond what the Pentagon has released.

“You have to say that the total number of casualties due to wounds, injury, disease would have to be somewhere in the ballpark of over 20, maybe 30,000,” says Pike.

His calculation, striking as it is, is based on the military’s own definition of casualty – anyone “lost to the organization,” in this case, for medical reasons. And Pike believes it’s no accident that the military reports a number far lower than his estimate.

“The Pentagon, I think, is afraid that they’re going to lose public support for this war, the way they lost public support for Vietnam back in the 1960s,” says Pike. “And minimizing the apparent cost of the war, I think, is one way that they’re hoping to sustain public support here at home.”

60 Minutes asked the assistant secretary of Defense for Health Affairs about that claim – that casualties are being underreported, for political reasons. And we got a flat denial. In a letter, he told us, “We in the Department of Defense categorically reject the notion that we are underreporting casualties from Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

He pointed out that he’d already provided us with some figures – the 15,000 evacuations of non-combat injured and ill. Still, Pike says the military is trying to minimize the casualty count. It’s an effort Pike believes is misguided, because he says that even if Americans understood the full human cost of the war, public support would not weaken.

“I think that all of the public opinion polling that we’re seeing suggests that the public is prepared to sustain far higher casualties than politicians give them credit for,” says Pike. “I think that it’s basically that the politicians and the Pentagon, don’t have confidence in the American people.”

A Long-standing Military Practice
The Department of Defense did not include non-battle injuries in its casualty reports in other recent wars, either. But that’s of little comfort to Joel Gomez, who was riding in the back of a Bradley fighting vehicle, looking for insurgents, when disaster struck.

“Unfortunately, the Bradley was too heavy for the road, a dirt road, and the ground gave way. And we wound up flipping down the mountain. And it landed upside-down in the Tigris River,” says Gomez.

His two buddies were killed. Gomez made it out, but he’s now paralyzed. “[It’s] a horrific change. I can’t move my legs. I can’t move my arms,” says Gomez. “It just totally changes your life in a manner that you could never imagine.”

Even though Gomez tumbled into the Tigris while looking for insurgents, he is, by the Pentagon’s definition, “non-combat injured.”

“They blow it off and say it’s just an accident,” say Gomez. “I’m sure that somebody getting shot in the back would just be an accident. But that’s how they see it.”

The Department of Defense says the injuries and illnesses suffered by Gomez and thousands of other troops should not be taken out of context. In their letter to 60 Minutes, they said: “In order to understand rates of injuries and diseases, it is necessary to understand what the normal or usual rates of injuries and diseases might be in other situations.”

What does this mean? That there are always going to be a certain number of accidents and injuries, war or no war – though they offer no numbers for comparison.

“Soldiers and Marines are gonna get sick. They’re gonna get into accidents. But there’s gonna be more disease, more accidents, more psychiatric stress in Iraq than if they were back here,” says Pike, who adds that hundreds of troops in Iraq have been so paralyzed by stress that they’ve had to be medically evacuated – though you won’t see them reported in the casualty count.

Mental Wounds Remain Unacknowledged
Traditionally, that count has not included combat stress. It was long thought, in the military’s macho culture, that psychological trauma is best suffered in silence.

Graham Alstrom has been back from Iraq for over a year, but he’s still haunted by what he saw – and what he did to other people. “Some of them I shot. Some of them I blew up with grenades. Some of them were stabbed,” says Alstrom. The memories of killing invaded his mind. Soon after he returned home, Alstrom’s life began to unravel.

“The drinking started immediately. I stopped sleeping. And I started getting very angry. I didn’t want to talk to my family anymore. I didn’t want them to see me. I didn’t want to see them. I felt like they were ashamed of me,” says Alstrom. “I was partly ashamed of some of the things I had done. …I couldn’t separate the killing people and killing them in combat.”

He says he’s frustrated that the military says his illness is not combat-related. “I know what I was like before I went to combat. I had a life beyond the Army,” says Alstrom. “I talked to my family. I’d share feelings and emotions with people I cared about. I lived a very regular life.”

Alstrom won’t get a Purple Heart for his service in Iraq. It was only his mind that was wounded in battle. “It doesn’t matter what the paperwork says. We know what happened over there. We know what we did over there,” says Alstrom. “And no piece of paperwork saying that I’m not a casualty could ever take that away. For any of us.”

They’ve had so much taken away already, but both Alstrom and Schneider insist that what remains inside them is the heart of a good soldier.

“I’m very supportive of why we’re there. I’m very supportive of what we did while I was there,” says Schneider. “I believe wholeheartedly that not only should we have gone, but that we’ve done the right thing.”

Now, he’d like the military to do the right thing, too.

“Every one of us went over there with the knowledge that we could die,” says Schneider. “And then they tell you – you’re wounded – or your sacrifice doesn’t deserve to be recognized, or we don’t deserve to be on their list – it’s not right. It’s almost disgraceful.”

© MMIV, CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

 

‘Unusual Weapons’ Used in Fallujah

November 29th, 2004 - by admin

Dahr Jamail / InterPress Service – 2004-11-29 00:10:36

http://www.ipsnews.net/interna.asp?idnews=26440

BAGHDAD (Nov 26, 2004) — ”Poisonous gases have been used in Fallujah,” 35-year-old trader from Fallujah Abu Hammad told IPS. ”They used everything — tanks, artillery, infantry, poison gas. Fallujah has been bombed to the ground.” Hammad is from the Julan district of Fallujah where some of the heaviest fighting occurred. Other residents of that area report the use of illegal weapons.

”They used these weird bombs that put up smoke like a mushroom cloud,” Abu Sabah, another Fallujah refugee from the Julan area told IPS. ”Then small pieces fall from the air with long tails of smoke behind them.” He said pieces of these bombs exploded into large fires that burnt the skin even when water was thrown on the burns. Phosphorous weapons as well as napalm are known to cause such effects. ”People suffered so much from these,” he said.

Macabre accounts of killing of civilians are emerging through the cordon US forces are still maintaining around Fallujah. ”Doctors in Fallujah are reporting to me that there are patients in the hospital there who were forced out by the Americans,” said Mehdi Abdulla, a 33-year-old ambulance driver at a hospital in Baghdad. ”Some doctors there told me they had a major operation going, but the soldiers took the doctors away and left the patient to die.”

‘Tanks Chrushed the Wounded’
Kassem Mohammed Ahmed who escaped from Fallujah a little over a week ago told IPS he witnessed many atrocities committed by US soldiers in the city. ”I watched them roll over wounded people in the street with tanks,” he said. ”This happened so many times.”

Abdul Razaq Ismail who escaped from Fallujah two weeks back said soldiers had used tanks to pull bodies to the soccer stadium to be buried. ”I saw dead bodies on the ground and nobody could bury them because of the American snipers,” he said. ”The Americans were dropping some of the bodies into the Euphrates near Fallujah.”

Abu Hammad said he saw people attempt to swim across the Euphrates to escape the siege. ”The Americans shot them with rifles from the shore,” he said. ”Even if some of them were holding a white flag or white clothes over their heads to show they are not fighters, they were all shot.”

White Flag No Protection for Civilian Victims of US Fire
Hammad said he had seen elderly women carrying white flags shot by US soldiers. ”Even the wounded people were killed. The Americans made announcements for people to come to one mosque if they wanted to leave Fallujah, and even the people who went there carrying white flags were killed.”

Another Fallujah resident Khalil (40) told IPS he saw civilians shot as they held up makeshift white flags. ”They shot women and old men in the streets,” he said. ”Then they shot anyone who tried to get their bodies… Fallujah is suffering too much, it is almost gone now.”

Refugees had moved to another kind of misery now, he said. ”It’s a disaster living here at this camp,” Khalil said. ”We are living like dogs and the kids do not have enough clothes.”

Spokesman for the Iraqi Red Crescent in Baghdad Abdel Hamid Salim told IPS that none of their relief teams had been allowed into Fallujah and that the military had said it would be at least two more weeks before any refugees would be allowed back into the city.

”There is still heavy fighting in Fallujah,” said Salim. ”And the Americans won’t let us in so we can help people.”

In many camps around Fallujah and throughout Baghdad, refugees are living without enough food, clothing and shelter. Relief groups estimate there are at least 15,000 refugee families in temporary shelters outside Fallujah. (END/2004)

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

 

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