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As Nuclear Secrets Emerge in Khan Inquiry, More Are Suspected

December 29th, 2004 - by admin

William J. Broad & David E. Sanger – 2004-12-29 23:14:04


(December 26, 2004) — When experts from the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency came upon blueprints for a 10-kiloton atomic bomb in the files of the Libyan weapons program earlier this year, they found themselves caught between gravity and pettiness.

The discovery gave the experts a new appreciation of the audacity of the rogue nuclear network led by A. Q. Khan, a chief architect of Pakistan’s bomb. Intelligence officials had watched Dr. Khan for years and suspected that he was trafficking in machinery for enriching uranium to make fuel for warheads. But the detailed design represented a new level of danger, particularly since the Libyans said he had thrown it in as a deal-sweetener when he sold them $100 million in nuclear gear.

Pakistan’s Nuclear Khan Job
“This was the first time we had ever seen a loose copy of a bomb design that clearly worked,” said one American expert, “and the question was: Who else had it? The Iranians? The Syrians? Al Qaeda?”

But that threat was quickly overshadowed by smaller questions.

The experts from the United States and the I.A.E.A., the United Nations nuclear watchdog – in a reverberation of their differences over Iraq’s unconventional weapons – began quarreling over control of the blueprints. The friction was palpable at Libya’s Ministry of Scientific Research, said one participant, when the Americans accused international inspectors of having examined the design before they arrived. After hours of tense negotiation, agreement was reached to keep it in a vault at the Energy Department in Washington, but under I.A.E.A. seal.

It was a sign of things to come.

Pakistan’s Black Market in Nukes
Nearly a year after Dr. Khan’s arrest, secrets of his nuclear black market continue to uncoil, revealing a vast global enterprise. But the inquiry has been hampered by discord between the Bush administration and the nuclear watchdog, and by Washington’s concern that if it pushes too hard for access to Dr. Khan, a national hero in Pakistan, it could destabilize an ally. As a result, much of the urgency has been sapped from the investigation, helping keep hidden the full dimensions of the activities of Dr. Khan and his associates….

Cooperation between the United Nations atomic agency and the United States has trickled to a near halt, particularly as the Bush administration tries to unseat the I.A.E.A. director general, Mohamed ElBaradei, who did not support the White House’s prewar intelligence assessments on Iraq….

The entire article available at this link


Go-ahead for Billion-dollar Balkan Oil Pipeline

December 29th, 2004 - by admin

BBC News – 2004-12-29 23:01:51


(December 29, 2004) — Albania, Bulgaria and Macedonia has given the go ahead for the construction of a $1.2bn oil pipeline that will pass through the Balkan peninsula. The project aims to allow alternative ports for the shipping of Russian and Caspian oil, that normally goes through Turkish ports. It aims to transport 750,000 daily barrels of oil.

The pipeline will be built by the US-registered Albanian Macedonian Bulgarian Oil Corporation (AMBO). The 912km pipeline will run from the Bulgarian port of Burgas, over the Black Sea to the Albanian city of Vlore on the Adriatic coast, crossing Macedonia.

The project was conceived in 1994 but it was delayed because of the lack of political support. By signing the agreement on Tuesday, the prime ministers of Bulgaria, Albania and Macedonia have overcome the problem.

“This is one of the most important infrastructure projects for regional, EU, and Euro-Atlantic integration for the western Balkans,” said Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano.

According to Pat Ferguson, President of AMBO, work on the pipeline will begin in 2005 and it is expected to be ready in three or four years.

He added that the company had already raised about $900m from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) — a US development agency — the Eximbank and Credit Suisse First Boston, among others. The project has also the support of the European Union.

Analysts have said that oil companies like ChevronTexaco, Exxon Mobil and British Petroleum would be happy to find alternative routes to the Bosphorus and Dardanelles Straits.
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A Cynical Response
from Media Analyst Robert Rodvik

And the heralds came down from above and said:

“You Serbs are committing genocide and have already left 100,000 Albanian bodies in mass graves, therefore we humanitarians must bomb and kill you and destroy your industries and make your independent economy a part of globalized privatized and colonized nirvanna and when we have run the nutmeg revolution to its conclusion you will one day thank us for taking Kosovo out of your sphere and allowing the KLA to destroy dozens of centuries old monasteries and churches because they were merely Orthodox outposts bearing false witness and we have the license to spread the truth and talk in tongues.

“And just because you claimed it was all about an oil route, just as in present day Afghanistan, we assure you it was all on behalf of democracy — as was bestowed to Korea, Vietnam, Guatemala, East Timor, Haiti, Iran and all those other places where we found the need to destroy the villages in order to save them.”

And the heralds thanked Jean Chretien and Paul Martin for helping to spread the word of Big Bill Clinton who was soon enough making the big bucks for travelling the land and giving speeches about freedom and democracy and whatever else he could pull from his hat at short notice.

And soon enough W had taken the reins and felt it necessary to bestow some more democracy upon the ignorant (of democracy) Iraqis – again absolutely nothing to do with oil. And the heralds departed and CNN was satisfied — for the spread of all this democracy was a wonder to behold.


Pre-emptive Attacks Trigger War Crimes

December 29th, 2004 - by admin

Trevor Royle / Scotland Sunday Herald – 2004-12-29 00:20:19


(November 20, 2004) — Crime came to the city of Fallujah last week and it was committed under the unforgiving gaze of a television camera, giving it international prominence. When a tense and battle-weary US Marine lifted his assault rifle and fired at a wounded Iraqi, killing him instantly during mopping up operations, he was not only doing a bad thing, he was breaking the law as it is applied to the business of warfare.

The US has not signed up to the International Criminal Court, precisely because it wants to protect its troops from prosecution in peace enforcement operations, but the assault on Fallujah was part of a series of military operations in an internal war and should therefore be subject to the 1949 Geneva Conventions. Under their terms, wounded or incapacitated combatants must be treated humanely and protected from the summary justice of the casual head-shot. The conventions are quite clear on this point. Murder of stricken opponents is not allowed: it is a war crime.

The case is being investigated and no doubt the marine will be punished, but his action symbolises the hopeless muddle that the post-conflict operations in Iraq have become. It also brings into sharper focus the problems facing the coalition forces on the ground.

What kind of war are they fighting and what are its rules? Having been outed on the lack of weapons of mass destruction President George W Bush hides behind the fig-leaf of the interventionist war: it was right to mount a pre-emptive strike against a greater threat, in this case Saddam Hussein.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has fallen in line with the policy and sees no reason to change his mind. The intervention in Iraq might be unpopular, the UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, has called it “illegal”, but both leaders say that it is a just conflict.

If It Is a ‘War,’ Why Does US Ignore Geneva Conventions?
However, if US and British soldiers are engaged in a war – Blair claims that it is now in its second phase – then rules must apply. So far, the US has shown little inclination to pay heed to the Geneva Conventions, witness the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib and the impending appointment of Albert Gonzales as attorney-general. This is the lawyer who advised the Bush administration that the Geneva Conventions were irrelevant because the war against terrorism “renders quaint some of its provisions”.

Small wonder that US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld nodded in agreement because it gave his soldiers carte blanche to act as they saw fit and not as they should. But even if international law has been abandoned, the murder of Iraqis cannot be condoned.

Throughout last week’s fighting in Fallujah, US commanders insisted that it was a joint operation with the Iraqis and that it was being undertaken at the request of Iyad Allawi’s interim government.

US Troops Committing War Crimes Should Be Tried by Iraqi Courts
If that is the case, then the US forces were acting in support of the civil authorities and, by right, should be subject to its laws. Any soldier breaking that code would be handed over to the Iraqi police for criminal investigation.

Of course, that will not happen. Allawi owes his authority to the US and will not rock the boat over one of 1200 Iraqi insurgents killed in Fallujah.

There is an election to be held in January and, in his increasingly Panglossian view of life, that cancels all debts in the bloody pacification of the cities in the Sunni Triangle. Once the troublemakers (or freedom fighters) have been neutralised and the opposition has been crushed, democracy and prosperity will return and everyone will live happily ever after. Forget for a moment that the killing of Iraqis only breeds undying enmity and the thirst for revenge.

Meanwhile, apologists for the gun- toting marine argue that he made the right call because, only the previous day, his unit had lost a man to a booby-trapped corpse.

Faced by the possibility that the Iraqi was playing possum with a hidden gun, the marine decided to be judge, jury and executioner. He could also call on some powerful legal and political support – as a representative of the nation which has embraced the theory of pre-emptive strikes, he was simply acting on the self-same impulse.

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Inside Falluja: ‘Nothing To Come Back To’

December 29th, 2004 - by admin

BBC News – 2004-12-29 00:15:40


(December 27th, 2004) — At about 0800 on Friday, the US checkpoint in the west of Falluja agreed that people from the city, especially those who live in the Andalus sector, be allowed inside to see their homes.

I was there, inside the city — about 60% to 70% of the homes and buildings are completely crushed and damaged, and not ready to inhabit at the moment.

Of the 30% still left standing, I don’t think there is a single one that has not been exposed to some damage.

Two-thirds of the City Destroyed
One of my colleagues… went to see his home, and saw that it is almost completely collapsed and everything is burnt inside.

When he went to his neighbours’ home, he found a relative of his was dead and a dog had eaten the meat off him.

I think we will see many things like this, because the US forces have cleared the dead people from the streets, but not from inside the homes.

Most of the people are coming back out of the city after seeing that their homes are not ready for living in.

But I saw two families who stayed in Falluja despite their homes being clearly damaged, and one man, who has only a room to live in, has told me he will stay on because he has been living in very bad conditions outside Falluja.

He told me he will bring other members of his family and will live there — he cannot do otherwise.

No Water, No Electricity, No Sewage
There is no water, no electricity, no sewage system — there is nothing inside the city, except a very small amount of medical supplies that have come from Falluja hospital by two ambulances.

There is a primary health centre inside the city with two doctors to give people medical supplies and support.

I was in Falluja hospital last night and I heard a lot of fighting and bombing, which continued for about three or four hours. I head very loud explosions inside the city.

Demand an Investigation into What Happened in Falluja

• We urge you to call the White House (202-456-1111) and your Congressional representatives (Congressional switchboard: 202-225-3121) to demand an investigation into the civilian casualties and humanitarian crisis in Falluja, and to insist that the Red Cross and Red Crescent be allowed to bring relief supplies into the devastated city.

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Who Are the Resistance Fighters?

December 29th, 2004 - by admin

Jiji Mansoor / Occupation Watch – 2004-12-29 00:10:49


(December 25, 2004) — Any social scientist who hopes to study the Iraqi resistance faces a difficult and complex challenge to determine the ideological and political positions of the resistance for a number of reasons:

The resistance arming itself to oppose the occupation before it was able to develop a social or political platform.

Another complication rendering research on the resistance difficult is that numerous groups claim in the media or on the internet to be part of the resistance, and the difficulty of judging the legitimacy of their claims.

Also, it is worth noting that information provided by the occupation forces and the local authorities is often misleading and untrustworthy. In the early stages of the resistance the US military and the interim Iraqi government attributed the fighters to remnants of the Saddam regime.

After Saddam’s arrest the military and government referred to the resistance fighters as terrorists. As the insurgency operations intensified the US and Iraqi Interim Government labeled these groups as foreign terrorists who had gained access through the porous Iraqi borders. All of these characterizations by the US military and the Iraqi government have served minimize, distort and delegitimize any notion that a real Iraqi national resistance to the US occupation exists.

Dr. Imad Al Joumaili, Professor of International Law at the University of Baghdad explains, “We saw that field research was the best methodology to learn about the ideological and the political positions of the resistance. However, the research has been made difficult because members of the resistance are afraid to give information believing that the researchers could be spies for the US military.

Also, local researchers are afraid to do the research fearing that the occupation forces will pursue them for any information collected about the resistance”. He says, “The best way to study the resistance is to take a random sample of the martyrs from different regions, and analyze the social and ideological environment of the regions from where these martyrs originated”.

“I have found from the results of my research so far that there are two axes, or two main tendencies in the Iraqi resistance. The resistance seems motivated either by Islam or by Nationalism. According to the random sample of some 30 martyrs that we have studied so far I found that those with nationalist tendencies only represented 15% of the sample, while the Islamic tendencies made up 85% of the total sample. Of those driven by Islam, 80%, were Iraqi while only 5% were foreign fighters.”

Few Foreigners in a Largely Local Resistance
It is believed by many inside and outside Iraq that to justify its continued occupation of the country, the US feels a need to claim high numbers of foreign fighters. However, the results of Dr. Al Joumaili’s research indicate that foreign fighters represent a small portion of the resistance and calls into question the legitimacy of continued US military operations in Iraq. The research also supports the notion that Iraqi nationals actively oppose the US foreign occupation of their country.

Jamal Al-Asady, a member in the Shiite Party’s Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution, stated that, “We, in the party, have our own sources that say the foreign fighters are divided between those who ally themselves with Saddam loyalists and control about 40% of the terrorist operations, and those allied with the Islamic movement controlling about 60% of the terrorist operations.

“What we experienced in Fallujah is consistent with this analysis. We do not consider those fighters, both Iraqi and non-Iraqi, who target Mosques, Shrines, Churches, policemen and civilians as true national resistance fighters as their principle aim is to create divisions among the Iraqi people.”

Hani Al-Hiti, a member in the Sunni-led Iraqi Islamic Party, claims that, “Anyone, anywhere in the world has the right to defend their homeland if it is invaded by foreigners. However, with respect to Dr. Imad Al-Joumaili’s analysis, no one knows exactly the number of foreigners operating in Iraq since the borders have been wide open since the beginning of the invasion. We do know that many suspicious elements have been allowed to enter Iraq and are now trying to create civil war.”

All three sources do not consider foreign fighters to be a large component of the resistance operations in Iraq. From their individual analyses, we see that much remains to be learned about the makeup of the Iraqi resistance movement. The lack of a unified political and social platform has made it possible for a few terrorist groups to operate within the ranks of the resistance and muddle its goals.

This has made it easier for the US occupying forces and the interim Iraqi Government to perpetuate the idea to the rest of the world that the fighting in Iraq is against terrorist groups.

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Pull Out — and Pay for the Damage

December 29th, 2004 - by admin

Naomi Klein / The Guardian of London – 2004-12-29 00:02:48


(December 27, 2004) — Colin Powell invoked it before the invasion, telling aides that if the US went into Iraq “you’re going to be owning this place”. John Kerry pledged his allegiance to it during the first presidential debate, saying: “Now, if you break it, you made a mistake. It’s the wrong thing to do. But you own it.”

It’s the so-called Pottery Barn rule: “You break it, you own it.” Pottery Barn, a chain of stores that sells upmarket home furnishings in shopping malls across America, apparently has an in-store policy that if you shatter anything while shopping, you have to pay for it, because “you own it”.

In US foreign policy, this little dictate has come to wield more influence than the Geneva conventions and the US army’s law of land warfare combined – except it turns out that the rule doesn’t even exist. “In the rare instance that something is broken in the store, it’s written off as a loss,” an exasperated company spokesperson recently told a journalist.

Never mind that. The imaginary policy of a store selling $80 corkscrews continues to be the favoured blunt instrument with which to whack anyone who dares to suggest that the time has come to withdraw troops from Iraq: sure the war was wrong, the argument goes, but we can’t stop now – you break it, you own it.

Though not invoking the chain store by name, Nicholas Kristof laid out this argument in a recent New York Times column. “Our mistaken invasion has left millions of Iraqis desperately vulnerable, and it would be inhumane to abandon them now. If we stay in Iraq, there is still some hope that Iraqis will come to enjoy security and better lives, but if we pull out we will be condemning Iraqis to anarchy, terrorism and starvation, costing the lives of hundreds of thousands of children over the next decade.”

Let’s start with the idea that the US is helping to provide security. On the contrary, the presence of US troops is provoking violence on a daily basis. The truth is that as long as the troops remain, the country’s entire security apparatus – occupation forces as well as Iraqi soldiers and police – will be exclusively dedicated to fending off resistance attacks, leaving a security vacuum when it comes to protecting regular Iraqis. If the troops pulled out, Iraqis would still face insecurity, but they would be able to devote their local security resources to regaining control over their cities and neighbourhoods.

As for preventing “anarchy”, the US plan to bring elections to Iraq seems designed to spark a civil war – the civil war needed to justify an ongoing presence for US troops no matter who wins the elections. It was always clear that the Shia majority, which has been calling for immediate elections for more than a year, was never going to accept any delay in the election timetable. And it was equally clear that by destroying Falluja in the name of preparing the city for elections, much of the Sunni leadership would be forced to call for an election boycott.

When Kristof asserts that US forces should stay in Iraq to save hundreds of thousands of children from starvation, it’s hard to imagine what he has in mind. Hunger in Iraq is not merely the humanitarian fallout of a war – it is the direct result of the US decision to impose brutal “shock therapy” policies on a country that was already sickened and weakened by 12 years of sanctions. Paul Bremer’s first act on the job was to lay off close to 500,000 Iraqis, and his primary accomplishment – for which he has just been awarded the presidential medal of freedom – was to oversee a “reconstruction” process that systematically stole jobs from needy Iraqis and handed them to foreign firms, sending the unemployment rate soaring to 67%.

And the worst of the shocks are yet to come. On November 21, the group of industrialised countries known as the Paris Club finally unveiled its plan for Iraq’s unpayable debt. Rather than forgiving it outright, the Paris Club laid out a three-year plan to write off 80%, contingent on Iraq’s governments adhering to a strict International Monetary Fund austerity programme. According to early drafts, that programme includes “restructuring of state-owned enterprises” (read: privatisation), a plan that Iraq’s ministry of industry predicts will require laying off an additional 145,000 workers. In the name of “free-market reforms”, the IMF also wants to eliminate the programme that provides each Iraqi family with a basket of food – the only barrier to starvation for millions of citizens. There is additional pressure to eliminate the food rations coming from the World Trade Organisation, which, at Washington’s urging, is considering accepting Iraq as a member – provided it adopts certain “reforms”.

So let’s be absolutely clear: the US, having broken Iraq, is not in the process of fixing it. It is merely continuing to break the country and its people by other means, using not only F-16s and Bradleys, but now the less flashy weaponry of WTO and IMF conditions, followed by elections designed to transfer as little power to Iraqis as possible. This is what Argentinian writer Rodolfo Walsh, writing before his assassination in 1977 by the military junta, described as “planned misery”. And the longer the US stays in Iraq, the more misery it will plan.

But if staying in Iraq is not the solution, neither are easy bumper-sticker calls to pull the troops out and spend the money on schools and hospitals at home. Yes, the troops must leave, but that can be only one plank of a credible and moral antiwar platform. What of Iraq’s schools and hospitals – the ones that were supposed to be fixed by Bechtel but never were? Too often, antiwar forces have shied away from speaking about what Americans owe Iraq. Rarely is the word “compensation” spoken, let alone the more loaded “reparations”.

Antiwar forces have also failed to offer concrete support for the political demands coming out of Iraq. For instance, when the Iraqi national assembly condemned the Paris Club deal for forcing the Iraqi people to pay Saddam’s “odious” debts and robbing them of their economic sovereignty, the antiwar movement was virtually silent, save the dogged but undersupported Jubilee Iraq. And while US soldiers aren’t protecting Iraqis from starvation, the food rations certainly are – so why isn’t safeguarding this desperately needed programme one of our central demands?

The failure to develop a credible platform beyond “troops out” may be one reason the antiwar movement remains stalled, even as opposition to the war deepens. Because the Pottery Barn rulers do have a point: breaking a country should have consequences for the breakers. Owning the broken country should not be one of them, but how about paying for the repairs?

A version of this column was first published in The Nation

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In the Modern Era There Is No ‘Just War’

December 28th, 2004 - by admin

The Shrine of St. Jospeh / New Jersey – 2004-12-28 09:52:49


Christian Conscience and Modern Warfare
La Civilta Cattolica

The following quotes are from 4,000-word editorial in the July 6, 1991 edition of La Civilta Cattolica, a Jesuit periodical that is considered to express the thinking of the Vatican.

The proclamation and promotion of peace among people is part of the church’s religious mission. Therefore when the church speaks of the necessity of involving herself in the cause of peace and declares herself against war, she is not invading the field of politics, but is staying within the sphere of her own proper religious and moral mission…Through Jesus, men and women are brothers and sisters of one another, because they are children of God.

This means that they must rid themselves of the categories of “stranger” and “enemy,” categories so basic to the ideology of war. The church has only one intent, which is to strengthen the Gospel call to Brotherhood and sisterhood among God’s people.
Christian Conscience and Modern Warfare, La Civilta Cattolica (Rome, Italy, July 6, 1991).

War almost never ends with a true peace; it always leaves behind a remnant of hatred and a thirst for revenge, which will explode as soon as the opportunity offers itself. That is why the human story has been a series of unending wars. War initiates a spiral of hatred and violence, which is extremely difficult to stop. War is therefore useless, since it solves no problems, and damaging because it aggravates problems and makes them insoluble.
Christian Conscience and Modern Warfare, La Civilta Cattolica (Rome, Italy, July 6, 1991).

In practical terms, it means opposing the idea that war is able to resolve the problems which are at the root of conflicts. It means opposing the idea of war as the last resort, because in practice there is no last resort, because it is impossible to prove that all the means to avoid war were considered and put into action. More than that, the one who decides that there is no alternative but war is the very person who really wants to wage war and is simply waiting for an opportune time to begin. Being against war and for peace also means opposing the idea that war is “necessary” or “inevitable” and that peace is not possible.

Finally, it means opposing the idea the wars are waged for noble motives: to restore a universal order of justice and peace or simply to make amends for injustices. These noble motives — which may be present in a few people — in most cases serve as a juridical and moral cover-up for the true motives of war, which are motives of political domination and economic interests. In other words, to oppose the “ideology of war” is to do what is needed to unmask war by showing it as it really is to uncover its motives and its results. It means to show that it is always the poor and the weak who pay for war, whether they wear a military or belong to the civilian population.
Christian Conscience and Modern Warfare, La Civilta Cattolica, (Rome, Italy, July 6, 1991).

The church maintains that there can be no peace, where situations of grave injustice persist and where the just aspirations of people — for freedom, for self-determination, for a homeland of their own, for the right of live a life worthy of human dignity — are frustrated by force and violence. There can be no peace where feelings of frustration and hatred and vengeance are fostered among peoples, nations and continents.

There can be no peace where mutual trust is lacking and peace is based on “an equilibrium of terror” and is sustained by an on-going arms race, whether conventional arms or nuclear ones. That is why the church — decisively proclaiming herself for peace and against any war – asks that remedies be found for situations of injustice which exists in today’s world and which otherwise will be forerunners of new wars.

Above all, solutions must be found for the radical injustice which has created dramatic conditions of growing poverty in the Southern half of the planet.
Christian Conscience and Modern Warfare,” La Civilta Cattolica, (Rome, Italy, July 6, 1991).

Those who move, either immediately or less rapidly, to the claim that in a given situation of injustice there are no nonviolent options available, generally do so in a way that avoids responsibility for an intensive search for other options…The military option for which they reach so soon involves a very long lead time; it demands the preparation of leadership people by special training, educational institutions, and experiences; it demands financial and technical resources dependent on extensive government funding in a situation of defense; and it demand board alliances.

It includes the willingness to lose lives and take lives, the willingness to sacrifice other cultural values for a generation or longer, the willingness of families to be divided. Yet the decision that “nonviolence will not work” for analogous ends is made without any comparable investment of time or creativity, without comparable readiness to sacrifice, without serious projection of comparative costs.

The American army could not “work” if we did not invest billions of dollars in equipping it and in preparing for its effective use. Why should it be fair to measure the moral claims of an alternative moral strategy by setting up the debate in such a way that the other strategy must produce comparable results at incomparably less cost?
John Howard Yoder, When War Is Unjust. (Minn.: Augusburg Pub., 1984).


The Best Test for DU Damage: How Good Is Good Enough?

December 27th, 2004 - by admin

Bob Evans / Newport News Daily Press – 2004-12-27 21:44:09


Newport News (December 15 2004) — In Great Britain, veterans of the 1991 Gulf War are signing up to take the world’s most precise test for determining exposure to depleted uranium.

The US government advertises a test for its veterans of that war too. But the test that it offers can’t detect uranium in low amounts, has a high error rate and uses equipment that’s less sensitive and accurate than the machines the British are using. US vets and soldiers who’ve had this test say they’ve been told they weren’t exposed when, in fact, the tests were simply incapable of detecting whether depleted uranium was present.

Members of Congress have asked the Pentagon to look into testing programs in other countries. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff promised to do that in April. But after that promise was made, the officer in charge of US testing said he had no reason to gather such data because his test was good enough.

“Our labs would easily detect depleted uranium levels approaching US peacetime safety standards,” says Lt. Col. Mark Melanson, who runs the health physics program at the Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine. One of those labs handles all depleted uranium testing for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Randall Parrish, a scientist who played a big role in developing the British test, says he can’t understand why the United States is satisfied with an inferior test. “It is incorrect to assume that a low concentration of uranium in urine means there is no contamination,” he says, because there’s no good data to support that conclusion.

The US government’s refusal to adopt a state-of-the art test also prevents researchers from finding out why tens of thousands of veterans of the Gulf War have debilitating illnesses, says Mohamad B. Abou-Donia, a researcher at Duke University.

Abou-Donia has conducted many significant experiments into the causes of illnesses suffered by Gulf War vets. He also recently published a study that reviewed available scientific work on the health effects of depleted uranium.

Knowing which veterans were definitely exposed to depleted uranium — not just those who might have been exposed to huge doses — would fill a huge gap in the research, he says. But until a better test is adopted and used on a larger number of vets, that data isn’t available, he says.

So there’s no certainty about who was exposed and who was not. Until scientists can reliably determine who was exposed and who was not, they can’t prove or disprove links between depleted uranium and individual veterans’ health problems, Abou-Donia says.

Veterans and scientists have questioned for several years whether the use of depleted uranium weapons in the Gulf War is one of the reasons that so many veterans of that war came home weak and full of pain.

The weapons provided a decisive edge in tank warfare in the 1991 and 2003 battles in the Persian Gulf region. They also left behind millions and millions of pieces of easily inhalable black dust that’s toxic and mildly radioactive. The dust is a necessary result of using the weapons to hit and destroy hard targets.

In recent years, researchers have shown that laboratory animals that inhaled depleted uranium dust developed cancerous tumors. They’ve also found that a single particle of depleted uranium can alter the genetic structure of nearby cells in ways consistent with widely held scientific beliefs about the way cancer starts in the human body. And they’ve found evidence that once depleted uranium gets in the body, it migrates through the bloodstream to the brain, testicles, lungs, kidneys and bones, where it can reside for years.

But all that research constitutes preliminary steps toward figuring out how big a problem the dust from depleted uranium weapons might be, researchers say. Meanwhile, the military plans to significantly reduce its investigations into possible health effects resulting from depleted uranium, as well as other possible causes of Gulf War-related illnesses.

In Britain, Complaints Received a Response
The government’s attitude toward critics of the weapon isn’t much different in Britain. British and US troops are among the few who actually used depleted uranium weapons in battles. A large number of British vets have also been complaining about health problems similar to those experienced by US armed forces from that war.

Parrish says his government paid to develop the more accurate tests for veterans in part because of political pressure and in part because of medical experts’ suspicions that existing tests yielded inconclusive and inadequate evidence of exposure.

Those tests were being used to dismiss the veterans’ benefits claims. Some British veterans went to independent labs and received results that proved depleted uranium was in their urine. Analysis of 24 hours’ worth of urine is the commonly accepted method of determining whether someone has been exposed to uranium of any kind.

The British veterans’ pleas for a better depleted uranium test also got support from the British Royal Society, an invitation-only group of prominent scientists. The Royal Society carries clout in Britain: It dates to 1660, and its members are readily acknowledged as among the best scientific minds in the country. Society members decided to tackle the problem of Gulf War illnesses independent of the government, and after several years, they issued a series of findings.

While those findings didn’t contradict the government’s official viewpoint in many ways, the society did call for a testing program that could more accurately detect whether someone had depleted uranium in their body. That, coupled with activism by veterans groups, left the government little political choice. It took about two years to develop the highly accurate tests, says Parrish, a professor of isotope geology at the University of Leicester.

In addition to his teaching, he runs a laboratory at the British Geological Survey supported by Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council. The council is independent of the government and is similar to the National Science Foundation in the United States, Parrish says.

Parrish and David Coggon, a scientist and chairman of the board that runs the testing program, say there are only four labs (three in England, the other in Germany) that have adopted the more rigorous testing regimen so far.

Part of the difficulty of testing for depleted uranium in someone’s body is that you can’t cut up a person and look for the uranium like you would if it were in a rock, soil sample or lab rat. That’s why scientists look for it in urine. While not a perfect source, it’s the best available right now, Parrish and others say. Even the US military agrees.

Finding depleted uranium in the body gets complicated. Natural uranium is in everyone’s body because it’s in the food and water we ingest. Therefore, there’s natural uranium in everyone’s urine. It’s difficult to accurately identify the depleted uranium as opposed to the natural uranium, in part because the amounts of both are so small.

Once obtained, the uranium in a 24-hour urine sample is typically measured in nanograms. A nanogram is one-billionth of a gram or one billion times lighter than a dollar bill. If a total of 1 nanogram of natural and depleted uranium are involved, the quantities of each are even lower. It takes extremely sophisticated machines to help find and identify the microscopic bits of depleted uranium.

The British and US governments have been giving veterans and soldiers urine tests for depleted uranium for years. But unless the soldiers had relatively large quantities of uranium in their bodies, the tests couldn’t detect depleted uranium apart from natural uranium without a high margin of error, Parrish and other scientists say.

For the complete report, go to:

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


America’s Sinister Plan for Falluja

December 27th, 2004 - by admin

Michael Schwartz – 2004-12-27 21:37:53


(December 21, 2004) — The chilling reality of what Falluja has become is only now seeping out, as the American military continues to block almost all access to the city, whether to reporters, its former residents, or aid groups like the Red Crescent Society.

The date of access keeps being postponed, partly because of ongoing fighting — only this week more air strikes were called in and fighting “in pockets” remains fierce (despite American pronouncements of success weeks ago) — and partly because of the difficulties military commanders have faced in attempting to prettify their ugly handiwork.

Residents will now officially be denied entry until at least December 24; and even then, only the heads of households will be allowed in, a few at a time, to assess damage to their residences in the largely destroyed city.

With a few notable exceptions the media has accepted the recent virtual news blackout in Falluja. The ongoing fighting in the city, especially in “cleared” neighborhoods, is proving an embarrassment and so, while military spokesmen continue to announce American casualties, they now come not from the city itself but, far more vaguely, from “al Anbar province” of which the city is a part.

Fifty American soldiers died in the taking of the city; 20 more died in the following weeks — before the reports stopped. Iraqi civilian casualties remain unknown and accounts of what’s happened in the city, except from the point of view of embedded reporters (and so of American troops) remain scarce indeed.

With only a few exceptions (notably Anthony Shadid of the Washington Post), American reporters have neglected to cull news from refugee camps or Baghdad hospitals, where survivors of the siege are now congregating.

Residents — and the World Press — Kept Out of Fallujah
Intrepid independent and foreign reporters are doing a better job (most notably Dahr Jamail, whose dispatches are indispensable), but even they have been handicapped by lack of access to the city itself. At least Jamail did the next best thing, interviewing a Red Crescent worker who was among the handful of NGO personnel allowed briefly into the wreckage that was Falluja.

A report by Katarina Kratovac of the Associated Press (picked by the Washington Post) about military plans for managing Falluja once it is pacified (if it ever is) proved a notable exception to the arid coverage in the major media. Kratovac based her piece on briefings by the military leadership, notably Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, commander of the Marines in Iraq.

By combining her evidence with some resourceful reporting by Dahr Jamail (and bits and pieces of information from reports printed up elsewhere), a reasonably sharp vision of the conditions the US is planning for Falluja’s “liberated” residents comes into focus.

A City ‘Liberated’ by Big Brother
When they are finally allowed to return, if all goes as the Americans imagine, here’s what the city’s residents may face:

• Entry and exit from the city will be restricted. According to General Sattler, only five roads into the city will remain open. The rest will be blocked by “sand berms” — read, mountains of earth that will make them impassible.

Checkpoints will be established at each of the five entry points, manned by US troops, and everyone entering will be “photographed, fingerprinted and have iris scans taken before being issued ID cards.”

Though Sattler reassured American reporters that the process would only take 10 minutes, the implication is that entry and exit from the city will depend solely on valid ID cards properly proffered, a system akin to the pass-card system used during the apartheid era in South Africa.

• Fallujans are to wear their universal identity cards in plain sight at all times. The ID cards will, according to Dahr Jamail’s information, be made into badges that contain the individual’s home address.

This sort of system has no purpose except to allow for the monitoring of everyone in the city, so that ongoing American patrols can quickly determine if someone is not a registered citizen or is suspiciously far from their home neighborhood.

• No private automobiles will be allowed inside the city. This is a “precaution against car bombs,” which Sattler called “the deadliest weapons in the insurgent arsenal.” As a district is opened to repopulation, the returning residents will be forced to park their cars outside the city and will be bused to their homes.

How they will get around afterwards has not been announced. How they will transport reconstruction materials to rebuild their devastated property is also a mystery.

• Only those Fallujans cleared through American intelligence vettings will be allowed to work on the reconstruction of the city. Since Falluja is currently devastated and almost all employment will, at least temporarily, derive from whatever reconstruction aid the US provides, this means that the Americans plan to retain a life-and-death grip on the city. Only those deemed by them to be non-insurgents (based on notoriously faulty American intelligence) will be able to support themselves or their families.

• Those engaged in reconstruction work — that is, work — in the city may be organized into “work brigades.” The best information indicates that these will be military-style battalions commanded by the American or Iraqi armed forces. Here, as in other parts of the plan, the motive is clearly to maintain strict surveillance over males of military age, all of whom will be considered potential insurgents.

A Pentagon Experiment to Test the Installation of a City-sized Police-State
In case the overarching meaning of all this has eluded you, Major Francis Piccoli, a spokesman for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, which is leading the occupation of Falluja, spelled it out for the AP’s Kratovac: “Some may see this as a ‘Big Brother is watching over you’ experiment, but in reality it’s a simple security measure to keep the insurgents from coming back.”

Actually, it is undoubtedly meant to be both; and since, in the end, it is likely to fail (at least, if the “success” of other American plans in Iraq is taken as precedent), it may prove less revealing of Falluja’s actual future than of the failure of the American counterinsurgency effort in Iraq and of the desperation of American strategists.

In this context, the most revealing element of the plan may be the banning of all cars, the enforcement of which, all by itself, would make the city unlivable; and which therefore demonstrates both the impracticality of the US vision and a callous disregard for the needs and rights of the Fallujans.

These dystopian plans are a direct consequence of the fact that the conquest of Falluja, despite the destruction of the city, visibly did not accomplish its primary goal: “[To] wipe out militants and insurgents and break the back of guerrillas in Falluja.” Even taking American kill figures at face value, the battle for the city was hardly a full-scale success.

Before the assault on the city began, American intelligence estimated that there were 5,000 insurgents inside. General Sattler himself conceded that the final official count was 1,200 fighters killed and no more than 2,000 suspected guerrillas captured. (This assumes, of course, that it was possible in the heat of the battle and its grim aftermath to tell whether any dead man of fighting age was an “insurgent,” a “suspected insurgent,” or just a dead civilian.)

At least a couple of thousand resistance fighters previously residing in Falluja are, then, still “at large” — not counting the undoubtedly sizeable number of displaced residents now angry enough to take up arms.

As a consequence, were the US to allow the outraged residents of Falluja to return unmolested, they would simply face a new struggle in the ruins of the city (as, in fact, continues to be the case anyway). This would leave the extensive devastation of whole neighborhoods as the sole legacy of the invasion.

All Residents Treated as Insurgents
American desperation is expressed in a willingness to treat all Fallujans as part of the insurgency — the inevitable fate of an occupying army that tries to “root out” a popular resistance. As General Sattler explains, speaking of the plan for the “repopulation” of the city, “Once we’ve cleared each and every house in a sector, then the Iraqi government will make the notification of residents of that particular sector that they are encouraged to return.”

In other words, each section of the city must be entirely emptied of life, so that the military can be sure not even one suspect insurgent has infiltrated the new order. (As is evident, this is but another American occupation fantasy, since the insurgents still hiding in the city have evidently proven all too adept at “repopulating” emptied neighborhoods themselves.)

The ongoing policy of house-to-house inspections, combined with ultra-tight security regulations aimed at not allowing suspected guerrillas to reenter the city, is supposed to insure that everyone inside the Fallujan perimeter will not only be disarmed but obedient to occupation demands and desires.

The name tags and the high-tech identity cards are meant to guard against both forgeries and unlawful movement within the city. The military-style work gangs are to insure that everyone is under close supervision at all times. The restricted entry points are clearly meant to keep all weapons out.

Assumedly kept out as well will be most or all reporters (they tend to inflame public opinion), most medical personnel (they tend to “exaggerate” civilian casualties), and most Sunni clerics (they oppose the occupation and support the insurgency).

We can also expect close scrutiny of computers (which can be used for nefarious communications), ambulances (which have been used to smuggle weapons and guerrillas), medicines (which can be used to patch up wounded fighters who might still be hiding somewhere), and so on.

It is not much of a reach to see that, at least in their fantasies, US planners would like to set up what sociologists call a “total institution.” Like a mental hospital or a prison, Falluja, at least as reimagined by the Americans, will be a place where constant surveillance equals daily life and the capacity to interdict “suspicious” behavior (however defined) is the norm. But “total institution” might be too sanitized a term to describe activities which so clearly violate international law as well as fundamental morality.

Those looking for a descriptor with more emotional bite might consider one of those used by correspondent Pepe Escobar of the Asia Times: either “American gulag” for those who enjoy Stalinist imagery or “concentration camp” for those who prefer the Nazi version of the same. But maybe we should just call it a plain old police (city-)state.

What Is in Fallujah’s Future?
Where will such plans lead? Well, for one thing, we can confidently predict that nothing we might recognize as an election will take place in Falluja at the end of January. (Remember, it was to liberate Fallujans from the grip of “terrorists” and to pave the way for electoral free choice that the Bush administration claimed it was taking the city in the first place.)

With the current date for allowing the first residents to return set for December 24 — heads of household only to assess property damage — and the process of repopulation supposedly moving step-by-step, from north to south, across neighborhoods and over time, it’s almost inconceivable that a majority of Fallujans will have returned by late January (if they are even willing to return under the conditions set by the Americans).

Latest reports are that it will take six months to a year simply to restore electricity to the city. So organizing elections seems unlikely indeed.

The magnitude of the devastation and the brutality of the American plan are what’s likely to occupy the full attention of Fallujans for the foreseeable future — and their reactions to these dual disasters represent the biggest question mark of the moment.

However, the history of the Iraq war thus far, and the history of guerrilla wars in general, suggest that there will simply be a new round of struggle, and that carefully laid military plans will begin to disintegrate with the very first arrivals.

There is no predicting what form the new struggle will take, but the US military is going to have a great deal of difficulty controlling a large number of rebellious, angry people inside the gates of America’s new mini-police state.

This is why the military command has kept almost all of the original attack force in the city, in anticipation of the need for tight patrols by a multitude of American troops. (And it also explains why so many other locations around the country have suddenly found themselves without an American troop presence.)

The Falluja police-state strategy represents a sign of weakness, not strength. The new Falluja imagined by American planners is a desperate, ad hoc response to the failure of the battle to “break the back of the guerrillas.”

Like the initial attack on the city, it too is doomed to failure, though it has the perverse “promise” of deepening the suffering of the Iraqis.

Michael Schwartz, Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, has written extensively on popular protest and insurgency, and on American business and government dynamics. His work on Iraq has appeared at TomDispatch, Asia Times, and ZNet and in Contexts and Z Magazine.
His books include Radical Politics and Social Structure, The Power Structure of American Business (with Beth Mintz), and Social Policy and the Conservative Agenda (edited, with Clarence Lo) His email address is Ms42@optonline.net. Copyright C2004 Michael Schwartz

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


An Eyewitness Account of Fallujah

December 27th, 2004 - by admin

Dahr Jamai / Iraq Dispatches – 2004-12-27 21:20:51


(December 25, 2004) — Horror stories—including the use of napalm and chemical weapons by the US military during the siege of Fallujah—continue to trickle out from the rubble of the demolished city, carried by weary refugees lucky enough to have escaped their city.

A cameraman with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC) who witnessed the first eight days of the fighting told of what he considered atrocities. Burhan Fasa’a has worked for LBC throughout the occupation of Iraq.

“I entered Fallujah near the Julan Quarter, which is near the General Hospital,” he said during an interview in Baghdad, “There were American snipers on top of the hospital shooting everyone.”

He nervously smoked cigarettes throughout the interview, still visibly shaken by what he saw. On November 8, the military was allowing women and children to leave the city, but none of the men. He was not allowed to enter the city through one of the main checkpoints, so he circumnavigated Fallujah and managed to enter, precariously, by walking through a rural area near the main hospital, then taking a small boat across the river in order to film from inside the city.

US Snipers ‘Were Shooting Everyone in Sight’
“Before I found the boat, I was 50 meters from the hospital where the American snipers were shooting everyone in sight,” he said, “But I managed to get in.”

He told of bombing so heavy and constant by US warplanes that rarely a minute passed without the ground’s shaking from the bombing campaign. “The Americans used very heavy bombs to break the spirit of the fighters in Fallujah,” he explained, then holding out his arms added, “They bombed everything! I mean everything!”

This went on for the first two days, he said, then on the third day, columns of tanks and other armored vehicles made their move. “Huge numbers of tanks and armored vehicles and troops attempted to enter the north side of Fallujah,” he said, “But I filmed at least twelve US vehicles that were destroyed.”

The military wasn’t yet able to push into Fallujah, and the bombing resumed.

“I saw at least 200 families who had their homes collapsed on their heads by American bombs,” Burhan said while looking at the ground, a long ash dangling from his cigarette, “Fallujans already needed everythingÉI mean they already had no food or medicine. I saw a huge number of people killed in the northern part of the city, and most of them were civilians.”

‘Everyone Was a Target for the Americans’
At this point he started to tell story after story of what he saw during the first week of the siege. “The dead were buried in gardens because people couldn’t leave their homes. There were so many people wounded, and with no medical supplies, people died from their wounds. Everyone in the street was a target for the Americans; even I saw so many civilians shot by them.”

He looked out the window, taking several deep breaths. By then, he said, most families had already run out of food. Families were sneaking through nearby houses to scavenge for food. Water and electricity had long since been cut.

The military called over loudspeakers for families to surrender and come out of their houses, but Burhan said everyone was too afraid to leave their homes, so soldiers began blasting open the gates to houses and conducting searches.

“Americans did not have interpreters with them, so they entered houses and killed people because they didn’t speak English! They entered the house where I was with 26 people, and shot people because they didn’t obey their orders, even just because the people couldn’t understand a word of English. Ninety-five percent of the people killed in the houses that I saw were killed because they couldn’t speak English.”

His eyes were tearing up, so he lit another cigarette and continued talking. “Soldiers thought the people were rejecting their orders, so they shot them. But the people just couldn’t understand them!”

‘The Americans Took All my Camera Equipment’
He managed to keep filming battles and scenes from inside the city, some of which he later managed to sell to Reuters, who showed a few clips of his footage. LBC, he explained, would not show any of the tapes he submitted to them. He had managed to smuggle most of his tapes out of the city before his gear was taken from him.

“The Americans took all of my camera equipment when they found it. At that time I watched one soldier take money from a small child in front of everyone in our house.”
Burhan said that when the troops learned he was a journalist, he was treated worse than the other people in the home where they were seeking refuge. He was detained, along with several other men, women, and children.

“They beat me and cursed me because I work for LBC, then they interrogated me. They were so angry at al-Jazeera and al-Arabia networks.” He was held for three days, sleeping on the ground with no blankets, as did all of the prisoners in a detention camp inside a military camp outside Fallujah.

“They arrested over 100 from my area, including women and kids. We had one toilet, which was in front of where we all were kept, and everyone was shamed by having to use this in public. There was no privacy, and the Americans made us use it with handcuffs on.”

‘I Saw Cluster-bombs Everywhere’
He said he wanted to talk more about what he saw inside Fallujah during the nine days he was there. “I saw cluster bombs everywhere, and so many bodies that were burned, dead with no bullets in them. So they definitely used fire weapons, especially in Julan district. I watched American snipers shoot civilians so many times. I saw an American sniper in a minaret of a mosque shooting everyone that moved.”

He also witnessed something which many refugees from Fallujah have reported.
“I saw civilians trying to swim the Euphrates to escape, and they were all shot by American snipers on the other side of the river.”

The home he was staying in before he was detained was located near the mosque where the NBC cameraman filmed the execution of an older, wounded Iraqi man.

“The mosque where the wounded man was shot that the NBC cameraman filmed — that is in the Jubail Quarter — I was in that quarter. Wounded, unarmed people used that mosque for safetyÉI can tell you there were no weapons in there of any kind because I was in that mosque. People only hid there for safety. That is all.”

He personally witnessed another horrible event reported by many of the refugees who reached Baghdad.

“On Tuesday, November 16th, I saw tanks roll over the wounded in the streets of the Jumariyah Quarter. There is a public clinic there, so we call that the clinic street. There had been a heavy battle in this street, so there were twenty bodies of dead fighters and some wounded civilians in front of this clinic. I was there at the clinic, and at 11 a.m. on the 16th I watched tanks roll over the wounded and dead there.”

After another long pause, he looked out the window for awhile. Still looking out the window, he said, “During the nine days I was in Fallujah, all of the wounded men, women, kids and old people, none of them were evacuated. They either suffered to death, or somehow survived.”

According to the Iraqi Red Crescent, which managed to get three ambulances into the city on November 14, at least 150 families remain trapped inside the city. One family was surviving by placing rice in dirty water, letting it sit for two hours, then eating it. There has been no power or running water for a month in Fallujah.

People there are burying body parts from people blown apart by bombs, as well as skeletons of the dead because their flesh had been eaten by dogs.

The military estimates that 2,000 people in Fallujah were killed, but claims that most of them were fighters. Relief personnel and locals, however, believe the vast majority of the dead were civilians.

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


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