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US Buys Weapons from Indicted Company

April 29th, 2005 - by admin

Jonathan S. Landay / Miami Herald – 2005-04-29 23:24:25


WASHINGTON (April 29, 2005) — The US Army has approved the purchase of more than $29 million worth of weapons for the new Iraqi army from a Chinese state-owned company that’s under indictment in California in connection with the smuggling of 2,000 AK-47 automatic rifles into the United States in 1996.

The haul remains the largest seizure of smuggled automatic weapons in US history.

Army Lt. Col. Joe Yoswa, a Pentagon spokesman, said the Warren, Mich.-based US Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command approved the contract for Poly Technologies after a check into the company’s background. The company wasn’t among those banned from doing business in the United States, he said.

The Beijing-based firm is to deliver 2,369 light and heavy machine guns, 14,653 AK-47 rifles and 72 million rounds of ammunition worth $29.3 million by Saturday, according to a Pentagon statement.

It isn’t clear whether the deal, which comes as the Bush administration is pressing the European Union to maintain an embargo on high-tech arms sales to China, was discussed or approved by higher-ranking officials at the State and Defense departments. Hungary, Poland and Romania, all members of the US-led military coalition in Iraq, could supply the same weapons. China opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Poly Technologies won the competitively bid $29.3 million contract in February from The International Trading Establishment, a Jordan-based consortium. The US Army selected the consortium to supply Iraq’s fledgling security forces with as much as $174.4 million worth of radios, night-vision equipment, weapons and ammunition. The consortium comprises coalition partners of corporations from the Czech Republic, Spain and Jordan.

Iraq is awash in AK-47s and other weapons, but American commanders want new weapons for the new army.

Dynasty Holding of Atlanta, the name under which Poly Technologies did business in the United States, was charged in the smuggling case, along with 14 co-defendants, including Bao Ping “Robert” Ma, a former Chinese army general who was the firm’s US representative, according to the May 1996 federal grand jury indictment.

Ma and three co-defendants were also charged with smuggling 20,000 AK-47 bipods into the United States from China in December 1994. Ma is a fugitive believed to be in China, according to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The 30-count indictment stemmed from a sting operation mounted by undercover US Treasury and US Customs Service agents, who posed as organized-crime arms dealers. The agents paid $700,000 for 2,000 fully automatic AK-47s that were shipped into Oakland, Calif., aboard a Chinese-owned vessel from China in March 1996.

The shipment, which had an approximate street value of more than $4 million, also included about 4,000 AK-47 drum magazines capable of holding up to 40 rounds each.

A key figure in the plot who pleaded guilty, Hammond Ku, a resident alien from Taiwan, suggested to the undercover agents that the weapons be sold to “gang bangers,” or street gangs, according to an affidavit from a US Customs agent that accompanied the indictment.

Ma is one of five Chinese nationals indicted in the case who are fugitives. Two other Chinese nationals who were charged, a former Poly Technologies export manager and a former export official of another state-run munitions firm, NORINCO, have been convicted in China, said Lori Haley, a spokeswoman for ICE in Laguna Niguel, Calif. “It’s still a pending investigation,” said Haley. “As long as they are fugitives, the investigation is still open.”

Ma’s lawyer, Joseph Russinello, said his client was innocent. He said the Chinese government had “basically cleared” Ma in the investigation that led to the convictions of the former Poly Technologies and NORINCO export officials.

According to US federal court records, four other defendants have pleaded guilty, including Ku. He pleaded guilty in 1997 to illegal importation and money laundering charges, but has yet to be sentenced.

“Poly Technologies is not on any list of prohibited sources, nor is the US, under existing law, regulation or policy, prohibited from using Chinese companies to supply weapons,” said Yoswa, the Pentagon spokesman. “There are firms within China that are on the prohibited source list, but Poly Technologies is not one of them.”

He also pointed out that a US arms embargo slapped on China after the 1989 massacre that crushed pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square applies only to American sales of advanced defense technologies to the communist regime.

An Army official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said Army investigators were aware of the link between Poly Technologies and the 1996 weapons smuggling case. But, the official said, Poly Technologies itself was not named in the indictment. “We looked at Poly Technologies, not Dynasty Holding. Dynasty Holding doesn’t exist,” the official said.

The official said the background check on the company was conducted by the National Ground Intelligence Center, an Army intelligence agency in Charlottesville, Va.

Poly Technologies was started by the Chinese military as an arms trading corporation. When the government ordered the military to divest itself of numerous businesses, Poly Technologies in 1999 was placed under the central government.

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

Global Terror Attacks Tripled in 2004

April 29th, 2005 - by admin

Tom Regan / Christian Science Monitor – 2005-04-29 23:22:04


WASHINGTON (April 28, 2005) — Terror attacks around the world tripled in 2004, rising from 175 in 2003 to 655 last year, according to statistics released by the US government’s National Counterterrorism Center (NCC) Wednesday. The figure includes the children killed in the Beslan massacre in Russia, and the victims of the Madrid train bombings.

Terror attacks in Iraq — 198 — were nine times the previous year’s total. The numbers did not include attacks on US troops.

The US State Department held a briefing Wednesday on its global terrorism report (formerly called ‘Global Patterns of Terrorism,’ now called the Country Report on Terrorism) Wednesday, but did not include the statistics on actual attacks, on the order of Secretary of State Condelezza Rice, the Washington Post reported. Ms. Rice had said she wanted US terrorism officials to decided whether or not to release the figures.

The Herald of Scotland, however, reports that the NCC released the statistics after it was pressured to do so by several congressmen. The Herald also reported that former senior counterterrorism official Larry Johnson said the State Department balked at releasing the data because “it might lead to the public perception that America is losing the global war on terror.”

“Last year was bad [said Mr. Johnson]. This year is worse. They are deliberately trying to withhold data because it shows that as far as the war on international terrorism is concerned, we’re losing.”

‘A Dramatic Uptick’
A spokesman for the State Department admitted that there had been a “dramatic uptick” in terrorism, and said the government will provide the public with “all the information it needs for an informed debate.” Knight Ridder reported Wednesday that senior NCC officials said that the high total was “a result of changes in methodology and urged reporters not to compare this year’s terrorism numbers with previous ones.”

“The numbers can’t be compared in any meaningful way,” said John Brennan, acting head of the center, which compiled the statistics. He said his agency had revamped the process of counting terrorist attacks after last year’s embarrassment in which the State Department withdrew its first report and admitted it had significantly understated what turned out to be a record number of attacks.

Knight Ridder reported in mid-April that the Bush administration planned to withhold the terrorist-attacks statistics. But it became harder for the Bush administration not to make the data public, the BBC reported Wednesday, after Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman last week released the figures, which he had received in a congressional briefing.

CNN reports that, contrary to Mr. Brennan’s statement above, Mr. Waxman said officials told the congressmen “that the methodology and definitions used to vet the data were identical to last year’s [controversial report].”

Looking at the bigger picture, media reports say the NCC study indicates the battle against international terrorism remains “formidable.” While Al Qaeda remains the main enemy, it has grown much weaker. But freelance terror operations, “either affiliated with Al Qaeda or inspired by its goals,” have become a much greater threat.

Bloomberg News quotes the report as saying that “an increasing number of terrorist groups are seeking weapons of mass destruction.”

“Although Al Qaeda remains the primary concern regarding possible WMD threats, the number of groups expressing interest in such material is increasing, and WMD technology and know-how is proliferating in the jihadist community,” the report said.

The Washington Post reports that the actual number of terror-related incidents may in fact be higher than even the total released by the NCC Wednesday. The counter terrorism organization is working on a new list, to be released in July, that aims to use “new, more realistic, definitions of terrorism.”

As an example of the rules under which the State Department, and his center for the listings distributed Wednesday, have operated, Brennan said the report lists only one of two Russian airliners that suicide bombers blew out of the sky last year. The one that counted had an Israeli aboard. The other had all Russians, which made it a domestic incident.

“It makes no sense to have the definition of terrorism depend on checking the nationality of all the victims,” Brennan said.

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Abu Ghraib: The Hooded Man in the Photo Speaks

April 29th, 2005 - by admin

NOW / PBS – 2005-04-29 23:20:13


On Friday, April 29, 2005 at 9 p.m. on PBS, in ” Few Bad Men?” NOW broadcast the first in-depth American television interview with Haj Ali, a former prisoner who says he was the man under the black hood in the infamous photo from Abu Ghraib. “Abu Ghraib is a breeding ground for insurgents,” says Ali, who describes his experience in detail. “99% of the people brought in are innocent, but with all the insults and torture, it makes them ready to do just about anything.”

Before the Iraq war Haj Ali was the mayor of the Al Madifai district, near Baghdad. After the US took control of the area, he was removed from his position. As an official, he was required to join the ruling Baath Party. Haj Ali then worked as an administrator for a mosque, until he was picked up off the street one day in October 2003. Today Haj Ali works for a prisoner’s association. He says he has no part in the insurgency.


Q: How confident are you that you are the man in that photo?

HAJ ALI: Actually the hood covered my head, and they took almost a hundred photos. Because all those who were present-as those who speak English were telling me — that whenever a soldier is visited by a friend of his, they would pull a prisoner and take a photograph with him. They would put the prisoners in some abnormal positions and take photos with them. I experienced this situation. I am 100% sure of that.

I remember the American bean box, even the pipes behind me which were used to conduct electricity, they used two wires. I’m telling you what I remember from when they took the hood off my head, I saw the electric wires, one of them was black and the other was red. The end of the electric wires were hook shaped.


HAJ ALI: We were surprised that that an American [television] station broadcasted these photos. But we have two reasons to explain why the photos were released; the first is not that they admired the human rights, but because of the polarity of the American elections. And the second explanation for doing that is to instill fear in the Iraqi resistance, but it backfired on them to the nth degree.

Before that, a person was able to negotiate with them, but then these photos were published and the facts became clear about what the American Army is doing in Iraq and what the real occupation is.

What is more, is that the people who appeared in the photo and the process of their punishment occurred in such a jeering way. This meant the method insulted all of humanity. These have to be punished according to the Geneva [Conventions] or according to the American law.


Q: When you were released, did anyone ever apologize to you? To this day, has anyone from the US military ever apologized?

HAJ ALI: No, never, they just said you were arrested by mistake … and they put a hood over my head. Then they put us in a truck with about 30-40 other people. And they just pushed me off the truck.

Q: How are you faring today?

HAJ ALI: Definitely, nightmares come, because I stayed five days without food or water, with torture. I always have this feeling, like conscious dreams. Sometimes these scenes appear in front of my eyes, even while I am not asleep.

I put my faith in God. Our strength and our resistance come from our faith in God, especially a person who considers himself not guilty and he is the object of abuse and punishment.

There were others who couldn’t resist [the torture], and they gave up names of innocent people to trade for their release from prison. But God gave us the strength, and we believe in God. For a truly faithful man, God gives the person the great strength to be patient to endure the pain, abuse and insults that we were subjected to. But keep in mind that not all people are equal in their tolerance. As I told you, there were people who judged others.


HAJ ALI: I work full time for the prisoner’s association. The association’s mission is to follow up on the cases of prisoners who have been accused of resisting the occupation. The group’s name is the Victims of the American Occupation Prisoners Association.

The group aims to follow up on prisoner cases, their families, the sick. We make contact with prisoners and try to help them, and try to get treatment for them through doctors who have made efforts to treat them free of charge. And to follow up cases of the prisoners.

US Experts Voice Concerns Over Iraq Oil Minister

April 29th, 2005 - by admin

Tom Doggett / Reuters – 2005-04-29 23:15:10


WASHINGTON (April 28, 2005) — Iraq’s choice of Ahmad Chalabi as acting oil minister has raised concerns that he is not the best person for the job because he has little energy experience and was once convicted of bank fraud, US energy experts said on Thursday.

Oil is Iraq’s chief source of revenue as the nation struggles to rebuild. Iraq now produces about 1.9 million barrels of crude oil a day and will try to boost output as it slowly repairs and replaces obsolete technology.

“You are to some extent, from the perceptions of many Iraqis, putting a fox in charge of the henhouse,” said Anthony Cordesman, referring to Chalabi. Cordesman is a Middle East expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies based in Washington.

Chalabi is taking over the ministry at a critical time. It must make decisions on which companies get preference for oil sales, which contracts are honored and which will be renegotiated. The ministry also faces frequent sabotage against its oil pipelines.

“(Chalabi) is going to make it extremely easy for people to make charges about corruption and raise questions on how the oil money is distributed,” said Cordesman. In 1992, a Jordanian military court found Chalabi guilty of bank fraud. He denied the charges, fled Jordan and filed a lawsuit in the United States accusing the Jordanian government of framing him.

On Thursday, Chalabi said he would be acting oil minister for “a short time” and would not make any abrupt changes. He was appointed by Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari. US experts said a long-term assignment for Chalabi could rock Iraq’s oil ministry and the country’s vital oil revenue stream.

Oil Reserves
Iraq has an estimated 115 billion barrels of proven oil reserves and at least 110 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

“What the Iraqi oil sector needs right now is security, transparency and stability, and Chalabi does not have a reputation for bringing any of those,” said energy consultant David Goldwyn. He dealt with international energy issues during the Clinton administration. “There’s certainly potential for mischief-making,” Goldwyn said, adding that other cabinet members will keep a close eye on Chalabi to maximize Iraq’s revenue from oil sales.

If Chalabi gets a permanent job at the oil ministry, even as a deputy rather than the oil minister, it will signal that politics rules over engineering, said Daniel Sternoff, director of geopolitics at Medley Global Advisors.

“The oil technocrats and engineers will be extremely unhappy if Chalabi is named full-time (minister or deputy minister),” said Sternoff. “These are people who suffered under Saddam and his over-politization of the oil ministry, choosing politics over what is best for Iraq and its oil industry.”

However, John Lichtblau, an energy analyst at the PIRA Energy Group in New York, said Chalabi needs to rely on the ministry’s experienced workers and can’t afford to replace them with friends.

It does not really matter with foreign companies who the oil minister is at this point, because Iraq remains an unsafe place to do business, Lichtblau said. “The main problem is not any government policy, but the insurgents that try to block (oil) exports,” he said.

The high-profile oil ministry job may be especially attractive to Chalabi who has expressed interest in other top government positions, Cordesman said. “It’s one of the most powerful positions in Iraq,” Cordesman said. “He has political ambitions.”

© Reuters 2040. All rights reserved.
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US Proposes Selling Bunker Bombs to Israel: Study Rules Nuke Version Unusable

April 29th, 2005 - by admin

BBC News Online – 2005-04-29 09:04:19


US Proposes Selling Bunker Bombs to Israel
BBC News Online

LONDON (April 28, 2005) — The US government is proposing a $30 million deal selling up to 100 laser-guided bunker-busting bombs to Israel. The GBU-28 is a 2,000-kg conventional weapon with a powerful warhead that can burrow through six metres (20 feet) of concrete or 30 metres of earth.

The sale has gone ahead despite concern that Israel might use the weapon for a unilateral attack against Iran.

Congress has 30 days to reject planned foreign military sales, but correspondents say it rarely does so.

Israel – assumed to be the Middle East’s only nuclear-armed state – says it is not planning a military strike against the Islamic republic. However, the bombs are to be fitted on its F-15 fighter jets, which would put Iran within range.

Some analysts say the deal may be intended by Washington to back up with a bit of military muscle European diplomatic efforts to avert the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran.

Talks between the Europeans and Iran are deadlocked over Tehran’s refusal to give up uranium enrichment which could be used for arms production.

The US has accused Iran of using its civilian nuclear programme as a cover to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies.

‘Bunker Buster’ Casualty Risk Cited
Ann Scott Tyson / Washington Post

(April 28, 2005) — Earth-penetrating nuclear bombs would be capable of destroying military targets deep underground, but not without inflicting “massive casualties at ground level,” according to a congressionally mandated study released yesterday.

The study’s findings reflect a growing scientific consensus that even relatively small nuclear “bunker-buster” weapons — under study by the Bush administration but strongly opposed by some members of Congress and arms-control advocates — could not be used without a high cost in human life. Such a bomb could cause more than a million deaths, depending on the yield, the report said.

“You can use a much smaller weapon if you use an earth penetrator, maybe 20 times smaller, but you will kill a lot of people, because it puts out a huge amount of radioactive debris,” said John F. Ahearne, chairman of the Committee on the Effects of Nuclear Earth-Penetrator and Other Weapons of the National Research Council, which produced the report. The council, a branch of the National Academy of Sciences, advises the federal government on science and technology.

The study represents an authoritative finding amid a long-standing conflict over whether it is possible to design an earth-penetrating nuclear bomb that would destroy deeply buried targets without killing people aboveground.

The report found that casualties from an earth-penetrator weapon “would be equal to that from a surface burst of the same weapon yield,” causing from thousands to more than a million deaths in an urban area, and hundreds to hundreds of thousands in lightly populated areas with unfavorable winds.

In its fiscal 2003 Defense Authorization Act, Congress directed the Pentagon to request the study to examine the health and environmental effects of the bombs.

The Bush administration this spring renewed its push for $8.5 million in funding to resume Pentagon and Energy Department studies of bunker-buster nuclear warheads. Congress killed funding for the study last year, and lawmakers indicated this year they will again question the request.

On Capitol Hill yesterday, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld faced incredulity from at least one senator on why the administration is pursuing the weapons.

“It is beyond me as to why you’re proceeding with this program when the laws of physics won’t allow a missile to be driven deeply enough to retain the fallout, which will spew in hundreds of millions of cubic feet if it’s at 100 kilotons,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a subcommittee hearing of the Appropriations Committee.

Rumsfeld replied that 70 countries are pursuing “activities underground” using technology that allows them to burrow into solid rock the length of a basketball court in a single day.

“At the present time, we don’t have a capability of dealing with that. We can’t go in there and get at things in solid rock underground,” he said. “The only thing we have is very large, very dirty, big nuclear weapons. So . . . do we want to have nothing and only a large, dirty nuclear weapon, or would we rather have something in between?”

The Pentagon estimates there are 10,000 hardened targets — above and below ground — in the territory of potential adversaries. About 20 percent have a “major strategic function” such as housing command-and-control systems or weapons stockpiles, and of that 20 percent, half are near or in urban areas.

The study found that nuclear weapons, if aimed accurately, would be more effective than conventional bombs in destroying hard and deeply buried targets. Such nuclear weapons could work with a yield one-fifteenth to one-twenty-fifth as large if they are detonated a few yards below the earth’s surface, causing a shock wave that could destroy bunkers hundreds of yards below.

Bush Plans New Nuclear Weapons

Paul Harris / The (London) Observer

NEW YORK (November 30, 2003) — The United States is embarking on a multimillion-dollar expansion of its nuclear arsenal, prompting fears it may lead the world into a new arms race.

The Bush administration is pushing ahead with the development of a new generation of weapons, dubbed ‘mini-nukes’, that use nuclear warheads to penetrate underground bunkers.

Last week, it gave a quiet yet final go-ahead to a controversial research project into the bunker-buster. The move effectively ends a 10-year ban on research into ‘low-yield’ nuclear weapons. Critics fear it may lead other countries to push ahead with developing such weapons. It also comes at a highly sensitive time diplomatically, with the US lobbying countries such as Iran and North Korea to abandon their nuclear plans.

‘The United States is spurring a new global arms race with our own development of a new generation of nuclear weapons,’ said Democrat Ellen Tauscher, who led an unsuccessful bid in Congress to have the program scrapped.

The new warheads are designed to use shockwaves to destroy deep bunkers even if the bomb does not reach them. Experience in Afghanistan and Iraq has shown army planners that bunkers are being built deeper and more securely. ‘We have to be able to match our capability to our potential targets,’ one White House official said.

But critics say the weapons won’t work and doubt claims that the radiation will remain underground.

The US Army plans to convert two existing nuclear bombs – the B61 and B83. The B61 can be dropped by B-52 bombers or F-16 jets. The larger B83 has explosive yields of one to two megatons. Research will focus on hardening the bomb casings so they can penetrate layers of steel, rock and concrete.

Anti-nuclear campaigners say the B83’s large size makes its classification as a ‘mini-nuke’ debatable. ‘The powers that be describe them as low-yield weapons. But that is far from the case,’ said Jay Coghlan, director of Nukewatch.

Critics also question the wisdom of developing such weapons and say America’s willingness to deploy them will blur the distinction between nuclear war and conventional conflict. Bob Schaeffer, of the Anti-Nuclear Alliance, said: ‘It is dangerous and provocative. It is like a drunk preaching temperance to everyone else at the bar, while ordering another round.’

Leading Democrats contend that the development of the bunker-buster is part of a broader re-evaluation of America’s nuclear arsenal by George Bush’s administration. They point to signs that nuclear weapons are being given a prominent role in the post-Cold War world, at a time when many others see them as obsolete. ‘This White House has a dramatically different view of nuclear weapons compared with previous administrations,’ said Tauscher.

‘The administration’s actions are having the opposite effect by erasing the taboo on the use of nuclear weapons. Russia has already indicated that it will develop new “tactical” weapons in response and no one doubts our enemies will follow suit.’

Since Bush announced a ‘nuclear posture review’ after coming to office, the administration has taken several steps to develop and modernize its nuclear arsenal to deter a wide range of threats, including chemical and biological weapons and what the review called ‘surprising military developments’.

Three Tennessee Valley power stations have been selected to resume production of tritium, a substance used to increase the yield from a nuclear blast. Tritium has not been actively produced in the US for years and this is the first time civilian power plants have been scheduled for military use.

In April, the Los Alamos military laboratory in New Mexico produced the first ‘plutonium pit’ in America for more than a decade. Plutonium pits are triggers vital to the production of nuclear weapons and officials are pushing to get funding to build an entire new facility.

Concern also surrounds plans to cut the time needed to bring American underground nuclear testing sites back into working condition. Currently the time needed would be 24 months, but the administration has pushed for funds to reduce that to 18 months. While officials insist the US has no plans to resume nuclear testing – which would breach an international ban – critics say the enhanced preparations for a resumption are worrying.

‘Why are they even talking about this now, unless something is planned? It makes no sense to us. America has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, but it did not stop 9/11,’ said Schaeffer.

© Guardian Newspapers Limited
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Falllujah: “This is our Guernica”

April 28th, 2005 - by admin

Jonathan Steele and Dahr Jamail / The Guardian – 2005-04-28 23:30:00


BAGHDAD (April 27, 2005) — Robert Zoellick is the archetypal US government insider, a man with a brilliant technical mind but zero experience of any coalface or war front. Sliding effortlessly between ivy league academia, the US treasury and corporate boardrooms (including an advisory post with the scandalous Enron), his latest position is the number-two slot at the state department.

Yet this ultimate “man of the suites” did something earlier this month that put the prime minister and the foreign secretary to shame. On their numerous visits to Iraq, neither has ever dared to go outside the heavily fortified green zones of Baghdad and Basra to see life as Iraqis have to live it. They come home after photo opportunities, briefings and pep talks with British troops and claim to know what is going on in the country they invaded, when in fact they have seen almost nothing.

Zoellick, by contrast, on his first trip to Iraq, asked to see Falluja. Remember Falluja? A city of some 300,000, which was alleged to be the stronghold of armed resistance to the occupation.

Targeting a ‘Symbol of Defiance’
Two US attempts were made to destroy this symbol of defiance last year. The first, in April, fizzled out after Iraqi politicians, including many who supported the invasion of their country, condemned the use of air strikes to terrorise an entire city. The Americans called off the attack, but not before hundreds of families had fled and more than 600 people had been killed.

Six months later the Americans tried again. This time Washington’s allies had been talked to in advance. Consistent US propaganda about the presence in Falluja of a top al-Qaida figure, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was used to create a climate of acquiescence in the US-appointed Iraqi government. Shia leaders were told that bringing Falluja under control was the only way to prevent a Sunni-inspired civil war.

Blair was invited to share responsibility by sending British troops to block escape routes from Falluja and prevent supplies entering once the siege began.

Warnings of the onslaught prompted the vast majority of Falluja’s 300,000 people to flee. The city was then declared a free-fire zone on the grounds that the only people left behind must be “terrorists”.

Since the Assault, the US Has Kept Fallujah ‘Off Limits’
Three weeks after the attack was launched last November, the Americans claimed victory. They say they killed about 1,300 people; one week into the siege, a BBC reporter put the unofficial death toll at 2,000. But details of what happened and who the dead were remain obscure. Were many unarmed civilians, as Baghdad-based human rights groups report? Even if they were trying to defend their homes by fighting the Americans, does that make them “terrorists”?

Journalists “embedded” with US forces filmed atrocities, including the killing of a wounded prisoner, but no reporter could get anything like a full picture. Since the siege ended, tight US restrictions — as well as the danger of hostage-taking that prevents reporters from travelling in most parts of Iraq – have put the devastated city virtually off limits.

In this context Zoellick’s trip, which was covered by a small group of US journalists, was illuminating. The deputy secretary of state had to travel to this “liberated” city in a Black Hawk helicopter flying low over palm trees to avoid being shot down. He wore a flak jacket under his suit even though Falluja’s streets were largely deserted. His convoy of eight armoured vehicles went “so quickly past an open-air bakery reopened with a US-provided micro-loan that workers tossing dough could be glanced only in the blink of an eye,” as the Washington Post reported. “Blasted husks of buildings still line block after block,” the journalist added.

Meeting hand-picked Iraqis in a US base, Zoellick was bombarded with complaints about the pace of US reconstruction aid and frequent intimidation of citizens by American soldiers. Although a state department factsheet claimed 95% of residents had water in their homes, Falluja’s mayor said it was contaminated by sewage and unsafe.

Reports of 36,000 Homes Destroyed by US
Other glimpses of life in Falluja come from Dr Hafid al-Dulaimi, head of the city’s compensation commission, who reports that 36,000 homes were destroyed in the US onslaught, along with 8,400 shops. Sixty nurseries and schools were ruined, along with 65 mosques and religious sanctuaries.

Daud Salman, an Iraqi journalist with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, on a visit to Falluja two weeks ago, found that only a quarter of the city’s residents had gone back. Thousands remain in tents on the outskirts. The Iraqi Red Crescent finds it hard to go in to help the sick because of the US cordon around the city.

Burhan Fasa’a, a cameraman for the Lebanese Broadcasting Company, reported during the siege that dead family members were buried in their gardens because people could not leave their homes. Refugees told one of us that civilians carrying white flags were gunned down by American soldiers. Corpses were tied to US tanks and paraded around like trophies.

Fallujah Has Been Turned into “a Giant Prison’
Justin Alexander, a volunteer for Christian Peacemaker Teams, recently found hundreds living in tents in the grounds of their homes, or in a single patched-up room. A strict system of identity cards blocks access to anyone whose papers give a birthplace outside Falluja, so long-term residents born elsewhere cannot go home. “Fallujans feel the remnants of their city have been turned into a giant prison,” he reports.

Many complain that soldiers of the Iraqi national guard, the fledgling new army, loot shops during the night-time curfew and detain people in order to take a bribe for their release. They are suspected of being members of the Badr Brigade, a Shia militia that wants revenge against Sunnis.

One thing is certain: the attack on Falluja has done nothing to still the insurgency against the US-British occupation nor produced the death of al-Zarqawi – any more than the invasion of Afghanistan achieved the capture or death of Osama bin Laden. Thousands of bereaved and homeless Falluja families have a new reason to hate the US and its allies.

At least Zoellick went to see. He gave no hint of the impression that the trip left him with, but is too smart not to have understood something of the reality. The lesson ought not to be lost on Blair and Straw. Every time the prime minister claims it is time to “move on” from the issue of the war’s legality and rejoice at Iraq’s transformation since Saddam Hussein was toppled, the answer must be: “Remember Falluja.” When the foreign secretary next visits Iraq, he should put on a flak jacket and tour the city that Britain had a share in destroying.

The government keeps hoping Iraq will go away as an election issue. It stubbornly refuses to do so. Voters are not only angry that the war was illegal, illegitimate and unnecessary. The treatment inflicted on Iraqis since the invasion by the US and Britain is equally important.

In the 1930s the Spanish city of Guernica became a symbol of wanton murder and destruction. In the 1990s Grozny was cruelly flattened by the Russians; it still lies in ruins. This decade’s unforgettable monument to brutality and overkill is Falluja, a text-book case of how not to handle an insurgency, and a reminder that unpopular occupations will always degenerate into desperation and atrocity.

Jonathan Steele is the Guardian’s senior foreign correspondent; Dahr Jamail is a freelance American journalist.

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Deformities on Rise in Newborn Iraqi Babies

April 28th, 2005 - by admin

IRIN / United Nations – 2005-04-28 23:19:26


BAGHDAD (27 April 2005) – Doctors in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, have reported a significant increase in deformities among newborn babies.

Health officials and scientists said this could be due to radiation passed through mothers following years of conflict in the country.

The most affected regions are in the south of the country, particularly Basra and Najaf, according to experts. Weaponry used during the Gulf war in 1991 contained depleted uranium, which could be a primary source for the increase, scientists in Baghdad said.

“In my experiments we have found some cases where the mother or father were suffering from pollution from weapons used in the south and we believe that it is affecting newborn babies in the country,” Dr Ibraheem al-Jabouri, a scientist at Baghdad University, told IRIN.

According to Dr Nawar Ali, at the University of Baghdad, who works in the newborn babies research department, a significant number of cases of deformed babies had been reported since 2003.

“There have been 650 cases in total since August 2003 reported in government hospitals – that is a 20 percent increase from the previous regime. Private hospitals were not included in the study, so the number could be higher,” Ali warned.
The health expert said polluted water, which could contain radiation from weapons used in previous conflicts, was the main factor behind the increase.

The type of deformities found in newborn babies are characterised by multiple fingers, unusually large heads, unilateral lips or no arms or legs.
In addition, Dr Lamia’a Amran, a pediatrician at the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS) hospital in the capital, told IRIN that inter-marriages were also to blame and that most of cases of deformed babies were from poor families in the southern region.

“Most of the women who have deformed babies in our hospital are married to relatives and have no idea that a common blood factor can also cause such problems,” Amran added.

Four New Cases Every Week
The IRCS hospital registers at least four cases of deformities every week. During April this year, 15 cases were reported, according to the hospital spokesman, a number considered high for a short period of time.

However, Amran added that 60 percent of the cases were not related to blood factors, but due to other causes. She explained that after studying family history of couples with deformed babies, they concluded that radiation and pollution were the main causes of the deformity.

But most of the cases reported don’t survive for more than a week, doctors said. Nearly 90 percent of such cases at the Central Teaching Hospital for Pediatrics in Baghdad do not survive, according to Wathiq Ibrahim, director of the hospital.

“We have asked for help from the government to make a more profound study on such cases as it is affecting thousands of families,” he told IRIN.
“My two children were born with deformities and today I had my third one with the same problem. The doctors say pollution is the cause and now my husband wants to divorce me claiming that I am not capable of bringing healthy children into the world,” Fatima Hussein, a 34-year-old patient at the hospital, told IRIN.

Health Officials Slow to Act
The Ministry of Health (MoH) is working on developing a programme to alert mothers to the problem. A MoH senior official told IRIN that studies had been undertaken to discover reasons for deformities occurring and to find solutions fast.

Officials at the World Heath Organization (WHO) have not yet developed any kind of research on the subject, but said they would assist the MoH if requested.

“The Iraqi government should take a lead on this issue and if we are asked to assist we will do it,” Fadela Chaib, a spokeswoman for the WHO in Cairo, told IRIN.

“It is a very delicate problem, I have heard about cancer caused by pollution, but deformities in newborn babies is something new and as a result of security issues in the country our staff are outside Iraq, which makes surveying more complicated,” she added.

“Our children have started to suffer the effect of years of war and disasters inside Iraq. The wars happened but no one cared about the result it was going to have and today innocent lives are being lost due to pollution and poor information,” Firdous al-Abadi, a spokeswomen for the IRCS, told IRIN.

Copyright © IRIN 2005
The material contained on www.IRINnews.org comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian news and information service, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. IRIN is a project of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Marla Ruzicka: “Bubbles of Kabul”

April 28th, 2005 - by admin

Rory Carroll / The Guardian – 2005-04-28 23:05:20


(April 20, 2005) — It was Christmas in Kabul and she walked into the Mustafa hotel looking like a rumpled doll. Blonde hair streaked out from a black headscarf and dust shrouded a beaten-up coat. She dumped her backpack on the floor and beamed around a lobby filled with the smell of tobacco and stewed mutton and the stares of Afghan guards and western reporters, all male. “Hi! I’m Marla!”

It was an exclamation more than a statement. This was indeed Marla, a 25-year-old Californian with no satellite phone, very little cash, a shoestring organisation and an impossible mission, but any anxieties she may have felt were concealed by a toothy grin. It was December 2001.

She had come, she said, to document civilian casualties of the recently concluded US-led campaign to oust the Taliban. She not only wanted to find them — difficult enough amid lawless chaos — she wanted Washington to compensate them, to take responsibility for mistakes in its post-September 11 offensive.

It was easy, at first, to patronise and belittle, and many reporters did. She gushed and fawned and giggled. Everything seemed either cool or awesome. She complained about broken nails, wondered whether the market on Chicken Street sold conditioner and asked about parties. Planet Marla was located in a parallel, ditzy universe.

After rising at 4am one morning, the hotel dark and slumbering, I was taken aback to see Bubbles, as she had been nicknamed, waiting in the corridor. “Thanks for letting me come.”

I hadn’t mentioned the trip, nor invited her, but she wedged between a colleague and me for the ride to Qalaye Niazi, a village recently attacked by American bombers on the grounds it harboured fugitive members of the Taliban and al-Qaida. The Pentagon had claimed a clean hit with no collateral damage, but amid the debris were bloodied children’s shoes, the scalp of a woman with braided grey hair, and wedding decorations. Survivors said dozens of men, women and children had died. Marla wrote it all down, asked lots of questions and returned to Kabul silent and thoughtful.

Last Saturday, almost three and a half years later, a journey which started in the Afghan winter ended on a balmy spring afternoon in Baghdad. A suicide car bomber attacked a convoy of SUVs on the airport road. Marla Ruzicka and her colleague Faiz Al Salaam, 43, were separate from the convoy but their ordinary car took the force of the blast, killing them both.

Indefatigable to the End,
Marla’s Last Words Were: ‘I’m Alive’

She had summoned the foreign press corps to a party that night at the Hamra hotel and her failure to show was our first inkling that something was wrong. The next morning the deaths were confirmed. Marla suffered burns to 90% of her body. A medic who treated her at the scene reported her last words: “I’m alive.”

Her friends, a global community since she befriended pretty much everyone she met, are stunned. There is a hush around the Hamra hotel, low-voiced huddles swapping Marla stories. The best is one that relates how she came to be taken seriously, touched countless lives and changed US policy.

Tributes have flowed. “Everyone who met Marla was struck by her incredible effervescence and commitment,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “She was courageous and relentless in pursuit of accurate information about civilians caught up in war.”

Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said it was Marla’s idea to put a special fund in last year’s foreign aid bill to compensate Iraqis whose businesses had been bombed by mistake. “Just from the force of her personality, we decided to take a chance on it.”

Leahy said $10 million was added to the foreign aid bill last year and another $10 million had been set aside for next year. A memorial will be held in Washington this week and the senator will pay tribute from the Senate floor. “I said to her father this morning: ‘A lot of people spend their whole lives and do not begin to accomplish what she’s done.'”

‘Bubbles of Kabul’
It is not difficult to reconcile Bubbles of Kabul with the human rights heroine whose face has filled newspapers and television screens during the past few days. Marla did not change. The lobbying grew more polished and sophisticated but she was as bubbly at the beginning as the end. What changed was that powerful people took notice.

She was born in Lakeport, near San Francisco, with her twin brother Mark the youngest of six children of Clifford and Nancy Ruzicka, middle-class Republicans. She was suspended for leading a school protest against the first Gulf war and as a student at Long Island University visited Cuba, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Israel, including Palestinian areas. Police carted her away when she whipped off a sarong with a protest slogan at a speech by George Bush, then governor of Texas.

On behalf of Global Exchange, a San Francisco-based advocacy group that is run by Medea Benjamin, she visited Afghanistan in 2001 to document cases of wounded and bereaved civilians. The US government was not counting them and much of the media and other human rights groups balked at visiting remote, dangerous areas to interview survivors.

Some of us called it Marla’s Mad Mission. After a break, I returned to Kabul in April 2002 and found the wide-eyed wonder of December transformed into a networking queen who knew all the journalists, peacekeepers, aid workers and politicians. She had lured Bianca Jagger to the capital.

Marla would totter around parties in heels and slinky dresses, vodka in hand, making introductions. The socialising bordered on the frenzied and sometimes ended with Marla slumped, but not before the room had been worked for anything useful for an unofficial survey which confirmed 824 dead.

The US embassy loathed Marla, not least for the day she assembled dozens of mostly Pashtun tribesmen, some bandaged and limping, in front of its walls to demand compensation. The stunt received wide coverage. Marla was becoming a media star, popping up on CNN and becoming the subject of a biography. Publicity for the cause, she said, relishing the attention.

Boyfriends came and went, but she often hinted at loneliness. In a recent online journal entry she wrote: “I am young, and new at this and developing ways to cope, but in honesty I have tried red wine a little too much for medicine, deprived myself of sleep and felt extremely inadequate.” The furious energy never abated. Lobbying, travelling, kickboxing and partying were her therapy.

The Birth of CIVIC
After Afghanistan she founded her own NGO, the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (Civic), rented an office in Washington DC and forged ties with congressmen such as Leahy. When Donald Rumsfeld testified at a Senate hearing, she engaged him on his way out and quietly made her case, figuring it would be more effective than protesting.

She was in Baghdad for the March 2003 invasion and mobilised 150 volunteers to visit hospitals and attempt to make the first proper list of people killed or injured by US forces. Their total of more than 2,000 dead formed the basis for subsequent estimates which touched 20,000. For a time, she stayed at the Guardian house before worsening security forced her and the correspondents into the Hamra hotel.

Counting became a means to gain attention and help for casualties who would otherwise be ignored. In an essay sent to Human Rights Watch shortly before she died, Marla wrote: “A number is important not only to quantify the cost of the war, but to me each number is also a story of someone whose hopes, dreams and potential will never be realised, and who left behind a family.”

Some Iraqis were bemused by the blonde who would burst from a black ankle-length abaya, worn to disguise herself as a local, hugging and kissing their children, but she won the respect of families who were given the hope of financial and medical aid.

It would not have been possible without Faiz Al Salaam, a commercial pilot with Iraq Air who had become Marla’s driver, fixer and translator. A witty, urbane man, he recently became a father and hinted at quitting his perilous sideline. Last June, Marla wrote about the airport road in her online journal: “The ride is not pleasant. Military convoys passing every moment. Faiz and I hold our breath.”

The target of Saturday’s attack appears to have been a convoy of civilian contractors who happened to be passing the couple when the bomber struck. Witnesses described the car of Faiz and Marla bursting into flames. A French national also died and six people were injured. Faiz’s relatives identified Marla’s body but have yet to retrieve his corpse, possibly because it was so badly damaged.

Friends had advised Marla against returning to Baghdad. But the 28-year-old said she needed to collect fresh stories for fundraising and so checked back into the Hamra last month, bearing cheese, chocolate and cigars for fellow guests. She knocked on the doors of the few people she did not know. “Hi! I’m Marla!”

Helping the relatives of an infant whose parents were killed when their vehicle was hit by what was believed to be an American rocket became a particular passion. She praised individual US commanders for wanting to do the right thing but complained about bureaucratic obstacles.

Last Friday, Marla left a telephone message to her parents: “Mom and Dad, I love you. I’m OK.” Her mother, Nancy, said they were worried but knew better than to tell their children to do anything. “We were supportive and just reminded her to be careful.”

At a Marla-instigated gathering that same night, her last, she was in her element, taking people aside for chats, raving about the food and promising to quit smoking any minute. To my eyes, she had not aged a day since Kabul but she batted away the remark. Something about the air in Baghdad dried the skin, she said, rubbing her temples. “Once I hit 30 I’m going to get old really quickly.” The thought struck her as funny and she laughed.

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

Blair’s Bluff Exposed: Early Iraq Legal Opinion Leaked

April 28th, 2005 - by admin

BBC News Online – 2005-04-28 22:59:13


“If every member of the Cabinet had seen a copy of that legal advice others may have resigned along with Robin Cook”
— Sir Menzies Campbell

“What the public must now have an answer to is this: what, or who, changed the attorney general’s mind?”
— Michael Howard

Blair Ignored Warning Iraq Invasion Was Illegal
BBC News Online

(April 28, 2005) — The attorney general cast doubt on the legality of the war against Iraq without a second UN resolution, a leaked document says.

In the document, seen by the BBC and from Lord Goldsmith to Tony Blair, he says a second resolution was the “safest legal course”. Ten days later his advice raised no such concerns about legality.

Lord Goldsmith issued a statement saying the document backed up the government’s position.

Tory leader Michael Howard has queried the prime minister’s honesty, but Mr Blair insists he has not lied. And — in a BBC interview — he has received the public backing of chancellor Gordon Brown. But the Lib Dems said the House of Commons would not have voted for war if the earlier legal advice had been known about.

The extract obtained by the BBC was sent to Mr Blair on 7 March 2003, a fortnight before the war took place.

In it Lord Goldsmith argues relying on the original resolution 1441 — which required Iraq to disarm — as authorisation for the use of force needed “strong factual grounds” that it had been breached.

The views of UNMOVIC, the UN inspection team led by Hans Blix, and the IAEA, the nuclear inspection team led by Mohammed ElBaradei would be “highly significant”, the attorney general reportedly said.

Mr Blair has steadfastly resisted pressure to release the full advice of the attorney general.

‘Further Resolution’
In the newly-leaked document, retyped from its original form, Lord Goldsmith says: “I remain of the opinion that the safest legal course would be to secure the adoption of a further resolution to authorise the use of force…

“I accept that a reasonable case can be made that resolution 1441 is capable in principle of reviving the authorisation in 678 without a further resolution…

“However, the argument that resolution 1441 alone has revived the authorisation to use force in resolution 678 will only be sustainable if there are strong factual grounds for concluding that Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity.”

The advice from 10 days later
The legal advice was issued on the same day UN weapons inspector Hans Blix said more time was needed to disarm Iraq, that the country had accelerated its co-operation but that it could not be described as “immediate compliance”

The document concludes by saying: “If we fail to achieve the adoption of a second resolution we would need to consider urgently at that stage the strength of our legal case in the light of circumstances at the time.”

In his statement, Lord Goldsmith said the document “stands up the case that the government has been making all along”.

“What this document does, as in any legal advice, is to go through the complicated arguments that led me to this view.

“Far from showing I reached the conclusion that to go to war would be unlawful, it shows how I took account of all the arguments before reaching my conclusion.”

‘Unequivocal Advice’
And he said the war in Iraq was legal, adding that this was what he had said to government, to Cabinet and in public at the time.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told BBC News: “What changed between 7, when that advice was written, and 17 March when the attorney general came to his very clear decision that military action without a second resolution was justified was the circumstances.” This included evidence that had been given to Lord Goldsmith and others that Iraq was in breach of resolution 1441.

But it is understood the 7 March document, with its caveats, was never shown to a full Cabinet meeting. Instead, Lord Goldsmith’s later advice, described by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw as “unequivocal”, was shown to the Cabinet on 17 March and made public in an answer in the House of Lords.

The war started on 20 March.

Mr Howard said: “It is now obvious from this legal advice that on 7 March 2003, the attorney general raised specific reservations about the legality of war in Iraq.

“But Mr Blair has said that the attorney general’s advice to the Cabinet on 17 March was ‘very clear’ that the war was legal, and that the attorney general had not changed his mind. It is obvious that he did. “So what the public must now have an answer to is this: what, or who, changed the attorney general’s mind?”

The Lib Dems want a full public inquiry into the war and want voters to punish the Tories as well as Labour, as both supported the war, and choose their party instead.

Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman Sir Menzies Campbell said: “If the House of Commons had known of the contents of this advice it wouldn’t have voted to endorse military action. I strongly suspect that if every member of the Cabinet had seen a copy of this advice, others would have resigned, along with Robin Cook.”

Former international development secretary Clare Short, an opponent of the war, said the leak would “confirm everything that I have been saying — it’s very serious”.

BBC political editor Andrew Marr said the document would greatly fuel suspicions but was not the “smoking gun” that opponents of the war were looking for. But supporting his leader, and asked if he would have taken Britain to war, Mr Brown said: “It was a team decision, a collective decision.”

He added: “The central issue was should you allow Saddam Hussein to continue to ignore for year after year the decisions of the international community. The war was right.”

Key Dates

• 7 March: Early legal advice sent to Mr Blair
• 7 March: Hans Blix says Iraq accelerating co-operation
• 17 March: Final legal advice given to Cabinet
• 17 March: Advice revealed in House of Lords
• 20 March: War starts

Full Text: Attorney General’s Advice to Blair

Here is the full text of the leaked document from Attorney General Lord Goldsmith to Tony Blair over the legality of the war against Iraq, dated 7 March 2003.

• Summary:
26.To sum up, the language of resolution 1441 leaves the position unclear and the statements made on adoption of the resolution suggest that there were differences of view within the Council as to the legal effect of the resolution.

Arguments can be made on both sides.

A key question is whether there is in truth a need for an assessment of whether Iraq’s conduct constitutes a failure to take the final opportunity or has constituted a failure fully to cooperate within the meaning of OP4 such that the basis of the cease-fire is destroyed. If an assessment is needed of that situation, it would be for the Council to make it.

A narrow textual reading of the resolution suggests that sort of assessment is not needed, because the Council has predetermined the issue. Public statements, on the other hand, say otherwise.

27. In these circumstances, I remain of the opinion that the safest legal course would be to secure the adoption of a further resolution to authorise the use of force. […]

The key point is that it should establish that the Council has concluded that Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity offered by resolution 1441, as in the draft which has already been tabled.

28. Nevertheless, having regard to the information on the negotiating history which I have been given and to the arguments of the US Administration which I heard in Washington, I accept that a reasonable case can be made that resolution 1441 is capable in principle of reviving the authorisation in 678 without a further resolution.

29. However, the argument that resolution 1441 alone has revived the authorisation to use force in resolution 678 will only be sustainable if there are strong factual grounds for concluding that Iraq has failed to take the final opportunity.

In other words, we would need to be able to demonstrate hard evidence of non-compliance and non-cooperation.

Given the structure of the resolution as a whole, the views of UNMOVIC and the IAEA will be highly significant in this respect.

In the light of the latest reporting by UNMOVIC, you will need to consider very carefully whether the evidence of non-cooperation and non- compliance by Iraq is sufficiently compelling to justify the conclusion that Iraq has failed to take its final opportunity.

30. In reaching my conclusion, I have taken account of the fact that on a number of previous occasions, including in relation to Operation Desert Fox in December 1998 and Kosovo in 1999, UK forces have participated in military action on the basis of advice from my predecessors that the legality of the action under international law was no more than reasonably arguable.

But a “reasonable case” does not mean that if the matter ever came before a court I would be confident that the court would agree with the view.

I judge that, having regard to the arguments on both sides, and considering the resolution as a whole in the light of the statements made on adoption and subsequently, a court might well conclude that OPs 4 and 12 do require a further Council decision in order to revive the authorisation in resolution 678.

But equally I consider that the counter view can be reasonably maintained.

However, it must be recognised that on previous occasions when military action was taken on the basis of a reasonably arguable case, the degree of public and Parliamentary scrutiny of the legal issue was nothing as great as it is today.

31.The analysis set out above applies whether a second resolution fails to be adopted because of a lack of votes or because it is vetoed.

As I have said before, I do not believe that there is any basis in law for arguing that there is an implied condition of reasonableness which can be read into the power of veto conferred on the permanent members of the Security Council by the UN Charter.

So there are no grounds for arguing that an “unreasonable veto” would entitle us to proceed on the basis of a presumed Security Council authorisation.

In any event, if the majority of world opinion remains opposed to military action, it is likely to be difficult on the facts to categorise a French veto as “unreasonable”.

The legal analysis may, however, be affected by the course of events over the next week or so, eg the discussions on the draft second resolution.

If we fail to achieve the adoption of a second resolution we would need to consider urgently at that stage the strength of our legal case in the light of circumstances at the time.

Possible consequences of acting without a second resolution[…] ”

Full text: Written Answer on Iraq Advice

“I remain of the opinion that the safest legal course would be to secure the adoption of a further resolution to authorise the use of force. ”

On 17 March 2003, Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith gave a written answer to parliament in response to a question asking his view of the legal basis for the Iraq war, posed by Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale.

It came 10 days after he sent a document to the prime minister weighing up the legalities of Britain becoming involved in military conflict in Iraq, a document which was leaked to the BBC and Channel 4 on 27 April 2005.

Here is the full text of the 17 March response:

• Authority to use force against Iraq exists from the combined effect of Resolutions 678, 687 and 1441.

All of these resolutions were adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter which allows the use of force for the express purpose of restoring international peace and security:

• In Resolutions 678, the Security Council authorised force against Iraq, to eject it from Kuwait and to restore peace and security in the area.

• In Resolution 687, which set out the ceasefire conditions after Operation Desert Storm, the Security Council imposed continuing obligations on Iraq to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction in order to restore international peace and security in the area. Resolution 687 suspended but did not terminate the authority to use force under Resolution 678.

• A material breach of Resolution 687 revives the authority to use force under Resolution 678.

• In Resolution 1441, the Security Council determined that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of Resolution 687, because it has not fully complied with its obligations to disarm under that resolution.

• The Security Council in Resolution 1441 gave Iraq “a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations” and warned Iraq of the “serious consequences” if it did not.

• The Security Council also decided in Resolution 1441 that, if Iraq failed at any time to comply with and co-operate fully in the implementation of Resolution 1441, that would constitute a further material breach.

• It is plain that Iraq has failed so to comply and therefore Iraq was at the time of Resolution 1441 and continues to be in material breach.

• Thus, the authority to use force under Resolution 678 has revived and so continues today.

• Resolution 1441 would in terms have provided that a further decision of the Security Council to sanction force was required if that had been intended. Thus, all that Resolution 1441 requires is reporting to and discussion by the Security Council of Iraq’s failures, but not an express further decision to authorise force.

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

Crizel’s Lawsuit: Air Force, Navy Sued over Pollution in Philippines

April 28th, 2005 - by admin

Benedict Dimapindan / The Cardinal Inquirer – 2005-04-28 08:23:23


(January 15, 2005) — Christine Cordero can put a face on her struggle against environmental injustice. It belonged to 6-year-old Crizel Jane Valencia, a little Filipino girl who died of acute leukemia in 2000.

Crizel and her family lived on the site of the former Clark Air Base, a US military post in the Pampanga province of the Philippines. Environmental activists claim that she, like many others, became ill as a result of exposure to the contaminants and toxic material that the US military left behind after withdrawing from the Philippines in 1991.

Cordero learned about the little girl’s story when she attended “Crizel’s World: Butterflies and Benzene,” — an art exhibit of drawings by the little girl and photos of her — in Oakland a few years ago, and has retained the image in her mind since. “It always reminds me of what I’m fighting for,” said Cordero, 24, a national board member of the Filipino/American Coalition for Environmental Solutions (FACES).

FACES, along with a group of 36 Philippine nationals and Arc Ecology, a nonprofit environmental safeguards organization, had filed a lawsuit against the US Navy and Air Force in the Federal District Court of San Jose on Dec. 2, 2002. They sought to compel the US government to take responsibility for and to conduct a preliminary site assessment of the severity of the contamination on the former Clark Air Base, and the former Subic Naval Base as well.

The court dismissed the case in 2003 on the grounds that the law in contention ˆ the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act or CERCLA — does not apply to former military installations in the Philippines. Last week, the groups appealed the decision before the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals.

Jorge Emmanuel, co-founder and former chairman of FACES, expects the appeals court to announce its decision on whether the case may proceed in about two months.

The plea before the appeals court is only the latest chapter in a long saga for these activists in their quest for environmental justice in the Philippines.

The US Military Is Expelled from the Philippines
The volcanic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991 led to the closure of Clark Air Base. Afterwards, those who had been living nearest the volcano were allowed to resettle in and around the former base.

Clark covered roughly 69,160 acres — almost the size of Singapore — and an estimated 20,000 families had temporarily resettled there between 1991 and 1999.

The following year, the Philippine Senate rejected a treaty that would have allowed continuation of US bases and the Navy left Subic Naval Base, which was roughly one-third the size of Clark. With this, nearly a century of US military presence in the country came to an end.

Only after the military was gone did the extent of the environmental damage left behind become clear. Over the past dozen years, studies by the US General Accounting Office, Arc Ecology, several other environmental firms and independent specialists have chronicled 46 sites of soil and groundwater contamination at the former bases.

The soil samples analyzed in those reports were found to contain: polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, which may inhibit neurological development and increase the risk of birth defects; petroleum hydrocarbons, which may cause liver and kidney damage; and the carcinogenic agents of JP-4 jet fuel and asbestos.

A US Legacy of Polluted Soil, Water, Air
Groundwater samples reveal traces of: lead, which may lead to central nervous system damage in children; mercury, which also poisons the nervous system; benzene, which may lead to leukemia; and toluene, which may cause liver and kidney damage.

“When you walk around that place, you can feel the thickness in the air “it’s disgusting,” said Cordero, who visited Clark and Subic this past August. “To think, people lived there and drank the water from that ground. Farming families still farm and bathe in that water.”

In November 1998, the International Institute of Concern for Public Health released the findings of its survey of the Clark landscape’s adverse health effects on 13 communities at and around the former base.

The survey documented several alarming trends, including that between 24 to 31 percent of the children suffered respiratory problems; 19 percent of women reported having respiratory problems; 40.6 percent of women had central nervous system problems; and one-third of women reported reproductive system ailments.

The Philippine Senate Committee Report on Toxic Contamination in Former US Bases in the Philippines, issued in 2000, reported similar findings.

Substantial Environmental Damage
According to the report, “environmental damage caused in Subic and Clark was substantial and had serious adverse ecological, human health and economic implications for the residents within the area and for the Philippines in general.”

In fact, the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in the same report, called the contaminated areas “a state of environmental calamity” and recommended the relocation of any persons still residing there.

In response, FACES, Arc Ecology and community members filed a petition in 2000 on behalf of the residents living near the contaminated areas, urging the Navy and Air Force to conduct a Preliminary Assessment and Site Inspection pursuant to a stipulation found in the CERCLA law.

Emmanuel said that under CERCLA, the petition could be requested for any contaminated area that was “under the control of the US” He further said that those “bases were so under US control, Philippine officials couldn’t even go in without permission.” The American servicemen even had extra-territorial rights — if they committed a crime, they‚d be tried back in the United States, he added.

“In the law, if there’s a site potentially affecting a community, those community members can petition for a PA/SI,” Emmanuel said. “We used that provision. People were already dying — the evidence is far greater than anything in the US.”

“If they could do a PA/SI we could know how and where the places are contaminated and protect people. This has so much value because it can protect the community and stop the spread of contamination. We just need the military to be responsible.”

After the Air Force rejected the request to conduct a PA/SI, and the Navy failed to respond at all, they filed the lawsuit, which now awaits a decision from the appeals court.

The Cardinal Inquirer is a publication of the Stanford Graduate Program in Journalism. http://inquirer.stanford.edu
Contact Benedict Dimapindan at bend1@stanford.edu

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