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Ex-Security Chief Blows Whistle on UN’s Kosovo Mission

September 30th, 2005 - by admin

Sherrie Gossett / CNSNews.com – 2005-09-30 23:44:30

www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1492394/posts

(September 27, 2005) — Following five years of United Nations control and billions of dollars of international aid, Kosovo is a lawless region “owned” by the Albanian mafia, characterized by continuing ethnic cleansing and subject to increasing infiltration by al Qaeda-linked Muslim jihadists, according to a whistleblower interviewed by Cybercast News Service.

The UN’s repeated failure to act on received intelligence has allowed illegal paramilitary groups to flourish and engage in terrorist attacks aimed at destabilizing regional governments in the Balkans, said Thomas Gambill, a former security chief with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), self-described as the world’s largest regional security agency.

Gambill was responsible for overseeing the eastern region of Gjilane in Kosovo from 1999 until 2004 under the authority of the UN. His criticism comes as the United Nations prepares to launch final status talks on the troubled province of Kosovo, which has been a UN protectorate since North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces bombed Yugoslavia between March and May of 1999 to compel the Serb-dominated government of Slobodan Milosovic to withdraw its forces from Kosovo.

The US mission in Kosovo alone cost $5.2 billion between June 1999 and the end of 2001, according to a report from the US Government Accountability Office.

NATO Nombing Leads to Muslim Retaliation
The NATO bombings were also launched in response to reports of large-scale ethnic cleansing of Kosovar Albanians by the Serbs. But as soon as the bombing campaign ended, ferocious, retaliatory ethnic cleansing allegedly took place with Albanians, who are predominantly Muslim, targeting Christian Serbs. The violence was witnessed and documented by the U.N. and OSCE.

Gambill shared hundreds of pages of U.N. and OSCE documents with Cybercast News Service, showing how the Serbs and other minorities were systematically and successfully targeted for removal from Kosovo.

Following the NATO bombing of Kosovo, American troops under NATO command were stationed in neighboring Macedonia and Albania while then-President Bill Clinton decided on the size of the US contingent to be deployed in Kosovo. When US troops entered the province in June 1999, the alleged retaliatory ethnic cleansing was already underway.

Incidents of sexual violence, torture, arson, murder, kidnapping, and verbal threats were allegedly widespread as part of an organized and successful campaign conducted “right under the U.N.’s nose,” said Gambill.

Minorities targeted by ethnic Albanian extremists for expulsion or death included Serbs, Roma, Muslim Slavs, Turks and Croats.

Reports filed by the OSCE indicate that the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which had been trained and supported by the Clinton administration, was predominantly responsible for the ethnic cleansing. In April 1999, congressional Republicans also promoted legislation seeking US military aid for the KLA, causing Michael Radu of the Foreign Policy Institute to warn of the consequences of such a move.

Other armed extremist groups also participated in the ethnic cleansing, said Gambill.

The overall goal of the groups was the creation of an ethnically pure state that included Albania, Kosovo and parts of Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia “They will push for more. That is the plan. It’s called Greater Albania,” said Gambill.

OSCE documents reveal that elderly Serbs who were unable to flee were threatened and women were thrown down staircases. Others were tortured, beaten and murdered. Some elderly Serbs fled to monasteries for protection, but the monasteries were later attacked as well, including as recently as March of 2004, according to the OSCE documents

Entire villages emptied in the wake of large-scale arson and looting. OSCE documents describe “massive population movements” by displaced minorities after so many of their homes were set on fire, that one region of Kosovo resembled “a war zone.”

An OSCE report notes that in one particular month of 1999 ethnic-related crimes dipped, but the report adds that it is unclear if that was due to the success of NATO’s KFOR (Kosovo Force) or simply because there were relatively few Serbs left.

After six months of NATO presence, the violence aimed at the Serbs became less frequent, though grenade attacks, drive-by shootings and abductions continued as weekly occurrences for the next five years, according to Gambill. “Even as of a couple of weeks ago, it hasn’t stopped,” he added.

The perpetrators of ethnic violence were emboldened by a lack of functioning local police or a judiciary system, Gambill said. Even now, the “good cops” are threatened by former KLA members, who are also on the police forces. “One female cop, she was a real Serpico,” recalls Gambill. “She wouldn’t give up an investigation after being threatened. She was killed soon after being warned.”

Minorities are still being denied health care by Albanian medical professionals who quickly dominated the health care profession following the NATO bombing, Gambill said. He recounted an incident in which a Serb doctor was taken behind a building and shot in the back of the head. “Sometimes they had to take wounded Kosovar Serbs all the way to Serbia for medical aid,” said Gambill.

‘Don’t Rock the Boat’
Gambill told Cybercast News Service that he was most frustrated by what he saw as apathy on the part of the U.N. Mission in Kosovo and OSCE, despite what he described as lower-level officials who “worked really hard and cared about the mission.

“There was a don’t-rock-the-boat atmosphere,” Gambill explained. “Many people deployed to the region simply wanted to make their hefty pay and have a good time vacationing in Greece. They didn’t want any ‘problems’ on their watch.”

Aggressive patrols were discouraged, Gambill said, for fear that any ensuing firefights would give the appearance that KFOR forces did not have control of the area.

“It was all PC (politically correct). People were afraid to say anything,” said Gambill, adding that those who spoke out on serious issues were subjected to transfers or other reprisals. “No one seems to want to listen or make waves. They said ‘I can’t do anything to change the system, so why speak out?'”

The result of such an attitude, Gambill said, is that “every time there is an attack against a Serb, it’s always described as an ‘isolated case’ — an event swept under the rug, so to speak.”

Gambill said his warnings and reports on grave security threats were often met with a condescending attitude and even laughter.

During a briefing given at the end of 2000 to OSCE delegates from Vienna, Austria, Gambill identified illegal paramilitary groups operating in the Balkans in violation of UN Security Council resolution 1244.

Albanian Mafia Flourishes
At the same briefing, Gambill said he tried to explain the regional mafia structure, however, US and Russian delegates in the audience complained about the content of Gambill’s speech. As a result, he said, OSCE headquarters in Pristina sent a message to Gambill’s regional superiors with the message, “Shut Tom up.”

“You couldn’t get up in front of meetings and say, ‘We’ve lost control of [Kosovo], the mafia controls it,'” said Gambill. “But they do. They run the damn place.”

Gambill cited OSCE data that showed 42 mafia leaders had moved into Kosovo in the wake of the NATO bombing in order to set up criminal organizations. They continued to thrive despite efforts to establish mature law enforcement operations in the province, he said.

“Drug smuggling, counterfeiting, weapons, human trafficking were all booming when I was there,” said Gambill. He also alleged that high-level mafia leaders are in senior political positions.

“Good cops,” who want to target the corruption are “under threat,” said Gambill, adding that the Albanian mafia maintains ties with Russian, Serbian, Croatian and Italian mafia organizations to further their common agendas.

Gambill also warned his U.N. superiors that the newly formed paramilitary group, the Albanian National Army, was “highly dangerous and skilled” and operating in Kosovo as well as northwestern Macedonia. But those warnings, he said, were also met with disbelief.

Within months, the Albanian National Army was taking credit for terrorist attacks, prompting the U.N. to acknowledge the group’s existence.

Now Kosovo has entered what Gambill calls “The Fifth Phase,” characterized by attacks against the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) itself. A September warning from UNMIK to staff members warns, “Before you turn on your vehicle, inspect it all around, to see if anything is unusual or suspicious.” The warning followed the blowing up of an UNMIK vehicle.

“UNMIK Out!” reads the graffiti seen on many buildings in Kosovo.

A field officer currently working with the U.N. Mission in the Kosovo area spoke with Cybercast News Service on condition of anonymity. After noting that the explosives used by al Qaeda terrorists in the March 2004 Madrid bombing attacks had come from the Balkans, he stated: “I sit here watching special patrol groups surveying and doing nothing.

How many more people will die; whilst terrorists rest and recuperate here in the not so moderate Muslim regions of the Balkans theatre?”

“The cat and mouse game is coming to an end,” the field officer noted. “Kosovo is saturated with extremists so NATO [may] pull out before it all blows up in their faces. War on Terror! [It’s] more like support [of] terror!”

“My biggest concern has always been the incursion of radical Islam into the area,” said Gambill. “They’re making preparations in Macedonia for terrorist attacks against internationals if Kosovo is not granted independence.”

If the United Nations recommends against independence, Gambill said, it will spur the Saudis to increase their involvement in the region. “They’ve got the money, they’ve got the power. They’ll remind Kosovars that they are their true friends. And they’ll help the extremists fight and prepare terrorist attacks against internationals and even NATO troops stationed there,” Gambill told

Cybercast News Service.

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

Sinister Events in a Cynical War

September 30th, 2005 - by admin

John Pilger / New Statesman – 2005-09-30 23:26:17

www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle=PIL20050928=1015

(September 28, 2005) — Here are questions that are not being asked about the latest twist of a cynical war. Were explosives and a remote-control detonator found in the car of the two SAS special forces men “rescued” from prison in Basra on 19 September?

If true, what were they planning to do with them? Why did the British military authorities in Iraq put out an unbelievable version of the circumstances that led up to armoured vehicles smashing down the wall of a prison?

According to the head of Basra’s Governing Council, which has co-operated with the British, five civilians were killed by British soldiers. A judge says nine. How much is an Iraqi life worth? Is there to be no honest accounting in Britain for this sinister event, or do we simply accept Defence Secretary John Reid’s customary arrogance? “Iraqi law is very clear,” he said. “British personnel are immune from Iraqi legal process.” He omitted to say that this fake immunity was invented by Iraq’s occupiers.

Watching “embedded” journalists in Iraq and London attempting to protect the British line was like watching a satire of the whole atrocity in Iraq. First, there was feigned shock that the Iraqi regime’s “writ” did not run outside its American fortifications in Baghdad and the “British trained” police in Basra might be “infiltrated”.

An outraged Jeremy Paxman wanted to know how two of our boys — in fact, highly suspicious foreigners dressed as Arabs and carrying a small armoury — could possibly be arrested by police in a “democratic” society. “Aren’t they supposed to be on our side?” he demanded.

Although reported initially by the Times and the Mail, all mention of the explosives allegedly found in the SAS men’s unmarked Cressida vanished from the news. Instead, the story was the danger the men faced if they were handed over to the militia run by the “radical” cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

“Radical” is a gratuitous embedded term; al-Sadr has actually co-operated with the British. What did he have to say about the “rescue”? Quite a lot, none of which was reported in this country. His spokesman, Sheikh Hassan al-Zarqani, said the SAS men, disguised as al-Sadr’s followers, were planning an attack on Basra ahead of an important religious festival.

“When the police tried to stop them,” he said, “[they] opened fire on the police and passers-by. After a car chase, they were arrested. What our police found in the car was very disturbing – weapons, explosives and a remote control detonator. These are the weapons of terrorists.”

The episode illuminates the most enduring lie of the Anglo-American adventure. This says the “coalition” is not to blame for the bloodbath in Iraq — which it is, overwhelmingly — and that foreign terrorists orchestrated by al-Qaeda are the real culprits. The conductor of the orchestra, goes this line, is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian.

The demonry of Al-Zarqawi is central to the Pentagon’s “Strategic Information Program” set up to shape news coverage of the occupation. It has been the Americans’ single unqualified success. Turn on any news in the US and Britain, and the embedded reporter standing inside an American (or British) fortress will repeat unsubstantiated claims about al-Zarqawi.

Two impressions are the result: that Iraqis’ right to resist an illegal invasion – a right enshrined in international law – has been usurped and de-legitimised by callous foreign terrorists, and that a civil war is under way between the Shi’ites and the Sunni.

A member of the Iraqi National Assembly, Fatah al-Sheikh said this week, “There is a huge campaign for the agents of the foreign occupiers to enter and plant hatred between the sons of the Iraqi people and spread rumours in order to scare the one from the other… The occupiers are trying to start religious incitement and if it does not happen, then they will start an internal Shi’ite incitement.”

The Anglo-American goal of “federalism” for Iraq is part of an imperial strategy of provoking divisions in a country where traditionally the communities have overlapped, even inter-married. The Osama-like promotion of al-Zarqawi is integral to this. Like the Scarlet Pimpernel, he is everywhere but nowhere. When the Americans crushed the city of Fallujah last year, the justification for their atrocious behaviour was “getting those guys loyal to al-Zarqawi”. But the city’s civil and religious authorities denied he was ever there or had anything to do with the resistance.

“He is simply an invention.” said the Imam of Baghdad’s al-Kazimeya mosque. “Al-Zarqawi was killed in the beginning of the war in the Kurdish north. His family even held a ceremony after his death.” Whether or not this is true, al-Zarqawi’s “foreign invasion” serves as Bush’s and Blair’s last veil for their “war on terror” and botched attempt to control the world’s second biggest source of oil.

On 23 September, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, an establishment body, published a report that accused the US of “feeding the myth” of foreign fighters in Iraqi who account for less than 10 per cent of a resistance estimated at 30,000.

Of the eight comprehensive studies into the number of Iraqi civilians killed by the “coalition”, four put the figure at more than 100,000. Until the British army is withdrawn from where it has no right to be, and those responsible for this monumental act of terrorism are indicted by the International Criminal Court, Britain is shamed.

John Pilger is an internationally renowned investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker. He is currently a visiting professor at Cornell University, New York. His film, “Stealing a Nation,” about the expulsion of the people of Diego Garcia, has won the Royal Television Society’s award for the best documentary on British television in 2004-5. His latest book is Tell Me No Lies: Investigative Journalism and its Triumphs (Jonathan Cape, 2004). Visit John Pilger’s website: www.johnpilger.com

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

The Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) at www.globalresearch.ca

© Copyright John Pilger, New Statesman, 2005

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

Thirteen Years at Guantánamo

September 30th, 2005 - by admin

Harold Hongju Koh / OpenDemocracy.net – 2005-09-30 08:49:03

http://www.alternet.org/story/26132

(September 28, 2005) — Brandt Goldstein’s gripping new book, Storming the Court: How a Band of Yale Law Students Sued the President — and Won recounts how, in the early 1990s, a group of Yale University law students and professors sued two United States presidents on behalf of 300 Haitian refugees held at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

As one of the professors who brought that case, like most Americans, I first heard about Guantanamo through the popular folk song Guantanamera (“The Girl from Guantanamo”) and Jack Nicholson’s unforgettable performance (“You can’t handle the truth!”) as a Guantanamo naval commandant in Rob Reiner’s film A Few Good Men.

But when we started the Haitian refugee litigation in 1992, I never dreamed that I would spend much of my next 13 years captured by Guantanamo. How did Guantanamo become so much a part of my life, and of America’s foreign policy?

In 1990, former Catholic priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide became Haiti’s first freely elected president. But less than a year later, he was ousted by a military coup and the Haitian paramilitary launched a brutal campaign of killings, torture and arrests against his supporters.

Refugees from Haitian Torture Sent to Guantanamo
As boatloads of refugees began fleeing Haiti, the first Bush administration responded with a policy whereby the Coast Guard would “interdict” fleeing Haitians on the high seas and quickly “screen” them aboard boats, bringing to the United States only those few “screened-in” Haitians found to have “credible fears” of political persecution.

As refugee numbers swelled, the administration shifted to a new policy: interdiction and offshore detention of the Haitians in camps hastily erected at the 47-square-mile US naval base in Guantanamo, an area slightly larger than Manhattan.

The United States occupies that area under a unique, perpetual lease agreement entered with Cuba in 1903, which provides that “the United States shall exercise complete jurisdiction and control over and within such areas.”

After intense litigation in which I participated, in early 1992, the Atlanta federal court initially accepted the US government’s arguments that Haitians held outside the United States had no rights to challenge the screening process, and the US Supreme Court declined to hear that claim.

Storming the Court
That decision led the Yale law students described in Storming the Court, Michael Ratner of New York’s Center for Constitutional Rights, and myself to file suit in Brooklyn federal court against the US government on behalf of screened-in Haitian refugees and several Haitian service organisations.

Our initial claim was that lawyers and clients had constitutional rights to speak to one another before the clients were returned to possible death or persecution in Haiti. We won preliminary court relief, requiring that the Haitians be afforded counsel before repatriation to Haiti.

Haitians Go Home!:
US Violates International and Domestic Laws on Refugees

But in May 1992, as large numbers of Haitians again began to flee, the United States policy shifted to a policy of deliberate direct return of Haitian refugees to Haiti, in blatant violation of the United Nations Refugee Convention (1951) and the US’s Immigration and Nationality Act (1952).

We quickly challenged this policy in court as well, and won a New York federal appeals court ruling against it. Amid this frenzy, then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton began voicing his opposition to what he called the Bush administration’s “cruel policy.” We therefore chose to delay Supreme Court review until after the November 1992 election, to give president-elect Clinton time to abandon both the then-President Bush’s Haitian policies — direct return and Guantanamo internment.

Clinton Follows Bush
Although Clinton triumphed, just before taking office he abruptly reversed course and announced that he would maintain both Bush policies — in court, the government even adopted the Bush rationale that the Haitian detainees had no legal rights on Guantanamo.

In the hearings described in Storming the Court, we continued our lawsuits, eventually losing our Supreme Court challenge to the direct-return policy, but securing rulings in the New York federal courts that the less than 300 Haitian detainees on Guantanamo were being denied their constitutional rights.

US Judge Sterling Johnson memorably wrote, “If the Due Process Clause of the US Constitution does not apply to the detainees at Guantanamo,” the US Government “would have discretion deliberately to starve or beat them, to deprive them of medical attention, to return them without process to their persecutors, or to discriminate among them based on the color of their skin.”

By fall of 1994, the Clinton administration responded to public outcry by sending military forces to restore President Aristide, allowing most of the Haitians on Guantanamo to return home.

Cuban Refugees find No Refuge in US
At that point, I thought that I was finally done with Guantanamo. But a new Cuban refugee crisis was brewing. In July 1994, Fidel Castro announced that he would permit persons seeking exodus to leave Cuba, and in the next few weeks, more than 30,000 Cuban refugees took to the high seas on makeshift rafts.

When President Clinton ordered the Cuban rafters taken to Guantanamo, a group of Cuban-American lawyers from Miami asked me to join them in a new suit in the Miami federal court challenging this policy as well.

The appeals court in Atlanta eventually rejected our claim, holding — contrary to the New York court rulings — that these Cuban migrants were without legal rights cognisable in the courts of the United States.

And so I found that my students and I had helped generate two opposing lower federal court rulings: a New York ruling that Guantanamo detainees had legal rights; and an Atlanta ruling holding that they did not. But when would the US Supreme Court ever resolve that tension?

Bad Policy and Bad Law
Shortly after I arrived in the Clinton administration as a human-rights official in 1999, I opposed a plan to bring Kosovar refugees to Guantanamo, reasoning that Guantanamo detention had already proven to be both bad policy and bad law. But after 11 September 2001, the Bush defense department overrode similar advice and chose to bring hundreds of detainees held in Afghanistan to Guantanamo, with no apparent exit strategy.

Over the next four years, Guantanamo became a centre of international controversy and a stain on America’s human-rights reputation.

More intense Guantanamo litigation ensued, with many of us involved in the original Haitian cases — including Michael Ratner, myself, Professors and (former Yale Law School students) Michael Wishnie and Neal Katyal, and the current incarnation of our Yale Human Rights clinic — filing briefs and giving legal advice.

In the Rasul v. Bush judgment of June 2004, the Supreme Court finally held that alien detainees on Guantanamo have a right to file writs of habeas corpus to challenge their detention.

Justice Stevens wrote that the detainees’ “allegations that, although they have engaged neither in combat nor in acts of terrorism against the United States, they have been held in Executive detention for more than two years in territory subject to the long-term, exclusive jurisdiction and control of the United States, without access to counsel and without being charged with any wrongdoing unquestionably describe ‘custody in violation of the Constitution or laws or treaties of the United States.'”

Although this wording seems unambiguous, to this day, the Bush administration still denies in ongoing lawsuits that alien detainees on Guantanamo have any meaningful rights under US law.

At the time of writing, new habeas corpus cases are “storming the courts,” working their way back to the US Supreme Court to clarify this issue. And so, like America and the world, those of us lawyers who first began working on this issue in the early 1990s seem destined to spend another round of lawsuits captured by Guantanamo.

Harold Hongju Koh is Dean of Yale University’s School of International Law.

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

US Has Sanctioned Torture for Too Long

September 30th, 2005 - by admin

Jennifer K. Harbury / Newsday – 2005-09-30 08:33:57

www.commondreams.org/views05/0924-30.htm

(September 25, 2005) — As the United Nations intensifies its scrutiny of torture practices in Iraq, many Americans feel outrage and confusion.

How could this have happened? The truth lies in the realities that led to the Katrina disaster. The horrors are not new, but long-term and deep-rooted.

The photographs of Abu Ghraib torture practices left many of us with a chilling sense of deja vu. Anyone who survived torture in Latin America or lost a loved one to death squads there, remembers these techniques. We also remember the US participants.

Although our government leaders insist that the recent abuses were acts of a few “bad apples” — young MPs out of control — we can only shake our heads. We have heard it all before. While our young soldiers face prison time for following orders, those who authorized and ordered the torture continue to violate our laws with full impunity. Why?

Given the extraordinary flow of disclosures, confirming the use of identical US torture practices throughout Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo, the “bad apple” defense is coy at best. It is impossible for so many soldiers to dream up identical techniques by coincidence. We are dealing with official policy, not individual excess. Legal responsibility goes all the way to the top.

We must also remember that these horrific practices were not invented during the war against terror. Throughout Latin America, secretly held prisoners were subjected to raging dogs, excruciating positions, simulated drownings, long-term sleep and food deprivation, blasting noises and terrifying threats.

US responsibility was hardly limited to funding and training military death squads. In many cases, US intelligence agents visited cells, observed battered prisoners and gave advice or asked questions. Instead of insisting on humane treatment, these agents simply left the detainees to their fates.

Worse yet, many notorious torturers were on the CIA payroll as informants. I ought to know. My husband, a Mayan resistance leader, was brutally tortured for two years by Guatemalan officials serving as such “assets.” The “water-pit” technique referred to in Afghanistan appears in his files, too. Eventually, he was either thrown from a helicopter or dismembered. Within six days of his capture, the CIA knew he was in the hands of its own people, yet continued payments and kept the matter secret even from our Congress. My husband’s life could have been saved.

These practices have been developed through the decades. The iconic photograph of the Abu Ghraib detainee, hooded and wired and standing on a small box, depicts a position known to intelligence officials as “The Vietnam.”

Since these torture techniques constitute obvious policy, and many were specifically authorized, why are our top-level officials not under indictment? The Fourth Geneva Convention protects non-POWs, including saboteurs and insurgents. Such people may be tried and imprisoned, but not tortured. Our criminal laws make it a felony to conspire to torture a detainee abroad.

We are repeatedly told that we must permit torture to maintain our national security. True? Experts agree that torture does not yield reliable intelligence because the victims will say anything to stop the pain. Tried-and-true police methods yield far better results. Worse yet, as military people like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and former Secretary of State Colin Powell have said, we greatly endanger our own servicemen and women by discarding anti-torture protections.

By creating rage and hatred against Americans, our troops face bombs instead of tossed bouquets. As that rage increases, the risk of another attack here at home escalates dramatically. This is our country and our responsibility. The time has come to roll up our sleeves and clean house.

Jennifer K. Harbury, the author of Truth, Torture and the American Way, (a book on her husband’s torture and death at the hands of US backed forces in Guatemala), heads the Stop Torture Permanently campaign of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.

Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.

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

ACTION ALERT: Ask Your Rep. to Cosponsor the Iraq STEP Resolution

September 30th, 2005 - by admin

Friends Committee on National Legislation – 2005-09-30 01:09:07

www.fcnl.org/act_lam_current/lam0929_05.htm

(September 29, 2005) — Rep. Tom Allen (ME) has launched a new campaign to win more cosponsors for his bipartisan legislation that declares the United States will not have a long term military presence in Iraq. This legislation, modeled on FCNL’s Iraq STEP proposal, now has 25 cosponsors, 23 Democrats and two Republicans. But that is not nearly enough.

In the next few weeks, Congress will be voting to approve at least $50 billion in additional funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Army General George Casey, who is commander of US troops in Iraq, told reporters this week that it may not even be possible to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq early next year. We need to shift the focus of the debate in Congress away from votes for more troops and more weapons and toward a goal to bring the troops home, while also rebuilding Iraq.

Background
Pressure is building for a change in US policy on Iraq, but we still have a lot of work to do.

Members of Congress and their staff tell FCNL lobbyists that there is a growing concern about the direction of US policy in Iraq. An opinion poll by the University of Maryland released today, 9/29/05, found that nearly three-quarters of those questioned believe that overthrowing the government of Iraq in order to establish a democracy in that country was not a good enough reason to go to war. (See the survey at http://www.pipa.org/_admin/cms/fullPage.php?visit=1&id=87.)

The foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, one of the closest US allies in the Middle East, publicly warned last week that the entire country of Iraq could collapse.

Nearly a week after hundreds of thousands of people converged on Washington to demand an end to the war in Iraq and to lobby Congress to begin a discussion about withdrawing military troops from Iraq, signs indicate that members of Congress are getting the message. Sixty-eight members of Congress have joined an “Out of Iraq” caucus.

But the majority in the Congress remain fearful of speaking out on Iraq because of the impression that such statements might put U.S. forces at greater risk, or damage their 2006 re-election. This week a Senate appropriations subcommittee approved $50 billion in additional funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of a military appropriations legislation. The full Senate and the full House must vote on that spending bill before it wins final approval.

We need to shift the congressional discussion away from a debate about more money, more weapons, and more troops, and toward a focus on how to get the U.S. military out of Iraq, without abandoning U.S. responsibility to help Iraqis rebuild their country. Part of our legislative effort must include increasing the number of representatives who sign up as cosponsors of Congressman Tom Allen’s Iraq Sovereignty Promotion Act (H.R. 3142).

Rep. Allen (ME) circulated a letter to all 435 of his colleagues late last week appealing for more cosponsors (read the text of the letter: http://www.fcnl.org/pdfs/iraq/allen_dear_colleague.pdf). Write your member of Congress to urge him or her to cosponsor this legislation if they have not already done so. Thank them if they have already cosponsored the legislation. Please remind your members of Congress that War Is Not the Answer in Iraq.

Take Action Now
Urge your member of Congress to cosponsor H.R. 3142, Representative Allen’s Iraq Sovereignty Promotion Act. If your member of Congress is already a cosponsor, ask him or her what they are doing to promote this legislation.

You can find out about the bill and who the current cosponsors are on our web site: http://capwiz.com/fconl/issues/bills/?bill=7859076. Then enter your zip code to write a message to your representative.


Stop New Nuclear Weapons!
Find out how, http://www.fcnl.org/nuclear
The Next Step for Iraq: Join FCNL’s Iraq Campaign, http://www.fcnl.org/iraq

Contact Congress and the Administration: http://capwiz.com/fconl/dbq/officials/

Order FCNL publications and “War is Not the Answer” campaign bumper stickers and yard signs:
http://www.fcnl.org/newinfo/special_pub.htm
http://www.fcnl.org/iraq-war.htm

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phone: (202)547-6000 * toll-free: (800)630-1330

Etan Thomas Electrifies Anti-War Washington

September 30th, 2005 - by admin

Dave Zirin / Edge of Sports & Etan Thomas – 2005-09-30 01:05:31

www.commondreams.org/views05/0927-20.htm

(September 26, 2005) — Every generation, the wide world of corporate sports produces an athlete with the iron resolve and moral urgency to step off their pedestal and join the fight for social justice. A century ago, it was boxer Jack Johnson, flaunting, as WEB DuBois put it, “his unforgivable blackness.” In the 1930s, “the Brown Bomber” Joe Louis and track star Jesse Owens took turns spitting in Hitler’s eyes, and Mildred Babe Didrikson continued to show that a woman could be the equal — if not superior — of any man.

In the 1940s and 50s, Jackie Robinson, Pee Wee Reese, and the Brooklyn Dodgers advanced the cause of civil rights through the transgressive act of the multi-racial double play. In the 1960s, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Bill Russell, David Meggyesy, Tommie Smith, and John Carlos showed how mass struggle could ricochet into the world of sports with electric results.

In the 1970s, Billie Jean King used a wicked forehand, and took to the streets, to demand equal rights for women, and Curt Flood showed the labor movement – and the bosses – how to go from crumbs to a bigger piece of the pie. In the 1980’s Martina Navratilova came out of the closet and onto centre court, with her girlfriend on her sinewy arm in plain view of all.

Today we may just have a figure to join their ranks in the NBA’s Etan Thomas. Regular readers of this column will know that I have interviewed the Washington Wizards’ Power Forward on numerous occasions and highlighted his views on everything from the death penalty to the ravages of Hurricane Katrina. He is also the author of a book of poems called More Than An Athlete.

But this past weekend, Etan made a play for pantheon status. Etan took it to that Ali level, by delivering a blistering poetical speech as part of the weekend’s anti-war demonstrations in Washington DC. His contribution, which was played in its entirety on Democracy Now!, is being hailed as ‘the best of the day’ in various nooks and crannies of the blogosphere.

Here is the Transcript. Read and Pass It Along –
It Has the Power to Topple Tyrants.

‘Giving all honor, thanks and praises to God for courage and wisdom, this is a very important rally. I’d like to thank you for allowing me to share my thoughts, feelings and concerns regarding a tremendous problem that we are currently facing. This problem is universal, transcending race, economic background, religion, and culture, and this problem is none other than the current administration which has set up shop in the White House.

In fact, I’d like to take some of these cats on a field trip. I want to get big yellow buses with no air conditioner and no seatbelts and round up Bill O’Reilly, Pat Buchanan, Trent Lott, Sean Hannity, Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Bush Jr. and Bush Sr., John Ashcroft, Giuliani, Ed Gillespie, Katherine Harris, that little bow-tied Tucker Carlson and any other right-wing conservative Republicans I can think of, and take them all on a trip to the hood. Not to do no 30-minute documentary. I mean, I want to drop them off and leave them there, let them become one with the other side of the tracks, get them four mouths to feed and no welfare, have scare tactics run through them like a laxative, criticizing them for needing assistance.

I’d show them working families that make too much to receive welfare but not enough to make ends meet. I’d employ them with jobs with little security, let them know how it feels to be an employee at will, able to be fired at the drop of a hat. I’d take away their opportunities, then try their children as adults, sending their 13-year-old babies to life in prison. I’d sell them dreams of hopelessness while spoon-feeding their young with a daily dose of inferior education. I’d tell them no child shall be left behind, then take more money out of their schools, tell them to show and prove themselves on standardized exams testing their knowledge on things that they haven’t been taught, and then I’d call them inferior.

I’d soak into their interior notions of endless possibilities. I’d paint pictures of assisted productivity if they only agreed to be all they can be, dress them up with fatigues and boots with promises of pots of gold at the end of rainbows, free education to waste terrain on those who finish their bid. Then I’d close the lid on that barrel of fool’s gold by starting a war, sending their children into the midst of a hostile situation, and while they’re worried about their babies being murdered and slain in foreign lands, I’d grace them with the pain of being sick and unable to get medicine.

Give them health benefits that barely cover the common cold. John Q. would become their reality as HMOs introduce them to the world of inferior care, filling their lungs with inadequate air, penny pinching at the expense of patients, doctors practicing medicine in an intricate web of rationing and regulations. Patients wander the maze of managed bureaucracy, costs rise and quality quickly deteriorates, but they say that managed care is cheaper. They’ll say that free choice in medicine will defeat the overall productivity, and as co-payments are steadily rising, I’ll make their grandparents have to choose between buying their medicine and paying their rent.

Then I’d feed them hypocritical lines of being pro-life as the only Christian way to be. Then very contradictingly, I’d fight for the spread of the death penalty, as if thou shall not kill applies to babies but not to criminals.

Then I’d introduce them to those sworn to protect and serve, creating a curb in their trust in the law. I’d show them the nightsticks and plungers, the pepper spray and stun guns, the mace and magnums that they’d soon become acquainted with, the shakedowns and illegal search and seizures, the planted evidence, being stopped for no reason. Harassment ain’t even the half of it. Forty-one shots to two raised hands, cell phones and wallets that are confused with illegal contrabands. I’d introduce them to pigs who love making their guns click like wine glasses. Everlasting targets surrounded by bullets, making them a walking bull’s eye, a living pinata, held at the mercy of police brutality, and then we’ll see if they finally weren’t aware of the truth, if their eyes weren’t finally open like a box of Pandora.

I’d show them how the other side of the tracks carries the weight of the world on our shoulders and how society seems to be holding us down with the force of a boulder. The bird of democracy flew the coop back in Florida. See, for some, and justice comes in packs like wolves in sheep’s clothing. T.K.O.d by the right hooks of life, many are left staggering under the weight of the day, leaning against the ropes of hope. When your dreams have fallen on barren ground, it becomes difficult to keep pushing yourself forward like a train, administering pain like a doctor with a needle, their sequels continue more lethal than injections.

They keep telling us all is equal. I’d tell them that instead of giving tax breaks to the rich, financing corporate mergers and leading us into unnecessary wars and under-table dealings with Enron and Halliburton, maybe they can work on making society more peaceful. Instead, they take more and more money out of inner city schools, give up on the idea of rehabilitation and build more prisons for poor people. With unemployment continuing to rise like a deficit, it’s no wonder why so many think that crime pays.

Maybe this trip will make them see the error of their ways. Or maybe next time, we’ll just all get out and vote. And as far as their stay in the White House, tell them that numbered are their days.’

Dave Zirin is the News Editor of the Prince George’s Post in Prince George’s County Maryland, for which he writes the column “Edge of Sports.” His work can be read at www.edgeofsports.com. To have his column sent to you every week, just e-mail edgeofsports-subscribe@zirin.com.

Iraq War, Global Warming, Hurricanes and the World Bank

September 29th, 2005 - by admin

Global Justice Ecology Project & 50 Years Is Enough Network – 2005-09-29 09:21:46

WASHINGTON, DC —Tens of thousands of demonstrators descended on the nation’s capitol over the September 24 weekend to protest the Iraq War. Protests were also planned for the World Bank, which was holding its annual fall meetings. More and more people are beginning to connect global warming to the war and to the World Bank as a second massive storm prepares to pound another US coastal area.

“What we have in Iraq is a war for oil to fuel an economy that depends on more and more oil as fossil fuel-driven global warming intensifies,” stated Anne Petermann, co-Director of Global Justice Ecology Project. “This is an untenable situation-one that people in the US and the world must start to address,” she continued.

Climatologists are coming to consensus that the increased severity of storms, as witnessed in Katrina and now Rita, is a direct result of the global warming-induced rise in the temperature of ocean water.

Continued increases in fossil fuel emissions, they warn, will lead to more and increasingly severe weather-including droughts, floods, hurricanes, blizzards. The United Nations estimates that global warming related catastrophes have claimed over 500,000 lives in the last decade alone.

During the World Bank meeting in Washington, DC, one of the items on their agenda was global warming. The G-8 meetings in Scotland this summer put the World Bank in charge of identifying solutions to global warming.

“The World Bank is probably the agency most responsible for developing fossil fuels in the world. They have ignored the recommendations of their own Extractive Industries Review to get out of fossil fuel development, and now the G-8 wants to put them in charge of finding ‘solutions’ to global warming? It’s ludicrous,” said Sameer Dossani, Director of 50 Years Is Enough Network.

Paul Wolfowitz, the architect of the Iraq war, is the new head of the World Bank, which spent $28 billion since 1992 on developing fossil fuels, 80% of which was exported to G-8 countries. “Essentially, the World Bank wants to make money from causing global warming and then they want to make even more money as the world’s broker in the trading of fossil fuel emissions. It’s incredibly cynical,” 50 Years Is Enough Network’s Dossani added.

Climatologists warn that the devastation that has occurred on the Gulf Coast is just the tip of the iceberg. We have only seen a one-degree rise in the temperature of the world’s oceans at this point, where a three to five degree rise is predicted by the end of the century, leading some to argue that Global warming is a much greater threat than terrorism.

“We need to get out of Iraq and away from this oil-driven economy and focus resources on addressing global warming before its too late,” said Petermann of Global Justice Ecology Project.

Global Justice Ecology Project, PO Box 412, Hinesburg, VT 05461 US. +1.802.482.2689 ph/fax

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CONTACT:
• Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project-mobile 802.578.0477
• Sameer Dossani, 50 Years Is Enough Network-mobile 202.340.0216

Blackwater Down

September 29th, 2005 - by admin

Jeremy Scahill / The Nation – 2005-09-29 09:19:35

http://www.thenation.com/doc/20051010/scahill

[from the October 10, 2005 issue]

The men from Blackwater USA arrived in New Orleans right after Katrina hit. The company known for its private security work guarding senior US diplomats in Iraq beat the federal government and most aid organizations to the scene in another devastated Gulf. About 150 heavily armed Blackwater troops dressed in full battle gear spread out into the chaos of New Orleans.

Officially, the company boasted of its forces “join[ing] the hurricane relief effort.” But its men on the ground told a different story.
Some patrolled the streets in SUVs with tinted windows and the Blackwater logo splashed on the back; others sped around the French Quarter in an unmarked car with no license plates. They congregated on the corner of St. James and Bourbon in front of a bar called 711, where Blackwater was establishing a makeshift headquarters.

From the balcony above the bar, several Blackwater guys cleared out what had apparently been someone’s apartment.

They threw mattresses, clothes, shoes and other household items from the balcony to the street below. They draped an American flag from the balcony’s railing. More than a dozen troops from the 82nd Airborne Division stood in formation on the street watching the action.

Armed men shuffled in and out of the building as a handful told stories of their past experiences in Iraq. “I worked the security detail of both Bremer and Negroponte,” said one of the Blackwater guys, referring to the former head of the US occupation, L. Paul Bremer, and former US Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte.

Another complained, while talking on his cell phone, that he was getting only $350 a day plus his per diem. “When they told me New Orleans, I said, ‘What country is that in?’” he said. He wore his company ID around his neck in a case with the phrase Operation Iraqi Freedom printed on it.

In an hourlong conversation I had with four Blackwater men, they characterized their work in New Orleans as “securing neighborhoods” and “confronting criminals.” They all carried automatic assault weapons and had guns strapped to their legs. Their flak jackets were covered with pouches for extra ammunition.

When asked what authority they were operating under, one guy said, “We’re on contract with the Department of Homeland Security.” Then, pointing to one of his comrades, he said, “He was even deputized by the governor of the state of Louisiana. We can make arrests and use lethal force if we deem it necessary.” The man then held up the gold Louisiana law enforcement badge he wore around his neck. Blackwater spokesperson Anne Duke also said the company has a letter from Louisiana officials authorizing its forces to carry loaded weapons.

“This vigilantism demonstrates the utter breakdown of the government,” says Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. “These private security forces have behaved brutally, with impunity, in Iraq. To have them now on the streets of New Orleans is frightening and possibly illegal.”

Blackwater is not alone. As business leaders and government officials talk openly of changing the demographics of what was one of the most culturally vibrant of America’s cities, mercenaries from companies like DynCorp, Intercon, American Security Group, Blackhawk, Wackenhut and an Israeli company called Instinctive Shooting International (ISI) are fanning out to guard private businesses and homes, as well as government projects and institutions.

Within two weeks of the hurricane, the number of private security companies registered in Louisiana jumped from 185 to 235. Some, like Blackwater, are under federal contract. Others have been hired by the wealthy elite, like F. Patrick Quinn III, who brought in private security to guard his $3 million private estate and his luxury hotels, which are under consideration for a lucrative federal contract to house FEMA workers.

A possibly deadly incident involving Quinn’s hired guns underscores the dangers of private forces policing American streets. On his second night in New Orleans, Quinn’s security chief, Michael Montgomery, who said he worked for an Alabama company called Bodyguard and Tactical Security (BATS), was with a heavily armed security detail en route to pick up one of Quinn’s associates and escort him through the chaotic city. Montgomery told me they came under fire from “black gangbangers” on an overpass near the poor Ninth Ward neighborhood. “At the time, I was on the phone with my business partner,” he recalls. “I dropped the phone and returned fire.”

Montgomery says he and his men were armed with AR-15s and Glocks and that they unleashed a barrage of bullets in the general direction of the alleged shooters on the overpass. “After that, all I heard was moaning and screaming, and the shooting stopped. That was it. Enough said.”

Then, Montgomery says, “the Army showed up, yelling at us and thinking we were the enemy. We explained to them that we were security. I told them what had happened and they didn’t even care. They just left.” Five minutes later, Montgomery says, Louisiana state troopers arrived on the scene, inquired about the incident and then asked him for directions on “how they could get out of the city.” Montgomery says that no one ever asked him for any details of the incident and no report was ever made. “One thing about security,” Montgomery says, “is that we all coordinate with each other—one family.”

That co-ordination doesn’t include the offices of the Secretaries of State in Louisiana and Alabama, which have no record of a BATS company.

A few miles away from the French Quarter, another wealthy New Orleans businessman, James Reiss, who serves in Mayor Ray Nagin’s administration as chairman of the city’s Regional Transit Authority, brought in some heavy guns to guard the elite gated community of Audubon Place: Israeli mercenaries dressed in black and armed with M-16s.

Two Israelis patrolling the gates outside Audubon told me they had served as professional soldiers in the Israeli military, and one boasted of having participated in the invasion of Lebanon. “We have been fighting the Palestinians all day, every day, our whole lives,” one of them tells me. “Here in New Orleans, we are not guarding from terrorists.” Then, tapping on his machine gun, he says, “Most Americans, when they see these things, that’s enough to scare them.”

The men work for ISI, which describes its employees as “veterans of the Israeli special task forces from the following Israeli government bodies: Israel Defense Force (IDF), Israel National Police Counter Terrorism units, Instructors of Israel National Police Counter Terrorism units, General Security Service (GSS or ‘Shin Beit’), Other restricted intelligence agencies.” The company was formed in 1993. Its website profile says:
“Our up-to-date services meet the challenging needs for Homeland Security preparedness and overseas combat procedures and readiness. ISI is currently an approved vendor by the US Government to supply Homeland Security services.”

Unlike ISI or BATS, Blackwater is operating under a federal contract to provide 164 armed guards for FEMA reconstruction projects in Louisiana. That contract was announced just days after Homeland Security Department spokesperson Russ Knocke told the Washington Post he knew of no federal plans to hire Blackwater or other private security firms. “We believe we’ve got the right mix of personnel in law enforcement for the federal government to meet the demands of public safety,” he said. Before the contract was announced, the Blackwater men told me, they were already on contract with DHS and that they were sleeping in camps organized by the federal agency.

One might ask, given the enormous presence in New Orleans of National Guard, US Army, US Border Patrol, local police from around the country and practically every other government agency with badges, why private security companies are needed, particularly to guard federal projects. “It strikes me…that that may not be the best use of money,” said Illinois Senator Barack Obama.

Blackwater’s success in procuring federal contracts could well be explained by major-league contributions and family connections to the GOP. According to election records, Blackwater’s CEO and co-founder, billionaire Erik Prince, has given tens of thousands to Republicans, including more than $80,000 to the Republican National Committee the month before Bush’s victory in 2000.

This past June, he gave $2,100 to Senator Rick Santorum’s re-election campaign. He has also given to House majority leader Tom DeLay and a slew of other Republican candidates, including Bush/Cheney in 2004. As a young man, Prince interned with President George H.W. Bush, though he complained at the time that he “saw a lot of things I didn’t agree with—homosexual groups being invited in, the budget agreement, the Clean Air Act, those kind of bills. I think the Administration has been indifferent to a lot of conservative concerns.”

Prince, a staunch right-wing Christian, comes from a powerful Michigan Republican family, and his father, Edgar, was a close friend of former Republican presidential candidate and antichoice leader Gary Bauer. In 1988 the elder Prince helped Bauer start the Family Research Council.

Erik Prince’s sister, Betsy, once chaired the Michigan Republican Party and is married to Dick DeVos, whose father, billionaire Richard DeVos, is co-founder of the major Republican benefactor Amway. Dick DeVos is also a big-time contributor to the Republican Party and will likely be the GOP candidate for Michigan governor in 2006. Another Blackwater founder, president Gary Jackson, is also a major contributor to Republican campaigns.

After the killing of four Blackwater mercenaries in Falluja in March 2004, Erik Prince hired the Alexander Strategy Group, a PR firm with close ties to GOPers like DeLay. By mid-November the company was reporting 600 percent growth. In February 2005 the company hired Ambassador Cofer Black, former coordinator for counterterrorism at the State Department and former director of the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, as vice chairman.

Just as the hurricane was hitting, Blackwater’s parent company, the Prince Group, named Joseph Schmitz, who had just resigned as the Pentagon’s Inspector General, as the group’s chief operating officer and general counsel.
While juicing up the firm’s political connections, Prince has been advocating greater use of private security in international operations, arguing at a symposium at the National Defense Industrial Association earlier this year that firms like his are more efficient than the military.

In May, Blackwater’s Jackson testified before Congress in an effort to gain lucrative Homeland Security contracts to train 2,000 new Border Patrol agents, saying Blackwater understands “the value to the government of one-stop shopping.” With President Bush using the Katrina disaster to try to repeal Posse Comitatus (the ban on using US troops in domestic law enforcement) and Blackwater and other security firms clearly initiating a push to install their paramilitaries on US soil, the war is coming home in yet another ominous way.

As one Blackwater mercenary said, “This is a trend. You’re going to see a lot more guys like us in these situations.”

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

Why Immediate Withdrawal Makes Sense

September 29th, 2005 - by admin

Michael Schwartz / TomDispatch.com – 2005-09-29 07:55:21

http://www.commondreams.org/cgi-bin/print.cgi?file=/views05/0922-32.htm

Why Immediate Withdrawal Makes Sense
Michael Schwartz / TomDispatch.com

(September 22, 2005 ) — That we are in a military quagmire in Iraq has become a fact of life among Americans of all political persuasions. Though Administration officials still sometimes speak of troop reductions in early 2006, and some top military men clearly no longer endorse “staying the course,” the muted voices of reason within the military and the State Department still talk in terms of a three-to-five year drawdown of forces followed by the “sustained presence of a large American contingent, perhaps 50,000 soldiers,” to be housed in the huge permanent bases the US is continuing to construct and upgrade in Iraq. In addition, Gen. John P. Jumper, the Air Force Chief of Staff, recently told New York Times reporter Eric Schmitt that US air power would be flying combat missions inside Iraq “more of less indefinitely.”

Many in the anti-war movement, despite the high-intensity moments generated by Camp Casey and Cindy Sheehan’s demand that President Bush at least meet with her “before another mother’s son dies in Iraq,” also seem increasingly resigned to a long-term military engagement with Iraq.

While most continue to advocate the “immediate withdrawal” of American troops, such calls are uttered with little sense of hope. In fact, there appears to be a growing feeling that any form of “immediate” withdrawal will prove a thoroughly unsatisfactory option, destined only to intensify the present chaos in Iraq, trigger a civil war, and/or unleash a round of ethnic violence that could escalate to levels of near-genocidal mass murder. Instead, ever more critics of Bush’s Iraqi adventure are proposing “phased” withdrawal scenarios that could keep American troops at the ready for years to prevent the Iraqi pressure cooker from blowing its top.

Many of these cautious withdrawal scenarios are advocated by staunch opponents of the war. I am thinking, in particular, of Juan Cole, the most widely respected antiwar voice, and Robert Dreyfuss, a thoughtful critic of the war who publishes regularly at the independent website Tompaine.com as well as in the Nation and Mother Jones. Both have offered forceful warnings against a hasty American withdrawal, advocating instead that U.S. forces be pulled out in stages and only as the threat of civil war recedes. Dreyfuss expresses the thinking of many antiwar activists thusly:

“They worry that if the United States withdraws from Iraq, the result will be an all-out civil war among three major ethnic and religious blocs. (It’s facile to argue that Iraq is already wracked by civil war; yes, there is widespread terrorism, a guerrilla war against the US occupation forces, and periodic clashes between Sunnis and Shiites. But it hasn’t reached anything like civil war proportions yet, and it might: Things could get far, far worse.) Maybe it’s too late for the United States to be able to do anything to prevent the outbreak of such a catastrophic civil conflict. But because there is so much at stake, it’s worth a try.”

Cole captures the same logic in a phrase: “All it would take would be for Sunni Arab guerrillas to assassinate Grand Ayatollah Sistani. And, boom”

And they are right. Black Wednesday, September 14, with its 12 Baghdad car bombs, killing at least 160 Iraqis, and wounding upward of 600, offered a flash of civil-war-level violence. Ordinarily, Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence accounts, on average, for fewer than 100 civilian deaths a week.

This was true even during the car-bomb offensive just after the January elections. If a Black Wednesday occurred every week, the death toll from such violence might reach 15,000 per year, and we could start talking about a real civil war. So things could indeed get much worse.

But where Dreyfuss and Cole are mistaken is in concluding that US forces can be part of an effort “to prevent the outbreak of such a catastrophic civil conflict.” Despite the plausible logic of this argument, the US presence doesn’t deter, but contributes to, a thickening civil-war-like atmosphere in Iraq. It is always a dicey matter to project the present into the future, though that never stopped anybody from doing so.

The future, by definition, is unknown and so open to the unexpected. Nonetheless, it is far more reasonable, based on what we now know, to assume that if the US were to leave Iraq quickly, the level of violence would be reduced, possibly drastically, not heightened. Here are the four key reasons:

1. The US military is already killing more civilian Iraqis than would likely die in any threatened civil war;

2. The US presence is actually aggravating terrorist (Iraqi-on-Iraqi) violence, not suppressing it;

3. Much of the current terrorist violence would be likely to subside if the U.S. left;

4. The longer the US stays, the more likely that scenarios involving an authentic civil war will prove accurate.

American Violence in Iraq
In listing the problems faced by Iraqis (“widespread terrorism, a guerrilla war against the US occupation forces, and periodic clashes between Sunnis and Shiites.”), Dreyfuss is succumbing to the reportage of the mainstream press, which rarely mentions the immense toll that American forces are taking every day inside Iraq.

In fact, the best estimate is that the occupation has been killing about 40,000 Iraqi civilians each year. These figures were first published a year ago in a path-breaking, yet largely neglected, study published in the British medical journal the Lancet by a mixed team of researchers from Johns Hopkins University and Iraqi universities; but careful vetting of war reports indicates that something close to these rates seems to have been maintained ever since.

That helps explain why even the distinctly limited numbers collected by U.S. and Iraqi official sources (when released at all) almost always report that American (or other) occupation forces account for at least two-thirds of all civilian deaths in military actions, with an unknown proportion of the remainder due to the actions of the Iraqi government, not the resistance.

There are four main ways American forces in Iraq accomplish such mayhem.

First, there are the hundreds of checkpoints around Baghdad and in other contested cities, sites of numerous violent incidents. Because of the danger created by the threat of suicide bombers, those guarding the checkpoints are ordered to fire at suspicious activity. The following account of the death of Reuters reporter Waleed Khaled, offered by Major-General Rick Lynch based on an official U.S. Army investigation, makes clear why even the most savvy Iraqi is risking his or her life approaching a checkpoint:

“Lynch said soldiers reacted when they saw the car traveling ‘forward at a high rate of speed. That particular car looked like cars that we have seen in the past used as suicide bombs. It wasn’t a new car, it was an older model car… And there were two local nationals inside the car. Our soldiers took appropriate measures. We mourn the loss of life of all humans… But our soldiers are trained to respond in those situations. Put yourself in the place of the soldiers, knowing that the insurgents, who have been known to use suicide bombs, suicide car bombs, suicide vests, to attack innocent civilians, will always have an attack and then respond to that attack when the first responders come forward. So our soldiers took appropriate action on that particular case.'”

With some 600 checkpoints in Baghdad alone, and as many as 100 cars approaching each checkpoint during a non-curfew daylight hour, there are upwards of 250,000 chances each day for an Iraqi driver to fail to slow down soon enough, or, distracted, fail to see the checkpoint in time, or do something to make jumpy soldiers jump. If only one out of 40,000 drivers makes this mistake that still would produce perhaps 6 lethal incidents a day — in which case about 2,000 Iraqis would meet Waleed Khaled’s fate each year, although without the benefit of news coverage and a U.S. Army investigation, however perfunctory. (Note that, at this point, we have just about no way of knowing in any of the death situations discussed here and below how many Iraqis are dying, so these are the crudest of figures.)

Second, American troops are constantly patrolling contested areas in Iraqi cities under instructions to use “overwhelming force” in firefights with actual or suspected resistance fighters. If they encounter sustained resistance, the rules of engagement call for demolishing buildings occupied by snipers, and treating all inhabitants of such buildings as the enemy.

Among the several hundred patrols or more each day around Iraq, it appears that about one in ten result in lethal firefights. Even if fewer than half of these firefights produce a single collateral civilian death, this tiny percentage would yield perhaps 15 deaths on an average day or close to 5,000 civilian deaths a year.

A third staple of the occupation is entering houses in search of suspected insurgents, either because they have been identified by informants, or as part of house-to-house searches after IED or other guerrilla attacks. U.S. statistics indicate that no fewer than 75% of all entered houses do not contain an insurgent, but the army rules of engagement require that soldiers enter without knocking and by crashing through doors in order to retain the element of surprise, and thus prevent either an ambush or an escape by suspects. Lethal force is used at the first sign of resistance or attempted escape –to preempt attacks with weapons that suspected insurgents might have hidden nearby.

(The army argues that, while more humane treatment might create less anger among the tens of thousands of non-resistant families whose homes are invaded, such restraint would also expose the soldiers to many more casualties from the occasional resistance fighter. Military philosophy in this and other settings is to protect the lives of American soldiers “even if those methods do not always win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi populace.”)

With several hundred such missions undertaken each day, and such patrols entering as many as a dozen houses on a patrol, American troops enter something like 2,000 Iraqi homes on an ordinary day. If only one of every one hundred entries results in violence, and far less than half end in a dead civilian, these home invasions can still account for 10 or so deaths per day, or another 3,500 per year.

Fourth and finally, we come to American air power. When American patrols, large or small, encounter violent resistance, their rules of engagement call for the use of overwhelming fire power to eliminate the enemy. Where their immediate response fails to destroy the enemy, an air assault is often ordered, with either gunships or bombers. Air assaults are also ordered against suspected insurgent “safe houses.”

Although they are rarely reported, such air assaults are the most terrifying and ferocious forms of American violence. Virtually all of these strikes occur in highly populated areas, sometimes destroying whole houses, or even whole groups of houses, and (where the inhabitants haven’t fled) they sometimes kill whole families in the process.

The New York Times recently reported such an attack in the border city of Husaybah, which “destroyed three houses in an area that has experienced intense fighting.” Unlike most such news items, this one also contained an Iraqi Interior Ministry report of casualties. Based on local hospital reports, the Ministry claimed that the air strikes “had killed more than 40 civilians, mostly members of an extended family who had sought shelter from the bombings.” (American officials, as is their general practice, said they “knew of no civilian casualties.”)

American officials do concede that they average about “50 close air support and armed reconnaissance missions every day.” These occur at all of the familiar urban hotspots: Baghdad, Falluja, Mosul, Tal Afar, Ramadi, Samarra, as well as numerous smaller towns. If only one in five of these missions produces civilian casualties, and if the average death toll is only four instead of 40, then 15,000 Iraqi civilians die every year from US air attacks.

The depressing total of these very rough calculations is over 25,000 civilian deaths each year, more than five times the number caused by car bombs and other Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence. (And remember, we’re not even figuring in major American military campaigns against the insurgency.)

To add to the levels of mayhem, keep in mind that, at any given moment, the US military keeps perhaps another 12,000-15,000 Iraqis locked in its prisons, holding areas and interrogation centers. Numbers like this, or even lower versions of the same, explain why in a country with a population of only 25 million, so many Iraqis see the Americans as the main source of the daily violence they endure, and why 60% regularly tell even American-sponsored pollsters that they want an American withdrawal immediately, if not sooner. This also explains why the primary condition for a cease fire set by the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS, the political arm of the Sunni resistance) was an American “troop pullout from most urban areas and an end to military checkpoints and raids.” AMS leader Isam al-Rawi explained:

“The Americans and British must leave all residential areas…This is very sensitive for our feelings. When they retreat to military bases outside the major cities, the Iraqis will no longer be meeting military tanks and trucks in the streets and highways, and they will no longer be afraid their homes will be invaded at night.”

Iraqi-on-Iraqi Violence
The prospect of a civil war is, of course, horrendous, but the ongoing American violence is massive enough that it would take several Bloody Wednesdays every week to match it. This, of course, is a possibility, but a more reasonable guess would be that, in a trade-off between the end of U.S. violence and an escalation in the civil war, the result would actually be a decline in civilian casualties in Iraq.

But a quick U.S. withdrawal would be less likely to produce a civil war than leaving American troops in place as a barrier against such a development. The killing and imprisonment policies of the occupation itself are the main generating and sustaining force for the rising levels of Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence. The sooner the occupation ends, the sooner Iraqi civil violence is likely to begin to subside.

To grasp this point, it is necessary to understand that there are — broadly speaking — two tendencies within the Sunni resistance against the U.S. occupation. While they share the goal of expelling the Americans, their strategies and tactics are fundamentally different. One tendency, which many Iraqis designate the “nationalist resistance,” seeks in the short run to expel the Americans from their local communities by attacking American patrols and checkpoints with roadside explosives and hit-and-run attacks. An operation is a success when it ties down American troops and therefore prevents them from manning checkpoints, marching through neighborhoods, or conducting house-to-house searches. While their attacks often kill innocent bystanders, they do not usually purposely target civilians, and often condemn those who do, calling them terrorists and outlaws.

The other tendency, designated the “jihadists” by many Iraqis, fights to weaken the resolve of the Americans and of Iraqis who, by their definition, help the occupation. For the jihadists, an operation is a success when it inflicts either a huge toll in casualties or scores a propaganda victory against the occupation or its supporters. Their tactics are designed to intimidate and demoralize their opposition. They therefore try to mount spectacular attacks on U.S. forces, the Iraqi military and police, Iraqi government officials, and also Iraqi civilians they feel are aiding the Americans, attempting to intimidate them away from voting in elections, participating in local government, or joining the police force or the new Iraqi military.

Beyond this immediate terrorist purpose, the leadership of the jihadists, most notably Abu Musab al Zarqawi, seeks sooner or later to create a mega-state among all Sunni Arabs in the Middle East. Zarqawi and others of his persuasion believe that Shiite Muslims are the main barrier to such a state and that, in the long run, they must be defeated. They therefore focus their terrorist attacks on the Shia, who, they believe, support the American-installed Iraqi government (rather than on the Kurds, who support that government far more avidly than any Shia group).

In this way, the jihadist leadership hopes simultaneously to undermine Shia support for the American-sponsored government and to weaken the Shia in what they consider to be a larger, longer term confrontation.

Numerically, the jihadists represent a tiny minority of resistance fighters in Iraq (certainly no more than 10%). The vast majority (probably well over 90%) of the 70 or so attacks each day are conducted by the nationalist resistance. But the jihadists are responsible for the high-profile car bombings and the spectacular attacks against Shia mosques and other “soft targets.” These account for the vast majority of all the civilian casualties inflicted by the resistance.

Given this situation, how might a speedy American withdrawal affect the levels of Iraqi-generated violence? Most obviously, it would eliminate the presently predominant form of Iraqi violence — the 65 or so guerrilla attacks against American forces every day, (though many guerrilla units might redirect their attention to the Iraqi army, insofar as it chose to conduct American-type patrols in disputed neighborhoods). And it would also obviously eliminate the jihadist attacks against American troops and bases.

But those fearful of civil war worry that the American absence would remove the main deterrent to terrorist attacks and simply free-up jihadist resources from anti-American operations to unleash further mayhem. The full jihadist effort could then be concentrated on attacking the Shia.

Violence after an American Departure
What this assumption ignores, however, is a simple (though not obvious) fact: The terrorist offensive against the Shia is largely a consequence of American brutality in Iraq. Despite Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s oft repeated desire to launch a holy war against the Shia, his success in doing so is directly linked to a continuing US presence. His primary appeal in Iraq, after all, rests on the claim that the occupation is “being aided by their allies from Shia.”

Moreover, because, he claims, “the Shia sect has always spearheaded any war against Islam and Muslims throughout history,” he insists that they can never be brought into a movement to oppose the occupation and therefore have to be treated like the enemy. It is this appeal that, in Sunni areas, has allowed him to recruit supporters for his anti-Shia campaign.

University of Chicago political scientist Robert Pape, author of Dying to Win, the definitive book on suicide terrorism, spoke for virtually all terrorism experts, when he made this very point to the American Conservative magazine, asserting that every suicide bombing campaign “is driven by the presence of foreign forces on the territory that the terrorists view as their homeland. The [American ] operation in Iraq has stimulated suicide terrorism and has given suicide terrorism a new lease on life.”

Thus, while Zarqawi is seeking a holy war against the Shia, the real question — as Pape puts it — is whether “anybody listens to him.” In other words, his success depends on his ability to recruit new martyrs (inside and outside Iraq) to undertake suicide missions. This recruitment, in turn, depends upon two factors: the level of mayhem the occupation creates, which generates the anger that creates his volunteers; and the credibility of his claims that the Shia are allies of the Americans.

On both accounts, the military occupation of the country, by its very presence and its actions, continually pours more gasoline on an already burning fire, and cannot help but continue to do so as long as it attempts to pacify the resistance. After all, the daily mayhem in Baghdad and other cities, and the spectacular American assaults on cities like Falluja and Tal Afar, are broadcast across Iraq and the entire Muslim world (even if they are often largely ignored in the American media). These increase support for both the nationalist guerrillas and the jihadist terrorists.

In addition, under the strain of an exhausted army and a fractured budget, the Bush administration is seeking to “Iraqify” the occupation by replacing American troops with Iraqis. In 2004, after Sunni police and military units melted under fire or defected to the guerrillas, the U.S. began relying more heavily on Shia recruits (as well as Kurdish militiamen, or Pesh Merga) in their battles with the Sunni resistance.

The brutality of the American military plan for pacifying the country, now being enacted by ever more Shia and Kurdish soldiers, has convinced increasing numbers of Sunnis that Zarqawi’s claims about the Shia are all too correct, and so has allowed him to recruit increasing numbers of willing martyrs, both in Iraq and in neighboring countries.

Just before Bloody Wednesday, at Tal Afar, Shia (as well as Pesh Merga) soldiers were given frontline responsibility for lethal house-to-house searches, spearheading the wholesale destruction of individual homes, many with residents still inside, and whole neighborhoods.

It was no surprise, therefore, when, a few days later, Zarqawi declared that Bloody Wednesday was the beginning of the “battle to avenge the Sunni people of Tal Afar,” and also the beginning of a “full scale war on Shiites around Iraq, without mercy.” Here again, American action exacerbated rather than suppressed internal Iraqi friction.

This constant and escalating provocation only swells the reservoir of willing martyrs and increases the plausibility of Zarqawi’s claim that the sole route to “liberation” involves direct attacks on Shia citizens.

On the other hand, history indicates that once the provocation of foreign troops is removed, the reservoir tends to quickly drain. Terrorism expert Robert Pape reports that, in recent history, it is almost unknown for suicide bombings to continue after the withdrawal of the occupying power:

“Many people worry that once a large number of suicide terrorists have acted that it is impossible to wind it down. The history of the last 20 years, however, shows the opposite. Once the occupying forces withdraw from the homeland territory of the terrorists, they often stop–and often on a dime.”

American withdrawal is therefore the cornerstone of any strategy that wants to maximize the hope of avoiding civil war. It would, at one and the same moment, remove the major source of Iraqi civilian deaths — and remove the primary flash point that leads to the car bombings. It would certainly mean as well the withdrawal of Shia and Kurdish troops from Sunni cities — the key to Zarqawi’s ability to convince (some) Sunnis that the Shia are willing pawns of the occupation and so their eternal enemies.

The clock is ticking however. With each new American attack, more Sunnis are convinced that their hope for liberation lies with Zarqawi’s strategy. And with each new terrorist attack, Shia anger — already at a high level, given the degrading nature of the American occupation and two years of American-style “reconstruction” — is likely to become ever more focused on the Sunni community that appears to be harboring the terrorists.

Recently, there have been growing signs of violent Shia retaliation. If the terrorist attacks continue unabated, then increasing numbers of Shia may adopt an attitude complementary to Zarqawi’s — blaming the entire Sunni community for the terrorist attacks. If this occurs, Zarqawi will have succeeded in his personal goal of “dragging them into the arena of sectarian war,” and a raging civil war may truly develop.

Zarqawi’s plan will be in danger of collapsing, however, if the U.S. withdraws.

American withdrawal would undoubtedly leave a riven, impoverished Iraq, awash in a sea of weaponry, with problems galore, and numerous possibilities for future violence.

The either/or of this situation may not be pretty, but on a grim landscape, a single reality stands out clearly: Not only is the American presence the main source of civilian casualties, it is also the primary contributor to the threat of civil war in Iraq. The longer we wait to withdraw, the worse the situation is likely to get — for the U.S. and for 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 on the internet at numerous sites, including Tomdispatch, Asia Times, MotherJones.com, and ZNet; and in print at Contexts, Against the Current, and Z Magazine. His books include Radical Protest 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@optonline.net.

2005 Tom Engelhardt

Depleted Uranium Tests for US Troops Returning from Iraq

September 29th, 2005 - by admin

Andrew Buncombe/ The Independent – 2005-09-29 07:45:23

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article315508.ece

Depleted Uranium Tests for US Troops Returning from Iraq
Andrew Buncombe/ The Independent

Washington (September 28, 2005) — US troops returning from Iraq are for the first time to be offered state-of-the-art radiation testing to check for contamination from depleted uranium — a controversial substance linked by some to cancer and birth defects.

Campaigners say the Pentagon refuses to take seriously the issue of poisoning from depleted uranium (DU) and offers only the most basic checks, and only when it is specifically asked for. But state legislators across the US are pushing ahead with laws that will provide their National Guard troops access to the most sophisticated tests.

Connecticut and Louisiana have already passed such legislation and another 18 are said to be considering similar steps. Connecticut’s new law – pioneered by state legislator Pat Dillon — comes into effect on Saturday.

“What this does is establish a standard,” said Mrs Dillon, a Yale-trained epidemiologist. “It means that our Guardsmen will have access to highly sensitive testing that can differentiate between background levels of radiation.” DU – a heavy metal waste-product of nuclear power plants – has been used by the US military since the 1991 Gulf War. It is used to tip tank shells and missiles because of its ability to penetrate armour. On impact DU burns at an extremely high temperature and is widely dispersed in micro particles.

The science surrounding DU remains hotly contested though the majority of studies have concluded there is no genuine risk from battlefield contamination. One 2001 study by the Royal Society, concluded: “Except in extreme circumstances any extra risks of developing fatal cancers as a result of radiation from internal exposure to DU arising from battlefield conditions are likely to be so small that they would not be detectable above the general risk of dying from cancer over a normal lifetime.”

Campaign Against Depleted Uranium
But, campaigners such as the British-based Campaign Against Depleted Uranium (CADU), cite other studies which suggest a risk. In 2003,New Scientist reported that a study by the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, found that human bone cells could suffer genetic damage when exposed to DU, even at levels deemed to be non-toxic.

Gerard Matthew has no doubts about the effect of DU. The former member of the New York National Guard served in Iraq from April to September 2003. On his return he was not offered testing until a New York newspaper offered to arrange it for him and some friends. “[With the military] it never came up. They suppressed the whole DU thing,” he said.

Mr Matthew, who said he was found to have considerable radiation exposure, said two years on he suffers from migraines, erectile dysfunction and a swollen face — conditions that have developed since he returned from Iraq. But his conviction about the dangers of DU was fixed when his daughter, Victoria Claudette, was born with only two digits on her right hand.

Whatever debate may be going on among scientists, Mr Matthew is convinced his daughter – conceived the month after he returned from Iraq – suffered because of his own exposure to DU.

“It’s concealment,” he said. “We have 18 and 19-year-old coalition forces out there fighting and they should not be exposed to this.” Dr Doug Rokke, a health physicist who was part of a Pentagon team that studied DU in the mid 1990s, concluded that there was no way DU weapons could be used without the risk of contamination. He said the Pentagon responded to his conclusions by denouncing him.

He told the In These Timesnewspaper: “DU is a war crime. It’s that simple. Once you’ve scattered all this stuff around and then refuse to clean it up you’ve committed a war crime.”

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


Broadcast Exclusive: US Soldiers Contaminated With Depleted Uranium Speak Out
Democracy Now

(April 5, 2004) — A special investigation by Democracy Now! co-host Juan Gonzalez of the New York Daily News has found four of nine soldiers of the 442nd Military Police Company of the New York Army National Guard returning from Iraq tested positive for depleted uranium contamination. They are the first confirmed cases of inhaled depleted uranium exposure from the current Iraq conflict.

After repeatedly being denied testing for depleted uranium from Army doctors, the soldiers contacted The News who paid to have them tested as part of their investigation.

Testing for uranium isotopes in 24 hours’ worth of urine samples can cost as much as $1,000 each.

In a Democracy Now! broadcast exclusive, three of the contaminated soldiers speak out.

Army officials at Fort Dix and Walter Reed Army Medical Center are now rushing to test all returning members of the 442nd. More than a dozen members are back in the U.S. but the rest of the company, mostly comprised of New York City cops, firefighters and correction officers, is not due to return from Iraq until later this month.

After learning of The News’ investigation, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) blasted Pentagon officials yesterday for not properly screening soldiers returning from Iraq.

Clinton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said she will write to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld demanding answers and soon will introduce legislation to require health screenings for all returning troops.

Depleted Uranium is considered to be the most effective anti-tank weapon ever devised. It is made from nuclear waste left over from the making nuclear weapons and fuel. The public first became aware the US military was using DU weapons during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. But it had been used as far back as the 1973 Yom Kippur war in Israel.

Amid growing controversy in Europe and Japan, the European Parliament called last year for a moratorium on its use.

* Sgt. Herbert Reed, assistant deputy warden at Rikers Island with 442nd military police company of New York Army National Guard. He did not test positive for depleted uranium, but has uranium 236, a uranium isotope not found in nature.
* Sgt. Agustin Matos, was deployed in Iraq with the 442nd Military Police. He is among the first confirmed cases of inhaled depleted uranium exposure from the current Iraq conflict.
* Sgt. Hector Vega, among the first confirmed cases of inhaled depleted uranium exposure from the current Iraq conflict.
* Dr. Asaf Durakovic, colonel in army reserves who served in first Gulf War. He is one of the first doctors to discover unusual radiation levels in Gulf War veterans. He has since become a leading critic of the use of depleted uranium in warfare. He tested the nine men at the request of the Daily News.
* Leonard Dietz, retired physicist from Knolls Atomic Laboratory in upstate New York. Pioneered the technology to isolate uranium isotopes.

Read Juan Gonzalez’ Exclusive Reports in the New York Daily News:

* Poisoned? Shocking report on troops
* Inside filthy camp where trouble began
* Soldiers demand to know health risks
* Army to test N.Y. Guard unit

Related Democracy Now! Coverage:

* Is Depleted Uranium Creating a New Nuclear Danger in Iraq?
* Radiation is 1,000 Times the Normal Levels Where US Troops Used Depleted Uranium Shells in Baghdad
* U.S. Reportedly Fires DU Shells in Basra: Despite Evidence of Health and Environmental Effects, Pentagon Denies DU Is Dangerous
* Part 2 of Our Discussion On Depleted Uranium, with the Scientific Secretary with the European Committee On Radiation Risk, and a U.N. Human Rights Lawyer
* Dr. Asaf Durakovic Gives a Rare Interview About Depleted Uranium in Iraq: He Was the First Military Doctor to Test Gulf War Veterans for Radiation Exposure and Was Terminated for His Work

To purchase an audio or video copy of this entire program, click here for our new online ordering or call 1 (888) 999-3877.


Depleted Uranium Situation Requires Action
by President Bush and Prime Minister Blair

Dr. Doug Rokke, Ph.D

(April 19, 2005) — While US and British military personnel continue using uranium munitions – America’s and England’s own “dirty bombs” US Army, US Department of Energy, and US Department of Defense officials continue to deny that there are any adverse health and environmental effects as a consequence of the manufacture, testing, and/or use of uranium munitions to avoid liability for the willful and illegal dispersal of a radioactive toxic material — depleted uranium.

They arrogantly refuse to comply with their own regulations, orders, and directives that require United States Department of Defense officials to provide prompt and effective medical care “all” exposed individuals [Medical Management of Unusual Depleted Uranium Casualties, DOD, Pentagon, 10/14/93, Medical Management of Army personnel Exposed to Depleted Uranium (DU) Headquarters, U.S. Army Medical Command 29 April 2004), and section 2-5 of AR 70-48].

They also refuse to clean up dispersed radioactive Contamination as required by Army Regulation- AR 700-48: “Management of Equipment Contaminated With Depleted Uranium or Radioactive Commodities” (Headquarters, Department Of The Army, Washington, D.C., September 2002) and U.S. Army Technical Bulletin- TB 9-1300-278: “Guidelines For Safe Response To Handling, Storage, And Transportation Accidents Involving Army Tank Munitions Or Armor Which Contain Depleted Uranium” (Headquarters, Department Of The Army, Washington, D.C., JULY 1996).

Specifically section 2-4 of United States Army Regulation-AR 700-48 dated September 16, 2002 requires that:

(1) “Military personnel “identify, segregate, isolate, secure, and label all RCE” (radiologically contaminated equipment).
(2) “Procedures to minimize the spread of radioactivity will be implemented as soon as possible.”
(3) “Radioactive material and waste will not be locally disposed of through burial, submersion, incineration, destruction in place, or abandonment” and
(4) “All equipment, to include captured or combat RCE, will be surveyed, packaged, retrograded, decontaminated and released IAW Technical Bulletin 9-1300-278, DA PAM 700-48” (Note: Maximum exposure limits are specified in Appendix F).

The past and current use of uranium weapons, the release of radioactive components in destroyed U.S. and foreign military equipment, and releases of industrial, medical, research facility radioactive materials have resulted in unacceptable exposures. Therefore, decontamination must be completed as required by US Army Regulation 700-48 and should include releases of all radioactive materials resulting from military operations.

The extent of adverse health and environmental effects of uranium weapons contamination is not limited to combat zones but includes facilities and sites where uranium weapons were manufactured or tested including Vieques, Puerto Rico, Colonie, New York, and Jefferson Proving Grounds, Indiana.

Therefore medical care must be provided by the United States Department of Defense officials to all individuals affected by the manufacturing, testing, and/or use of uranium munitions. Thorough environmental remediation also must be completed without further delay.

I am amazed that 14 years after was asked to clean up the initial DU mess from Gulf War 1 and almost ten years since I finished the depleted uranium project, that United States Department of Defense officials and mauy others still attempt to justify uranium munitions use while ignoring mandatory requirements.

But beyond the ignored mandatory actions that the willful dispersal of tons of solid radioactive and chemically toxic waste in the form of uranium munitions just does not even pass the common sense test.

Finally, continued compliance with the infamous March 1991 Los Alamos Memorandum that was issued to ensure continued use of uranium munitions can not be justified.

In conclusion: the President of the United States George W. Bush and
The Prime Minister of Great Britain Tony Blair must acknowledge and accept responsibility for willful use of illegal uranium munitions — their own “dirty bombs” — resulting in adverse health and environmental effects.

President Bush and Prime Minister Blair also should order:

• 1. medical care for all casualties,
• 2. thorough environmental remediation,
• 3. immediate cessation of retaliation against all of us who demand compliance with medical care and environmental remediation requirements,
• 4. and ban the future use of depleted uranium munitions.

References: These references are copies. The actual regulations and orders and other pertinent official documents:
• http://www.traprockpeace.org/twomemos.html
• http://www.traprockpeace.org/rokke_du_3_ques.html
• http://www.traprockpeace.org/du_dtic_wakayama_Aug2002.html

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