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Former Israeli Soldiers Are Speaking Out about the Occupation

October 30th, 2006 - by admin

Democracy Now! – 2006-10-30 23:32:46

Visit the Breaking the Silence Web site at:
http://www.breakingthesilence.org.il/how_we_are_en.asp

Videos and photos
http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/10/27/1341203

JUAN GONZALEZ: Yehuda Shaul joins us now from San Francisco. Welcome to Democracy Now!

YEHUDA SHAUL: Good morning.

AMY GOODMAN: Could you talk to us a little bit about what you’re hoping to accomplish on your tour?

YEHUDA SHAUL: I’m here in the United States, because, I would say, we in Breaking the Silence see the act of breaking the silence as an act of taking responsibility. As ex-Israeli soldiers, who’ve served as combat soldiers in the Occupied Territories and were there and committed all what we’re talking about, we’re part of the occupation.

After we were discharged and realized what we were doing and what was going on around us, there was only two options, as I see it. There’s or to lock ourselves in the room, cry and ask forgiveness, or to stand up and take responsibility and demand from others to take responsibility.

So, in my eyes, breaking the silence, standing up and telling the stories and trying to bring people to know and to realize and to understand what it means, occupation, on a daily basis, through these testimonies that we publish and the pictures that we had in the exhibition, is demanding from Israeli society to take responsibility for it, for what is being done in their behalf.

And in my eyes, in our eyes, responsibility doesn’t end with ex-soldiers who served there or with Israelis, or the idea if our army as Israelis is doing all these things. Responsibility is to every human being in the world, and for sure for Americans, because in the end of the day for all what Israel does, there is only one country in the world that, you know, the chief of staff and the prime minister of Israel has to report in the end of the day, and that’s the United States of America.

For that reason, I think that people of America must know what’s going on there and must break their own silence and take civil responsibility, human responsibility, to what is being done there.

AMY GOODMAN: YEHUDA SHAUL, tell us your story. How did you end up in the military? How did you decide to leave?

YEHUDA SHAUL: In Israel, every Jewish Israeli is obligated by law to serve in the military — men for three years, women for two years. And when I reached the age of eighteen, I was drafted for three years. I served as a combat soldier and a commander. Two years out of my three years were in the Occupied Territories, and fourteen months were in Hebron.

And during my service in the Occupied Territories, I just did whatever I had to do, whatever were my missions, fulfilling my missions, leading my soldiers, doing all sorts of things — what it means, occupation — and suddenly like three months before I was discharged, I was sitting down and trying to imagine myself as a civilian. I told myself, you know, in three months, I’m going to give back my weapon, my uniform, stop being a combat soldier, and again going back to civilian life.

And for me, that same moment, you know, the exact moment of stop thinking as a professional combat soldier was a moment of — maybe I can call it an enlightenment, you know? It’s a moment of stop seeing things through the eyes of a soldier and start seeing things through an eye of a civilian. It’s like, again, stop seeing things from in the system and start observing it from outside.

And when I suddenly looked at myself from the outside and looked backwards, you know, to what I’ve done in the past two years and ten months in the Occupied Territories as a soldier, I was totally shocked. I realized that something mad was going around me. Suddenly I realized that the situation that I took part in brought me to do stuff that, you know — I wanted to believe that it wasn’t me. But, you know, I couldn’t escape it. It was me. And when I realized that, I felt that I can’t continue my life without doing something about it.

And that’s when I started to speak with some of my soldiers, some of my comrades, and I discovered that we all felt the same, but we didn’t have the courage to speak about it. You know, it was something that we didn’t — it was somewhere in the back of the mind, but we didn’t open it inside the unit. And because we all felt the same, we all felt that something wrong is going on around us, we decided to break the silence.

And I was discharged in March 2004. In June 2004, we started our activities with a photo exhibition and video testimonies from our service in Hebron. As I said, I served fourteen months in Hebron, so it was obvious that we’re going to start from there. And the idea of the exhibition, we called it then, is to break the silence surrounding what’s going on in the Occupied Territories, in what we called “Bringing Hebron to Tel Aviv,” because you must understand that, you know, what’s going on in the Occupied Territories is like the biggest secret in Israeli society. It’s like the taboo. You never talk about it. It’s like something that happens in the backyard. It’s the dirt from the back yard that no one wants to have it in the front. And for that reason —

JUAN GONZALEZ: I’d like to ask you about all of these thousands of Palestinian prisoners. From your perspective, as someone who’s obviously had to participate in the capturing and imprisonment of some of these Palestinian civilians, what is this doing to Palestinian society, to have so many people locked up for such a long period of time under Israeli control?

YEHUDA SHAUL: I have no idea. I’m not a Palestinian. Just, you know, looking from the outside, seems like breaking all the family structure. I don’t know, just trying to think of, you know, all the people that we arrested, bumping in the middle of the night through the windows, through the doors, through the roofs, waking up the family, taking people.

No one knows when they’re going to get back, why they were taken. You know, this is — just, you know, almost every night in the Occupied Territories, you do an arrest operation. Every night you come back with what we saw in the pictures before, or you see now, of handcuffed, blindfolded Palestinians, who are just, you know, were now arrested, waiting to be taken to interrogations at the secret services.

But also, there’s another kind of Palestinians, as you see now in the picture, and that’s kind of what we call in Hebrew, or I will translate it, what we called “dry outs,” or if I would professionally translate it, “detainees.” And these are Palestinians, you know, when you stand in the checkpoint and you ask from all the Palestinians to stand in a very nice one line, and suddenly one of them starts screaming or leaves the line, so you must educate him, right? They must know who’s the boss. So you detain the man aside.

You took him, handcuff, blindfold — five, six, seven hours, it could be more, it could be less. Or you call a Palestinian in the checkpoint, you ask from him his ID. He smiles too much. You must educate them.

And all the system is built on fear. It’s built of just oppressing, I don’t know, of not being able to treat Palestinians as equal human beings to you, because the job is to do things that you don’t do to equal human beings, you know, to bump in the middle of the night to a family from the roof and wake up all the family, separate men from women and just search all the house.

It’s something that you don’t do to an equal human being to you. It’s something that I never done in Israel, but in the Occupied Territories, as a combat soldier, as an occupier, that’s my daily job, 24/7, house after house.

AMY GOODMAN: We have to leave it there, but we will link to Breaking the Silence and your tour, where you’ll be in this country, as we speak to him today in San Francisco.

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

Iraqi Police Resign; Hand Their Weapons to Insurgents

October 30th, 2006 - by admin

Muhammad Abu Nasr, Free Arab Voice | Omar Al-Faris, JUS – 2006-10-30 23:27:16

http://www.jihadunspun.com/intheatre_internal.php?article=106639&list=/home.php&

Police Resign On Mass Handing Weapons To Fighters; Ramadi Remains Under Attack
Muhammad Abu Nasr, Free Arab Voice | Omar Al-Faris, JUS

HIT, Iraq (October 29, 2006) — In another startling turn of events, 35 so-called police in Hit, Iraq have resigned en masse, handing their weapons over to fighters as Ramadi remains tense following a US incursion into the city following an air attack that killed a family of six.

In a dispatch posted at 10:47am Makkah time Sunday morning, Mafkarat al-Islam reported that several members of the puppet police in the Kubaysah area near Hit, about 170km northwest of Baghdad announced that they were quitting the puppet force and handed their weapons over to the Resistance fighters.

Eyewitnesses were quoted as saying that declarations by about 35 resigning puppet policemen were posted on the walls of mosques. The former puppet policemen said in their statements that they were no longer going to work for the US occupation in response to what they called the “repentance amnesty” that the Resistance declared recently.

Dozens of puppet policemen resigned en masse after receiving threats at their homes in recent days. In all more than 130 so-called policemen have resigned, issuing “repentance papers” that were posted on mosques in the city.

Police in the cities of al-Fallujah and Samarra’ have already resigned in large numbers in response to the same initiative that is just one more sign that the US is losing the battle for Iraq.

US Troops, Equipment Deploy In Force In Ramadi
US forces deployed in extremely large numbers in the city of ar-Ramadi, about 110km west of Baghdad earlier on Saturday. Troops and dozens of US vehicles have taken up positions in the city and seized control of all bridges in the city and of Ramadi’s eastern and western entrances and exits.

Mafkarat al-Islam reported eyewitnesses as saying that 17 Tammuz Street, which the Resistance had been controlling is now once again occupied by American troops who have deployed snipers atop buildings in the area.

At the time of reporting, American forces were carrying out raids under air cover from Apache helicopters and US warplanes that prowl the sky at low altitude. As of the time of reporting, no fighting had taken place in the city.

In an update on the situation posted at 1:41pm Makkah time Saturday afternoon, Mafkarat al-Islam reported that US troops had been expelling families from their homes in the al-‘Aziziyah and al-Jam‘iyah areas of Ramadi. Local eyewitnesses said that US snipers had then perched themselves atop the commandeered houses.

American troops also took over and occupied the an-Nasr Sports Club and five schools in the city and are turning them into American military strongholds and camps, in an indication that a large scale battle is pending. A short while earlier, the Municipal Department building in the middle of Ramadi was struck.

Swarms of US helicopters and warplanes were at that time prowling the airspace over the city. Large numbers of American troops have moved from eastern Ramadi en route to the center of the city. As of press time, no further reports have been received.

Another Family Wiped Out
Reuters reported that Dr. Kamal al-‘Ani of ar-Ramadi Hosptial said that six victims were brought in from the American raid on Saturday, all members of one family. The dead consisted of three women, two children, and a man who was brought to the hospital from where they would later be turned over to relatives for burial.

Puppet police Brigadier General Hamid Shuka was quoted as saying that the attack killed five civilians and played down the incident that is sure to play heavily into to the minds of fighters in light of the new US offensive. More details on the Ramadi situation are expected.

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

Our Founding Fathers and the Unbalance of Power

October 30th, 2006 - by admin

Hon. Al Gore, Jr. – 2006-10-30 23:23:57

In advance of the American presidential election that is rapidly approaching, Former Vice President Al Gore gave a speech in June, 2004 at Georgetown University Law Center that centers on the great distance between America today and the very principles America was founded on.

While his main focus is the deceitful Bush administration and the wrongful invasion of Iraq, it is a short step to apply his same reasoning to the equally unjust invasion of Afghanistan and the pending invasion of Iran.

When we Americans first began, our biggest danger was clearly in view: we knew from the bitter experience with King George III that the most serious threat to democracy is usually the accumulation of too much power in the hands of an Executive, whether he be a King or a president.

Our ingrained American distrust of concentrated power has very little to do with the character or persona of the individual who wields that power. It is the power itself that must be constrained, checked, dispersed and carefully balanced, in order to ensure the survival of freedom.

In addition, our founders taught us that public fear is the most dangerous enemy of democracy because under the right circumstances it can trigger the temptation of those who govern themselves to surrender that power to someone who promises strength and offers safety, security and freedom from fear.

It is an extraordinary blessing to live in a nation so carefully designed to protect individual liberty and safeguard self-governance and free communication. But if George Washington could see the current state of his generation’s handiwork and assess the quality of our generation’s stewardship at the beginning of this twenty-first century, what do you suppose he would think about the proposition that our current president claims:
• the unilateral right to arrest and imprison American citizens indefinitely
• without giving them the right to see a lawyer or inform their families of their whereabouts, and
• without the necessity of even charging them with any crime.

All that is necessary, according to our new president is that he — the president — label any citizen an “unlawful enemy combatant,” and that will be sufficient to justify taking away that citizen’s liberty — even for the rest of his life, if the president so chooses. And there is no appeal.

What would Thomas Jefferson think of the curious and discredited argument from our Justice Department that the president may authorize what plainly amounts to the torture of prisoners — and that any law or treaty, which attempts to constrain his treatment of prisoners in time of war is itself a violation of the constitution our founders put together.

What would Benjamin Franklin think of President Bush’s assertion that he has the inherent power — even without a declaration of war by the Congress — to launch an invasion of any nation on Earth, at any time he chooses, for any reason he wishes, even if that nation poses no imminent threat to the United States.

How long would it take James Madison to dispose of our current President’s recent claim, in Department of Justice legal opinions, that he is no longer subject to the rule of law so long as he is acting in his role as Commander in Chief.

I think it is safe to say that our founders would be genuinely concerned about these recent developments in American democracy and that they would feel that we are now facing a clear and present danger that has the potential to threaten the future of the American experiment.

Shouldn’t we be equally concerned? And shouldn’t we ask ourselves how we have come to this point?

Even though we are now attuned to orange alerts and the potential for terrorist attacks, our founders would almost certainly caution us that the biggest threat to the future of the America we love is still the endemic challenge that democracies have always faced whenever they have appeared in history — a challenge rooted in the inherent difficulty of self governance and the vulnerability to fear that is part of human nature.

Again, specifically, the biggest threat to America is that we Americans will acquiesce in the slow and steady accumulation of too much power in the hands of one person.

Having painstakingly created the intricate design of America, our founders knew intimately both its strengths and weaknesses, and during their debates they not only identified the accumulation of power in the hands of the executive as the long-term threat which they considered to be the most serious, but they also worried aloud about one specific scenario in which this threat might become particularly potent — that is, when war transformed America’s president into our commander in chief, they worried that his suddenly increased power might somehow spill over its normal constitutional boundaries and upset the delicate checks and balances they deemed so crucial to the maintenance of liberty.

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

Bush’s Absolute Power Grab

October 30th, 2006 - by admin

Carla Binion / Information Clearing House – 2006-10-30 23:20:05

WASHINGTON (October 23, 2006) — On October 17, George W. Bush signed into law the Military Commissions Act of 2006. This new law gives Bush power similar to that of Stalin or Hitler, and grants agencies within the executive branch powers similar to those of the KGB or Gestapo.

Bush justifies this act by claiming he needs it to fight the “war on terror,” but a number of critics, including former counterterrorism officials, have said the administration has greatly exaggerated the threat and used illogical methods to combat terrorism. (Examples are listed below.)

Except for MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, few television news reporters have bothered to mention that the Military Commissions Act has changed the US justice system and our approach to human rights. As Olbermann said of the new law on his October 17 Countdown program, the new act “does away with habeas corpus, the right of suspected terrorists or anybody else to know why they have been imprisoned.”

Jonathan Turley, George Washington University Constitutional Law Professor, was Olbermann’s guest. Olbermann asked him, “Does this mean that under this law, ultimately the only thing keeping you, I, or the viewer out of Gitmo is the sanity and honesty of the president of the United States?”

Turley responded,
“It does. And it’s a huge sea change for our democracy. The framers created a system where we did not have to rely on the good graces or good mood of the president…People have no idea how significant this is. What, really a time of shame this is for the American system. What the Congress did and what the president signed today essentially revokes over 200 years of American principles and values.”

Although we have a free press, rather than follow Olbermann’s good example, most television news reporters have responded to this nullification of America’s fundamental principles by avoiding the subject. News networks which voluntarily relinquish their right and duty to challenge government officials function more as the Soviet Union’s Pravda or Hitler’s Nazi press program than as a genuinely free press.

Just as the mainstream media failed to adequately question the Bush administration’s many shifting rationales for invading Iraq in the lead-up to the war, they’re now failing to challenge Bush’s logic and motives as he justifies eviscerating the Constitution in the name of his ever-expanding “war on terror.” How realistic is this so-called war, and is the Bush administration conducting it effectively?

Robert Dreyfuss covers national security for Rolling Stone. He interviewed nearly a dozen former high-ranking counterterrorism officials about Bush’s approach to the war on terrorism. In his article, “The Phony War,” (Rolling Stone, 9/21/06) Dreyfuss says these officials conclude:

• The war on terror is bogus. Terrorism shouldn’t be treated as if it were a nation to be battled with the military, but should instead be fought with police work and intelligence agencies.

• Terrorism is not an enemy, but a method. Even if the United States were to wipe out every terrorist cell in the world today, terrorism would be back tomorrow.

• Bush lacks a clear understanding of the nature of the “enemy” and has no real strategy for dealing with them.

• The Bush administration confuses the issue by grouping “Al Qaeda” with everything from Iraq’s resistance movement to states such as Syria and Iran.

• Today, there’s virtually no real “Al Qaeda threat” to Americans.

• Bush’s policies have spawned a new generation of “amateur terrorists,” but there are few of them, and they’re not likely to pose a major threat to the US

• Though Bush has said he will fight his “war” until every last terrorist is eliminated, terrorism can never be defeated, merely “contained and reduced.”

Dreyfuss says,
“In the short term, the cops and spies can continue to do their best to watch for terrorist threats as they emerge, and occasionally, as in London, they will succeed. But they are the first to admit that stopping a plot before it can unfold involved, more than anything, plain dumb luck.”

Not only has the Bush administration falsely characterized and exaggerated the threat of terrorism; they have gone out of their way to mislead the public by claiming credit for preventing attacks. Dreyfuss points out that although Bush has claimed we’ve fended off 10 terrorist plots since 9/11, “on closer examination all 10 are either bogus or were to take place overseas.”

Dreyfuss also notes that, although in 2002 the Bush administration leaked to the press that Al Qaeda had 5,000 “sleepers” in the US, there were, in fact, none. (Or, as Dreyfuss says, not a single one has been found.) If the administration believes the facts bolster their case for a war on terrorism, why do they find it necessary to leak false information?

The administration has done little to secure US borders, ports, airports and nuclear facilities. What could logically explain their inattention to these vulnerabilities if they believe a terrorist threat here is likely? Bush has said he’ll do anything it takes in order to protect the American people. Why hasn’t he secured our nuclear facilities?

Exaggerating the terrorist threat does give the Bush team an excuse to seize more power for the Executive and shred the Constitution. In an article for Foreign Affairs (September/October 2006), political science professor John Mueller supports Dreyfuss’s view that the war on terrorism is bogus.

Mueller points out that not only have there been no terrorist incidents here in the past five years, but there were none in the five years before 9/11. Mueller asks: “If it is so easy to pull off an attack and if terrorists are so demonically competent, why have they not done it?

Why have they not been sniping at people in shopping centers, collapsing tunnels, poisoning the food supply, cutting electrical lines, derailing trains, blowing up oil pipelines, causing massive traffic jams, or exploiting the countless other vulnerabilities that, according to security experts, could be so easily exploited?”

He also bolsters Dreyfuss’s conclusion that the Bush administration can’t take credit for the fact that we haven’t been attacked again. He says, “the government’s protective measures would have to be nearly perfect to thwart all such plans. Given the monumental imperfection of the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, and the debacle of FBI and National Security Agency programs to upgrade their computers to better coordinate intelligence information, that explanation seems far-fetched.”

Mueller addresses Bush’s irrational argument that we’re “fighting terrorists in Iraq so we don’t have to fight them here.” He points out that terrorists with Al Qaeda sympathies have managed to carry out attacks in a variety of countries (Egypt, Jordan Turkey, the United Kingdom), not merely in Iraq.

He adds that a reasonable explanation for the fact that no terrorists have attacked since 9/11 is that the terrorist threat “has been massively exaggerated.” He notes that “it is worth remembering that the total number of people killed since 9/11 by Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda-like operatives outside of Afghanistan and Iraq is not much higher than the number who drown in bathtubs in the United States in a single year, and that the lifetime chance of an American being killed by international terrorism is about one in 80,000 – about the same chance of being killed by a comet or a meteor.”

Although Bush’s justification for the war on terror has been illogical and deceptive, the administration has used it as an excuse to abuse the US military in Iraq, tear down our system of government at home and seize power on his own behalf.

As Jonathan Turley told Keith Olbermann on his October 17th program, with the signing of the Military Commissions Act, “Congress just gave the president despotic powers… I think people are fooling themselves if they believe that the courts will once again stop this president from taking — overtaking — almost absolute power.”

Bush’s many power grabs and refusal to submit to usual constitutional checks and balances indicates he prefers monarchy or dictatorship to the government set up by America’s founders. The framers of our Constitution provided checks on tyranny by writing into law separation of powers, granting the legislative and judicial branches of government the ability to curb abuses by the executive.

Today, the Congress has abdicated its constitutional obligation and serves only as a rubber stamp for the despotic president, and to date, the courts have done much the same.

Can George W. Bush be trusted with absolute power? Here are some things he has done with his unchecked power:

• Stolen two presidential elections.

• Exaggerated and falsely characterized the terrorist threat.

• Misled the country into war with Iraq.

• Urged the US intelligence agencies to fix the intelligence around the Iraq war policy (as confirmed by the Downing Street Memo and other sources) in order to mislead the Congress and public into supporting war with Iraq.

• Abused human rights by promoting the use of torture and setting up virtual gulags.

• Suspended habeas corpus for some.

• Tried to silence political opposition by pronouncing them “weak on terrorism” or somehow “with the terrorists,” and

• Placed himself above the law by issuing more legislation-challenging signing statements (around 800) than all of his predecessors put together.

Bush’s unnecessary invasion of Iraq alone has cost nearly 3,000 American lives. An October 11, 2006 article by Greg Mitchell at Editor and Publisher says that a new study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, “suggests that more than 600,000 Iraqis have met a violent or otherwise war-related end since the US arrived in March 2003.” The Mitchell article is here.

The Bush administration’s policies have not only resulted in high death counts, but also in widespread, out of control torture. A September 22, 2006 Christian Science Monitor report says:

“The United Nation’s special investigator on torture said Thursday that torture may now be worse in Iraq than it was during the regime of deposed leader Saddam Hussein. The Associated Press reports that Manfred Nowak, who was making a brief to the United Nations Human Rights Council about the treatment of detainees at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay Cuba, said the torture situation in Iraq was ‘totally out of hand.'”

The CS Monitor mentions the fact that the recent compromise between the Bush White House and dissident Republicans (including Senator John McCain) allows torture to continue. The article quotes a Washington Post piece:

“The bad news is Mr. Bush, as he made clear yesterday, intends to continue using the CIA to secretly detain and abuse certain terrorist suspects…It’s hard to credit the statement by [McCain] yesterday that ‘there’s no doubt that the integrity and letter and spirit of the Geneva Conventions have been preserved.’ In effect, the agreement means that US violations of international human rights law can continue as long as Mr. Bush is president, with Congress’s tacit assent.”

Congress has given Bush a blank check as he’s bulldozed toward an imperial presidency. We have the outward forms of democratic institutions such as Congress and a so-called free press. However, the people currently managing those institutions behave as if they’re being forced to serve a totalitarian dictator.

A perfect example of this surrender to Bush’s virtual despotism is Congress’s and the mainstream media’s compliance regarding Bush’s Military Commissions Act. While Keith Olbermann and Jonathan Turley see the extreme danger posed by Bush’s authoritarian moves, Congress has done little to challenge Bush, and, overall, the press is eerily silent.

In The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich, William L. Shirer said the Reich Press Law of October 4, 1933, ordered editors not to publish (among other things) anything which “tends to weaken the strength of the German Reich or offends the honor and dignity of Germany.”

According to Shirer, Max Amman, Hitler’s top sergeant during the war and head of the Nazi Party’s publishing firm and financial head of its press said that after the Nazis seized power in 1933, it was “a true statement to say that the basic purpose of the Nazi press program was to eliminate all the press which was in opposition to the party.”

The US mainstream press doesn’t have to be coerced by a government Press Law to avoid publicly opposing Bush’s most egregious policies. Television news networks, in particular, have voluntarily held back serious scrutiny. They have not only failed to discuss the recent Military Commissions Act at length, but in the run-up to the Iraq war, liberal talk show host Phil Donahue and comedian Bill Maher were fired for challenging the White House spin about Iraq and the 9/11 attacks.

Shirer also describes the ease with which the German Reichstag gave Hitler the power to change the nature of Germany’s parliamentary democracy. He writes:

“One by one, Germany’s most powerful institutions now began to surrender to Hitler and to pass quietly, unprotestingly, out of existence…It cannot be said they went down fighting. On May 19, 1933, the Social Democrats – those who were not in jail or in exile – voted in the Reichstag without a dissenting voice to approve Hitler’s foreign policy.”

Shirer concludes: “The one-party totalitarian state had been achieved with scarcely a ripple of opposition or defiance, and within four months after the Reichstag had abdicated its democratic responsibilities.”

The US Congress, like the German Reichstag, has abdicated its democratic responsibilities by granting Bush an inordinate amount of power — “with scarcely a ripple of opposition or defiance.” The US press has abandoned its role as democracy’s watchdog by failing to question this development. Both of these institutions have failed the American people.

Considering Bush is using the war on terror to justify seizing undue power, both Congress and the media should question his reasoning and offer opposition. Just as they didn’t effectively challenge the administration’s shifting excuses for attacking Iraq, these institutions haven’t scrutinized Bush’s claims about the need for the Military Commissions Act and the apparently endless war on terrorism.

Among things Congress and the media should challenge is George W. Bush’s false claim that the United States does not torture. In an article published at the CommonDreams.org site, journalist Molly Ivins reports that in one case of death from torture by Americans, the military at first said the prisoner’s death was caused by a heart attack. Ivins adds that the coroner later said the heart attack occurred after the prisoner “had been beaten so often on his legs that they had ‘basically been pulpified.'”

She adds that the Bush administration’s officially sanctioning torture “throws out legal and moral restraints as the president deems necessary — these are fundamental principles of basic decency, as well as law.” Ivins isn’t inclined to hyperbole, yet she says of Americans’ passive acceptance of this new law: “Do not pretend to be shocked when the world begins comparing us to the Nazis.”

As Jonathan Turley said on Olbermann’s program,
“I think you can feel the judgment of history. It won’t be kind to President Bush. But frankly, I don’t think that it will be kind to the rest of us. I think that history will ask, ‘Where were you? What did you do when this thing was signed into law?’ There were people that protested the Japanese concentration camps; there were people that protested these other acts. But we are strangely silent in this national yawn as our rights evaporate.”

Future generations will wonder why the US Congress and mainstream press helped Bush build up an imperial presidency and eliminate Constitutional protections. If they’re able to sort through the administration’s fallacies and lies and clearly see what went wrong with America during this time, they’ll wonder why there were so few Molly Ivins’s, Keith Olbermann’s and Jonathan Turley’s.

Coming generations will also ask why by comparison there were so many who failed to notice the obvious holes in Bush’s logic and why so many turned a blind eye to his numerous false assertions and cruel policies. They’ll wonder why so many supported, whether by direct action or by silence, the Bush administration’s changing the fundamental nature of the democratic Republic we were given by America’s founders, based on the flimsy excuse of fighting a war on terrorism – a “war” Bush defines falsely and fights ineffectively.

Generations to come might ask why this president who lied so often, about Iraq and other critical matters, was ever entrusted with enough power to damage this country’s founding principles and wage endless, unprovoked war on other nations. If Congress and the media would ask these questions now, they might prevent Bush from doing further harm. This might save many lives, prevent much unnecessary suffering and possibly steer this country out of its present darkness.

Carla Binion is a freelance researcher and writer whose essays have been published at various Web sites.

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

Why Bush is Seeking Confrontation With North Korea

October 30th, 2006 - by admin

Gregory Elich / CounterPunch – Weekend Edition – 2006-10-30 09:47:03

http://www.counterpunch.org/elich10272006.html

(October 27 / 29, 2006 ) — North Korea’s nuclear test and UN sanctions have brought relations between the US and North Korea to their lowest point since President Bush took office. Yet it was only little more than a year ago that for one brief moment hopes were kindled for a diplomatic settlement of the nuclear dispute.

At the six-party talks on September 19, 2005, a statement of principles on nuclear disarmament was signed between the US and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK — the formal name for North Korea).

The Bush Administration, however, viewed its signature on the agreement as only a tactical delay. During negotiations it had firmly rejected the statement, and was brought around only when the Chinese delegation warned that it would announce that the US was to blame were the six-party talks were to collapse.

The ink was barely dry on the document when the US immediately violated one of its main points. Although the US was required under the agreement to begin normalizing relations with North Korea, on literally the very next day it announced the imposition of sanctions on North Korean accounts held in the Macao-based Banco Delta Asia, ostensibly because they were being used to circulate counterfeit currency.

Whether there was any substance to the accusation or not has yet to be shown, but there are at least some grounds for skepticism. German counterfeit expert Klaus Bender believes that since US currency is printed on specially made paper in Massachusetts, using ink based on a secret chemical formula, “it is unimaginable” that anyone other than Americans “could come by these materials.”

The printing machines that North Korea obtained three decades ago, Bender says, are “outdated and not able to produce the USD supernote, a high tech product.”

He strongly implied that the CIA could be the source of the counterfeit currency as it “runs a secret printing facility equipped with the sophisticated technology which is required for the production of the notes.” That the CIA has the capacity to print money does not prove that it has done so. It would, however, have a motive, and the source has not been traced.

Wherever the counterfeit supernotes came from, the Bush Administration was ardently using the issue as a pretext to take action against North Korea. Despite that, Bender reports, “the opinion of experts” is that the U.S. allegation against North Korea “is not tenable.” (1)

Banco Delta Asia was quick to deny the charge, saying that its business relations with North Korea were entirely legitimate and commercial.

Over a year later, the US has yet to complete its investigation. As long as the investigation remains unresolved, the US can continue to freeze the DPRK’s funds. Russian Ambassador to South Korea Gleb Ivashentsov called for the US to present evidence to back its accusation. Yet all the Russians received was “rumor-level talk.”

US.Treasury officials met with a North Korean delegation in New York in March 2006, but provided nothing to back the charge. DPRK delegation head Ri Gun remarked afterwards, “There were neither comments nor discussion” about evidence. At that meeting, he proposed creating a joint US-DPRK consultative body to “exchange information on financial crimes and prepare countermeasures.”

The North Koreans said they would respond to evidence of counterfeiting by arresting those who were involved and seizing their equipment. “Both sides can have a dialogue at the consultative body through which they can build trust. It would have a very positive impact on addressing the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula,” Ri said.

The delegation also suggested that a North Korean settlement account be opened at a US financial institution and placed under US supervision, so as to allay suspicions. (2)

Not surprisingly, the North Korean offers were rejected. By raising the issue of alleged counterfeiting, the Bush Administration sought to use this as a means to justify economic warfare against the DPRK. It was not an agreement with North Korea that the Bush Administration wanted, but regime change, and further action was soon to come.

The US went on to impose sanctions on several North Korean import-export firms, on the unsubstantiated charge that they were involved in the arms trade. Then more sanctions were announced, this time against several Indian and Russian firms doing business with the DPRK, along with yet more North Korean companies. (3)

The measures taken against Banco Delta Asia deprived North Korea of a major access point to foreign exchange, and served also as a mechanism for magnifying the effect of sanctions. By blacklisting Banco Delta Asia, the US caused other financial institutions to curtail dealings with the bank, until it was forced to sever relations with North Korea.

The campaign soon took on global significance. The US Treasury Department sent warning letters to banks around the world, resulting in a worldwide wave of banks shutting down North Korean accounts.

Fearing US retaliation, banks felt it prudent to close North Korean accounts rather than risk being blacklisted and driven out of business. US Treasury Under Secretary Stuart Levey observed that sanctions and US threats had put “huge pressure” on the DPRK, leading to a “snowballingavalanche effect.” US actions were meant to undermine any prospect of a peaceful settlement.

From now on, a senior Bush Administration official revealed, the strategy would be: “Squeeze them, but keep the negotiations going.” But talks, the official continued, would serve as nothing more than a means for accepting North Korea’s capitulation.

A second US official described the goal of talks as a “surrender mechanism.” Indeed, even before the signing of the September 19 agreement, the US had already decided “to move toward more confrontational measures,” claims a former Bush Administration official. (4)

As general manager of Daedong Credit Bank, a majority foreign-owned joint venture bank operating in Pyongyang and primarily serving importers, Nigel Cowie was in a position to witness the effect of the Treasury Department’s letters. “We have heard from foreign customers conducting legitimate business here, who have been told by their bankers overseas to stop receiving remittances from the DPRK, otherwise their accounts will be closed.”

To illustrate the lengths to which US officials were prepared to go, Cowie described an operation that involved his own firm, from which, he said, “you can draw your own conclusions.”

An account was opened with a Mongolian bank. Arrangements were made for legal cash transactions. But when the Daedong Credit Bank’s couriers arrived in Mongolia, they were detained by Mongolian intelligence officials, and their money confiscated. Accusations were made that the couriers were transporting counterfeit currency from North Korea.

A leak to the news media from an unidentified source led to reports charging that “North Korean diplomats” had been arrested for smuggling counterfeit currency. After two weeks, the Mongolian “intelligence officials in a meeting with us finally conceded that all the notes were genuine; the cash was released.”

In the final meeting, Mongolian intelligence officials “appeared rather embarrassed that they had been given incorrect information.” It requires little imagination to guess the source of that incorrect information. (5)

US actions were meeting with resounding success. “For our part,” Cowie explains, “we are only conducting legitimate business, but have nonetheless been seriously affected by these measures. A large amount of our and our customers’ money — not just in USD, but in all currencies — has effectively been seized, with no indication of when they’ll give it back to us.”

The fate of Banco Delta Asia served as an object lesson. “Banks with any kind of U.S. ties are just terrified to have anything to do with any North Korean bank,” Cowie said. After the majority interest in Daedong Credit Bank was purchased by British-owned Koryo Bank, the new owner, Colin McAskill, asked US officials to examine the bank’s records in order to prove that its funds are legitimate and should be unfrozen.

“We will take on the US over the sanctions standoff,” he said. “They’ve had it much too much their own way without anyone questioning what they are putting out.” (6)

Warning letters to banks were often followed by personal visits from US officials. Bankers and American officials say that the messages contained a mix of implicit threats and explicit actions. Consequently, it was not long before nearly all of North Korea’s accounts held in foreign banks were closed, with a deleterious effect on the DPRK’s international trade. US officials were inflicting serious economic harm on North Korea, but planned to do much more. “We’re just starting,” said Treasury Under Secretary Stuart Levey several months ago.

In many cases, no pretense was made that the actions were related to illegal financial transactions. US officials were now openly pressing financial institutions to sever all economic relations with the DPRK. “The US government is urging financial institutions around the world to think carefully about the risks of doing any North Korea-related business,” Levey said.

By September 2006, the US had sent official dispatches to each UN member state, detailing plans for harsher economic sanctions. The planned measures were so strong that several European nations expressed concern, and it was said that the plans aimed at nothing less than a total blockade on all North Korean trade and financial transactions. (7)

Concerned over the direction events were heading, Selig Harrison, director of the Asia Program at the Center for International Policy, visited the DPRK and reported on what he saw. “I found instances in North Korea authenticated by foreign businessmen and foreign embassies in which legitimate imports of industrial equipment for light industries making consumer goods have been blocked. The North Koreans understandably see this as a regime change policy designed to bring about the collapse of their regime through economic pressure.”

Harrison said the message he heard from North Korean officials was essentially, “We want the US to show us it is ready to move toward normal relations in accordance with the September 19 agreement. If the US won’t lift all of the financial sanctions, all at once, then it should show us in other ways that it has got its act together and is giving up the regime change policy.” (8)

North Korean officials were understandably miffed at the Bush Administration’s immediate violation of the September 19 agreement on principles. As the US continued to tighten the screws, North Korea announced that it would not return to the six-party talks until the US honored the agreement it had signed. Sanctions would have to be lifted. At a minimum, dialogue should take place on resolving any questions surrounding the accusation of counterfeiting.

US officials said the sanctions were not up for discussion, and demanded North Korea’s return to the six-party talks. The image presented to the American public was of North Korean obdurate behavior and refusal to negotiate. Unmentioned was how the Bush Administration had deliberately torpedoed the talks.

South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun visited Washington in September 2006, asking for the US investigation into Banco Delta Asia to be brought to a speedy conclusion. Roh said it was also important that the US refrain from imposing further sanctions since such actions made the resumption of six-party talks impossible. (9) Predictably, his requests were rebuffed. Instead, the US State Department allocated $1 million to three radio stations to broadcast hostile programs into the DPRK. (10)

“I think our sanctions have had real impact,” Stuart Levey claimed in a speech before the American Enterprise Institute just one month before the DPRK’s nuclear test, “but the real goal, I think, is to see a real change in North Korea. So we are not satisfied with what has happened so far.” (11)

Any hope for a resumption of the six-party talks had vanished. The Bush Administration wanted regime change in North Korea and could be expected to increase tensions.

The North Koreans had earned a reputation for their proclivity for responding in kind: by negotiating when approached diplomatically, and with toughness when threatened. North Korea decided to proceed with a nuclear test so as to discourage any thoughts in Washington of military action. A statement was issued by the DPRK Foreign Ministry, in which it was said that the US was trying to “internationalize the sanctions and blockade against the DPRK.”

A nuclear test would be a countermeasure “to defend the sovereignty of the country” against the Bush Administration’s “hostile actions.” (12)

The nuclear test took place on October 9. There is still some mystery about the nature of the test. The yield was surprisingly small, estimated to be in the half kiloton to 0.9-kiloton range. The North Koreans had notified Chinese officials beforehand of an impending 4-kiloton test, far below the yields of other nations when they conducted their first tests.

It could be that the DPRK was trying to conserve its limited supply of plutonium and to reduce the extent of radioactive emissions. The test is widely thought to have been a partial failure, due to an incomplete detonation of the nuclear charge. US intelligence officials and weapons analysts believe that either a nuclear device (not a bomb) was tested and malfunctioned, or that a test was done only on a nuclear component.

The DPRK still has far to go before it is capable of developing a functioning nuclear weapon. If the DPRK wanted to signal the US that it had a nuclear deterrent, then it had accomplished the opposite, with the test revealing that its nuclear program was still in the early stages. (13)

It was always the goal of the Bush Administration to win international backing for UN sanctions against North Korea. There were those in the Bush Administrations who admitted that they were hoping that the North Koreans would conduct a nuclear test. Having maneuvered the DPRK into carrying out the only option it had, the U.S. swiftly seized its opportunity. (14)

The US won approval in the UN Security Council for international sanctions against the DPRK. China and Russia did succeed in eliminating any phraseology that could lead to military action, but there are still inherent dangers in the UN resolution. For example, UN member states are called upon to take “cooperative action including through inspections of cargo to and from the DPRK.”

Both the Security Council and the sanctions committee were given the right to expand the list of goods and technology that can be blocked, and the committee is to meet every 90 days to recommend “ways to strengthen the effectiveness of the measures.” (15) It can be expected that the US will press for more draconian measures.

US officials were quick to point out that UN sanctions allowed the inspection of North Korean ships, and gave the go-ahead for a more aggressive campaign to force financial institutions to cut ties with the DPRK. The Bush Administration regards the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), a program said to be aimed at limiting the flow of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, as the centerpiece of enforcement. (16)

Soon after the passage of the UN resolution, US Ambassador Alexander Vershbow and Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill asked South Korea to review its economic relations with the North, with an eye to limiting contact.

This was followed by a visit from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was there to reinforce the message. In particular, the US wanted South Korea to halt cooperative projects in the North at the Kaesong industrial park and the Mount Kamgang tourist resort. (17)

To its credit, South Korea refused to abandon the projects, as both are essential to long-range plans for the reunification of the Korean peninsula. “The decision is South Korea’s to make,” stressed South Korean security aide Song Min-soon. (18)

Condoleezza Rice’s trip also took her to Tokyo, Beijing and Moscow, where she urged officials to implement measures that would sharpen the effect of sanctions. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov felt that Rice went too far in her demands, and afterwards commented, “Everyone should demonstrate realism and avoid extreme, uncompromising positions.” (19)

Predictably, US officials met with more success in Japan, which had recently imposed a total ban on trade with the DPRK. Japanese officials talked of submitting a new resolution to the UN if North Korea were to conduct a second test. The new resolution as envisaged by Japan would require UN member nations to block nearly all trade with the DPRK. More alarmingly, Article 42 would be invoked so as to permit military action. (20)

The furor over the partial failure of North Korea’s single, rather puny nuclear test made for an interesting contrast with the indifference that has greeted other nations’ nuclear arsenals.

The US, of course, has a massive arsenal of nuclear arms at its disposal. There is no suggestion that the established nuclear states should disarm, nor have there been calls for sanctions against the newer nuclear states, India, Pakistan and Israel. The US has even recently signed a nuclear deal with India. In all of these cases, the nuclear programs dwarfed that of North Korea’s. Yet only North Korea has been singled out for punishment and outrage.

The basis for such a glaringly obvious double standard is that none of the other nuclear powers are potential targets for US military forces. The operative principle is that no nation the US seeks to crush can be allowed the means of thwarting an attack.

North Korea’s nuclear test was driven by the perceived need to reduce the risk of attack by the US, a real enough consideration given the fate of conventionally armed Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia. At the same time, the test played into the Bush Administration’s hands.

The US military is tied up to a large extent in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, but UN sanctions are a cost-effective alternative for bringing ruin to North Korea and its people. How the Bush Administration interprets what the sanctions allow it to do is a question with potentially profound consequences. There have already been indications that the US may go well beyond the letter of the resolution and implement measures that represent a real menace to peace.

The UN resolution gives nations the legal backing to stop North Korean ships in foreign ports and waters. But US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton has hinted at the possibility of stopping and searching North Korean ships in international waters, an act lacking in any legal basis.

If the US decides to pursue that course of action, it risks inviting a military clash at sea. Japan is considering contributing destroyers and patrol aircraft to the US plan to harass North Korean shipping. (21)

This would be seen as an especially provocative act, given the bitter memories associated with the many years Korea spent under harsh Japanese colonial rule.

But then, confrontation is surely what the Bush Administration wants, viewing it as an opportunity for further punishment of the DPRK. Since demolishing the 1994 Agreed Framework, the Bush Administration has gone on to do everything in its power to worsen tensions.

“The US never intended to honor the Agreed Framework and did not fully fulfill any of its provisions,” points out Alexander Zhebin of Russia’s Institute of the Far East. “The US would love to place a bursting boiler at Russia’s doorstep. Americans would sit back and watch it explode on TV, and let Russians, Chinese and Koreans sort out the consequences.” (22)

Gregory Elich is the author of Strange Liberators: Militarism, Mayhem, and the Pursuit of Profit .

NOTES
(1) “Sharply Increased US Sanctions are Based on the USD Supernote Accusation against North Korea. But Counterfeit Experts Say the Accusation is Baseless,” European Business Association (European Chamber of Commerce in Pyongyang), April 2006.
“An der ‘Supernote’ Stimmt Fast Alles,” Associated Press, April 19, 2006.

(2) “NKorea Nuke Talks Uncertain,” UPI, December 6, 2005.
“No US Evidence on Counterfeiting: NKorean Diplomat,” Agence France-Presse, March 9, 2006.
“N.K. Proposes Separate Negotiations to Discuss U.S. Sanctions,” Yonhap (Seoul), March 8, 2006.
Lee Chi-dong, “Russia Urges U.S. to Present Evidence of N. Korean Counterfeiting,” Yonhap (Seoul), March 7, 2006.

(3) Jeannine Aversa, “White House Targets N. Korean Companies,” Associated Press, October 21, 2005.
“US Slaps Sanctions on N.Korea, Russian Firms,” Reuters, August 4, 2006.
“U.S. Slaps Sanctions on Two N.Korean Firms,” Chosun Ilbo (Seoul), August 7, 2006.

(4) Christian Caryl, “Pocketbook Policing,” Newsweek, April 10-17, 2006.
Joel Brinkley, “U.S. Squeezes North Korea’s Money Flow,” New York Times, March 10, 2006.

(5) Nigel Cowie, “US Financial Allegations – What They Mean,” Nautilus Institute, May 4, 2006.

(6) Nigel Cowie, “US Financial Allegations – What They Mean,” Nautilus Institute, May 4, 2006.
“North Korea’s Nuclear Push May be Stymied by U.S. Banking Rules,” Bloomberg, March 7, 2006.
Anna Fifield, “Bankers Challenge US Sanctions on North Korea,” Financial Times (London), September 5, 2006.

(7) Steven R. Weisman, “U.S. Pursues Tactic of Financial Isolation,” New York Times, October 16, 2006.
“N.Korean Regime Feeling Pinch from Sanctions: U.S.,” Chosun Ilbo (Seoul), April 3, 2006.
“North Funds Lose Havens in Sanctions,” JoongAng Ilbo (Seoul), August 24, 2006.
“US Targets Business with North Korea,” Associated Press, September 9, 2006.
“US Reportedly Asks for Cooperation with Sanctions on DPRK from UN Member States,” Chosun Ilbo (Seoul), September 13, 2006.

(8) Selig S. Harrison, “N.K. Nuclear Test Depends on U.S.,” Hankyoreh (Seoul), October 2, 2006.

(9) “South Korea Asked U.S. to Suspend Further North Korea Sanctions: Source,” Yonhap (Seoul), September 18, 2006.

(10) “US Funds Radiocasts Aimed at North,” Dong-A Ilbo (Seoul), September 28, 2006.

(11) “U.S. Not Yet Satisfied with Impact of N.K. Sanctions: Levey,” Yonhap (Seoul), September 9, 2006.

(12) “DPRK Foreign Ministry Clarifies Stand on New Measure to Bolster War Deterrent,” KCNA (Pyongyang), October 3, 2006.

(13) Jungmin Kang and Peter Hayes, “Technical Analysis of the DPRK Nuclear Test,” Nautilus Institute, October 20, 2006.
Ivan Oelrich, “North Korea’s Bomb: A Technical Assessment,” Strategic Security Blog (a Project of the Federation of American Scientists,” October 13, 2006.
Ludwig De Braeckeleer, “N. K. Nuclear Test: Evidence and Unknowns,” Ohmy News (Seoul), October 12, 2006.
“Alleged Radioactive Debris from N.K. Nuclear Test Detected,” Yonhap (Seoul), October 14, 2006.
Greg Miller and Karen Kaplan, “Even if Device was Flawed, Test Crossed a Threshold,” Los Angeles Times, October 10, 2006.

(14) Interview with Selig S. Harrison, “Harrison Faults Bush Administration for Rejecting Step-by-Step Accords to Halt North Korea’s Nuclear Program,” Council on Foreign Relations, May 10, 2004.
Glenn Kessler, “Rice Sees Bright Spot in China’s New Role Since N. Korean Test,” Washington Post, October 22, 2006.

(15) “Text of U.N. Resolution on N. Korea Sanctions,” CNN, October 14, 2006.

(16) Warren Hoge, “Security Council Backs Sanctions on North Korea,” New York Times, October 15, 2006.
“U.S. Achieves Key Objectives in U.N. Resolution, with PSI as Centerpiece,” Yonhap (Seoul), October 15, 2006.

(17) Park Song-wu, “Vershbow Wants Seoul to Cut Economic Ties with N.Korea,” Korea Times (Seoul), October 18, 2006.
Richard Lloyd Parry, “US Demands the Closure of ‘Cash Cow’ Projects for Kim,” The Times (London), October 19, 2006.
Lee Joo-hee, “Seoul Urged to Get Tough on N. Korea,” Korea Herald (Seoul), October 19, 2006.

(18) Chun Su-jin, “Testy Official Snaps Back at U.S. Sanctions Pressure,” JoongAng Ilbo (Seoul), October 19, 2006.
Kim Ji-hyun, “Seoul Digs in Over Projects with N. Korea,” Korea Herald (Seoul), October 20, 2006.

(19) Adrian Blomfield, “Russian Rebuke for Rice over N Korea,” Daily Telegraph (London), October 21, 2006.

(20) Ewen MacAskill and Jonathan Watts, “Japan Bans All Trade with North Korea,” The Guardian (London), October 12, 2006.
“Japan Eyes Tougher N. Korea Resolution,” Kyodo News Service (Tokyo), October 22, 2006.

(21) “MSDF Set to Monitor 2 Sea-Lanes to Check Ships Near Okinawa, Tsushima Strait,” Yomiuri Shimbun, October 22, 2006.

(22) Vladimir Radyuhin, “U.S. Provoked N. Korea: Russia,” The Hindu, Chennai, October 22, 2006.

Bush Moves toward Martial Law

October 30th, 2006 - by admin

Frank Morales / Toward Freedom – 2006-10-30 09:30:39

http://towardfreedom.com/home/content/view/911/

BURLIINGTON, Vermont (October 26, 2006) — In a stealth maneuver, President Bush has signed into law a provision which, according to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), “will actually encourage the President to declare federal martial law”(1). It does so by revising the Insurrection Act, a set of laws that limits the President’s ability to deploy troops within the United States.

The Insurrection Act (10 U.S.C. 331-335) has historically, along with the Posse Comitatus Act (18 U.S.C. 1385), helped to enforce strict prohibitions on military involvement in domestic law enforcement. With one cloaked swipe of his pen, Bush is seeking to undo those prohibitions.

Public Law 109-364, or the “John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007” (H.R.5122)(2), which was signed by the commander in chief on October 17th, 2006, in a private Oval Office ceremony, allows the President to declare a “public emergency” and station troops anywhere in America and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to “suppress public disorder.”

President Bush seized this unprecedented power on the very same day that he signed the equally odious Military Commissions Act of 2006. In a sense, the two laws complement one another.

One allows for torture and detention abroad, while the other seeks to enforce acquiescence at home, preparing to order the military onto the streets of America. Remember, the term for putting an area under military law enforcement control is precise; the term is “martial law.”

Section 1076 of the massive Authorization Act, which grants the Pentagon another $500-plus-billion for its ill-advised adventures, is entitled, “Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies.” Section 333, “Major public emergencies; interference with State and Federal law” states that:

“the President may employ the armed forces, including the National Guard in Federal service, to restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition in any State or possession of the United States, the President determines that domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of (“refuse” or “fail” in) maintaining public order,” in order to “suppress, in any State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy.”

For the current President, “enforcement of the laws to restore public order” means to commandeer guardsmen from any state, over the objections of local governmental, military and local police entities; ship them off to another state; conscript them in a law enforcement mode; and set them loose against “disorderly” citizenry-protesters, possibly, or those who object to forced vaccinations and quarantines in the event of a bio-terror event.

The law also facilitates militarized police round-ups and detention of protesters, so called “illegal aliens,” “potential terrorists” and other “undesirables” for detention in facilities already contracted for and under construction by Halliburton.

That’s right. Under the cover of a trumped-up “immigration emergency” and the frenzied militarization of the southern border, detention camps are being constructed right under our noses, camps designed for anyone who resists the foreign and domestic agenda of the Bush administration.

An article on “recent contract awards” in a recent issue of the slick, insider “Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International” reported that “global engineering and technical services powerhouse KBR [Kellog, Brown & Root] announced in January 2006 that its Government and Infrastructure division was awarded an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ contract to support US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities in the event of an emergency.”

“With a maximum total value of $385 million over a five-year term,” the report notes, “the contract is to be executed by the US Army Corps of Engineers,” “for establishing temporary detention and processing capabilities to augment existing ICE Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs.”

The report points out that “KBR is the engineering and construction subsidiary of Halliburton.”(3) So, in addition to authorizing another $532.8 billion for the Pentagon, including a $70-billion “supplemental provision” which covers the cost of the ongoing, mad military maneuvers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places, the new law, signed by the president in a private White House ceremony, further collapses the historic divide between the police and the military: a tell-tale sign of a rapidly consolidating police state in America, all accomplished amidst ongoing US imperial pretensions of global domination, sold to an “emergency managed” and seemingly willfully gullible public as a “global war on terrorism.”

Make no mistake about it: the de-facto repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act (PCA) is an ominous assault on American democratic tradition and jurisprudence.

The 1878 Act, which reads, “Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both,” is the only US criminal statute that outlaws military operations directed against the American people under the cover of ‘law enforcement.’ As such, it has been the best protection we’ve had against the power-hungry intentions of an unscrupulous and reckless executive, an executive intent on using force to enforce its will.

Unfortunately, this past week, the president dealt posse comitatus, along with American democracy, a near fatal blow. Consequently, it will take an aroused citizenry to undo the damage wrought by this horrendous act, part and parcel, as we have seen, of a long train of abuses and outrages perpetrated by this authoritarian administration.

Despite the unprecedented and shocking nature of this act, there has been no outcry in the American media, and little reaction from our elected officials in Congress.

On September 19th, a lone Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) noted that 2007s Defense Authorization Act contained a “widely opposed provision to allow the President more control over the National Guard, [adopting] changes to the Insurrection Act, which will make it easier for this or any future President to use the military to restore domestic order WITHOUT the consent of the nation’s governors.”

Senator Leahy went on to stress that, “we certainly do not need to make it easier for Presidents to declare martial law. Invoking the Insurrection Act and using the military for law enforcement activities goes against some of the central tenets of our democracy.

One can easily envision governors and mayors in charge of an emergency having to constantly look over their shoulders while someone who has never visited their communities gives the orders.”

A few weeks later, on the 29th of September, Leahy entered into the Congressional Record that he had “grave reservations about certain provisions of the fiscal Year 2007 Defense Authorization Bill Conference Report,” the language of which, he said, “subverts solid, longstanding posse comitatus statutes that limit the military’s involvement in law enforcement, thereby making it easier for the President to declare martial law.” This had been “slipped in,” Leahy said, “as a rider with little study,” while “other congressional committees with jurisdiction over these matters had no chance to comment, let alone hold hearings on, these proposals.”

In a telling bit of understatement, the Senator from Vermont noted that “the implications of changing the (Posse Comitatus) Act are enormous… There is good reason,” he said, “for the constructive friction in existing law when it comes to martial law declarations. Using the military for law enforcement goes against one of the founding tenets of our democracy. We fail our Constitution, neglecting the rights of the States, when we make it easier for the President to declare martial law and trample on local and state sovereignty.”

Senator Leahy’s final ruminations: “Since hearing word a couple of weeks ago that this outcome was likely, I have wondered how Congress could have gotten to this point. It seems the changes to the Insurrection Act have survived the Conference because the Pentagon and the White House want it.”

The historic and ominous re-writing of the Insurrection Act, accomplished in the dead of night, which gives Bush the legal authority to declare martial law, is now an accomplished fact.

The Pentagon, as one might expect, plays an even more direct role in martial law operations. Title XIV of the new law, entitled, “Homeland Defense Technology Transfer Legislative Provisions,” authorizes “the Secretary of Defense to create a Homeland Defense Technology Transfer Consortium to improve the effectiveness of the Department of Defense (DOD) processes for identifying and deploying relevant DOD technology to federal, State, and local first responders.”

In other words, the law facilitates the “transfer” of the newest in so-called “crowd control” technology and other weaponry designed to suppress dissent from the Pentagon to local militarized police units. The new law builds on and further codifies earlier “technology transfer” agreements, specifically the 1995 DOD-Justice Department memorandum of agreement achieved back during the Clinton-Reno regime.(4)

It has become clear in recent months that a critical mass of the American people have seen through the lies of the Bush administration; with the president’s polls at an historic low, growing resistance to the war Iraq, and the Democrats likely to take back the Congress in mid-term elections, the Bush administration is on the ropes. And so it is particularly worrying that President Bush has seen fit, at this juncture to, in effect, declare himself dictator.

• (1) http://leahy.senate.gov/press/200609/091906a.html
http://leahy.senate.gov/press/200609/092906b.html.
See also, Congressional Research Service Report for Congress, “The Use of Federal Troops for Disaster Assistance: Legal Issues,” by Jennifer K. Elsea, Legislative Attorney, August 14, 2006.
• (2) http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill+h109-5122.
• (3) Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International, “Recent Contract Awards”, Summer 2006, Vol. 12, No. 2, pg. 8; See also, Peter Dale Scott, “Homeland Security Contracts for Vast New Detention Camps,” New American Media, January 31, 2006.
• (4) “Technology Transfer from Defense: Concealed Weapons Detection: National Institute of Justice Journal, No. 229, August 1995, pp. 42-43.

Frank Morales is an Episcopal priest, independent researcher and activist in New York City.

Copyright Toward Freedom 2006
A Progressive Perspective on World Events, PO Box 468, Burlington, VT 05402
http://www.towardfreedom.com

‘Stability First’: Newspeak for the Rape of Iraq

October 30th, 2006 - by admin

Pepe Escobar / Asia Times Online – 2006-10-30 09:21:53

http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HJ27Ak03.html

“Stay the course also means don’t leave before the job is done. And that’s … we’re going to get the job done in Iraq. And it’s important that we do get the job done in Iraq.”
— George W Bush, October 11, 2006

(October 27, 2006) — Iraq is not simply a US electoral issue. It’s a human tragedy of biblical proportions. Hence the urge at this point to situate the tragedy in a historical context.

In AD 750 the Abbasid Dynasty “de-Bedouinized” Islam by defeating the Ummayad Dynasty based in Damascus. The culture of the Abbasid court ceased being Arab-only and started to include Persia and the Turks. Islam turned into a universal religion, no more constrained by geography. “Baldach” — that’s what European travelers called Baghdad up to the late 18th century — was catapulted to the center of the world.

From AD 786-809, under fabled Haroon al-Rashid — who established relations with Tang Dynasty China and the “illiterate emperor” Charlemagne — Baghdad gave the world astronomy, alchemy, hydraulics, diplomacy, fiscal administration and the postal service. Up to the early 12th century it remained the most important intellectual center in the world.

Baghdad had been under siege by the Assyrians and later by Cyrus the Great from Persia. But it was only in 1258 that Baghdad was sacked for the first time by what was then the equivalent of Desert Storm — the Mongols riding their lightning-quick horses under the command of Hulagu, Genghis Khan’s grandson. Legend has it that he erected a pyramid of 700,000 skulls out of his victims.

In 1401, another foreign invader, the Turco-Mongol Tamerlan (“Timur the Lame”), devastated Baghdad yet again. In 2003, after the devastation of “shock and awe”, came the Christian armies of President George W Bush. From the beginning the comparisons with Hulagu and Tamerlan were vivid in the popular imagination. Over time, Baghdadis — Sunni or Shi’ite — were saying, we will dictate our rhythm and impose ourselves over the occupiers. This is already happening.

Quagmire Iraq is not a 21st-century video game of Arabs playing extras in a slow-motion Armageddon. This is a wrenching story with rivers of real blood and a terrible accumulation of real corpses. The story was engineered in Washington — and the plot would not be advancing were it not for the United States. The US bears all the moral and legal responsibility for the destruction of the fabled former capital of the caliphate and the de facto Western flank of the Arab nation.

It is in this context that the current avalanche of Iraq-related newspeak in the US should be placed.

The recent bloody holy month of Ramadan in Iraq has reflected the hellish mechanism unleashed by the invasion and occupation — the daily, gruesome banquet of death provoked by state-sponsored terror, counterinsurgency, stoked by sectarian hatred or the total collapse of the social contract.

This logic of extermination of a society and culture was inbuilt in the process since March 2003. In fact, the systematic annihilation of 2-3% of the entire Iraqi population, according to a study by The Lancet, not to mention the 1 million people displaced since March 2003, follow the more than 500,000 children who died during the 1990s as victims of United Nations sanctions. Iraq has been systematically destroyed for more than 15 years, non-stop.

And it gets worse, because for the Bush administration all this death and destruction is just a minor detail in the “big picture”.

In a perverse replay of what happened in the Vietnamese jungles, the Pentagon lost the asymmetric guerrilla war raging in the Sunni belt. Sunni Arabs are totally alienated. Seventy percent are in favor of attacking the occupiers, no holds barred. No wonder Saddam Hussein is still popular. This month, about 500 Sunni Arab tribal chiefs and former Ba’ath Party officials in the police, army and intelligence got together in al-Hindiya, 25 kilometers west of Kirkuk, to pledge allegiance to Saddam, qualified as “supreme combatant and legitimate president”.

It’s true that Saddam’s regime had already started to disintegrate from the inside after the Gulf War of 1991 — a process coupled with the devastating effects of UN sanctions. The resulting loss of civic spirit accelerated the re-tribalization of Iraq. Even as tribal affiliation nowadays is the only way to solve any problem in Iraq, for the silent majority what really matters is security: nobody is troubled by perceived (by the West) Sunni and Shi’ite divisions; and most Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen share plenty of social, cultural and commercial interests. Contrary to Western-propagated myth, Iraqi civil society as a whole — apart from a few factions — abhors civil war.

The Coalition of the Drilling

World public opinion must switch to red alert. The real, not virtual, future of Iraq will be decided in December. The whole point is a new oil law — which is in fact a debt-for-oil program concocted and imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This is the point of the US invasion — a return on investment on the hundreds of billions of dollars of US taxpayers’ money spent. It’s not war as politics by other means; it’s war as free-market opening by other means — full US access to the epicenter of the energy wars and the perfect geostrategic location for “taming”, in the near future, both Russia and China.

Very few observers have detailed what’s at stake. In US corporate media the silence is stratospheric.

US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman duly landed in Baghdad this past summer, insisting that Iraqis must “pass a hydrocarbon law under which foreign companies can invest”. Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein al-Shahristani was convinced, and said the law would be passed by the end of 2006, as promised to the IMF.

No wonder: the Green Zone US Embassy colossus has always made sure that the US controls — via well-paid Iraqi servants — the Petroleum Ministry, as well as all key management posts in key Iraqi ministries. The draft hydrocarbon law was reviewed by the IMF, reviewed by Bodman and reviewed by Big Oil executives. It was not and it will not be reviewed by Iraqi civil society: that was left to the fractious Iraqi parliament — which can be largely bought for a fistful of dinars.

The Bush administration needs somebody to sign the law. The nation of Iraq as it emerged out of British imperial design is an artificial construct that can only be “tamed” by a hardcore strongman a la Saddam. It has to be “our” strongman, of course: when Saddam started to act independently he was smashed. Insistent rumors of a US-engineered coup to replace the hapless current premier Nuri al-Maliki have surfaced of late. Poor Maliki, if he clings to a minimum of integrity, can’t possibly sign the oil law. Enter the Washington/Green Zone-backed strongman a la Saddam: a likely candidate is former interim premier Iyad Allawi, who ordered the destruction of Fallujah in late 2004.

No matter what happens in the US mid-term elections next month, this is the post-December scenario: Iraq enslaved by the IMF; Big Oil signing mega-lucrative production sharing agreements (PSAs); “partial” troop withdrawal; relentless guerrilla warfare; further disintegration; open road to partition.

Vast swaths of the US electorate have now understood how the whole Iraqi adventure has been built on lies: lies about the causes of war, lies about the methodology of war, lies about the terrible consequences of war. Inevitably, the current media-targeted avalanche of Iraq-related newspeak had to be also meaningless. This includes “phased withdrawal”, “empowering” the Iraqi government, “putting security ahead of democracy” and “partitioning Iraq”. Surrealism in international relations would reach new highs (or lows) with the US ordering by decree that a sovereign nation must dismember itself. Compared with it, the current carnage in Baghdad — which is already divided anyway — would be a Disney flick.

There’s more: the Shakespearean despair over “Redeploy and Contain” or “Stability First” — newspeak coined by Bush family consegliere James Baker’s Iraq Study Group, staffed with plenty of pro-war neo-conservatives. A notorious casualty of the newspeak war seems to be “stay the course” — replaced, according to Press Secretary Tony Snow, by “a study in constant motion”. Anyway, the winner — after the mid-term elections — will be “Stability First”, which is basically a remix, with a horn section, of “stay the course”.

How can Americans — and world public opinion — be engaged in serious, meaningful debate when the Iraq tragedy is reduced to a mere catch phrase? This incoherent whirlwind, this “study in constant motion”, is the travesty that passes for Iraqi policy debate among educated elites.

Another reading is more ominous. It spells the Bush administration and its attached elites losing control — of everything. And that’s how they can become even more dangerous. On October 19, Vice President Dick Cheney once again stated that the only way out in Iraq was “total victory”. A recent historical parallel is nothing but gloomy. When the US was confronted with defeat in Vietnam, it did not “Redeploy and Contain”: on the contrary, death and destruction were extended to Laos and Cambodia. Baker’s “Stability First” might contain undisclosed subtexts.

“Total victory”, in Cheney’s world view, means that the Bush administration was not, is not and will never be interested in Iraqi, or Middle Eastern, “democracy”. What matters is control of the lightest, sweetest, most profitable crude oil on the planet, 112 billion barrels of it in proven reserves plus 220 billion barrels still to be exploited, at a cost as low as US$1 a barrel; a cluster of sprawling military bases; the largest embassy/fortress-by-the-Tigris in the world; and the indispensable client regime.

In sum: a “Coalition of the Drilling” secured by the Pentagon’s Long War apparatus. It’s up to ancient and proud Baghdad to spoil the party. Baghdad survived and buried Hulagu. Baghdad survived and buried Tamerlan. Baghdad may as well survive and bury George W Bush.

Copyright 2006 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved.

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

US Leads Naval Exercise off Iran; Israel Apologizes for Attacking German Ship

October 30th, 2006 - by admin

The Financial Times & Ronny Sofer / Ynet News.com – 2006-10-30 09:17:40

WMD Intercept Exercise Set to Begin in the Gulf
Guy Dinmore, Roula Khalaf & Najmeh Bozorgmehr / The Financial Times

WASHINGTON, LONDON & TEHRAN (October 29 2006) — War games designed to intercept ships carrying weapons of mass destruction will take place for the first time today in the Gulf opposite Iran.

The naval exercise — organised under the US’s 2003 Proliferation Security Initiative — will include Bahrain, one of the regional states and host to a US naval base.
Although the US says the move is not specifically aimed at Iran, the PSI exercise comes amid heightened concerns over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

The US and European states are pushing for a United Nations Security Council resolution that would restrict, through sanctions, Tehran’s ability to procure material for its ballistic missile and nuclear programmes.

Iran has refused to heed international calls for a halt to the most sensitive parts of its nuclear programme and has stepped up uranium enrichment research in recent days.

Bahrain’s participation is a first for an Arab country. Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are sending observers. Australia, France, Italy, the UK, the US and Bahrain are providing vessels and other assets.

Mohammad Ali Hosseini, foreign ministry spokesman in Tehran, refused on Sunday to describe the exercise as a threat to Iran but called for security co-operation between the states of the region without the participation of foreign forces.

Monday’s exercise comes as the US seeks to counter Iran’s growing influence in the region by promoting a new “strategic partnership” with the oil-rich Arab Gulf states. This partnership is aimed at bolstering the states‚ air defences in the face of security threats, whether from terrorism or a possible military conflict with Iran.

US officials suggest Gulf Arab states have a keen interest in closer security co-operation and that all, except Saudi Arabia, had “formally endorsed” PSI, motivated by concerns over Iran’s nuclear intentions.

But analysts in the region played down Gulf states’ enthusiasm and said Saudi Arabia, in particular, was worried that US efforts would lead to further strain on relations with Tehran.

In the year to April 2006, PSI participants had carried out “roughly two dozen” interceptions, according to a US official. However, of strategically significant countries, China has not signed up for the initiative and South Korea is taking part as an observer.

The legal basis of the interceptions of ships also remains unclear. A senior US official told reporters that UN Security Council resolution 1718, passed this month imposing sanctions on North Korea, does not give any new legal authority to the US or other states to intercept ships in international waters.

The legal component is an integral part of Monday’s “Leading Edge” exercise as PSI participants try to work out on what grounds they can board the target vessel. If, for example, the ship is flagged by Cyprus or Panama, which have signed on to the PSI commitments, then other PSI participants would have the right to intercept.

In parallel, the US-led Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism on Monday holds its inaugural meeting in Rabat, Morocco. It is expected to endorse a statement of principles aimed at preventing nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands; development of detection capabilities and co-operation on tracing the source of any nuclear material used in an attack.

Those taking part comprise the G8 nations, China, Kazakhstan, Australia and Italy.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2006


Olmert Apologizes for Incident with Germany
Ronny Sofer / Ynet News.com

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday evening called German Chancellor Angela Merkel and expressed his regret over the incident that took place between the Israel Defense Forces and the German navy in Lebanon last week.

He promised that Israel would do everything in order to prevent such incidents from recurring. Olmert updated Merkel on developments in the region and said he would accept her invitation to visit her country in the coming weeks.

Earlier Sunday, Olmert apologizes to a German parliamentary delegation for the misunderstandings between the IDF and German naval forces off the Lebanon coast.

Olmert spoke during a 40-minute meeting in Jerusalem with a senior parliamentary delegation from the party of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Earlier Sunday, Germany said its navy, which is patrolling the Lebanese coast as part of an international peacekeeping force, had been involved in a second incident involving Israeli fighter planes.

The Defense Ministry said it occurred on Thursday and involved a German navy helicopter and Israeli F-16 fighters.


Previous Incident
Peretz: Israel Didn’t fire at German Ship

Efrat Weiss /big>

Defense Minister Amir Peretz denies report that two IAF jets fired shots towards German vessel off shores of Lebanon. Peretz speaks with his German counterpart, guarantees him Israel will not attack country’s ships

“We are aware of the episode, but it was not menacing,” The spokesman said, after the Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported the Israeli planes had “dangerously badgered” The helicopter.

The spokesman said the area was used by the Israeli air force for training, adding: “Perhaps other standards apply for them than for us.”

On Wednesday, Israel denied a German newspaper report that two of its air force planes had fired twice as they flew over a German navy ship patrolling the Lebanon coast. But it did say jets had been scrambled when a helicopter took off from a German aircraft carrier without identifying itself.

Germany confirmed at the time that that an incident had occurred, but gave no details. It subsequently received assurances from Defense Minister Amir Peretz that the air force would not carry out any hostile fire or maneuvers around German vessels.

German defense minister to visit Israel, Lebanon
Germany assumed command of a UN naval force off Lebanon this month, and has sent eight ships and 1,000 service personnel to join the international peace operation in the region.

The naval force is charged with preventing weapons smuggling and helping maintain a ceasefire between Israel and Lebanese Hizbullah guerrillas.

Meanwhile, the German Defense Minister said Sunday that Germany’s Defense Minister Franz Joseph Jung will go to Israel and Lebanon this week, a trip that follows last week’s incident involving a German ship off the Lebanese coast and Israeli fighter jets.

German officials said the Israeli jets fired in the air over a German intelligence-gathering ship in international waters. Israel denies that shots were fired and said the planes approached a helicopter after it took off Tuesday from a German ship without notifying Israeli forces.

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

Countries to Hold Naval Exercise in Gulf

October 30th, 2006 - by admin

Barry Schweid / AP Diplomatic Writer – 2006-10-30 09:03:19

(October 27, 2006) — The United States and five other countries will intercept a British vessel in the Persian Gulf on Monday in a mock interception of dangerous weapons technology, an exercise the US expects nearby Iran to notice.

For the first time, an Arab nation — Bahrain — will participate in an exercise under the 3-year-old proliferation security initiative. That US program is aimed at getting countries to cooperate in halting shipments of materials that can be used for advanced weapons.

France, Italy, Britain and Australia will also participate in Monday’s exercise, the 25th held under the initiative and the first held in the Persian Gulf area.

The practice interception comes at a time when the U.S. is seeking support for UN sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program. On Friday, Iran stepped up its uranium enrichment program, according to a semiofficial news agency.

“From Iranian news reports we know the exercise got the attention of Iran,” Robert Joseph, the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said Friday.

The exercise also comes as the U.S. is urging northeast Asian countries to strictly enforce U.N. sanctions against North Korea, which detonated a nuclear device Oct. 9. Those sanctions ban Pyongyang’s weapons trade and call for North Korean ships to be searched for suspected illegal materials.

The Bush administration and the several dozen countries that support the proliferation initiative say stopping ships suspected of carrying illicit traffic is legal internationally. But there is some uncertainty about whether the cargo can be seized.

In any event, conducting an exercise within range of Iran could be taken by Tehran as a demonstration of international resolve to curb its nuclear programs.

Bahrain will provide a frigate for the exercise, while Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, three other Arab countries, also will offer a measure of support, acting as observers. Others include Russia, Japan and South Korea. Saudi Arabia, the largest of the Gulf countries, has not joined them.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press


IDF: No Shots Fired in IAF Incident with German Ship
Amos Harel and Gideon Alon / Haaretz and Reuters

TEL AVIV (October 25, 2006) — An Israel Defense Forces spokesman on Wednesday confirmed that Israel Air Force jets had been involved in an incident with a German vessel and helicopter, but denied reports that the jets had fired shots over the ship.

The Germany daily Der Tagesspiegel earlier on Wednesday quoted a junior German defense minister as telling a parliamentary committee that two Israeli F-16 fighters flew low over the German ship and fired two shots.

The jets also activated infra-red countermeasures to ward off any rocket attack, the paper quoted him as saying, in an advance release from Thursday’s edition.

The IDF spokesman denied that the air force had attacked a ship or opened fire in the vicinity, but said that IAF jets had been launched early Tuesday when a helicopter took off from a German aircraft carrier in waters close to Rosh Hanikra without identifying itself in accordance with United Nations regulations. The incident was quickly solved without confrontation, the spokesman said, and only flares were fired.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz on Wednesday denied the reports in a call to his German counterpart, Franz Jozef Jung, and said Israel had no reason to attack German forces. He also said that Israel wanted to increase its coordination with UNIFIL forces in preventative actions. UNIFIL told Channel Two Wednesday that it had received no complaint of Israeli fire.

Germany assumed command of a United Nations naval force off Lebanon 10 days ago, and has sent eight ships and 1,000 service personnel to join the international peace operation in the region.

The naval force is charged with preventing the smuggling of weapons and helping maintain a ceasefire between Israel and the Lebanese Islamic militant group Hezbollah.
Peretz said earlier Wednesday that the IAF would continue to patrol Lebanese skies in an effort to gather information and prevent terror groups from smuggling weapons from Syria into Lebanon.

Peretz raised the issue on the Knesset plenum agenda, saying, “we see ourselves not just as free, but as having the right to continue carrying out these necessary flights, as part of our challenge against the flow of arms from the Syrian-Lebanese border.”

The defense minister added that in light of Israel’s desire to coordinate these efforts with Lebanon, it had reduced the scope of the flights to a minimum. He said the flights were being carried out with precision to avoid friction with United Nations troops and the Lebanese army. He said the flights presented no threat to the peace or security of the international forces deployed in Lebanon.

In response to threats by French forces to open fire on IAF overflights, Peretz said, “we will in no way take these threats, and we’ve made that clear in conversations with all parties.”

The defense minister said that since the end of the war the Hezbollah has been involved with the rehabilitation of the Lebanese infrastructure, has attempted to smuggle weapons through the Lebanese-Syrian border, and has continued to try to harness aid from external sources. Hezbollah had maintained its stronghold in southern Lebanese areas still closed off to UNIFIL and Lebanese forces.

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

ACTION ALERT: National Video Teach-in Set for October 30

October 29th, 2006 - by admin

The World Can’t Wait – 2006-10-29 01:31:32

http://www.worldcantwait.ne

SIMULATED DROWNING, SIMULATED TRUTH
Imagine that you are strapped to a board, blindfolded, and your mouth taped shut. Suddenly you are upended and your head is plunged below water, or water is poured continuously on a pile of rags across your face. Water is forced up your nose, you choke and gag, you cannot cry out or do anything to stop it.

Torture? Heavens no, the US doesn’t torture! This is only “simulated drowning,” as water-boarding is euphemistically called in the press. The sole merit of Vice President Cheney is that he says out loud what the others are actually thinking and doing. Asked about the administration’s use of water-boarding in a recent radio interview, Cheney replied, “It’s a no-brainer for me.”

Is this use of torture a major issue in the current elections? Is any major political figure vowing to put an end to this? Do people even know about it?

This is one more reason why the national emergency teach-ins called by World Can’t Wait-Drive Out the Bush Regime with the Bush Crimes Commission are so crucially needed.

“This is broad, this is sweeping, this is endless, this does not does not limit to a particular narrow geographic location or a very small period of time, this we have now to live with for many years and perhaps decades to come and it is a shame and a scandal that the United States Congress passed this statute.” – Bill Goodman on the Military Commissions Act

THEY WON’T EVEN DISCUSS THE REAL ISSUES
The New York Times editorial of October 24 states rather matter-of-factly, “This fall’s election debates have educated very few voters because neither side is prepared to be honest about the terrible consequences of military withdrawal and the very long odds against success if American troops remain.”

To this observation, they might have added that the same refusal to be honest applies to every major issue facing the nation.

What major party candidate is telling the public that the war on Iraq is a war for empire not sanctioned by international law?

What major party candidate is pointing to the war crimes being committed in our name?

What major party candidate is denouncing the torture and the new law to abolish the right of habeas corpus for millions in this country?

As the call for the teach-ins states: “Neither the full magnitude nor the staggering implications of the Bush program are well understood. The administration systematically lies about its actions and agenda, while the major media and Democrats allow it to frame the overall discussion. As a result, the most crucial issues are not discussed truthfully either in the public arena or in election campaigns.”

This is why the national emergency teach-ins called by World Can’t Wait-Drive Out the Bush Regime with the Bush Crimes Commission are so crucially needed. People can only act on what they understand, and the current election season is engineered to make sure people know as little as possible!

EVERYONE CAN PARTICIPATE
Dozens of cities are holding their own teach-ins or hosting video web streaming parties. From school assemblies at Oakland High in California to video web streaming gatherings in Decatur, Alabama, people will be joining around the country to see this material during the coming week. If there is not a teach-in scheduled in your area, all you need is a computer with broadband (DSL or cable) internet access in order to view the New York teach-in.

• Go to the World Can’t Wait web site for details.

• You can project the teach-in in a class room or view it with a group of friends on a computer screen.

TEACH-IN VIEWINGS GROW ACROSS THE WORLD
Here are some comments from people signing up to view the New York teach-in in their area:

Lawrence, Dallas
“I want to learn and spread the word!”

Jason, Baltimore
“To help educate others on the severity of this situation.”

Angelina, Maputo, Mozambique:
“Interested in knowing.”

Theresa, Portland
“Need to know what my options are beyond republicans and democrats – with the elections forthcoming, is there something within the electoral framework that I can do to mitigate the criminal nature of our gov’t?”

If there is not a teach-in scheduled in your area, all you need is a computer with broadband (DSL or cable) internet access in order to view the New York teach-in. You can project the teach-in in a class room or view it with a group of friends on a computer screen. Go to the World Can’t Wait web site for details.

LET’S GET THIS ON C-SPAN
The whole country needs to see this. So C-Span needs to get the message that YOU want to see it. C-Span invites viewers to submit suggestions of events for them to broadcast. Please write to them today, asking them to broadcast the national emergency teach-in in New York. The address to use is events@c-span.org

Featured Speakers in New York:

Dr. Les Roberts, an author of the study in The Lancet that there are a projected 650,000 civilian deaths caused by the war on Iraq.

William Goodman, Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Larry Everest has covered the Middle East for over ten years and is the author of Oil, Power, and Empire.

Chris Hedges, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent for the New York Times, winning a Pulitzer Prize

Cristina Page, author of How The Pro-choice Movement Saved America describes the assault on both abortion and contraception.

• This event will be held at: Synod Hall of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine
110th St & Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY

• 7:00 pm, Monday, October 30 (doors open at 6:30). Suggested donation $10-$20

• Delayed national broadcast on the Internet the same evening. See World Can’t Wait for details on viewing.

• Please contribute AND set up a viewing where you are Monday.

• Find other teach-ins through World Can’t Wait or organize your own.
http://www.worldcantwait.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3202&Itemid=223
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