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ACTION ALERT: Hiroshima Memorial: Reflection and Action

July 31st, 2007 - by admin

– 2007-07-31 22:49:25

Hiroshima Memorial: Reflection and Action
No Nukes! No Wars! No Profiteers!

What: In the Shadow of the Bomb, a memorial ceremony and nonviolent direct action at the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab will mark the 62nd anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima. Through poetry, music and spoken word, we will recall the history of that terrible day and the ongoing effects of nuclear weapons use, production and testing.

We will commemorate the victims of nuclear weapons and war at the gate of the government laboratory that is designing the next US nuclear weapon, the so-called ?Reliable Replacement Warhead?.

When: Monday, August 6, 2007 beginning promptly at 7:30 AM. The commemoration will culminate with an air raid siren and a moment of silence and reflection at 8:15 AM, the exact time of day the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. An “open mike” rally and nonviolent direct action at the Livermore Lab West Gate entrance will follow.

Where: Participants will gather near the West Gate of the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab, on Vasco Road in Livermore, California. Driving directions: Take I-580, exit south at Vasco Road. The West Gate is approximately 0.3 mile south of the intersection with Patterson Pass Road. For public transportation, click here.

Who: Keynote speaker, Chizu Iiyama, a former chair of the department of early childhood education at Contra Costa College, co-authored Teacher’s Guide: Making Peace: The Legacy of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She currently serves as a Board member and writer for Nikkei Heritage, a publication of the National Japanese American Historical Society, and is active with the Asian Pacific Islander Resist! Watada Support Committee. Musicians robert temple and soul singer-songwriter Kaylah Marin will perform. Community leaders and activists are invited to speak at the “open mike” rally.

Why: Livermore Lab, managed by the University of California and a consortium of corporations, including Bechtel, is one of two labs that have designed every nuclear weapon in the U.S. stockpile. At present, Livermore Lab is developing a new “replacement: warhead, designed to be launched from submarines, designated as the “Reliable Replacement Warhead-1.” The RRW-1 is first new H-bomb in the Bush Administration “Complex 2030” plan, to re-design and rebuild every nuclear weapon in the US arsenal.

The Livermore Lab action is among dozens of Hiroshima-Nagasaki commemorations, rallies, film screenings, and vigils being held around the country at nuclear facilities and corporate war profiteers under the umbrella, “No Nukes! No Wars! No Profiteers!” and coordinated by United for Peace and Justice, the largest anti-war coalition in the country.

See www.august6.org/ for a growing list of actions and downloadable tools.

Sponsors:
Tri-Valley CAREs; Western States Legal Foundation; Livermore Conversion Project; American Friends Service Committee; First Congregational Church of Oakland; Ecumenical Peace Institute; Physicians for Social Responsibility-SF Bay Area; Berkeley Friends Church; Communist Party USA, N. Calif. District; Declaration of Peace San Mateo County; Fr. Bill O’Donnell Social Justice Committee; Friends of the People?s Weekly World; Global Action to Prevent War; Grandmothers for Peace International; Northern CA 9/11 Truth Alliance; Orange County Friends; Santa Cruz Weapons Inspection Team, Fresno Center for Nonviolence, Monterey Peace and Justice Center, Grandmothers for Peace, Hayward Chapter, Marin Peace and Justice Coalition, Social Justice Center of Marin, Bay Area United for Peace and Justice.

More Information:
• Jedidjah de Vries, Tri-Valley CAREs: 925-443-7148; cell 805-698-3577
• Jackie Cabasso, Western States Legal Foundation: 510-839-5877; cell: 510-306-0119

• A downloadable flier is available here.:


From Hiroshima to the Middle East
No Nukes, No Wars, No Profiteers

• Here is a list of protests and related events that are taking place around August 6-9.

Disarmament: Will US Finally End Cluster Bomb Exports?

July 31st, 2007 - by admin

Ellen Massey / InterPress Service – 2007-07-31 22:43:14

http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=38614

WASHINGTON (July 20. 2006) — At the end of June, a few members of the US Congress made a discreet move to limit this country’s exports of cluster bombs, a weapon that has been used around the world since the Second World War to devastating humanitarian consequences.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, included a provision in the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill that would significantly limit the US export of cluster bombs.

Buried amongst funding provisions for the US State Department, military aid programmes and economic development initiatives, the cluster bomb provision would effectively ban US exports of the weapon.

The United States has a stockpile of nearly one billion cluster bomblets, the small exploding submunitions that rain down from a cluster bomb. Some of these bomblets, many dating back to the Vietnam era, have a failure rate of up to 23 percent, according to published reports.

The provision included in the funding bill prohibits the sale or transfer of cluster bombs with a failure rate of more than one percent, effectively banning the sale of most of the US arsenal.

The provision also bars the sale or transfer of cluster bombs to countries that don’t agree to use them exclusively against clearly defined military targets and not where civilians live or are known to be present.

But cluster bombs are specifically designed to affect “soft targets” — people. They have limited uses against bridges, railroads or military installations but can wreck havoc on entire battalions and nearby civilians.

About the size of a can of soda or a size D battery, brightly colored and intricately shaped, cluster bomblets can also turn a farmer’s field into terror zone, a neighbourhood street into a booby trap. These weapons carve a swath of devastation when they fall, killing plants, animals and people.

But devastation also comes weeks and months later when soldiers and combatants have moved on or the conflict has come to an end and people begin the careful, often painful process of returning to a normal existence. The small submunitions are designed to explode on impact, scattering shrapnel that can slice through four inches of steel and fly up to eight yards from the point of impact.

When the duds don’t explode, they lay hidden in a rice paddy, buried amongst the litter on a village street or dangling from a tree, de facto landmines where civilians will return to work, play and live. It is too easy to imagine what such explosive power can do to a child-sized limb or a farmer’s hand.

While the provision in the State Department funding bill avoids the issue of U.S. use of the weapon, it could have a dramatic impact on the world’s stockpiles of cluster munitions. The U.S has sold or transferred cluster munitions to 25 countries around the world including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Israel.

The nearly unanimous approval by the Senate Appropriations Committee could signal a shift in the sentiment toward stronger cluster bomb regulations in Washington. “You have to think that there’s a very good chance of it passing if the Republicans on the committee approved it,” Scott Stedjan told IPS.

Stedjan is a legislative secretary for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a peace lobby in Washington, DC. He worked with both Senator Leahy’s office and Senator Dianne Feinstein of California’s office on this issue.

Last summer, Leahy and Feinstein introduced legislation as an amendment to the 2007 Defence Appropriations bill that severely limited both the use and the sale or transfer of cluster bombs.

But the amendment’s timing, coming in the immediate aftermath of the summer war between Israel and Lebanon, when the use of cluster munitions by both sides became a highly contentious issue, hijacked the agenda. The legislation was rejected by a vote of 30 to 70 in the Senate. The same legislation reintroduced this year so far has 11 senators cosponsoring the bill, none of whom opposed the 2006 legislation.

While the movement in the Senate may seem incremental, another sign of the changing climate in Washington came just weeks before the cluster bomb export provision made it out of the Senate committee. Administration officials stated for the fist time that it is willing to enter into negotiations on a treaty to regulate the use of cluster bombs through the cumbersome UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

This is a shift for an administration that just five months ago declined to take part in an international conference on cluster munitions held in Oslo, during which 46 countries agreed to work toward an international treaty banning the use of cluster bombs. That same month an administration spokesperson told reporters that the United States “takes the position that cluster munitions do have a place and a use in military inventories”.

With a history stretching back to World War Two, cluster bombs in their current form were first used as a part of the anti-guerrilla campaign during the Vietnam War. The United States first used the weapon during the Indochina War, dropping more than 82 million bomblets on Vietnam between 1961 and 1973 in cities including the capital, Hanoi.

The cluster bomb duds from this war more than 30 years ago continue to be found in 43 of the 65 provinces in Vietnam. The U.S. also dropped cluster bombs on Laos and Cambodia to similarly devastating effect.

Since the Vietnam War, the U.S. has used cluster bombs against Iraqi forces in Kuwait in 1991, in the former Yugoslavia during NATO operations in 1999 and in Afghanistan in 2001. During the 2003 invasion of Iraq the U.S. fired rockets, missiles and bombs that scattered more than 2 million cluster submunitions around the country, including major population centers like Baghdad. The original deluge of bomblets killed hundreds of Iraqis and maimed thousands more.

The intersection of military utility of cluster bombs and humanitarian conduct continues to be widely debated even as the U.S. and other countries that have used the weapon claim that they remain within the constraints of international law.

“If humanitarian law was really enforced then these weapons would be illegal,” Stedjan said.

But for now, campaigners say the first step in shifting the US policy on cluster bombs is to limit their export around the world. The Foreign Operations Appropriations bill will likely come to the floor for a vote by the full Senate at the end of July or in September.

In the chance that it passes, the US will incrementally join a growing international movement that recognises the human, economic and moral toll of these indiscriminate weapons.

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

US Protests and Propaganda: One-sided Media Reporting

July 31st, 2007 - by admin

Natasha Tsangarides / Tehran Times – 2007-07-31 22:39:10

http://www.mehrnews.com/en/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=527368

TEHRAN (July 31, 2007) — In an age of complete government media censorship, has the power of protest lost its voice? An exposition on how easily the people’s voices are silenced when the media chooses to ignore them.

1989. The fall of the Berlin Wall. A year etched into the consciousness of the Western psyche as capitalism triumphed over socialism. In the same year, the not-so-famous Caracazo protests exploded in Venezuela.

On February 27, 1989, a popular uprising, known as the Caracazo, protested against the structural changes imposed by the IMF. The campaign was crushed by the National Guard, ending with an estimated 3,000 protesters dead. While the Western media focused on events in the Eastern bloc, resistance movements against neoliberal economic policies across South America gained little attention.

Public demonstrations have been held throughout history, when people have joined together to rally against unpopular policies or forms of injustice. However, media reporting in the West has been selective both in defining what is newsworthy and how events and participants are represented.

When reporting on protests, particularly anti-war or anti-globalization rallies, the media often side with the establishment. It is no secret that the media and politics are intertwined with hidden agendas and propaganda cemented into mainstream journalism. Considering the scope of Rupert Murdoch’s control in the US and UK media, coupled with the need for corporate sponsorship, the desire for the preservation of the existing socioeconomic order comes as no surprise.

As a result, demonstrations against the injustice of the war in Iraq or economic policies harming “developing” nations tend to either be suppressed or poorly represented in the mainstream media. Commitment sways not in favor of objective reporting but in serving the interests of corporations, multinationals, and, in Murdoch’s case, conservative right-wing politics.

Media Tenor, a non-partisan media research organization, examined the mainstream media’s coverage across the globe of opposition to the war in Iraq. The BBC came out worst, dedicating a mere 2% of its coverage to opposition views, with ABC following in second place at 7%. At G8 summits, the majority of airtime in the mainstream news has focused on what the politicians’ aims are, rather than the grievances of the protestors and the damages incurred by multinationals and international economic policies.

Rather than presenting protests as attempts to resist or bring about change to the prevailing order, they are often merely presented as disturbing the social order. As such, disturbances become removed from their historical context and instead placed in the sphere of fear of public disorder.

The common image of protestors portrayed in the media is of irrational and potentially violent crowds who need policing, surveillance, and controlling. The dominant news image dramatizes and sensationalizes demonstrations, displaying under-equipped police forces struggling to protect property and order. However, the issue which becomes relevant is: whose law and whose order?

The fear created by the media in creating an image of violent protestors serves to buttress authoritarian responses from the state and legitimate unjust police action. In this way, the state, in conjunction with the media, is able to continue exercising hegemony through cultivating a culture of consent and maintaining the status quo.

Furthermore, this serves to conceal the role that states or corporations may have played in causing social tension, and, in turn, absolve responsibility for targeting underlying structural issues.

Brandishing collective movements as violent and irrational not only denies them legitimacy, but also simultaneously justifies “exceptional” responses to maintaining law and order. In January 2003, the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) uncovered how the police in Genoa admitted “to fabricating evidence against globalization activists in an attempt to justify police brutality during protests at the July 2001 G8 Summit.”

Furthermore, they found no coverage of this revelation in any mainstream US media and only a brief mention in the European media. Indeed, there is little coverage of the criminalization tactics, police misbehavior, arbitrary arrests, and constricted rights protestors increasingly face.

The criminalization of dissent is not only created by the media but has been institutionalized through legislation. The film Taking Liberties (2007) charts the laws that have been introduced under the Blair leadership that have curtailed people’s liberty, such as the right to protest.

For example, Section 132 of the 2005 Serious Organized Crime and Police Act made criminal the rights of free expression and association in a one-kilometer Exclusion Zone around Westminster. As silencing techniques infiltrate the legal sphere, the British democratic value of freedom of expression is being undermined.

Another important feature of Western media reporting is the lack of attention it gives to protests in the South. For example, in December 2000, over one million electricity workers in India demonstrated against a proposed bill to implement World Bank prescriptions to privatize the power sector in India. In the same year, 40,000 indigenous people protested against US and IMF-prescribed reforms in Ecuador (who were met by 35,000 military personnel and police).

The great propaganda of omission, exemplified by the under-reporting of the Caracazo protests, continues to be the media’s most powerful weapon in preserving the social order. A couple of months ago, the Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called a demonstration against the US presence in Iraq. An estimated one million people attended the demonstration, yet this was given very little attention in the Western media.

Instead, the dominant news at the time was the stir caused by Richard Gere’s encounter with Shilpa Shetty in India. The cult of celebrity yet again eclipses historical events serving as a powerful distraction from present-day realities.

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

Citizens’ Delegation to Iran: Talibani Dismisses Iran Threat as a “Myth”

July 31st, 2007 - by admin

Payvand.com & Mehr News Agency – 2007-07-31 22:36:06

http://www.payvand.com/news/07/jul/1343.html

Goodwill Delegation Returns from Iran Greeted at Dulles Airport
Daniel M Pourkesali, Campaign Against Sanctions & Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII) / Payvand News

TEHRAN (July 31, 2007) — The Bush Administration along with a majority of the mainstream media have been engaged in an escalating campaign to demonize Iran and its people in an eerily familiar campaign to prepare public opinion for yet another possible military intervention.

In response, the Virginia Anti-War Network (VAWN) and the Richmond Defender newspaper organized a People’s Peace Delegation to Iran in response to a suggestion by the Campaign Against Sanctions & Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII).

Delegation members consist of anti-war activists, war veterans, and environmentalists from Richmond VA, Norfolk VA, Washington DC, and Milwaukee WI representing various local, regional and national social justice and anti-war organizations.

The trip was financed by the member’s personal funds, sponsoring organizations, and through public fundraising events.

The five-member delegation was greeted by CASMII associates in the DC area upon their return at 8:00 P.M. on Monday night of July 30, 2007. They will present a report on their 12-day, 1,750-kilometer journey through Iran during a scheduled 10:00 A.M. Press Conference on Tuesday July 31, 2007 at Busboys and Poets Restaurant located at 2021 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009 in the Langston Room.


Talabani: Iranian Interference in Iraq an “Out of Date” Myth
Mehr News Agency

TEHRAN (July 29, 2007) — Iraqi President Jalal Talabani has said the accusations that Iran supports Iraqi militias is out of date, probably part of the ancient history.

In an interview with the U.S. Al Hurra TV last week, Talabani explained that it took Iraqi officials lots of effort to broker a face-to-face dialogue between Iran and the United States leading to the establishment of a trilateral security committee between U.S., Iran and Iraq.

“Our brothers in Tehran have clearly declared that it was at the request of Iraqi officials that they accepted to sit on the same table with the American diplomats,” Talabani told Al Hurra network.

The Iraqi president noted that Iran had formerly rejected such a suggestion. “In my opinion the Baghdad meeting had a good result, namely the establishment of a trilateral committee,” Talabani stated.

He said the Iranians have promised to help Iraq in fighting al Qaeda-backed terrorism and help prevent instability and insecurity caused by the militias.

On rebuilding the army, the president said Iraq wants an army which defends the borders and provides security for the Iraqi nation and not an army which attacks Iran or goes to war with Turkey or makes threats against Syria. He also called the victory of the Justice and Development Party in Turkey, a victory for all regional countries including Iraq and Iran.

Payvand News

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

Was Pat Tillman Murdered?

July 31st, 2007 - by admin

TruthOut.org & Richard Larnder & Erica Werner / Associated Press – 2007-07-31 22:33:29

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/072707J.shtml

Was Tillman Murdered?
Associated Press via Truthout

SAN FRANCISCO (July 31, 2007) — Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman’s forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player’s death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

“The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described,” a doctor who examined Tillman’s body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

The doctors — whose names were blacked out — said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.

Ultimately, the Pentagon did conduct a criminal investigation, and asked Tillman’s comrades whether he was disliked by his men and whether they had any reason to believe he was deliberately killed. The Pentagon eventually ruled that Tillman’s death at the hands of his comrades was a friendly-fire accident.

The medical examiners’ suspicions were outlined in 2,300 pages of testimony released to the AP this week by the Defense Department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Among other information contained in the documents:

In his last words moments before he was killed, Tillman snapped at a panicky comrade under fire to shut up and stop “sniveling.”

• Army attorneys sent each other congratulatory e-mails for keeping criminal investigators at bay as the Army conducted an internal friendly-fire investigation that resulted in administrative, or non-criminal, punishments.

• The three-star general who kept the truth about Tillman’s death from his family and the public told investigators some 70 times that he had a bad memory and couldn’t recall details of his actions.

• No evidence at all of enemy fire was found at the scene — no one was hit by enemy fire, nor was any government equipment struck.

The Pentagon and the Bush administration have been criticized in recent months for lying about the circumstances of Tillman’s death. The military initially told the public and the Tillman family that he had been killed by enemy fire. Only weeks later did the Pentagon acknowledge he was gunned down by fellow Rangers.

With questions lingering about how high in the Bush administration the deception reached, Congress is preparing for yet another hearing next week.

The Pentagon is separately preparing a new round of punishments, including a stinging demotion of retired Lt. Gen. Philip R. Kensinger Jr., 60, according to military officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because the punishments under consideration have not been made public.

In more than four hours of questioning by the Pentagon inspector general’s office in December 2006, Kensinger repeatedly contradicted other officers’ testimony, and sometimes his own. He said on some 70 occasions that he did not recall something.

At one point, he said: “You’ve got me really scared about my brain right now. I’m really having a problem.”

Tillman’s mother, Mary Tillman, who has long suggested that her son was deliberately killed by his comrades, said she is still looking for answers and looks forward to the congressional hearings next week.

“Nothing is going to bring Pat back. It’s about justice for Pat and justice for other soldiers. The nation has been deceived,” she said.

The documents show that a doctor who autopsied Tillman’s body was suspicious of the three gunshot wounds to the forehead. The doctor said he took the unusual step of calling the Army’s Human Resources Command and was rebuffed. He then asked an official at the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division if the CID would consider opening a criminal case.

“He said he talked to his higher headquarters and they had said no,” the doctor testified.

Also according to the documents, investigators pressed officers and soldiers on a question Mrs. Tillman has been asking all along.
“Have you, at any time since this incident occurred back on April 22, 2004, have you ever received any information even rumor that Cpl. Tillman was killed by anybody within his own unit intentionally?” an investigator asked then-Capt. Richard Scott.

Scott, and others who were asked, said they were certain the shooting was accidental.

Investigators also asked soldiers and commanders whether Tillman was disliked, whether anyone was jealous of his celebrity, or if he was considered arrogant. They said Tillman was respected, admired and well-liked.


Retired General Censured in Tillman Case
Richard Larnder & Erica Werner / Associated Press

WASHINGTON (July 31, 2007) — The Army censured a retired three-star general Tuesday for a “perfect storm of mistakes, misjudgments and a failure of leadership” after the 2004 friendly-fire death in Afghanistan of Army Ranger Pat Tillman.

Army Secretary Pete Geren asked a military review panel to decide whether Lt. Gen. Philip Kensinger, who led Army special operation forces after the Sept. 11 attacks, should also have his rank reduced.

In a stinging rebuke, Geren said Kensinger “failed to provide proper leadership to the soldiers under his administrative control” when the Army Ranger and former pro football star was killed in 2004.

Geren said that while Kensinger was “guilty of deception” in misleading investigators, there was no intentional Pentagon cover-up of circumstances surrounding Tillman’s death – at first categorized by the military as being from enemy fire.

“He let his soldiers down,” Geren said at Pentagon news conference. “General Kensinger was the captain of that ship, and his ship ran aground.”

Geren said he has directed a review panel of four-star generals to decide whether Kensinger, a three-star, should have his rank reduced. If Kensinger is demoted to major general, his monthly retirement pay of $9,400 would be cut by about $900, according to Army officials.
“Had he performed his job properly, had he performed his duty, we wouldn’t be standing here today,” Geren said.

Kensinger, who retired in February 2006, received a letter of censure from Geren that said he “subverted the trust” that had been placed in him and “caused lasting damage to the reputation and credibility of the U.S. Army.”

Geren said he considered recommending a court-martial for Kensinger but ruled it out.
Kensinger, whose line of authority included the Army Rangers, also failed to properly notify the Tillman family a fratricide investigation had begun shortly after he was killed, did not initiate a required safety investigation.

Kensinger’s lawyer, Charles W. Gittins, said in an e-mail message to The Associated Press on Tuesday night that his client “had no reason to lie” and had told investigators “everything he knows” about the case. In May, in a rebuttal letter to the general who reviewed the matter, Kensinger firmly rejected all accusations that he had lied.

Gittins also dismissed accusations that Kensinger should have told the Tillman family about the possibility of friendly fire, saying the retired general “was not the release authority for the information.” That “release authority,” Gittins said, was Gen. John Abizaid, then the head of Central Command.

Kensinger, a 1970 West Point graduate, was the top officer at Army Special Operations Command in Fort Bragg, N.C., from August 2002 through December 2005.

Geren’s actions fail to end a three-year controversy that has damaged the ground service’s image. Even as the Army’s top civilian was telling reporters he did not know exactly when he’d receive a recommendation from the review board on Kensinger’s rank, members of Congress were already judging whether the Army had gone far enough.

Sen. Barbara Boxer and Rep. Mike Honda, both Democrats from Tillman’s home state of California, said there still too many unanswered questions.

“We still don’t know the full story about the way the Pentagon and this administration managed this tragedy,” Boxer said in a statement. “In my view, the Army should reconsider today’s announcement and instead move forward with harsher penalties.”

In a separate statement, Honda called Geren’s actions “necessary and long overdue” but added “they do nothing to lift the appearance of cover-up that continues to envelop the Pat Tillman story.”
On Wednesday, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is holding a hearing meant to help the panel determine who in the Pentagon knew what – and when.

Former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is scheduled to testify, said committee spokeswoman Karen Lightfoot. The panel issued a subpoena Monday night for testimony from Kensinger, according to Lightfoot, who said the subpoena is in the hands of U.S. marshals who were trying to deliver it in advance of Wednesday’s hearing.

Gittins said Kensinger was away on business travel. In his testimony in December, Kensinger said he is a consultant for four firms.

Kensinger “declined the committee invitation to testify two weeks ago, so it was no surprise to the committee that he had no intent to participate in a hearing that is all about show and no substance,” Gittins said without elaboration.

The punishment of Kensinger stands in contrast to the light touch given other senior officers who were involved in a litany of mistakes that came after members of Tillman’s units accidentally killed him in the early evening hours of April 22, 2004.

Army Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who oversees the military’s most sensitive counterterrorism operations, received no punishment. McChrystal has been cited for passing on misleading information that led to a Silver Star award to Tillman.

Brig. Gen. James Nixon, Tillman’s former regimental commander, was issued a “memorandum of concern” for his “well-intentioned but fundamentally incorrect decision” to keep information about Tillman’s death limited to just his staff. Nixon is now a top official at U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla.

Geren said that investigations have conclusively shown that accidental fire from U.S. troops was responsible for the death in Afghanistan of Tillman, who had walked away from a $3.6 million contract with the Arizona Cardinals to become an Army Ranger.

The Army initially suggested that Tillman, 27, had been killed in a firefight with enemy militia forces. The Army then arranged a ceremony to award Tillman a Silver Star for bravery.

Five weeks after his death, the Army notified the Tillman family that Tillman died from rounds fired in error by U.S. troops.

Geren cited “multiple actions on the part of multiple soldiers” in compounding the confusion that surrounded the death.

But there “was never any effort to mislead or hide” or keep embarrassing information from the public, Geren said.

He said Tillman deserved the Silver Star, the military’s third- highest award for valor in combat, despite the circumstances surrounding his death.

He could understand how the Tillman family and other Americans might reach the conclusion that there was a cover-up, Geren said.

“The facts just don’t support this conclusion,” he said. “There was no cover-up.”
But he said, “We have made mistakes over and over and over, an incredible number of mistakes in handling this. We have destroyed our credibility in their eyes as well as in the eyes of others.”

Tillman’s family has insisted there was a cover-up that went as high as Rumsfeld. Geren was asked whether there was any indication Rumsfeld was aware that Tillman’s death was by friendly fire before that information was made public. “I have no knowledge of any evidence to that end,” Geren replied.

Aside from his decision to censure Kensinger, Geren said that he was accepting recommendations by Gen. William Wallace, who the Army secretary tasked to review a March report by the Pentagon inspector general into Tillman’s death.

Based on Wallace’s findings, Nixon and three other officers received a memorandum of concern. The others are:

-Retired Brig. Gen. Gary Jones, who led one of the early Army investigations. Jones was criticized for incorrectly characterizing Tillman’s actions in describing why he should be awarded a Silver Star.

-Brig. Gen. Gina Farrisee, director of military personnel management at the Pentagon, for failing to ensure that the concerns of a medical examiner were properly resolved.

-Lt. Col. Jeff Bailey, Tillman’s battalion commander, for his handling of the punishment against the rangers involved in the shooting of Tillman.

Three other officers also received punishments but because they were below the rank of general officer, the Army did not release their names.

Associated Press writer Scott Lindlaw contributed to this report from San Francisco.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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

Rorschach and Awe: Psuchologist, Torture & Interrogation

July 31st, 2007 - by admin

Democracy Now – 2007-07-31 22:30:09

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/07/30/1416256

Rorschach and Awe:
As Opposition Grows Over the APA’s Policy Allowing Psychologists to Take Part in Military Interrogations, Vanity Fair Exposes How Two Psychologists Shaped the CIA’s Torture Methods

(July 30, 2007) — Vanity Fair reporter Katherine Eban unravels the central role of two CIA-contracted psychologists, James Elmer Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, in designing torture tactics for use on detainees held in secret CIA prisons around the world. Both worked in a classified military training program known as SERE —for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape—which trains soldiers to endure captivity in enemy hands.

Mitchell and Jessen reverse-engineered the tactics inflicted on sere trainees for use on detainees in the global war on terror. The C.I.A. put them in charge of training interrogators in the brutal techniques, including “waterboarding,” at its network of “black sites.” [includes rush transcript]

President Bush, in his July 20th executive order, gave the Central Intelligence Agency the green light to resume some severe interrogation methods to question detainees in secret prisons overseas. While the order explicitly bans murder, sexual abuse, and religious denigration it remains silent on the use of psychological torture and specific techniques such as waterboarding, sleep and sensory deprivation, death threats, stress positions, isolation, and use of dogs.

The story behind these interrogation techniques is the subject of an expose titled “Rorschach and Awe” by investigative journalist Katherine Eban that was published on vanityfair.com.

Eban unravels the central role of two CIA-contracted psychologists in designing these tactics for use on detainees held in secret CIA prisons around the world. Her article is the latest in a series of revelations linking psychologists to US military and CIA interrogations of prisoners of the so-called “war on terror.”

Although the two psychologists contracted by the CIA are not members of the American Psychological Association, many psychologists continue to voice grave concern over the APA’s equivocation. In an open letter last month, leading psychologists urged the president of the APA to reverse its “years-long policy of condoning and encouraging psychologist participation in interrogations.”

Today we spend the hour on the explosive issue of psychologists and their role in America’s continuing use of so-called “enhanced” interrogation techniques that the International Committee of the Red Cross calls “tantamount to torture.” The pressure for a moratorium is mounting, with a vote expected in several weeks at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in San Francisco.

• Katherine Eban, Investigative reporter and writer for several national publications. Her latest article is “Rorschach and Awe” published exclusively on vanityfair.com.
• Brad Olson, Assistant Research Professor at Northwestern University. He is a founding member of the Coalition for an Ethical APA and is also the Chair of Divisions for Social Justice, a collaboration of 13 APA divisions promoting a greater emphasis on social justice in the field of psychology.

Related Democracy Now! Coverage:
• The CIA’s Torture Teachers: Psychologists Helped the CIA Exploit a Secret Military Program to Develop Brutal Interrogation Tactics
• “The Task Force Report Should Be Annulled” – Member of 2005 APA Task Force on Psychologist Participation in Military Interrogations Speaks Out

RUSH TRANSCRIPT
This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution….

AMY GOODMAN: President Bush, in his July 20th executive order, gave the Central Intelligence Agency the green light to resume some severe interrogation methods to question prisoners at secret prisons overseas. While the order explicitly bans murder, sexual abuse and religious denigration, it remains silent on the use of psychological torture and specific techniques, such as waterboarding, sleep and sensory deprivation, death threats, stress positions, isolation and use of dogs.

The story behind these interrogation techniques is the subject of an expose titled Rorschach and Awe. It’s by investigative journalist Katherine Eban. It was published in the July issue of Vanity Fair. Eban unravels the central role of two CIA contracted psychologists in designing these tactics for use on detainees held in secret CIA prisons around the world. Her article is the latest in a series of revelations linking psychologists to US military and CIA interrogations of prisoners in the so-called “war on terror.”

Although the two psychologists contracted by the CIA are not members of the American Psychological Association, many psychologists continue to voice grave concern over the APA’s equivocation. In an open letter last month, leading psychologists urged the president of the APA to reverse its “years-long policy of condoning and encouraging psychologist participation in interrogations.”

Today, we spend the hour on the explosive issue of psychologists and their role in America’s continuing use of so-called “enhanced” interrogation techniques that the International Committee of the Red Cross calls “tantamount to torture.”

The pressure for a moratorium is mounting with a vote expected in several weeks at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in San Francisco.
Katherine Eban, the author of “Rorschach and Awe,” published in Vanity Fair, joins us in the firehouse studio in New York. Brad Olson is assistant research professor at Northwestern University and a founding member of the Coalition for an Ethical APA. He was also one of the primary authors of the open letter to the APA president last month. Brad Olson joins us from Chicago. We welcome you both to Democracy Now!
Katherine Eban, let’s begin with you. Talk about why you began this almost year-long investigation.

KATHERINE EBAN:Originally, a group of psychologists had come to me from within the APA. They were highly disturbed about the results of a task force, which had determined that psychologists could follow military guidelines and American law instead of international human rights treaties, if they were given directions by the military to participate in interrogations.

Basically, they felt this was allowing psychologists to follow the lower standard of human rights and basically would keep them in the interrogation booth. Conversely, the American Medical Association and the American Psychiatric Association prohibited their members from being involved in interrogations. So these group of psychologists were suspicious that there was some kind of quid pro quo, some sort of backroom deal with the Defense Department.

I began to probe their allegations. It didn’t quite line up from an investigative point of view. It seemed very fishy. There were accusations that the task force had been stacked with military psychologists, that the conclusions were preordained, and while there seemed to be a reasonable case for that, it didn’t quite explain to me what psychologists were up to, because some of the military psychologists on the task force had actually protested the role of psychologists in interrogations.

And the more I investigated, the more I heard about a different set of psychologists, a set of psychologists who worked for the CIA, who were involved in some of the interrogations of high-valued detainees. And what I learned was that those group of psychologists were actually the architects of a regime that amounted to torture and that their tactics, which were what we call reverse-engineered tactics from a military training program called SERE — Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape — rippled through the entire system like a demented game of telephone in which these tactics were used not just at the CIA black sites, but in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Guantanamo.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain what you mean by “reverse-engineered.”

KATHERINE EBAN:The SERE training program — Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape — is intended to train American soldiers who are likely to be held captive in the event of a war to resist interrogation techniques from a fictional enemy, as it were. Basically, they are exposed to Soviet-style interrogation techniques that include waterboarding, sleep deprivation, extreme temperatures, religious degradation. They are exposed to this in an effort to inoculate them against the stress of capture.

There are a group of psychologists who oversee that program in order to ensure the safety of the American soldiers who are undergoing the training. They are supposed to prevent the trainers from behavioral drift and prevent the soldiers from getting harmed. It was those group of psychologists who ended up working for the CIA as contractors, who made a case that they had a method for making people talk. And so, it was those reverse-engineered training methods that were used on detainees.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about who the key psychologists are that you detail in your piece in Vanity Fair.

KATHERINE EBAN:The two psychologists that I identified are James Elmer Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. They work out of an office in Spokane, Washington: Mitchell, Jessen & Associates. They used to be associated with the Air Force base, Fairchild, there, and Air Force SERE training program. And they are the ones who were, according to my sources, in charge of interrogation training at CIA black sites. So any trainers who were going to be working with detainees would wind up in a Mitchell, Jessen shop, where they were being trained by those men in those techniques.

Critics — and there were many — referred to them — they had sort of two nicknames. One was the “Mormon mafia,” which was a reference to their shared religion. And another one was the “poster boys,” because people thought that their activities would land them on the FBI’s most wanted posters.

AMY GOODMAN: What did they do? What interrogations were they involved with?

KATHERINE EBAN:According to my reporting, James Mitchell arrived at the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah. He was one of America’s first high-value detainees. He was captured in March of 2002 in a firefight in Pakistan. He wound up in a safe house in Thailand. He was rushed to a hospital in order to save his life from infected wounds.

The FBI had agents present at the scene, and because the CIA’s interrogation team had not yet arrived, they began to interrogate Zubaydah.

And what they used was classic rapport-building techniques that almost every FBI agent is trained in, which is to find common ground with the person you’re interrogating, to treat them with humanity. And, lo and behold, Zubaydah responded and talked, and not only talked, but gave them the name of the person who had been the entire master planner of 9/11: K.S.M. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, referred to as Mukhtar. He identified him. He identified Jose Padilla. In other words, there was every indicator that rapport-building techniques were completely effective.

However, after those disclosures, the CIA interrogation team arrived with James Mitchell it tow and said, “Now, everything is going to change. We’re going to get him to say everything he knows, and we’re going to use these coercive techniques.” And, according to my sources, there was even a coffin present at the interrogation they were going to use to bury Zubaydah alive.

AMY GOODMAN: Hadn’t George Tenet gotten involved between the two interrogations, between the FBI and the later CIA?

KATHERINE EBAN:Well, like most bad ideas in the war on terror, much of it is driven by a turf battle. So, reportedly Tenet was at Langley in a meeting. He said, “I want to congratulate my agents on the ground for the disclosures.” And then he learned his agents were not on the ground interrogating him. He got furious. He said, “Get that interrogation team there as quickly as possible. Make sure you keep Zubaydah alive.” And so, there was a clear turf battle.

Now, the FBI agents who were present, once the CIA interrogation team introduced these harsh tactics — basically there was the equivalent of a firefight within the safe house over what kind of tactics were going to be used. And the FBI ultimately deemed that its agents could not be present while coercive tactics were being used. You know, the FBI is a law enforcement agent. Their goal and their training is to bring people to trial using interrogation methods that are permissible at a trial, which don’t include any of these coercive techniques.

Of course, you couldn’t bring anybody to trial saying that you had extracted a confession using these methods. And so, the result of the fight within the safe house between the FBI and the CIA was to give the CIA, which had much less experience with interrogations, control. And that’s how America’s interrogation policies unfolded.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Katherine Eban, investigative reporter, broke the story in the Vanity Fair of July called “Rorschach and Awe.” We’ll be back in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: Our guest Katherine Eban, she’s investigative reporter and writer with a number of national publications — her latest piece, “Rorshach and Awe.” I have to correct: I said it was in the July issue of Vanity Fair. It is not in the issue of Vanity Fair. It is on the web at vanityfair.com. Actually, Katherine Eban, why isn’t it in the actual publication?

KATHERINE EBAN:There were so many developments that were breaking around this story, including an investigation by the Senate Armed Services Committee into the use of these reverse-engineered SERE tactics, that because Vanity Fair is a monthly magazine and we plan and print issues months in advance, we felt that it might not hold and we wanted to rush it into print, so we used the website.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you were talking about the interrogation, first the FBI interrogation of Zubaydah and then moving on to the CIA interrogation, after George Tenet lost his mind, apparently, after hearing there was a morsel of good information out of Zubaydah, congratulating the team on the ground, but learning it was the FBI who got it, rushed in the. CIA team. The psychologist involved with that, explain further, and what the role of that psychologist was.

KATHERINE EBAN:Mitchell showed up at the safe house, along with the chief psychologist for the counterterrorism center, Dr. R. Scott Shumate, who, I should mention, was a member of the APA’s task force on interrogation policy. Mitchell said that “We’re going to use these harsh interrogation tactics in order to extract all the possible information from Zubaydah.” And among those, as I mentioned, was a coffin in which they were planning to bury him alive.

Curiously, when this fight broke out at the safe house over the use of these policies, Shumate protested the tactics and subsequently told associates, as we had learned, that he thought it was a mistake for the CIA to hire contractors.
Nonetheless, at the time, Mitchell said that the interrogators were going to be Zubaydah’s god and that they would basically bestow privileges or take them away, depending on his level of cooperation.

And basically his philosophy, as it was described to me by someone familiar with his use of tactics, is to completely break down a detainee through white noise, through complete separation of his personality, to completely unmoor him and make him completely dependent on his interrogators. And it was through that psychic breakdown he had planned to extract as much intelligence as possible.

AMY GOODMAN: You write the CIA put them in charge of training interrogators in the brutal techniques, including waterboarding, at its network of black sites. In a statement, Mitchell and Jessen said, “We are proud of the work we have done for our country.” Where are Jessen and Mitchell today?

KATHERINE EBAN:My understanding is they are — they have their company, Mitchell, Jessen & Associates. It actually — business appears to be blooming. They have 120 employees out of their office in Spokane. They have classified contracts with the CIA in their office. They even have what’s called a SCIF, which is a secure compartmented information facility, as a way to handle classified materials, classified training, classified documents.

AMY GOODMAN: Katherine Eban is our guest here in studio. We’re also joined in Chicago by Brad Olson. He is an assistant research professor at Northwestern University and a founding member of the Coalition for an Ethical APA, also chair of the Divisions for Social Justice, which is thirteen APA, American Psychological Association, divisions promoting a greater emphasis on social justice in the field of psychology.

There looks like there will be a showdown at the annual convention of the APA that’s taking place in a couple of weeks in San Francisco around the 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th of August at the Moscone Center. Professor Brad Olson, can you talk about what is happening within the APA? You’re head of thirteen divisions.

BRAD OLSON: Yes. There’s a wide — I should mention there’s a wide variety of beliefs. Psychologists are sort of across the spectrum on what psychologists themselves should be doing. And so, I mean, it ranges from some of the leadership in the American Psychological Association and others who believe that — they have made very clear statements that they are against torture, although there’s a very strong attempt to sort of maintain that role of psychologists in these detention centers as part of the interrogation process, and then there’s other psychologists who sort of say that Principle A in the American Psychological Ethics Code is to do good and to do no harm, and so there’s, you know, certainly — there’s absolutely no intention in this interrogation process to do any good to the detainee, and, in fact, there’s quite a bit of evidence that harm is occurring. And then there’s sort of — so those are two groups, I mean, one group saying, no matter what, psychologists should be involved in the interrogation process, another group saying basically that psychologists should not be engaged in interrogation. And then there’s many, many others who say that psychologists should not be in settings like Guantanamo or detention centers in Iraq or Afghanistan at all and that simply their presence is just facilitating the human rights violations that are going on at these sites.

AMY GOODMAN: Katherine Eban, you write about how the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, both of these associations have passed resolutions banning involvement in military interrogations. They will punish members who are involved. What has happened here with the APA, the larger association, American Psychological Association, of, what, some 150,000 members?

KATHERINE EBAN:Well, that is an open question. I mean, why does the American Psychological Association stand alone in allowing its members to participate in interrogations? Some would say because psychologists don’t take a Hippocratic Oath. Some would say because they have had a long experience in assisting law enforcement with interrogations.

However, I always found that comparison specious, because a military interrogation or a CIA interrogation is occurring in an environment where there is no habeas corpus, where it’s already been deemed that these detainees are not covered by the Geneva Conventions. So critics would argue that it’s a fundamentally coercive environment. So there’s no level playing field. There’s no way in which detainees can invoke their rights, because it’s been deemed they have none.

AMY GOODMAN: Last year, Democracy Now! hosted a debate on the role of psychologists in military interrogations. We included Dr. Gerald Koocher, then the president of the American Psychological Association, still a powerhouse behind the scenes. This is some of what he had to say about the issue of psychologists involved in interrogations at Guantanamo.

GERALD KOOCHER: We don’t, as a professional association, tell our members that they can’t work for a given employer. Obviously there are some people who don’t think that psychologists should assist in the military at all. That’s a political preference and a social statement, but there are many very beneficial things that psychologists have done in the military. One example is that the lead officer sent in to help clean up Guantanamo Bay was a psychologist, a US Army colonel, who was sent in to help to clean up the abuses as soon as they were reported. There’s another APA member, a civilian employee of the Navy, who was sent to Guantanamo and was one of the first people to file complaints with his superiors about things that he observed down there, and he reportedly brought about some changes.

I wish I had the assurance that Jane Mayer and that Dr. Reisner apparently have that there are APA members doing bad things at Guantanamo or elsewhere, because any time I have asked these journalists or other people who are making these assertions for names so that APA could investigate its members who might be allegedly involved in them, no names have ever been forthcoming.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Dr. Gerald Koocher, former president of the American Psychological Association, still very active in the APA. Katherine Eban?

KATHERINE EBAN:Well, you don’t make an ethics policy by citing a few positive examples. There has been an army or military line and an APA line that are surprisingly similar, which is that psychologists make interrogations safer and more effective.

But what my reporting found is that the interrogations they make safer are the interrogations that had been made more dangerous. In other words, you take some very dangerous methods, like reverse-engineered SERE tactics — it’s basically like letting a tiger loose in the interrogation booth, and then you get in an animal trainer to make sure that the animal doesn’t go crazy, but why did you put the tiger in the booth in the first place? In other words, psychologists were initially used in the SERE program in order to prevent against behavioral drift.

So what the military is saying and what the APA is saying is, psychologists can play that role in interrogations, but those are the interrogations in which these reverse-engineered SERE tactics are being used. Now, presumably, if you didn’t use those tactics, you wouldn’t need psychologists to safeguard them.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to another clip. We’ve been having a series of discussions on this issue. And this is Jean Maria Arrigo. Early last month, we interviewed Dr. Arrigo, member of the 2005 APA Presidential Task Force, known as the PENS Task Force, Psychological Ethics and National Security.

A year after the APA task force had released its report, it was revealed that six of the nine voting members were from the military and intelligence agencies with direct connections to interrogations at Guantanamo and elsewhere. Dr. Arrigo said the task force report “should be annulled,” because the process was “flawed.” I want to play for you a clip from our phone interview with her, when I asked her to recall that meeting and the whole process they had of drafting the report.

DR. JEAN MARIA ARRIGO: Well, this is what I consider one of the very serious flaws in process. On the first morning, a person who was not a member of the panel introduced the question of confidentiality, even though there was nothing on the table at that time that merited that concern, as far as I could tell. And the chair said that we would have to establish confidentiality or our position on that before we would go on.

AMY GOODMAN: Who was the chair?

DR. JEAN MARIA ARRIGO: The chair of the panel?

AMY GOODMAN: Yes.

DR. JEAN MARIA ARRIGO: Olivia Moorehead-Slaughter.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Slaughter?

DR. JEAN MARIA ARRIGO: Yes. And so, this was actually the only issue that came to a vote, you know. And the reason given for confidentiality began with — this, again, was introduced by a non-task force member, is that we were there to kind of put out the fires, calm the waters, and that if we didn’t have a confidential process, we would essentially be fanning the flames. So that was the first reason that was introduced.
. And then, one of the military people was particularly concerned about possible retaliation from terrorists to his family. And so, the military issue became conflated with the putting-out-the-fires proposal, and we had a vote at that time. I was very much opposed to confidentiality and voted against it. One other person abstained, who was concerned about the military safety issue, and all others voted for confidentiality.

AMY GOODMAN: The issue of note-taking?

DR. JEAN MARIA ARRIGO: But the note-taking issue was more — hit me severely. I’m an oral historian, maybe even before a psychologist, and I always take notes. And I was told very sharply by one of the military psychologists not to take notes. No one defended my note-taking.

No one else, as far as I could see, was taking notes, except for an APA authority who had a computer there and took all the notes through the session and wrote our report. I don’t want to say there’s anything exactly improper in his doing that, but I think the fact that he was the only person taking notes officially was a great problem.

AMY GOODMAN: Did you continue to take notes through the discussion?

DR. JEAN MARIA ARRIGO: Pardon me?

AMY GOODMAN: Did you continue to take notes through the discussion?

DR. JEAN MARIA ARRIGO: Well, yes, but covertly, you might say. I can’t think without taking notes. After lunch on the first day, we had a first draft of our report, and almost all of our effort was going to generating a report, rather than thinking through it. And so, I took notes in the margins of these drafts as they came out. So I did take very close notes on the first half-day, and after that, notes in margins.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you feel you’re violating the confidentiality agreement by speaking out today?

DR. JEAN MARIA ARRIGO: Do I feel that? No. I would say the reason I don’t feel that is because, as I came later to realize that the entire report had been orchestrated, I no longer felt bound by that confidentiality agreement. I thought it was inappropriate to begin with.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, Dr. Jean Maria Arrigo has turned over her notes, the emails from the listserv leading up to this meeting and afterwards to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Katherine Eban, where does this go from here? And what about the significance of that — was it a two-day meeting? — who not only was on the committee, the six of nine voting members in military? While the civilian psychologists say they understood that they were military, they did not understand the extent to which they had been key to setting up the — key to the involvements in the interrogations?

KATHERINE EBAN:I reviewed all of Dr. Arrigo’s notes, all of the email correspondence from the APA task force, the listserv documents, all the documents, I believe, that Dr. Arrigo has turned over to the Senate Armed Services Committee. I spent, really, a number of months looking at those documents. But as an investigative reporter, there were things that didn’t quite add up for me, which was that the military psychologists who were on the committee were a number of those who had actually opposed the most coercive tactics. So, what was going on? I mean, that was my question.

And really what it now looks like to me is that you had these CIA psychologists behind the curtain who were spreading the use of tactics that military psychologists ended up being blamed for, in part. And so, in a sense, they were — the military psychologists and somebody like John Leso, who was a young psychologist who was drafted into the interrogation of Khatani, were essentially plunged into an ethical quagmire that was not of their own making and that originated with these other psychologists.

Now, of course, I’m sure there are people who say, you know, I’m giving the military psychologists a walk here, and, of course, there is a great deal that remains to be seen of their activities, but from my reporting, what I could tell is, is that they opposed — a number of them opposed — the most coercive tactics.

AMY GOODMAN: But what didn’t happen was a call for a moratorium on military — psychologists’ involvement in military interrogations. Can you talk about the APA-RAND meeting with these two CIA psychologists, where they spoke?

KATHERINE EBAN:Yeah. The APA-RAND meeting proved to be very important to my reporting, because I was able to obtain the attendance list, which is basically a catalog of the psychologists who are most involved in studying deception and interviewing, which is effectively those who are involved in interrogation policy. And lo and behold, Mitchell and Jessen were on the attendance list.

The attendance list is divided into two parts. One was really academic researchers, and the other one was operational, operational psychologists. So these were a lot of people who were associated with the CIA, some whose identity was so classified that they were only listed by first name in italics. Mitchell and Jessen were there on the list, listed as CIA contractors. And I think without that attendance list, I don’t know if we would have been able to put out this article.

AMY GOODMAN: The CIA funded this APA-RAND conference?

KATHERINE EBAN:Correct. And one of the main CIA participants and organizers, a man named Kirk Hubbard, told a key participant before the meeting, “Don’t ask these psychologists what they do for a living. Don’t ask them to identify themselves, because basically their identity is secret and classified.”

AMY GOODMAN: They debated the effectiveness of truth serum and other coercive techniques.

KATHERINE EBAN:Right. That’s correct.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Katherine Eban, investigative journalist, has just published the report, “Rorschach and Awe,” that’s published exclusively at vanityfair.com. When we come back, we’ll continue with her and with psychologist Brad Olson, who leads thirteen APA divisions promoting greater emphasis on social justice. The meeting of the APA is coming up. It promises to be a real showdown in San Francisco among psychologists who are deeply concerned about psychologists’ involvement in torture of prisoners. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking about the continued controversy within the APA, the American Psychological Association, as the annual meeting is about to take place. There are demands for a moratorium on military interrogations, that’s being fought back by the leadership of the APA, and a growing number of psychologists around the country who are refusing to pay dues, who are talking about introducing new resolutions to stop the connection between psychologists and military interrogations.

Katherine Eban published the piece “Rorschach and Awe,” exclusively at vanityfair.com. Professor Brad Olson is a psychologist at Northwestern University, founding member of the Coalition for an Ethical APA, chair of the thirteen divisions within the APA promoting greater emphasis on social justice.
Let’s go to you right now, Brad Olson. What is being proposed to be voted on at the APA at its annual meeting in San Francisco?

BRAD OLSON: Well, that’s an interesting question, because what was eventually supposed to be voted on, on Sunday of the convention, was a moratorium that would basically say — when we think about the PENS report and the PENS policy that was talked about, it was sort of this thumbs up to psychologists being engaged in interrogations, because if psychologists are engaged in interrogations, then the whole utilitarian argument of, you know, they are helping society, they are preventing terrorists from committing a terrorist attack — since then, as you have talked about, there’s been just a great, great deal of activity.

Psychologists — as Katherine Eban in her article says, that a real crisis in the identity of psychologists and who we are. And so, I mean, a lot of us, a lot of us feel very differently about this, but the main resolution that was supposed to be put forth, and will be put forth, was a moratorium, basically saying let’s — this has been going on for years and years, this debate back and forth, since 2005, was when the PENS task force came out, and the moratorium basically said, let’s —

AMY GOODMAN: Standing for Psychological Ethics and National Security.

BRAD OLSON: Let’s hold off on psychologists being engaged in these interrogations, and let’s allow all of psychologists to debate this issue. Now —

AMY GOODMAN: Who’s fighting this? Who is fighting this?

BRAD OLSON: What’s that?

AMY GOODMAN: Who is fighting this, having a moratorium to investigate further?

BRAD OLSON: Who is fighting it? Well, it’s difficult to tell. I mean, what we do know is that — I mean, clearly the staff of the American Psychological Association, some staff members who are very high up are the ones that are really — seem to be fighting tooth and nail.

AMY GOODMAN: Why is the APA so closely tied to the military and military intelligence? What is the history of this relationship?

BRAD OLSON: Well, I mean, the history certainly goes way, way back. I mean, certainly in — you know, some people might question the morality of any wars, but certainly some people would argue that World War II, that psychologists really were — really created some effective means and techniques to do some positive things, although that — there’s also a great history of that being very sordid and sinister and harmful, which is exactly why we need to stick to our ethics code.

But, I mean, now it’s a question, why — where are the ties? I mean, some people argue that this has a lot to do with our competition with psychiatry, psychologists’ competition with psychiatrists.

AMY GOODMAN: And now that the APA has refused, has said that they won’t be involved with military interrogations — that’s the American Psychiatric Association — the APA can take over and play a greater role?

BRAD OLSON: You know, that’s one possibility. Other people argue —

AMY GOODMAN: What about the use of —

BRAD OLSON: — that there’s this issue of psychopharmacology. Should psychologists — I mean, that’s the main distinction between psychologists and psychiatrists, or one of them, and that’s that psychiatrists can prescribe. So, there is a big movement within psychology, so to make it so that psychologists have prescriptive authority. And Walter Reed, the Department of Defense, set up the pilot program that essentially put — that gave psychologists the foot in the door to start prescribing. And, in fact, some of these psychologists are the very — the “Biscuit” psychologists are the ones who are — have been part of this prescriptive authority program. But there’s all sorts of different reasons, and some people argue that it has to do with appropriations and funding for research and just all sorts of possible connections.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain, Katherine Eban, who the “Biscuits” are. And this is very interesting, this idea that the military might be the path through which psychologists can be able to prescribe drugs.

KATHERINE EBAN:The “Biscuits” — it’s an acronym for the Behavioral Science Consultation Team.

AMY GOODMAN: BSCT.

KATHERINE EBAN:BSCT. And what happened at Guantanamo — I mean, the “Biscuits” have been a focus of the ire of some psychologists who oppose involvement in interrogation by their profession. But initially the BSCT teams were a tool of those who were pursuing rapport-based interrogation methods.

I describe Colonel Brittain Mallow, who was initially in charge of trying to investigate who at Guantanamo should be prosecuted or not. And he foresaw — he has an advanced degree in Middle East studies — he foresaw that there would be a tremendous cultural divide.

So his group, the Criminal Investigative Task Force, reached out to Dr. Michael Gelles, who is a psychologist who was also a member of the APA task force, the PENS task force, and he set up a group of psychologists who would act as cultural advisors and advise on ways to bridge the cultural divide and employ rapport-building techniques in interrogations.

Well, what happened was, as Mitchell and Jessen’s tactics were promulgated throughout the system, it was like a sort of gravy train. It was the new hot idea to bring psychologists into the interrogation booth. So the head of the Joint Task Force Guantanamo, which was the main arm of the Defense Department to extract intelligence from detainees, said, “I want my own psychologists, so I’m going to go set up my own BSCT team, and I’m going to pull psychologists who are involved in clinical care at Guantanamo and put them into these behavioral science consultation teams.”

So, basically, something that started out as a good idea to advance rapport-building methods in interrogations turned into a tool to use coercive tactics.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re coming to the end of the program. I wanted you to talk about the memo, the document that you got a hold of that has not seen the light of day, well, to the public, before.

KATHERINE EBAN:It is a memo drafted by JTF-GTMO, the task force I just talked about, and it is a SERE SOP, standard operating procedure, how to standardize the use of these coercive tactics in interrogation, and it basically — and it came about a week on the heels of Rumsfeld approving the most coercive tactics, and it lists a category of approaches to interrogations, and they include degradation, manhandling, omnipotence tactics, insults, slaps, walling, hooding, and how to use those dangerous tactics safely.

AMY GOODMAN: You write, “In a bizarre mixture of solicitude and sadism, the memo details how to calibrate the infliction of harm. It dictates that the ‘[insult] slap will be initiated no more than 12–14 inches (or one shoulder width) from the detainee’s face … to preclude any tendency to wind up or uppercut.’

And interrogators are advised that, when stripping off a prisoner’s clothes, ‘tearing motions shall be downward to prevent pulling the detainee off balance.’ In short, the sere-inspired interrogations would be violent. And therefore, psychologists were needed to help make these more dangerous interrogations safer.”

KATHERINE EBAN:Right. To me, this is — it really exposes the military’s argument that psychologists are needed to make interrogations safer and more effective. What they were needed for is to oversee the use of these tactics so that they did not get out of hand and result in the death of detainees.

AMY GOODMAN: What if psychologists didn’t participate? The doctors won’t participate. Psychiatrists won’t participate. What if psychologists said no?

KATHERINE EBAN:It would be very interesting to see what happens. Perhaps the military would need to shift tactics. But the problem is — and to go back to some of the questions you asked Brad Olson — the military has long been the largest employer of psychologists. We’re talking about a jobs program. I mean, the relationship is long and deep. So there are certainly psychologists who feel that they are serving their country by being in the interrogation booth.

AMY GOODMAN: Brad Olson, there’s a protest prepared that will be held at the American Psychological Association annual meeting — is that right? — on Friday in August.

BRAD OLSON: That’s correct. That will be on August 17th from 4:00 to 5:30 at the Stone Stage of the Yerba Buena Gardens. And so, the convention is going to go from Friday through to Monday, and we encourage people to come and voice their opinions. And they can get more information at www.ethicalapa.com.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to leave it there. I want to thank you both for being with us, Brad Olson of Northwestern University, head of the thirteen APA divisions promoting greater emphasis on social justice; Katherine Eban, her piece appears at vanityfair.com. It’s called “Rorschach and Awe.” We’ll continue to follow this story.

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Eight Million Iraqis in Need of Urgent Aid

July 31st, 2007 - by admin

Oxfam America.org & BBC News – 2007-07-31 22:12:08

http://www.oxfam.org.uk/what_we_do/issues/conflict_disasters/bp105_iraq.htm

Eight Million Iraqis in Need of Urgent Aid
Adrienne Leicester Smith / Oxfam America.org

WASHINGTON DC (July 30, 2007) — The violence in Iraq is overshadowing a humanitarian crisis, with eight million Iraqis — nearly one in three — in need of emergency aid, says a report released today by international agency Oxfam and NCCI, a network of aid organizations working in Iraq.

The report “Rising to the Humanitarian Challenge in Iraq” says that although the horrific security situation is the biggest problem facing most ordinary Iraqis, the government of Iraq and other influential governments can and must do more to meet people’s basic needs for water, sanitation, food and shelter.

According to the report:

* Four million Iraqis — 15% — regularly cannot buy enough to eat.
* 70% are without adequate water supplies, compared to 50% in 2003.
* 28% of children are malnourished, compared to 19% before the 2003 invasion.
* 92% of Iraqi children suffer learning problems, mostly due to the climate of fear.
* More than two million people — mostly women and children — have been displaced inside Iraq.
* A further two million Iraqis have become refugees, mainly in Syria and Jordan.

Jeremy Hobbs, Director of Oxfam International, said: “The terrible violence in Iraq has masked the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Malnutrition among children has dramatically increased and basic services, ruined by years of war and sanctions, cannot meet the needs of the Iraqi people. Millions of Iraqis have been forced to flee the violence, either to another part of Iraq or abroad. Many of those are living in dire poverty.

“Despite the terrible violence the Iraqi government, the UN and the international community could do more to meet people’s needs right now,” Hobbs continued. “The Iraqi government must commit to helping Iraq’s poorest citizens, including the internally displaced, by extending food parcel distribution and cash payments to the vulnerable. Western donors must work through Iraqi and international aid organizations and develop more flexible systems to ensure these organizations operate effectively and efficiently.

“The fighting and weak Iraqi institutions mean there are severe limits on what humanitarian work can be carried out. Nevertheless more can and should be done to help the Iraqi people.”

While there is an urgent need for greater humanitarian assistance, Oxfam and NCCI believe that ending the conflict must be the top priority for everyone involved in Iraq. The Iraqi government and US-led coalition must also ensure their troops respect their moral and legal obligations not to harm civilians and their property.

The Iraqi government should immediately extend its food parcel distribution program, increase emergency cash payments and support local aid organizations. The government should also take a more decentralized approach and allow local authorities to deliver aid. Foreign governments, especially the US and UK, should support Iraqi ministries in implementing these policies.

Oxfam had staff working inside Iraq but withdrew them due to chronic security problems. It now supports domestic and international aid agencies which are able to operate in Iraq. Although violence and insecurity restrict aid workers from helping Iraqis in need, an Oxfam survey in April 2007 found that over 80% of aid agencies working in Iraq could do more humanitarian work if they had more money.

Many humanitarian organizations will not accept money from governments that have troops in Iraq, as this could jeopardize their own security and independence. Therefore the report urges international donor governments that have not sent troops to Iraq to provide increased emergency funding for humanitarian action.

© 2007 Oxfam America. Oxfam America is a member of Oxfam International

• For more information, contact:
Adrienne Leicester Smith, (617) 728—2406. asmith@oxfamamerica.org


Rising to the humanitarian challenge in Iraq
Oxfam America.org

Armed violence is the greatest threat facing Iraqis, but the population is also experiencing another kind of crisis of an alarming scale and severity. Eight million people are in urgent need of emergency aid; that figure includes over two million who are displaced within the country, and more than two million refugees.

Many more are living in poverty, without basic services, and increasingly threatened by disease and malnutrition.

Despite the constraints imposed by violence, the government of Iraq, the United Nations, and international donors can do more to deliver humanitarian assistance to reduce unnecessary suffering. If people’s basic needs are left unattended, this will only serve to further destabilise the country.

Executive Summary
While horrific violence dominates the lives of millions of ordinary people inside Iraq, another kind of crisis, also due to the impact of war, has been slowly unfolding. Up to eight million people are now in need of emergency assistance. This figure includes:

* four million people who are ‘food—insecure and in dire need of different types of humanitarian assistance’
* more than two million displaced people inside Iraq
* over two million Iraqis in neighbouring countries, mainly Syria and Jordan, making this the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world.

This paper describes the humanitarian situation facing ordinary Iraqis and argues that, while violence and a failure to protect fundamental human rights pose the greatest problems, humanitarian needs such as food, shelter, water and sanitation must be given more attention.

Although responding to those needs is extremely challenging, given the lack of security and of competent national institutions, Oxfam and the NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq (NCCI) believe that more could be done.

The government of Iraq could extend the distribution of food parcels, widen the coverage of emergency cash payments, decentralise decision-making and support civil society groups providing assistance.

The international donors and UN agencies could intensify their efforts to coordinate, fund and deliver emergency aid. These measures will not transform the plight of Iraqis but they can help alleviate their suffering. The paper focuses on needs inside the country, which are less visible, and does not refer in detail to the refugees in neighbouring countries.

******************

Iraqis are suffering from a growing lack of food, shelter, water and sanitation, health care, education, and employment. Of the four million Iraqis who are dependent on food assistance, only 60 percent currently have access to rations through the government-run Public Distribution System (PDS), down from 96 per cent in 2004.

Forty-three per cent of Iraqis suffer from ‘absolute poverty’. According to some estimates, over half the population are now without work. Children are hit the hardest by the decline in living standards. Child malnutrition rates have risen from 19 per cent before the US-led invasion in 2003 to 28 percent now.

The situation is particularly hard for families driven from their homes by violence. The two million internally displaced people (IDPs) have no incomes to rely on and are running out of coping mechanisms. In 2006, 32 per cent of IDPs had no access to PDS food rations, while 51 percent reported receiving food rations only sometimes.

The number of Iraqis without access to adequate water supplies has risen from 50 per cent to 70 percent since 2003, while 80 per cent lack effective sanitation. The ‘brain drain’ that Iraq is experiencing is further stretching already inadequate public services, as thousands of medical staff, teachers, water engineers, and other professionals are forced to leave the country. At the end of 2006, perhaps 40 per cent had left already.

The people of Iraq have a right, enshrined in international law, to material assistance that meets their humanitarian needs, and to protection, but this right is being neglected. The government of Iraq, international donors, and the United Nations (UN) system have been focused on reconstruction, development, and building political institutions, and have overlooked the harsh daily struggle for survival now faced by many.

All these actors have a moral, political, and in the case of the government, legal obligation to protect ordinary Iraqis caught up in the conflict. They also have a responsibility to find ways to secure the right conditions for the delivery of assistance, both where conflict is intense and in less insecure parts of the country to which many people have fled.

The primary duty—bearer for the provision of basic services remains the national government, which must work to overcome the extensive obstacles that hamper its operations at central and local level. Oxfam and the NCCI believe that political will must be found to improve the emergency support system for the poorest citizens, including the internally displaced.

The government should start with the decentralisation of the delivery of assistance. This would include giving power to local authorities to quality-check and distribute emergency supplies within their own governorates, together with a more extensive system of warehouse storage for supplies throughout Iraq. Establishing a proper legal framework for civil-society organisations would greatly assist non-government relief efforts by giving them the legal authority to operate in Iraq.

The expansion of the PDS for foodstuffs, including the establishment of a temporary PDS identity—card system for IDPs, is also priority. As is the extension of the programme of emergency cash allowances to households headed by widows, which should be increased from $100 per month so that it is closer to the average monthly wage of $200, and expanded to include other vulnerable groups.

A $200 monthly payment to 1 million households, would cost $2.4bn per year, which is within the country’s financial capacity. Foreign governments with capacity and influence in Iraq, including the USA and the UK, must provide advice and technical assistance to Iraqi government ministries to implement these policies and supply basic services,

The main challenges both to the livelihoods of Iraqis and to the delivery of humanitarian assistance are the ongoing violence and insecurity. Political solutions to the conflict must be found as soon as possible, but in the meantime all armed groups, including the Iraqi security forces, the Multi—National Force in Iraq (MNF—I), local militia, and insurgents, should not harm civilian life, property, or infrastructure, and should respect the population’s right to assistance, in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian law.

Whilst indiscriminate, and often targeted, violence has greatly reduced the capacity of Iraqi civil—society organisations and NGOs, international NGOs (INGOs), the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement, and UN agencies to access the needy civilian population, this has not prevented many of these organisations from working with Iraqi communities to find creative ways to adapt to the constraints and continue to maintain a presence in Iraq.

There are 80 independent INGOs still engaged with Iraq, including NCCI members, and 45 of these have existing or potential emergency response programmes. Some have national staff running offices inside the country, with management based in a different country, commonly Jordan. Others fund and advise autonomous local Iraqi NGOs. These methods of working in highly insecure environments are often known as ‘remote programming’. By adopting such approaches, NGOs are the main implementers of UN and other humanitarian programmes inside Iraq.

Islamic and regional organisations are active in humanitarian response. Islamic Relief and Muslim Aid provide financial and technical support, focusing on humanitarian aid and orphan—care programmes, while the Qatari Red Crescent funds Iraqi NGOs and the Iraqi Red Crescent Society (IRCS). The Khomeni Foundation has been providing basic hygiene kits, blankets, and food to IDPs in the south of the country. Islamic political parties and religious organisations, including mosques, also respond to the survival needs of their constituencies.

International donors have been slow to recognise the scale of humanitarian needs. Development aid from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) donors increased by 922 per cent between 2003 and 2005 to $20,948 million, whereas funding for humanitarian assistance fell by 47 percent during the same period to $453 million.

Results from a recent Oxfam survey of donors show that 2006 funding for humanitarian assistance fell alarmingly to $95m despite the evident increase in need. The total is not complete as only 19 of the 22 Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donors were willing to provide data for the survey. However, eight of the top ten donors for humanitarian assistance to Iraq in 2005, including the US and the UK, did respond.

Many humanitarian organisations will not accept money from governments that have troops in Iraq, as this could jeopardise their own security and independence. So it is particularly important that donors from countries which do not have troops there, such as Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland, agree to increase their budgets for humanitarian action in Iraq.

Donors and the UN have also not commonly appreciated the potential that exists to fund work inside Iraq, especially if there were greater willingness to support operations that do not involve all the conventional forms of delivery, monitoring and evaluation, and which may be costlier, yet which offer reasonable guarantees that money is well spent.

According to a survey of NGOs/INGOs conducted by Oxfam in April 2007, over 80 percent could expand humanitarian work if they had increased access to funds. Both the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the IRCS have recently launched appeals for their substantial programmes in Iraq, which are yet to be fully funded.

The UN, especially the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), has a vital role to play in the provision of humanitarian assistance, through coordinating needs-assessment and delivery, advising the government, mobilising resources, and advocating for enhanced civilian protection.

To date, the UN’s performance has been limited, not least by the tight security it has imposed on its staff following the loss of 22 employees in the 2003 bombing of the Canal Hotel. Nevertheless, there are welcome signs that the UN may be becoming more active.

The publication in April 2007 of a ‘strategic framework’ for a coordinated humanitarian response in Iraq is a step in the right direction, as is the decision of the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in July 2007 to ask donors to double its budget for work with Iraqi refugees and the internally displaced to $123 million.

Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
Bringing an end to war and civil strife in Iraq must be the overriding priority for the national government and the international community. However, the government, the countries of the MNF—I, the UN agencies, and international donors can do more to meet the other survival needs of the Iraqi population, despite the challenging environment.

The government of Iraq should take urgent action to address the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people. Measures should include:

• Local authorities should assume greater responsibility for providing assistance, shelter, and essential services to displaced people, as well as to vulnerable local populations, and should be given the power and resources by central government to do so.

• The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs should increase the $100 per month payment to households headed by widows so that it is closer to the average monthly wage of $200, and expand the range of recipients to include other vulnerable groups, such as the displaced population.

• The Ministry of Trade should improve the Public Distribution System (PDS). This should include the establishment of a temporary PDS identity card system so that displaced people can receive food rations.

• The government should create a cross—ministerial team to co—ordinate its humanitarian response and should release funds at its disposal for delivery of this response.

• Explicit orders should be given to the Iraqi security forces that they, like all armed groups, should not harm civilian life, property, or infrastructure, and should respect the population’s right to assistance.

• The government of Iraq should support national NGOs through a legal framework, including registration procedures that recognise their rights and independence and secure their legal authority to operate in Iraq.

International governments with capacity and influence in Iraq should recognise their responsibilities towards the people of Iraq by:

• Supporting Iraqi ministries through advice and technical assistance in order to ensure their capacity to provide basic services, notably improved food distribution, shelter, and the extension of welfare payments.

The governments of the Multi—National Force in Iraq (MNF—I) should recognise their particular responsibilities towards the people of Iraq by:

• Ensuring that the armed forces respect their moral and legal obligation not to harm civilians or their property, or essential infrastructure.

Donors need to increase support to national and international NGOs, the ICRC, the IRCS, and UN agencies delivering the humanitarian response:
• Donors should provide increased emergency funding that is readily accessible and flexible. In particular, donors must build on discussions under way with NGOs to better understand ‘remote programming’ and mechanisms for monitoring and verification.
• Since many humanitarian organisations will not accept money from governments engaged in the conflict, it is important that donors from other countries, such as Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland, increase their funding for humanitarian action.

The UN, especially UNAMI and OCHA, needs to continue to strengthen its humanitarian role inside Iraq by:
• Working towards the achievement of a co—ordinated response with the government of Iraq and NGOs, and between UN agencies.
• Developing a more nuanced approach to the movement of UN staff that differentiates between constraints in different areas and which is more independent of the MNF—I, thereby allowing better needs assessment, co—ordination, and service delivery.
• Building on the emergency field co—ordination structure established by the NCCI to enable rapid response to identified needs.
• Administering a new pooled fund for rapid response that should be able to disburse monies to NGOs.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6921617.stm
Third of Iraqis ‘Need Urgent Aid’
BBC News

Iraqis try to get the attention of a US soldier giving out boxes of food and blankets in Baghdad. Oxfam say basic services cannot meet the needs of the Iraqi people

Nearly a third of the population of Iraq is in need of immediate emergency aid, according to a new report from Oxfam and a coalition of Iraqi NGOs.

The report said the government was failing to provide basics such as food and shelter for eight million people. It warned of a humanitarian crisis that had escalated since the 2003 invasion.

Meanwhile, the US agency overseeing reconstruction in Iraq said economic mismanagement and corruption were equivalent to “a second insurgency.”

Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction Stuart Bowen was appointed by the US Congress to audit how billions of dollars of US money is being and has been spent.

In a BBC interview, he described corruption as “an enemy of democracy” and said that it could not be allowed to continue at current levels.

“We have performed 95 audits that have found instances of programmatic weakness and waste, and we’ve got 57 ongoing cases right now, criminal cases, looking at fraud.”

Last year, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s government only spent 22% of its budget on vital rebuilding projects, while spending 99% of the allocation for salaries, he said.

The inspector general also described a process of transferring control of projects to the Iraqi government as troubling, and found cancellations, delays and costs that outstripped budgets.

He said “a pathway towards potential prosperity” could be found only if oil production was brought up to optimal levels, and security and corruption effectively managed.

‘Ruined by War’
The Iraqi parliament is about to take the whole of August off as a holiday despite the problems and the Oxfam report highlighting the plight of many Iraqis.

The BBC’s Nicholas Witchell in Baghdad says the report by the UK-based charity and the NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq (NCCI) makes alarming reading.

Millions of Iraqis have been forced to flee the violence, either to another part of Iraq or abroad — many of those are living in dire poverty

Jeremy Hobbs is Director of Oxfam International
Alarming Humanitarian Crisis
The survey recognises that armed conflict is the greatest problem facing Iraqis, but finds a population “increasingly threatened by disease and malnutrition”.

It suggests that 70% of Iraq’s 26.5m population are without adequate water supplies, compared to 50% prior to the invasion. Only 20% have access to effective sanitation.

Nearly 30% of children are malnourished, a sharp increase on the situation four years ago. Some 15% of Iraqis regularly cannot afford to eat.

The report also said 92% of Iraq’s children suffered from learning problems.

It found that more than two million people have been displaced inside the country, while a further two million have fled to neighbouring countries. Many are living in dire poverty.

“Basic services, ruined by years of war and sanctions, cannot meet the needs of the Iraqi people,” the director of Oxfam International, Jeremy Hobbs, said.

Mr Hobbs said that despite the violence, the Iraqi government and the international community could do more to meet people’s needs.

On Thursday, an international conference in Jordan pledged to help the refugees with their difficulties. Oxfam has not operated in Iraq since 2003 for security reasons.


Violence ‘Masking a Humanitarian Crisis’
Louise Gray / The Scotsman.com

(July 30, 2007) — One in three Iraqis need immediate emergency aid but conflict in the country “masks the humanitarian crisis”, according to a new report.

Although the everyday threat of armed violence is the biggest problem facing most ordinary Iraqis, eight million — almost a third — are in urgent need of water, sanitation, food and shelter, the report by Oxfam and the aid agency network NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq (NCCI) said.

According to the report, four million citizens — 15 percent — regularly cannot afford to eat; 70 per cent are without adequate water supplies; 28 per cent of children are malnourished; 92 per cent of children suffer learning problems and more than two million people — mostly women and children — have been displaced inside Iraq. A further two million Iraqi refugees have fled the country, mainly to Syria and Jordan.

Judith Robertson, the head of Oxfam in Scotland, said: “The terrible violence in Iraq has masked the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Malnutrition among children has dramatically increased and basic services, ruined by years of war and sanctions, cannot meet the needs of the Iraqi people.

“Millions of Iraqis have been forced to flee the terrible violence. Many of those are living in dire poverty. Despite the violence, the Iraqi government, the UN and the international community could do more to meet people’s needs.”

Oxfam has not operated in Iraq since 2003.

Comments
• Wally, By The Rivers Of Babylon (USA) / 2:44am 30 Jul 2007
Finally, an article that speaks about important things. Good for Scotsman. The criticism in 1’st sentence applies to the entire media.

The Department of Homeland Security in the US is a very powerful organization. Within it are all the federal law enforcement agencies (which is 17 or 18) and many other federal agencies. All consolidated into one DHS under Bush. and the head of DHS is Michael Chertoff. Chertoff said about 2—3 weeks ago that events would occur that would rejuvenate the American public’s support for the war. chilling statement.

But we should all at least know the truth, that since the 2003 invasion by US/UK many bad things have come to Iraq. They are not better off and neither are we.

• Jason, Japan / 3:16am 30 Jul 2007
So comforting to know how much better conditions are in post Saddam Iraq. A war not sanctioned by the UN is an illegal war, therefore a war crime and a crime against humanity. Obvious now that justifications used at the time were no more than threadbare excuses. A war crime is a war crime even (especially) if your country is committing it.

Live internationally, think internationally.

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Rice Defends Arms Deal: But Is Goal Security or Profit?

July 31st, 2007 - by admin

M. A. Saki / Tehran Times & David Gollust /VOA & State Department – 2007-07-31 21:40:04

http://www.mehrnews.com/en/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=526675

New Arms Deal Meant to Counter Iran or Make Money?
M. A. Saki / Tehran Times

TEHRAN, July 30 (MNA) — The United States recently offered Saudi Arabia a $20 billion, 10-year arms sales package.

Washington claims the proposed sale is intended to upgrade the Saudi military’s ability to counter possible Iranian aggression in the Persian Gulf region. “This is all about Iran,” a US official told CNN on condition of anonymity.

The major powers are seeking to spark arms races between countries to earn profits and create jobs at home. The best customers are affluent Arab countries in the Middle East, which have become fat on high oil prices.

The US is attempting to recover some of the money it has spent importing oil and funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The portrayal of Iran as a threat to neighboring Arab states, and particularly Saudi Arabia, is very hard to swallow. Saudi Arabia also does not view Iran as a threat.

Saudi and Iranian officials address each other as “brotherly” countries and hug each other when they meet.

Iran has been a major regional power for millennia and all regional Arab states acknowledge this fact.

To demonstrate its principled policy of establishing close relations with its southern neighbors, Iran has been developing and strengthening ties with them and has even overlooked the fact that they gave about $100 billion in financial assistance to Saddam Hussein’s Baath regime during its eight-year war against Iran.

Iran and the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) states are linked by regional, cultural, and economic interests, and thus Iran would never antagonize its neighbors.

About half a million Iranians visit Saudi Arabia annually as hajj and umra pilgrims and funnel hundreds of millions of dollars into the Saudi economy.

Iran is also the biggest regional trade partner of the United Arab Emirates. Iranians have invested about $300 billion in the UAE and thousands of Iranian nationals live in the country.

Iran has even proposed establishing a common security pact with the PGCC members — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman. Tehran has also floated the idea of creating an Iran-PGCC nuclear consortium for enriching uranium since the PGCC states want to develop nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels.

Iran is a potential rival of the US in the region, but not a rival of Saudi Arabia and its other neighbors, which is something that US officials are well aware of.

It would be more accurate to say that the Saudi kingdom is more nervous about the instability created by the US invasion of Iraq and the United States’ blind support of Israel than the rising military might of Iran.

No one has forgotten last summer’s Israel-Lebanon war, when the US airlifted sophisticated weapons to Israel and blocked a UN Security Council call for an immediate ceasefire. During the war, the Saudi government poured 1 billion dollars into Lebanese banks to prevent an economic collapse. The war was in a sense a proxy war between Arab states and the US

So, if Saudi Arabia is interested in buying weapons like satellite-guided missiles from the US, it most probably wants to counter Israel’s sophisticated weaponry.

On the other hand, the US is trying to start an arms race to sell more arms and recoup it losses from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and is just using the argument that Iran is a threat to its Persian Gulf neighbors to facilitate the proposed arms deal.


Rice Defends US Mideast Arms Sales Plans
David Gollust /VOA & State Department

WASHINGTON (July 31. 2007) — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, heading for the Middle East for a joint diplomatic mission with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, has defended Bush administration plans for major new weapons sales in the region. Rice says the multi-billion-dollar plans will not upset the regional arms balance or halt American democracy agenda among Arab states. VOA’s David Gollust reports from Shannon, Ireland where Rice made a refueling stop.

The package, made public just before Rice’s departure from Washington, would sharply increase US weapons sales and military assistance to Arab allies and to Israel.

In a talk with reporters traveling with her, Rice defended the plan as a continuation of a long-standing American commitment to regional allies, while assuring supporters of Israel in the US Congress that the military balance in the region will not change.

Under the plan, Israel would receive three billion dollars a year in US aid – a 25 percent increase – with a commitment that funding would continue at that level for 10 years – for a $30 billion total.

Egypt would get $13 billion over the same 10-year period along with additional security-related economic aid to be announced later. Meanwhile Rice and Gates, in their unusual joint mission to the area, will begin talks this week with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies on arms sales to them that could exceed $20 billion.

In the airborne news conference, Rice said the plan is intended to reassure American allies during what she termed a “complicated” moment in the Middle East:

“We are very aware of, and very determined, to maintain the ability of our allies and friends to rely on the United States to help them with their security concerns,” she said. “At the same time, we are also determined to maintain the balances, the military and strategic balance, within the region that we’ve been committed to as well.”

Rice dismissed Iranian criticism that the US arms plan would destabilize the region, saying any instability that exists now can be laid to Iran and its backing for Palestinian and Lebanese radicals and insurgents in Iraq.

She said Iran constitutes single most important strategic challenge to US interests in region and to, as she put it, “the kind of Middle East we want to see.”

She also said under questioning that the weapons plans should not been seen by autocratic US allies in the region as a sign that that American pressure for democratic reforms will cease:

“Of course it’s important that Egypt be able to defend itself and its interests in the region,” she said. “Of course it’s important that Saudi Arabia, which has been an ally of the United States for decades, be able to defend its interests in the region. And of course that’s important to the defense of American interests. But that does not preclude discussions about the domestic course these countries are taking. And we’re going to continue to have those discussions, and we are going to continue to press for reform.”

Rice and Gates flew separately to the region but will join up Tuesday in the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, for meetings with senior officials of Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf Cooperation Council member countries. They both fly on to Jeddah later Tuesday to meet senior Saudi leaders, including King Abdullah.

Wednesday they part company, with Gates continuing talks in the Gulf while Rice heads to Jerusalem for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Britain’s Surveillance to New Level with Video Cameras Strapped to Police Helmets

July 16th, 2007 - by admin

Raphael G. Satter / Canadian Press – 2007-07-16 02:12:51

http:cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/World/2007/07/13/4337465-ap.html

LONDON (July 13, 2007) — Britain is taking its surveillance to a new level, strapping video cameras to the helmets of its famed bobbies – a move the government says will cut down on paperwork and help prosecute criminals.

By providing dramatic footage of victims, suspects and witnesses, judges and jurors will be able to “see and hear the incident through the eyes and ears of the officer at the scene,” Minister of State for Security Tony McNulty said.

The Home Office said it was allocating US$6 million to fund the devices for Britain’s 42 police forces – enough to buy more than 2,000 cameras.

Police already use handheld cameras to monitor crowded events and the new head-mounted devices, worn around the ear or clipped on to a helmet, have been used on a trial basis by police in Plymouth, in southwestern England, since 2005. Similar cameras are used by security guards at sports venues to hunt for soccer hooligans.

Britain is not the first country to use such cameras, versions of which have been tested in Denmark. But the national rollout will tighten Britain’s web of video surveillance, already the most extensive in the world. The country is watched over by a network of some four million closed-circuit cameras, and privacy advocates complain the average Briton is recorded as many as 300 times a day.

In a report on the Plymouth pilot project published by the Home Office on Thursday, policemen praised the head-held cameras for deterring bad behaviour and providing excellent evidence against crooks.

They said rowdy youths quickly calmed when they realized they were being filmed, and those arrested for drunkenness seldom challenged police when shown videos of their behaviour.

Prosecutors credited the cameras with emboldening victims of domestic violence to press charges against their partners, although the director of Rights of Women, Ranjit Kaur, said she has not been convinced the footage alone could help secure a conviction.

The Association of Chief Police Officers, an independent body of senior police officials in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, gave the devices a tepid welcome, cautioning that courts might someday expect everything police said to be backed by video evidence.

“The introduction of personal digital recording equipment for police officers and staff brings benefits and risks,” the association said in a statement. “We need to guard against creating an expectation that all police activity ought to be supported by the use of digital recording technology.”

Civil rights campaigner Liberty praised the guidelines for using the devices included in the Home Office report. Spokeswoman Jen Corlew noted that police were instructed to inform members of the public they were being recorded and that the footage not being used in an investigation had to be erased within a month of its creation.

The Home Office said the cameras – which have enough memory to hold 24 hours of video – were not intended to record continuously. Officers would turn the devices on and off at their discretion, speaking into the camera after turning it on to explain where, when and why they were starting it. A second explanation was required before turning the device off.

The report also cautioned against taking extraneous video when entering private homes, and said officers should turn cameras off during strip searches. But it also threatened disciplinary action against officers who deliberately masked the camera’s view or deleted video from the camera’s memory.

The Home Office said it was exploring other uses for the devices, including fitting them with the ability to send video live to a command centre, or special license-plate recognition software which would enable police to identify stolen or suspicious vehicles just by looking at them.

© The Canadian Press, 2007

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The Ruses for War: American Interventionism Since World War

July 16th, 2007 - by admin

y John B. Quigley. Prometheus Books, 2007. 433 pgs. – 2007-07-16 02:10:43

http://www.mises.org/misesreview_detail.asp?control=313&sortorder=issue#

John Quigley’s book has a valuable main thesis and, I suggest, an even more valuable claim that underlies this thesis. The purpose of his book, Quigley tells us, is to explore “U.S. military actions abroad over the past half-century. We look in each instance at what the president and his aides said, and what reasons they gave. Then we examine the situation in light of what is known today to determine whether the administration was truthful” (pp. 14–15).

Quigley, an authority on international law, examines around thirty cases, beginning with the Korean War and ending with Iraq, where the United States has used force. In each instance, he shows, the administration’s account has been blatantly false. Often, e.g., it is claimed that we must intervene to protect American citizens at risk in a foreign crisis; but it turns out that almost all of these Americans have left the scene before our expeditionary forces arrive. In our farcical invasion of Grenada in 1983, the administration maintained that it needed to protect American medical students from warring factions of the leftist party in power.

The students had not been harmed; the administration “could not a present a logical explanation why the Grenadan government might take hostages”; and when the “rescue” force arrived, it ignored the students.

But our author seems here open to an objection. Perhaps the public cannot grasp power politics. Only experienced statesmen, wise in the intricacies of diplomacy, can guide our country. If necessary the emotionally driven public must be deceived for its own good.

Arthur Sylvester, Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Kennedy Administration, in 1962 said “that in crisis situations, he believed in ‘the inherent right of the Government to lie.’ He spoke of lying euphemistically as ‘generation’ of news, and said that ‘news management’ was ‘part of the arsenal of weaponry’ of government” (p. 380).

Here precisely the underlying claim of Quigley’s book enters the scene. He shows, for case after case, that the president and his cohorts did not act to protect America from danger. Quite the contrary, the administration manufactured crises on flimsy pretexts. Far from being Platonic Guardians who had caught sight of the Form of the Good, the ruling powers were bumblers with itchy trigger figures.

A new objection threatens to block our way. “No doubt,” it may be said, “if one accepts Quigley’s account of the various crises, his underlying claim follows: the US government has continually engaged in needless foreign interventions. But we should not accept what Quigley says. He is a leftist, always inclined to put the US in the wrong.”

The objection fails. Quigley’s understanding of the free market is less than ideal; and a few times, he does seem to me to view Communist foreign policy with undue sympathy. He contends, e.g., that Khrushchev’s sending missiles to Cuba was a defensive move to forestall an American invasion. This may well be true, but Quigley does not say, as he should have, that the Russian action was a dangerously provocative move.

Also, his statement that “Castro eventually did attach his star to the Kremlin, but it was never clear whether this resulted from Castro’s rejecting us or our rejecting him” (p. 97) ignores evidence that Castro had been a convinced communist since the late 1940s.[1]

There are, though, very few questionable statements in the vast array of material our author has amassed. And, much more important, Quigley’s thesis does not depend on acceptance of his views of America’s opponents, correct though he usually is. As he shows incontrovertibly, American policy makers acted before it became clear what our supposed enemy intended to do. Even, then, if one thinks that the United States did confront real threats, the bulk of Quigley’s case remains intact.

A few examples will show the power of Quigley’s analysis. The Korean War began shortly after June 25, 1950, when “the south reported an attack by the north and said fighting continued all across Korea along the [38th] parallel. The north claimed just the opposite. Pyongyang Radio announced that the the south ‘started a surprise invasion of the north along the whole front of the 38th parallel line at dawn on the 25th'” (p. 31).

The United States did not wait until the situation became clear: instead, the Truman administration demanded from the UN Security Council authorization to repel the attack. In doing so, it ignored the fact that border skirmishes between the two Korean regimes had been going on months prior to June 1950.

Further, Syngman Rhee, the unpopular South Korean leader, had every reason to invade. His government was unpopular, and only the crisis of war could stave off its replacement. (Quigley relies for his account of the war on Bruce Cumings, the leading American authority on the war, along with his own primary source research. Cumings in many respects confirmed the pioneering revisionist work of I.F. Stone, The Hidden History of the Korean War (New York, 1952), a book much esteemed by Murray Rothbard. Stone, though at the time an undoubted Communist sympathizer, was nevertheless an excellent researcher.)

Once more, Quigley’s case does not depend on his account of Rhee’s motives. Even if one assumes that North Korea was intent on conquest, it remains the case the United States had no reliable evidence on which to base its charge of North Korean aggression.

The Truman Administration’s claims were, to use a phrase of Churchill’s, “terminological inexactitudes,” and its rush to judgment delayed for over two years a negotiated settlement of the dispute between the two Koreas. In like fashion, China entered the war only after deliberate attacks on hydroelectric plants in Korea that supplied Manchuria with power; and its forays into Korea were at first very tentative.

The United States claimed without adequate basis that China intended to conquer Korea in order to bring it within the Communist world empire. In point of fact, the American Supreme Commander, Douglas MacArthur, aimed to induce a Chinese attack, since he had hopes of overturning the Communist Chinese government.

As if this were not enough, the United States made another deceptive claim. It contended that South Korea was the victim of international aggression. But even if the North had launched a full-scale invasion of the South at the instigation of the Chinese or Russians, the best case for the US position, the American claim would still have been false. North and South Korea were not at the time separate countries; the two regimes were merely in control of administrative zones, supposedly temporary.

The conflict was then a civil war; but had the US thus characterized it, it would have been unable to get UN backing to repel a foreign invasion. Much better for its purposes, then, to lie. When US forces, prior to Chinese entry, routed the North Korean army, they refused to stop at the 38th parallel, on the grounds that this was not an international boundary. Korea was either one country or two, depending on what best served the Truman administration’s purposes.

The pattern of mendacity has remained constant in the fifty years since Korea. Everyone knows the manner in which Bush lied us into the Iraq war, but the invasion of Afghanistan has gotten a much better press. Was it not necessary to overthrow the Taliban government, which provided sanctuary to Osama bin Laden? Quigley shows that this view rests on dubious assumptions.

First, when the United States demanded of Afghanistan the surrender of bin Laden, it ignored customary procedures of international law. “The normal international procedure for the surrender of a suspect is extradition. The government that seeks surrender provides information to show probable cause that the person sought committed a crime.

A court in the country from which extradition is requested hears the evidence in open court and decides whether there is sufficient evidence that the accused person committed the crime in question. In requesting evidence, the Taliban was thus adhering to accepted international standards” (pp. 360–61).

Instead, the United States demanded that the Taliban surrender bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders without the customary procedures; when the Taliban did not comply invasion followed. The Taliban professed willingness to negotiate over the conditions for surrender of the suspects, but the US would not discuss its ultimatum. If the Taliban was not sincere, this could soon have been determined, but the US would not wait.

As Quigley aptly notes, military force is supposed to be the last resort in a crisis, not the first. One may add to Quigley’s case that, accepting the American ultimatum at face value, force could rightly be used only to seize bin Laden and his cohorts. The US had no warrant for the Bush administration’s catchphrase, “regime change.”[2]

As mentioned above, the administration’s false claims about Iraq are common knowledge. Iraq had no WMD to threaten the United States at he time that Bush ordered an invasion; quite the contrary, Iraq had been crippled by repeated bombing raids and a blockade. But even if Saddam Hussein posed no immediate threat, did he not show his malign intentions by attempting to have the first President Bush assassinated during a visit to Kuwait in 1993?

In one of the book’s most interesting chapters, Quigley shows that this assertion rests on dubious evidence. Secretary of State Albright told the UN Security Council that bombs found on the suspects had certain components available only in Iraq. Seymour Hersh showed the photographs of the bombs on which Albright relied in her presentation to seven independent explosives experts.

They denied her claim; the circuitry on the devices was readily available and not of exclusive Iraqi provenance. The FBI chemist, one of the world’s leading authorities, agreed with the independent experts, but his report was altered so that the Clinton administration could proceed with its plan to bomb Iraq.

Quigley’s extensive survey of American policy is a most valuable resource for anyone interested in testing America’s foreign policy claims against the historical record. [3]

Footnotes
[1] See, e.g., Nathaniel Weyl, Red Star Over Cuba (New York, 1961).

[2] Quigley does not discuss claims that the Bush administration either had guilty knowledge of, or itself instigated, the 9/11 attacks. See, e.g., David Ray Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor, and my review in The Mises Review, Summer 2004. I find these claims hard to assess, as they in large part rest on technical details of which I lack knowledge.

[3] The book maintains a high standard of accuracy, but I noted one mistake. Hiram Johnson was a senator from California, not Texas (p. 23).

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

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