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Iraq Urges Iranian Firms to Help ‘Modernize’ Baghdad

February 29th, 2008 - by admin

Ahmad Rahima / Azzaman – 2008-02-29 23:33:26

http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news%5C2008-02-29%5Ckurd.htm

BAGHDAD (February 29, 2008) — Baghdad Mayor Saber al-Aisawi has asked Iranian firms’ help to upgrade level of municipal services in the capital.

The mayor has signed a joint agreement with Tehran under which Iranian firms are to start developing the city, home to more than six million people.

Iranian firms are to enter into joint cooperation deals with Iraqi counterparts “to construct roads, bridges, tunnels and help with garbage collection,” said Aisawi.

The deal is estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars.

Tehran Mayor Mohammed Baqer was in Baghdad last week and has promised to send in teams of engineers and technicians to reconstruct the war-torn capital.

“Iranian firms will help modernize the capital by building new parks, expanding green areas, constructing multi-storey car parks, improving the city’s sewage system and drinking water plants and network,” Aisawi said.

Aisawi’s counterpart is reported to have vowed to open a branch of Tehran’s municipal department in Baghdad, saying that the city’s inhabitants should very soon feel the difference.

Tehran has even promised to start work on the much delayed project of Baghdad metro.

In the years since the U.S. invasion of 2003, Iran has emerged as Iraq’s main trade partner. Trade exchange is estimated at billions of dollars.

Iranian firms are doing brisk business in most parts of Iraq apart from predominantly Sunni cities where anger at Tehran’s activities in the country is high.

Even the Kurdish-held north, a relatively safe enclave and most sympathetic to the U.S., relies heavily on trade with Iran for survival.

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


US Wary of Iran’s growing activity in Iraq
U.S. military officials are voicing increasing concern that Iranian-backed Shiite militants are stepping up their activities in Iraq, as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prepares to make a historic visit to Baghdad that is expected to reinforce Iran’s expanding influence.

The U.S. military refers to the shadowy, cell-like structures operated by Shiite extremists as Special Groups and says their precise relationship with Iran’s government isn’t clear.

The US military is certain, however, that they receive arms, training and funding from the Quds Force, the elite and secretive foreign-operations wing of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps.

“We don’t assess necessarily that the central government of Iran is behind this but we are certain there are elements, including the Quds Force, who continue to train, finance and equip these people,” said senior military spokesman Rear Adm. Gregory Smith. [Americans have said so much over the last six years that has been proven false time and time again.

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

Internal Study: Marine Corps Mismanagement Cost Lives:

February 29th, 2008 - by admin

Project On Government Oversight – 2008-02-29 23:29:35

http://www.pogo.org/p/defense/da-080220-mrap.html

Armored Vehicles Held Up by “Byzantine” Procurement System today. The report officially represents only the view of the author, not that of the Marine Corps. The Associated Press first reported on the internal study last week. Also, in response to Gayl’s study, Senators Joe Biden and Kit Bond have called for congressional hearings.

Mr. Gayl, the author of the internal study, has been near the center of the story for several years. The study is based on dozens of primary sources, including official documents from the Marine Corps, the Inspector General of the Marines Corps, the Naval Audit Service , the :Pentagon’s IG, and congressional testimony.

The kinds of vehicles in question are known as Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAPs), and were first developed in South Africa in the 1970s. Due to their heavy armor and V-shaped hull, MRAPs are much less susceptible to deadly improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other types of asymmetric weapons which are responsible for most U.S. casualties in Iraq and are being increasingly used in Afghanistan .

“Gayl’s report of the failure of the Marine Corps acquisition system to respond timely to urgent requests for MRAPs from Marines in Iraq is a critical case study,” said Nick Schwellenbach, national security investigator at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), adding, “This isn’t a case of hindsight being 20-20—requests for MRAPs by people fighting were made, were ignored by bureaucrats for years, and thus lives were lost. Hearings need to be held and the process improved or lives may be unnecessarily lost again in the future.”

Though an urgent request — an Urgent Universal Needs Statement (UUNS) — from Marines in Iraq was made in early 2005 (http://pogoblog.typepad.com/pogo/files/MRAP_UUNS.pdf), Gayl cites the Marine’s “Byzantine system” for procurement and the protection of entrenched programs as reasons for the two-year delay in procuring significant quantities of vehicles. A September 2007 Naval Audit Service (the Marine Corps is part of the Navy Department) report on the UUNS process supports Gayl’s findings http://pogoblog.typepad.com/pogo/2007/10/government-audi.html

Furthermore, Marines who have studied the types of conflicts the U.S. has found itself in Iraq and Afghanistan have advocated MRAP capabilities since 1996, leading Gayl to question whether there is a disconnect between the Marine’s acquisition system and the needs of Marines. http://www.mfp.usmc.mil/TeamApp/G4Engineer/Topics/20041108121302/MRAP%20FUTURE%20WAR%20Paper_1.doc

“The MRAP program is perhaps the most significant rapid acquisition program the department has conducted since the end of World War II,” according to John Young, Undersecretary of Defense for acquisition and director of the Pentagon’s MRAP Task Force, at a congressional hearing on MRAPs last summer. As such, Gayl’s case study is important for understanding past failures.

In a brazen manner, Gayl has twice been the subject of retaliation by his superiors for his disclosures to his superiors and to Congress of the Marine Corps’ gross mismanagement of urgent equipment requests. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is currently investigating Gayl’s reprisal allegations, according to the Government Accountability Project (GAP), which represents Gayl and other whistleblowers. In a strong bi-partisan letter to the Marine Corps Commandant (Senators Biden and Bond called Mr. Gayl a “hero,” and requested that the Marines Corps cease from any further retaliatory personnel actions.
http://pogoblog.typepad.com/pogo/files/sen_bond_sen_biden_to_cmc_archive.pdf).

Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is an independent nonprofit that investigates and exposes corruption and other misconduct in order to achieve a more accountable federal government.

Preliminary Lessons of the Green Scare

February 29th, 2008 - by admin

CrimethInc – 2008-02-29 23:23:09

http://www.infoshop.org/inews/article.php?story=2008crimethinc-on-green-scare

(February 27 2008 ) — At the end of 2005, the FBI opened a new phase of its assault on earth and animal liberation movements with the arrests and indictments of several current and former activists.

This offensive, dubbed Operation Backfire, was intended to obtain convictions for many of the unsolved Earth Liberation Front arsons of the preceding ten years. Of those subpoenaed and charged, eight ultimately cooperated with the government and informed on others in hopes of reduced sentences: Stanislas Meyerhoff, Kevin Tubbs, Chelsea Dawn Gerlach, Suzanne Savoie, Kendall Tankersley, Jennifer Kolar, Lacey Phillabaum, and Darren Thurston.

Four held out through a terrifying year, during which it seemed certain they would end up serving decades in prison, until they were able to broker plea deals in which they could claim responsibility for their actions without providing information about others: Daniel McGowan, Jonathan Paul, Exile (aka Nathan Block), and Sadie (aka Joyanna Zacher). Briana Waters is standing trial as this goes to print, while Joseph Dibee, Josephine Overaker, Rebecca Rubin, and Justin Solondz have been charged but not found. One more defendant, William Rodgers (aka Avalon), tragically passed away in an alleged suicide while in custody shortly after his arrest.

The months following the launch of Operation Backfire saw an unprecedented increase in government repression of anarchist environmental activists, which came to be known as the Green Scare. Longtime animal liberation activist Rod Coronado was charged with a felony for answering a question during a speaking appearance, and faced potentially decades in prison.

Six animal rights activists associated with SHAC, the campaign against animal testing corporation Huntingdon Life Sciences, were sentenced to several years in prison, essentially for running a website. Animal liberationist Peter Young, who had spent seven years on the run from the FBI, had finally been captured and was being threatened with double jeopardy. Tre Arrow, famous for surviving a 100-foot fall when police and loggers forced him out of a forest occupation, was fighting extradition from Canada to the United States to face arson charges. Innumerable people were subpoenaed to grand juries, and some did jail time for refusing to cooperate.

Perhaps most ominously of all, three young people were set up by an agent provocateur and arrested on conspiracy charges without having actually done anything at all. Two of them, Zachary Jenson and Lauren Weiner, pled guilty and became government informants; the third, Eric McDavid, who has contracted life-threatening health problems as a consequence of being denied vegan food by his jailers, was recently found guilty and awaits sentencing.

This phase of the Green Scare seems to be drawing to a close. Most of those apprehended in Operation Backfire are now serving their sentences. The first of the SHAC defendants has been released from prison. Peter Young has been out of prison for a year and is doing speaking tours. Rod Coronado’s trial ended in a deadlock, and he took a plea in return for a short sentence when the government threatened to bring further charges against him.

It’s been months now since a new high profile felony case was brought against an environmental activist, though federal agents have been poking around in the Midwest. It’s time to begin deriving lessons from the past two years of government repression, to equip the next generation that will take the front lines in the struggle to defend life on earth.

DISTINGUISHING BETWEEN PERCEIVED AND REAL THREATS
In some anarchist circles, the initial onset of the Green Scare was met with a panic that rivaled the response to the September 11 attacks. This, of course, was exactly what the government wanted: quite apart from bringing individual activists to “justice,” they hoped to intimidate all who see direct action as the most effective means of social change. Rather than aiding the government by making exaggerated assumptions about how dangerous it is to be an anarchist today, we must sort out what these cases show about the current capabilities and limits of government repression.

The purpose of this inquiry is not to advocate or sensationalize any particular tactic or approach. We should be careful not to glorify illegal activity—it’s important to note that most of even the staunchest non-cooperating defendants have expressed regrets about their choices, though this must be understood in the context of their court cases. At the same time, federal repression affects everyone involved in resistance, not just those who participate in illegal direct action; the Green Scare offers case studies of the situation we are all in, like it or not.

CASE STUDY IN REPRESSION: EUGENE, OREGON
Operation Backfire took place against a backdrop of government investigation, harassment, and profiling of presumed anarchists in the Pacific Northwest. It is no coincidence that Eugene, Oregon was a major focus of the Operation Backfire cases, as it has been a hotbed of dissent and radicalism over the past decade and a half—although repression and other problems have taken a toll in recent years. We can’t offer a definitive analysis of the internal dynamics of the Eugene anarchist community, but we can look at how the authorities went about repressing it.

One useful resource for this inquiry is “Anarchist Direct Actions: A Challenge for Law Enforcement,” an article that appeared in Studies in Conflict & Terrorism in 2005, authored by Randy Borum of the University of South Florida and Chuck Tilby of the Eugene Police Department. According to Jeff (“Free”) Luers, Tilby was one of the cops who surveilled Free and his co-defendant Critter on the night of their arrest in June 2000.

Tilby has given presentations on the “criminal anarchist” movement to law enforcement groups, and was intimately involved in the Operation Backfire cases, even making statements to the media and providing a quote to the FBI press release at the end of the Oregon federal prosecution.

Surprisingly, the article does not explicitly reference Eugene, Oregon at all. Besides Tilby’s byline at the beginning, there’s no indication that the paper was co-written from Eugene. All the same, the article provides several important clues about how the government proceeded against the Oregon defendants and those who were perceived to support them.

The authors centralize the importance of intelligence and informants for repressing “criminal anarchists,” while acknowledging the difficulty of obtaining them. In the case of grand jury subpoenas, anarchists regularly fail to comply, and support groups are often set up for those targeted; one of the more recent examples of this was Jeff Hogg, who received a grand jury subpoena while the Backfire prosecutions were underway and was jailed for nearly six months in 2006 as a result.

The authors warn that “investigators and law enforcement officers should be cautious during questioning not to divulge more to the subject about the case (via questions), than is learned through their testimony.” Indeed, questions asked by grand juries turned up more than once in the pages of the Earth First! Journal, which was edited from Eugene for a time. It is extremely important to support those under investigation and keep abreast of investigators’ efforts. Some believe that the Backfire investigation only arrived at a position of real strength once such support started to weaken in Oregon.

Regarding infiltration, “Anarchist Direct Actions” advises that:

“Infiltration is made more difficult by the communal nature of the [anarchist] lifestyle (under constant observation and scrutiny) and the extensive knowledge held by many anarchists, which require a considerable amount of study and time to acquire. Other strategies for infiltration have been explored, but so far have not been successful. Discussion of these theories in an open paper is not advisable.”

What we know of the early Backfire investigation points to a strategy of generalized monitoring and infiltration. While investigators used increasingly focused tools and strategies as the investigation gained steam—for example, sending “cooperating witnesses” wearing body wires to talk to specific targets—they started out by sifting through a whole demographic of counter-cultural types.

Activist and punk houses as well as gathering spots such as bars were placed under surveillance—anarchists who drink should be careful about the way alcohol can loosen lips. Infiltrators and informants targeted not only the most visibly committed anarchists, but also bohemians who inhabited similar cultural and social spheres. Police accumulated tremendous amounts of background information even while failing to penetrate the circles in which direct action was organized. The approximately 30,000 pages of discovery in the Oregon cases contain a vast amount of gossip and background information on quite a few from the Eugene community.

A similar profiling methodology appears to have been used in nearby Portland, Oregon. In March 2001, for example, a large-scale police raid was carried out on a house party attended by Portland punk rockers. The attendees were photographed and questioned about the Earth and Animal Liberation Fronts. Some were arrested and charged with kidnapping and assault on an officer—a standard over-charging which eventually led to plea deals. The defendants from the raid were videotaped at their court appearances by officers later identified as Gang Enforcement Unit members. In the aftermath of this raid, cops routinely harassed punks on the street, demanding to be told whether they were anarchists.

In retrospect, it seems likely that such efforts were not meant simply to intimidate Portland’s punks, but to uncover information relevant to the anarchist and ALF/ELF cases of the time. This may have been a wrong step in the Backfire investigation; right now there’s no way to know. We do know, however, that “wide net” approaches by the state can be effective at stifling socially aware subcultures, even when they uncover no real links to radical action. Fortunately, in Portland those affected by the raid came together in response, aiding each other, limiting the damage done, and taking advantage of the situation to draw attention to police activity.

Another point of speculation is the degree to which authorities fostered division and infighting within radical circles in Eugene. This was a common COINTELPRO tactic, and is probably still in use. Borum and Tilby hint at this in the final section of their paper, “Law Enforcement Strategies/ Implications”:

“Internal conflicts are another major source of vulnerability within the movement. The DoT [“Diversity of Tactics”] debate has already been addressed, but the movement also is struggling with a perceived lack of power among women, and the lack of inclusion of ethnic minorities. This kind of conflict occurred three decades ago within the leftist revolutionary movement in the United States.”

For those familiar with Eugene radical circles, this brings to mind the heated conflicts over gender and feminism within that community. There is no concrete evidence that government operatives were involved in escalating such debates, and we should be careful not to jump to conclusions; such speculation can only assist the state by propagating paranoia. However, law enforcement from local to federal levels must have been aware of the vulnerabilities that opened up when real debates turned to groupthink and factionalism in Eugene.

Tilby and his cohorts must have used such insights to their advantage as they devised anti-anarchist strategies. By the time Operation Backfire grand juries began following up on real leads in Eugene, many who could have come together to oppose them were no longer on speaking terms. While this does not justify the lack of integrity shown by those who assisted grand juries, it does offer some context for why the grand juries weren’t resisted more effectively.

Borum and Tilby close their paper by urging investigators to display “patience and persistence”—and indeed, patience and persistence ultimately paid off in Operation Backfire. This is not to lend credibility to the notion that “The FBI always get their man.” The investigation was riddled with errors and missteps; plenty of other actions will never be prosecuted, as the authorities got neither lucky breaks nor useful cooperation. But we must understand that repression, and resistance to it, are both long-term projects, stretching across years and decades.

According to some accounts, one of the most significant leads in Operation Backfire came from a naïve request for police reports at a Eugene police station. According to this version, the police deduced from this request that they should pay attention to Jacob Ferguson; Ferguson later became the major informant in these cases. It is less frequently mentioned that the police were accusing Ferguson of an arson he did not participate in!

With Ferguson, the unlikely happened and it paid off for the authorities to be wrong. Later on, when agents made their first arrests and presented grand jury subpoenas on December 7, 2005, two of those subpoenaed were wrongly assumed to have been involved in attacks. Their subpoenas were eventually dropped, as the authorities gained the cooperation of more informants and eventually made moves to arrest Exile and Sadie instead.

The investigation was not as unstoppable and dynamic as the government would like us to think, although the prosecution gathered force as more individuals rolled on others. The authorities spent years stumbling around, and they continued to falter even when prosecution efforts were underway—but they were tenacious and kept at their efforts. Meanwhile, radical momentum was less consistent.

Let’s review the arc of radical activity in Eugene over the past decade. The anticapitalist riot of June 18, 1999 in Eugene led to jubilation on the part of anarchists, even if one participant spent seven years in prison as a result. The participants in the June 18 Day of Action had put up a fight and fucked up some symbols of misery in the town, catching the police unprepared. The pitched battles on the streets of Seattle later that year at the WTO meeting only reinforced the feeling that the whole world was up for grabs.

Most of the active anarchists in Eugene had never lived through such a period before. Despite the paltry demands and muddled analysis of much of the official “antiglobalization” movement, there was a sense that deeper change could be fought for and won. Being an anarchist seemed like the coolest thing you could be, and this perception was magnified by the media attention that followed. The ELF was setting fires all over the region at the time.

A series of reversals followed. In June 2001, Free received his initial sentence of 22 years and eight months. The following month, Carlo Giuliani was murdered on the streets of Genoa during protests against the G8 summit in Italy. While both of these tragedies illustrated the risks of confronting the capitalist system, Free’s sentence hit home especially hard in Eugene. In the changed atmosphere, some began dropping away and “getting on with their lives”—not necessarily betraying their earlier principles, but shifting their focus and priorities.

This attrition intensified when American flags appeared everywhere in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Anarchist efforts did not cease, but a period of relative disorientation followed. A year and a half later, the invasion of Iraq provided another opportunity for radicals to mobilize, but some consistency had been lost in the Eugene area. And all the while, FBI employees and police kept their regular hours, day in and day out.

Law enforcement received its most significant breakthrough in the Backfire cases—even though it started as an incorrect hypothesis—just before Free’s sentencing, in the period between anarchist jubilation and the shift to the defensive. The same fires that were incorrectly linked to Ferguson were used to justify Free’s stiff sentence, which intimidated some anarchists out of action.

There was not enough revaluation, learning, and sharpening of skills, nor enough efforts at conflict resolution; the retreat occurred by default. What would have happened if the Backfire investigation had continued under different circumstances, while radicals maintained their momentum? That would be another story. Its conclusion is unknown.

PUTTING UP A FIGHT
Repression will exist as long as there are states and people who oppose them. Complete invulnerability is impossible, for governments as well as their opponents. All the infiltrators and informants of the Tsarist secret police were powerless to prevent the Russian revolution of 1917, just as the East German Stasi were unable to prevent the fall of the Berlin Wall even though they had files on six million people. Revolutionary struggles can succeed even in the face of massive repression; for our part, we can minimize the effects of that repression by preparing in advance.

For many years now anarchists have focused on developing security culture, but security consciousness alone is not enough. There are some points one can never emphasize too much—don’t gossip about sensitive matters, share delicate information on a need-to-know basis, don’t surrender your rights if detained or arrested, don’t cooperate with grand juries, don’t sell other people out. But one can abide by all these dictums and still make crucial mistakes. If anti-repression strategies center only on what we should not talk about, we lose sight of the necessity of clear communication for communities in struggle.

State disruption of radical movements can be interpreted as a kind of “armed critique,” in the way that someone throwing a brick through a Starbucks window is a critique in action. That is to say, a successful use of force against us demonstrates that we had pre-existing vulnerabilities. This is not to argue that we should blame the victim in situations of repression, but we need to learn how and why efforts to destabilize our activities succeed. Our response should not start with jail support once someone has been arrested.

Of course this is important, along with longer-term support of those serving sentences—but our efforts must begin long before, countering the small vulnerabilities that our enemy can exploit. Open discussion of problems—for example, gender roles being imposed in nominally radical spaces—can protect against unhealthy resentments and schisms. This is not to say that every split is unwarranted—sometimes the best thing is for people to go their separate ways; but that even if that is necessary, they should try to maintain mutual respect or at least a willingness to communicate when it counts.

Risk is relative. In some cases, it may indeed be a good idea to lay low; in other cases, maintaining public visibility is viewed as too risky, when in fact nothing could be more dangerous than withdrawing from the public eye and letting momentum die. When we think about risk, we often picture security cameras and prison cells, but there are many more insidious threats.

The Operation Backfire defendants ended up with much shorter sentences than expected; as it turned out, the most serious risk they faced was not prison time, after all, but recantation and betrayal—a risk that proved all too real. Likewise, we can imagine Eric McDavid, who currently awaits sentencing on conspiracy charges, idly discussing the risk factor of a hypothetical action with his supposed friends—who turned out to be two potential informants and a federal agent provocateur. Unfortunately, the really risky thing was having those discussions with those people in the first place.

PREPARING FOR THE WORST
Conventional activist wisdom dictates that one must not mix public and clandestine activity, but Daniel McGowan’s case seems to contradict this. McGowan was not brought to trial as a result of investigations based on his public organizing, but rather because he had worked with Jacob Ferguson, who turned snitch under police pressure.

Though the government was especially eager to convict him on account of his extensive prisoner support work and organizing against the Republican National Convention, McGowan received tremendous public support precisely because he had been so visible. Had he simply hidden in obscurity, he might have ended up in the same situation without the support that enabled him to weather it as successfully as he did—and without making as many important contributions to the anarchist movement.

Considering how many years it took the FBI to put together Operation Backfire and the prominent role of informants in so many Green Scare cases, it seems like it is possible to get away with a lot, provided you are careful and make intelligent decisions about who to trust. McGowan’s direct action résumé, as it appears in the government arguments at his sentencing, reads like something out of an adventure novel. One can’t help but think—just seven years, for all that!

The other side of this coin is that, despite all their precautions, the Green Scare defendants did get caught. No matter how careful and intelligent you are, it doesn’t pay to count on not getting caught; you have to be prepared for the worst. Those who are considering risky direct action should start from the assumption that they will be caught and prosecuted; before doing anything, before even talking about it, they should ask themselves whether they could accept the worst possible consequences.

At the same time, as the government may target anyone at any time regardless of what they have actually done, it is important for even the most law-abiding activists—not to mention their friends and relatives—to think through how to handle being investigated, subpoenaed, or charged.

The Green Scare cases show that cooperating with the government is never in a defendant’s best interest. On average, the non-cooperating defendants in Operation Backfire are actually serving less time in proportion to their original threatened sentences than the informants (see chart), despite the government engaging the entire repressive apparatus of the United States to make an example of them. Exile and Sadie were threatened with over a thousand years in prison apiece, and are serving less than eight; if every arrestee understood the difference between what the state threatens and what it can actually do, far fewer would give up without a fight.

In the United States legal system, a court case is essentially a game of chicken. The state starts by threatening the worst penalties it possibly can, in hope of intimidating the defendant into pleading guilty and informing. It is easier if the defendant pleads guilty immediately; this saves the state immense quantities of time and money, not to mention the potential embarrassment of losing a well-publicized trial.

Defendants should not be intimidated by the initial charges brought against them; it often turns out that many of these will not hold up, and are only being pressed to give the state more bargaining power. Even if a defendant fears he won’t have a leg to stand on in court, he can obtain some bargaining power of his own by threatening to put the state through a costly, challenging, and unpredictable trial—to that end, it is essential to acquire the best possible legal representation. When a defendant agrees to cooperate, he loses all that leverage, throwing himself at the mercy of forces that don’t have an ounce of mercy to offer.

As grim as things looked for Sadie, Exile, McGowan, and Jonathan Paul through most of 2006, they looked up when McGowan’s lawyer demanded information about whether prosecutors had used illegal National Security Agency wiretaps to gather evidence against the defendants.

The government was loath to answer this question, and for good reason: there had just been a public scandal about NSA wiretaps, and if the court found that wiretaps had been used unconstitutionally, the entire Operation Backfire case would have been thrown out. That’s exactly why so many members of the Weather Underground are professors today rather than convicts: the FBI botched that case so badly the courts had to let them go free.

No matter how hopeless things look, never underestimate the power of fighting it out. Until Stanislas Meyerhoff and others capitulated, the linchpin of the federal case in Operation Backfire was Jacob Ferguson, a heroin addict and serial arsonist. Had all besides Ferguson refused to cooperate and instead fought the charges together, Operation Backfire would surely have ended differently.

ON INFORMANTS
If becoming an informant is always a bad idea, why do so many people do it? At least eleven high profile defendants in Green Scare cases have chosen to cooperate with the government against their former comrades, not including Peter Young’s partner, who informed on him back in 1999. These were all experienced activists who presumably had spent years considering how they would handle the pressure of interrogation and trial, who must have been familiar with all the reasons it doesn’t pay to cooperate with the state! What, if anything, can we conclude from how many of them became informants?

There has been quite a bit of opportunist speculation on this subject by pundits with little knowledge of the circumstances and even less personal experience. We are to take it for granted that arrestees became informants because they were privileged middle class kids; in fact, both the cooperating and non-cooperating defendants are split along class and gender lines.

We are told that defendants snitched because they hadn’t been fighting for their own interests; what exactly are one’s “own interests,” if not to live in a world without slaughterhouses and global warming? Cheaper hamburgers and air conditioning, perhaps? It has even been suggested that it’s inevitable some will turn informant under pressure, so we must not blame those who do, and instead should avoid using tactics that provoke investigations and interrogations.

This last aspersion is not worth dignifying with a response, except to point out that no crime need be committed for the government to initiate investigations and interrogations. Whether or not you support direct action of any kind, it is never acceptable to equip the state to do harm to other human beings.

Experienced radicals who have been snitched on themselves will tell you that there is no surefire formula for determining who will turn informant and who won’t. There have been informants in almost every resistance movement in living memory, including the Black Panther Party, the Black Liberation Army, the American Indian Movement, and the Puerto Rican independence movement; the Green Scare cases are not particularly unusual in this regard, though some of the defendants seem to have caved in more swiftly than their antecedents. It may be that the hullabaloo about how many eco-activists have turned informant is partly due to commentators’ ignorance of past struggles.

If anything discourages people from informing on each other, it is blood ties. Historically, the movements with the least snitching have been the ones most firmly grounded in longstanding communities. Arrestees in the national liberation movements of yesteryear didn’t cooperate because they wouldn’t be able to face their parents or children again if they did; likewise, when gangsters involved in illegal capitalist activity refuse to inform, it is because doing so would affect the entirety of their lives, from their prospects in their chosen careers to their social standing in prison as well as their neighborhoods. T

he stronger the ties that bind an individual to a community, the less likely it is he or she will inform against it. North American radicals from predominantly white demographics have always faced a difficult challenge in this regard, as most of the participants are involved in defiance of their families and social circles rather than because of them. When an ex-activist is facing potentially decades in prison for something that was essentially a hobby, with his parents begging him not to throw his life away and the system he fought against apparently dominating the entirety of his present and future, it takes a powerful sense of right and wrong to resist selling out.

In this light, it isn’t surprising that the one common thread that links the non-cooperating defendants is that practically all of them were still involved in either anarchist or at least countercultural communities. Daniel McGowan was ceaselessly active in many kinds of organizing right up to his arrest;

Exile and Sadie were still committed to life against the grain, if not political activity—a witness who attended their sentencing described their supporters as an otherworldly troop of black metal fans with braided beards and facial piercings. Here we see again the necessity of forging powerful, long-term communities with a shared culture of resistance; dropouts must do this from scratch, swimming against the tide, but it is not impossible.

Healthy relationships are the backbone of such communities, not to mention secure direct action organizing. Again—unaddressed conflicts and resentments, unbalanced power dynamics, and lack of trust have been the Achilles heel of countless groups. The FBI keeps psychological profiles on its targets, with which to prey on their weaknesses and exploit potential interpersonal fissures. The oldest trick in the book is to tell arrestees that their comrades already snitched on them; to weather this intimidation, people must have no doubts about their comrades’ reliability.

“Snitches get stitches” posters notwithstanding, anarchists aren’t situated to enforce a no-informing code by violent means. It’s doubtful that we could do such a thing without compromising our principles, anyway—when it comes to coercion and fear, the state can always outdo us, and we shouldn’t aspire to compete with it. Instead, we should focus on demystifying snitching and building up the collective trust and power that discourage it.

If being a part of the anarchist community is rewarding enough, no one will wish to exile themselves from it by turning informant. For this to work, of course, those who do inform on others must be excluded from our communities with absolute finality; in betraying others for personal advantage, they join the ranks of the police officers, prison guards, and executioners they assist.

Those who may participate in direct action together should first take time to get to know each other well, including each other’s families and friends, and to talk over their expectations, needs, and goals. You should know someone long enough to know what you like least about him or her before committing to secure activity together; you have to be certain you’ll be able to work through the most difficult conflicts and trust them in the most frightening situations up to a full decade later.

Judging from the lessons of the 1970s, drug addiction is another factor that tends to correlate with snitching, as it can be linked to deep-rooted personal problems. Indeed, Jacob Ferguson, the first informant in Operation Backfire, was a longtime heroin addict. Just as the Operation Backfire cases would have been a great deal more difficult for the government if no one besides Jake had cooperated, the FBI might never have been able to initiate the cases at all if others had not trusted Jake in the first place.

Prompt prisoner support is as important as public support for those facing grand juries. As one Green Scare defendant has pointed out, defendants often turn informant soon after arrest when they are off balance and uncertain what lies ahead. Jail is notorious for being a harsher environment than prison; recent arrestees may be asking themselves whether they can handle years of incarceration without a realistic sense of what that would entail.

Supporters should bail defendants out of jail as quickly as possible, so they can be informed and level-headed as they make decisions about their defense strategy. To this end, it is ideal if funds are earmarked for legal support long before any arrests occur.

It cannot be emphasized enough that informing is always a serious matter, whether it is a question of a high profile defendant snitching on his comrades or an acquaintance of law-abiding activists answering seemingly harmless questions. The primary goal of the government in any political case is not to put any one defendant in prison but to obtain information with which to map radical communities, with the ultimate goal of repressing and controlling those communities.

The first deal the government offered Peter Young was for him to return to animal rights circles to report to them from within: not just on illegal activity, but on all activity. The most minor piece of trivia may serve to jeopardize a person’s life, whether or not they have ever broken any law. It is never acceptable to give information about any other person without his or her express consent.

REGAINING THE INITIATIVE
We must not conceptualize our response to government repression in purely reactive terms. It takes a lot of resources for the government to mount a massive operation like the Green Scare cases, and in doing so they create unforeseen situations and open up new vulnerabilities. Like in Judo, when the state makes a move, we can strike back with a countermove that catches them off balance.

To take an example from mass mobilizations, the powers that be were eventually able to cripple the so-called anti-globalization movement by throwing tremendous numbers of police at it; but in the wake of lawsuits subsequently brought against them, the police in places like Washington, D.C. now have their hands tied when it comes to crowd control, as demonstrated by their extreme restraint at the IMF/World Bank protests in October 2007.

We’re in a long war with hierarchical power that cannot be won or lost in any single engagement; the question is always how to make the best of each development, seizing the initiative whenever we can and passing whatever gains we make on to those who will fight after us.

There must be a way to turn the legacy of the Green Scare to our advantage. One starting place is to use it as an opportunity to learn how the state investigates underground activity and make sure those lessons are shared with the next generation. Another is to find common cause with other targeted communities; a promising example of this is the recent connection between animal liberation activists in the Bay Area and supporters of the San Francisco Eight, ex-Black Panthers who are now being charged with the 1971 murder of a police officer.

POSTSCRIPT: COWARDS…
“I find it ironic that you support victimized women, yet in your communiqués you verbally victimize those with whom you disagree. I wonder if you ever called scholars in the Northwest about how to be effective and take positive action. Like the professors who wrote letters to the court on your behalf, most professors are incredibly generous with their ideas. I’ve learned a lot in my years on the bench… seen it all… it’s called the human experience.

Take off the masks until the real Daniel McGowan is revealed… be the change you truly want to be. Don’t use Gandhi just when it’s convenient. I hope you’ll go back to your website and tell who you were, what you did. You may not be as popular, but… change your website. Denounce, renounce and condemn. If you really mean it, it shouldn’t be hard.

To the young people, send the message that violence doesn’t work. If you want to make a difference, have the courage to say how the life you lived was the life of a coward… It is a tragedy to watch these extremely talented and bright young people come in and do damage to industries. It’s not okay to put people in fear doing what they need to do to survive. Take off the hoods, sweatshirts, and masks and have a real dialogue.”

-Judge Aiken, in sentencing Daniel McGowan to seven years in prison with a terrorism enhancement (notes taken by Gumby Cascadia)

In reflecting on Judge Aiken’s sentencing, let us put aside, for the time being, the question of whether executives who profit from logging, animal exploitation, and genetic engineering are “doing what they need to do to survive.” Let’s allow to pass, as well, the suggestion that those who run these industries are more likely to enter into a “real dialogue” with environmentalists if the latter limit themselves to purely legal activity.

Let’s even reserve judgment on Aiken’s attempt to draw parallels between domestic violence and sarcastically worded communiqués—which parallels the prosecutors’ assertion that the ELF, despite having never injured a single human being, is no different from the Ku Klux Klan.

There is but one question we cannot help but ask, in reference to Judge Aiken’s rhetoric about cowardice: if she found herself in a situation that called for action to be taken outside the established channels of the legal system, would she be capable of it? Or would she still insist on due process of law, urging others to be patient as human beings were sold into slavery or the Nazis carted people off to Dachau?

Is it fair for a person whose complicity in the status quo is rewarded with financial stability and social status to accuse someone who has risked everything to abide by his conscience… of cowardice? Perhaps Aiken would also feel entitled to inform John Brown that he was a coward, or the Germans who attempted to assassinate Hitler?

Once this question is asked, another question inexorably follows: what qualifies as a situation that calls for action to be taken outside the established channels of the legal system, if not the current ecological crisis? Species are going extinct all over the planet, climate change is beginning to wreak serious havoc on human beings as well, and scientists are giving us a very short window of time to turn our act around — while the US government and its corporate puppeteers refuse to make even the insufficient changes called for by liberals. If the dystopian nightmare those scientists predict comes to pass, will the refugees of the future look back at this encounter between McGowan and Aiken and judge McGowan the coward?

We live in a democracy, Aiken and her kind insist: bypassing the established channels and breaking the law is akin to attacking freedom, community, and dialogue themselves. That’s the same thing they said in 1859.

Those who consider obeying the law more important than abiding by one’s conscience always try to frame themselves as the responsible ones, but the essence of that attitude is the desire to evade responsibility. Society, as represented—however badly—by its entrenched institutions, is responsible for decreeing right and wrong; all one must do is brainlessly comply, arguing for a change when the results are not to one’s taste but never stepping out of line. That is the creed of cowards, if anything is.

At the hearing to determine whether the defendants should be sentenced as terrorists, Aiken acknowledged with frustration that she had no control over what the Bureau of Prisons would do with them regardless of her recommendations—but washed her hands of the matter and gave McGowan and others terrorism enhancements anyway. Doubtless, Aiken feels that whatever shortcomings the system has are not her responsibility, even if she participates in forcing them on others. She’s just doing her job.

That’s the Nuremberg defense. Regardless of what she thinks of McGowan’s actions or the Bureau of Prisons, Aiken is personally responsible for sending him to prison. She is responsible for separating him from his wife, for preventing him from continuing his work supporting survivors of domestic violence. If he is beaten or raped while in prison, it is the same as if Aiken beat or raped him. And not just McGowan, or Paul, or Sadie or Exile, but every single person Aiken has ever sent to prison.

But Aiken and her kind are responsible for a lot more than this. As the polar icecaps melt, rainforests are reduced to pulp, and climate change inflicts more and more terrible catastrophes around the planet, they are responsible for stopping all who would take direct action to avert these tragedies. They are responsible, in short, for forcing the wholesale destruction of the natural environment upon everyone else on earth.

Aiken might counter that the so-called democratic system is the most effective way to go about halting that destruction. It sure has worked so far, hasn’t it! On the contrary, it seems more likely that she cannot bring herself to honestly consider whether there could be a higher good than the maintenance of law and order. For people like her, obedience to the law is more precious than polar icecaps, rainforests, and cities like New Orleans. Any price is worth paying to avoid taking responsibility for their part in determining the fate of the planet. Talk about cowardice.

…AND HEROES
So—if McGowan and the other non-cooperating Green Scare defendants are not cowards, does that mean they are heroes?

We should be cautious not to unthinkingly adopt the inverse of Aiken’s judgment. In presenting the case for the government, Peifer described the Operation Backfire defendants’ exploits as “almost like Mission Impossible.” It serves the powers that be to present the defendants as superhuman—the more exceptional their deeds seem to be, the further out of reach such deeds will feel to everyone else.

Similarly, lionizing “heroes” can be a way for the rest of us to let ourselves off the hook: as we are obviously not heroes of their caliber, we need not hold ourselves up to the same standards of conduct. It is a disservice to glorify McGowan, Exile, Sadie, Peter Young, and others like them; in choosing anonymous action, they did not set out to be celebrated, but to privately do what they thought was necessary, just as all of us ought to. They are as normal as any of us—any normal person who takes responsibility for his or her actions is capable of tremendous things.

This is not to say we should all become arsonists. There are countless paths available to those who would take responsibility for themselves, and each person must choose the one that is most appropriate to his or her situation. Let the courage of the non-cooperating Green Scare defendants, who dared to act on their beliefs and refused to betray those convictions even when threatened with life in prison, serve as reminders of just how much normal people like us can accomplish.

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

IRAQ: The Economic Costs Of War

February 29th, 2008 - by admin

Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, Matt Corley, Ali Frick, and Benjamin Armbruster / The Progress Report / Center for American Progress – 2008-02-29 23:14:09

(February 26, 2008 ) — With record oil prices, rising family debt, and a slowing housing market, Americans are now worried about the economy more than ever. Even 45 percent of economists expect a recession this year.

With the Bush administration spending $10 billion a month on the war in Iraq, it is therefore not surprising that Americans increasingly view withdrawal from Iraq as a way out of this economic slump. In fact, 68 percent of the public rank pulling out of Iraq first on a list of proposed economic remedies, beating out tax cuts. Yesterday, a coalition of progressive groups — including MoveOn, the Center for American Progress Action Fund, USAction, SEIU, VoteVets, and Americans United for Change — announced a new “Iraq/Recession” campaign.

This $15 million nationwide effort will aim to end the war by raising awareness of the domestic costs that have been neglected because of President Bush’s singular focus on Iraq. “There is great concern, anxiety, and angst about economic security,” former senator John Edwards told reporters yesterday.

“All of these things are made worse by the war in Iraq. … People don’t understand why we’re spending $500 billion and counting at the same time we have 47 million without healthcare, 37 million living in poverty.”

PRE-WAR MISCALCULATIONS
The Bush administration was anxious to go to war, but not anxious to pay for it. In April 2003, then-administrator of the Agency for International Development Andrew Natsios pledged that American taxpayers would pay no more than $1.7 billion to reconstruct Iraq. In March 2003, Paul Wolfowitz infamously predicted that Iraq would be able to “finance its own reconstruction.” In reality, total Iraq war requests and authorizations have amounted to $624 billion.

Yet just two months after announcing the invasion of Iraq, Bush ordered the first major wartime taxcut in history. The debt was $5.7 trillion when Bush took office; it will be $10.3 trillion by the time he leaves. Economists predicted this fall-out. In 2002, Gerd Hausler, director of international capital markets at the IMF, said that “a serious conflict with Iraq would not be a very healthy development” for the financial markets.

Robert Shapiro, undersecretary of commerce in the Clinton administration stated, “If the [Iraq] conflict wears on or, worse, spreads, the economic consequences become very serious.” More recently, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz wrote in Vanity Fair, “The soaring price of oil is clearly related to the Iraq war. The issue is not whether to blame the war for this but simply how much to blame it.”

EMPLOYMENT FOR DEFENSE CONTRACTORS
Last week, President Bush stated that the Iraq war has nothing to do with the faltering economy. “I think actually the spending in the war might help with jobs…because we’re buying equipment, and people are working,” he said. The Iraq war has created jobs — for the administration’s defense contractor allies. Bush’s most recent budget is a windfall for contractors. Between 2000 and 2005, procurement was the “fastest growing component of federal discretionary spending.”

Five years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, however, national unemployment is going up. Between December 2006 and December 2007, the national unemployment rate increased by 13.6 percent in seasonally adjusted terms, from 4.4 to 5.0 percent.

NEGLECTING DOMESTIC PRIORITIES
“At a time of mounting deficits, when we are spending about $10 billion a month in Iraq, issues such as reforming the health-care system and repairing the national infrastructure are likely to remain neglected,” write John Podesta and Lawrence J. Korb of the Center for American Progress and Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations in today’s Washington Post.

“The United States has too many national priorities that cannot be realized if yet another beleaguered administration prolongs this costly and unpopular war.” Indeed, Bush seems to deem domestic priorities as “excessive spending.” He recently vetoed a bill to provide expanded health insurance for 10 million children, and then requested $172 billion more for the war.

When the Senate passed a broad stimulus package that offered an extension of unemployment benefits and help for borrowers caught in subprime loans, the White House again called it unaffordable government spending.

RISING COST OF VETERANS CARE
While the Bush administration is devoting considerable resources to the conflict in Iraq, it is paying less attention to what happens when U.S. troops return home. A recent American Journal of Public Health study estimated that in 2004, “nearly 1.8 million veterans were uninsured and unable to get care in veterans’ facilities.”

This number has jumped dramatically since 2000, when there were 290,000 uninsured veterans. Recently discharged veterans are also “having a harder time finding civilian jobs and are more likely to earn lower wages for years.” These costs will only continue to grow the longer the United States remains in Iraq. VoteVets has released a new ad on conservatives’ misplaced priorities here.

IRAQ — SENATE TO DEBATE
FEINGOLD’S IRAQ WITHDRAWAL LEGISLATION TODA

Today, the Senate will debate two Iraq-related bills sponsored by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI). “One would begin the pullout of troops from Iraq, while the other would require the Defense Department to provide the Senate with a report on the threat al-Qaida poses,” Roll Call reports. The Senate is expected to vote on a cloture motion today to move the bills into debate.

“Senate Republican leaders are strongly considering sidelining the use of the filibuster and agreeing to a full debate” on the bills. The legislation is not expected to pass, aides have acknowledged. “Certainly, there’s a lot of interest on our side to do some sort of Iraq legislation, but the reality is, it’s very difficult to get that through the Senate,” said a Democratic leadership staffer.

JUSTICE — TORTURE-ADVOCATING PENTAGON LAWYER RESIGNS
William J. Haynes, a central player in the Bush administration’s controversial interrogation policies, resigned yesterday from his post as the Defense Department’s General Counsel. In 2002 Pentagon memo, Haynes recommended the use of 14 harsh interrogation techniques on detainees at Guantanamo Bay, including “using ‘stress positions,’ like standing, for up to four hours.”

In 2006, with the strong backing of Vice President Cheney, President Bush nominated Haynes for a seat on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. But Haynes, despite his best efforts, was unable to overcome his status as a “prime mover” in the administration’s efforts to bypass the Geneva Conventions’ detainee rules, and his nomination was withdrawn in January 2007.

More recently, former Guantanamo prosecutor Col. Morris Davis told The Nation that Haynes had insisted that the administration “can’t have acquittals” at Guantanamo Bay. Davis resigned his post rather than work under Haynes’s command.

THINK FAST
Over two hundred 9/11 First Responders, family members, and supporters will be rallying on Capitol Hill today. The rally is being conducted to draw attention to the health issues that the 9/11 rescue workers currently face.

Attorneys for Don Siegelman called on the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor after a key government witness involved in sending Siegelman to jail revealed he was told to write out his testimony to “get his story straight.” The defense was never told of the written testimony.

The Huffington Post has obtained a document showing that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “may have taken steps to protect his Republican colleagues from the scope of his investigation” into disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

In a Washington Post op-ed, John Podesta and Lawrence J. Korb of the Center for American Progress and Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations debunk the prevailing doomsday scenario that an American departure from Iraq “would lead to genocide and mayhem.” “It is entirely possible,” they write, “that in the absence of a cumbersome and clumsy American occupation, Iraqis will make their own bargains and compacts, heading off the genocide that many seem to anticipate.”

President Bush predicted yesterday that voters will replace him with a Republican president who will “keep up the fight” in Iraq. “I believe the American people understand that success in Iraq is necessary for the long-term security of the American people,” Bush said.

The Pentagon announced yesterday that when the U.S. troop buildup in Iraq ends in July, it’s expected that “there will be about 8,000 more troops on the ground than when it began in January 2007.” There were 132,000 troops in Iraq when President Bush initiated the “surge,” but Lt. Gen. Carter Ham told reporters that by July the troop total was likely to be 140,000.”

The United Nations’s climate chief Yvo de Boer welcomed statements by Bush administration officials that the United States would accept a binding international commitment to reduce global-warming gases. But he said their insistence that China and other developing nations do the same “is not realistic.” “If it’s a quid pro quo, then it’s a nonstarter,” he said.

And Finally: The drug czar and the hippie. In his new book, Washington super lawyer Bob Bennett reveals that his brother, conservative commentator William Bennett, once “went on a date with hippie icon Janis Joplin” in the late ’60s. Of the date, “Bob says Bill told him at the time, ‘Let me put it this way, we were both disappointed.'”

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

The New Zealand Terror Raids

February 28th, 2008 - by admin

Valerie Morse / InfoShop.org – 2008-02-28 23:02:56

http://www.infoshop.org/inews/article.php?story=2008022623362881

Land of the Long White Lie: The New Zealand Terror Raids

(February 19, 2008) — On October 15 2007, the New Zealand police carried out unprecedented nation-wide raids arresting 17 indigenous rights activists and anarchists and raiding some 60 different locations. The arrests were based on surveillance and interception warrants obtained under the Terrorism Suppression Act. This was the first time that the police used this Act, a law passed immediately after 9/11 and a direct result of it.

The raids were staged on a Monday morning starting at approximately 5am. At 5:45 am, the Police knocked on my door. Then they nearly broke it down. When I opened it, 15 officers swarmed in, waving an 80-page search warrant in my face. When I said, ‘this isn’t signed,’ the detective responded ‘here, here’s the signed copy.’

Then they ransacked my room, pulling my plants out of their containers, removing the back of my refrigerator and collecting a raft of documents, photographs, electronic gear and clothing. Finally, they arrested me and told me that I was going to be charged with participating in a terrorist group.

The raids came as a huge shock to me, to most of the country and to the world that follow such events. New Zealand, also known as Aotearoa — the ‘land of the long white cloud’ in the indigenous language of the Maori people — has a reputation for amicable race relations, a progressive government and an enviable settlement process for indigenous claims against breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi, the founding treaty between Maori and the British Crown, signed in 1840 by some 500 chiefs.

What is actually happening in Aotearoa beneath the government’s clever “clean, green, 100 percent pure” marketing campaign is not at all what they would lead you to believe.

On day one of the raids, there was a media frenzy as the police carefully leaked tantalizing nuggets of evidence including reports of napalm bombs, assassination plots against Prime Minister Helen Clark and President George W Bush, and an ‘IRA-style war plan.’ The 17 arrestees were brought before District Court judges in four different cities to respond to the charges. One was dealt with immediately by the courts and dismissed, the remaining 16 all went to prison that night, remanded in custody as bail was vigorously opposed by the Crown prosecution.

We were deemed a threat to ‘national security.’ In the cloud of terrorism hysteria and secret evidence, our lawyers would not even attempt an application for bail.

The New Zealand Government has signed up for all of Bush’s post-9/11 terrorism requirements. At the same time, it imported the US Government’s brutal tactics of repression, surveillance technologies and police hyper-paranoia about political activity, particularly when it comes from indigenous activists who dare to speak of aspirations of sovereignty.

Of the 17 arrested on 15 October, 12 were Maori, many from the Tuhoe iwi (tribe). Tuhoe is known for its long history of resistance to colonization. They never signed the Treaty of Waitangi. There is a story that the Crown agent was advised that he would be eaten if he attempted to come into Tuhoe land in order to get the Treaty signed.

Today, Tuhoe have the one of the highest ratios of native speakers of the Maori language (called ‘te reo’) among tribal groups and have a strong cultural identity that is intimately linked to the land in an area that they call ‘Te Urewera,’ land of the mist. There are about 20,000 people who claim Tuhoe ancestry, many of whom are still living in relatively isolated communities within Te Urewera.

The raids and arrests were the culmination of an $8 million dollar, two-year long operation dubbed ‘Operation Eight’. On the day of the raids, some 300 police were involved. Most had little knowledge of the investigation or the suspects; none it seems had any knowledge of the history of the Crown’s scorched earth policy, murder, and land theft which prompted fierce resistance by Tuhoe more than 100 years ago.

The forces of the state have a convenient way of forgetting things that don’t suit the current narrative. Such was the case on October 15. In a spectacular display of force, armed, balaclava-clad police known as the ‘armed offenders squad’ quite literally invaded the small Tuhoe town of Ruatoki and blockaded the entire community.

On an elaborate quest for terrorists and evidence, they stopped all vehicles coming in or out of the community and photographed the drivers and occupants. In the process of conducting house raids, they severely traumatized many people, including locking a woman and five children in a shed for six hours while the man of the family was questioned, taking a woman’s underwear as evidence, and boarding a local school bus.

In one South Auckland raid, the police held an entire family, including a 12 year old girl, on their knees with hands behind their heads for some 5 hours, asking the young woman if she was a terrorist. This was the pattern for raids in the Maori communities.

For the non-indigenous arrestees (referred to herein as ‘pakeha’ a word that means white New Zealander), the situation was starkly different. In my case, I was not even handcuffed as I was walked to the car. No white neighborhoods were blockaded, nor were white bystanders stopped and photographed as they went about their daily business that cool Monday morning in October. It was only Maori.

The institutional racism of the police and justice system came as no surprise to Maori people and particularly to Tuhoe who have been subject to its arbitrary acts for some 160 years. For pakeha throughout the country, it was a wake-up call. Unfortunately, it was less a wake-up call about racism than it was about the growing power of the state against political dissidents.

I say it was unfortunate because it is clear from the nearly 10,000 pages of evidence I have now seen, that it is Maori sovereignty that they fear. It is the political force of unified indigeneity that scares the ruling class of New Zealand.

For Maori in Aotearoa New Zealand, the ‘war on terrorism’ and these raids are part of a long history of colonization in Aotearoa New Zealand, and they have not been forgotten.

In the 1860s, the Suppression of Rebellion Act was passed with strikingly similar language to the Terrorism Suppression Act of 2002. This earlier Act was used by the fledgling New Zealand State to launch a series of vicious attacks on Maori communities in order to appropriate their land for settlement. People and whole tribes were defined as ‘in rebellion’ in order that the State could then exercise a range of repressive and exploitative measures against them.

I was arrested, I believe, to provide a cloak for the racist nature of the operation.

By arresting some pakeha activists, the government could deflect criticism that this was an operation against Maori. I was also arrested because I am associates with the Maori accused in the case, and because as an anarchist I have caused enough problems and embarrassments for the state that they would like to put me out of their misery.

In June of last year, I published a book detailing the New Zealand government’s involvement in the ‘war on terrorism.’ In it, I suggested that both dissidents and Maori were targets of the war, along with refugees and migrants. It was not without a sense of bizarre irony and a certain grim satisfaction that I sat in my prison cell and congratulated myself on being right.

Needless to say, in a country of 4 million people, there are not six degrees of separation, but usually only one or two. There most certainly is a connection between anarchists, environmentalists, anti-war and indigenous rights activists: most of them know each other and work together regularly.

One would have to exist in a state of utter delusion not to make the connections between these issues, particularly in New Zealand where the effects of the self-imposed neo-liberal structural adjustment of the 1980s is being felt more acutely everyday.

The New Zealand Parliament is Westminster-style with mixed-member proportional representation. At present, the governing Labor party maintains power through a delicate balance of negotiated agreements, some formal, some informal, with other smaller parties that give support on vital confidence and supply votes.

As with the British Labor Party, the New Zealand Labor party long ago shed any resemblance to a working-class based party and has wholeheartedly embraced neo-liberal economics.

This has had major implications for Maori who in the main reject its ubiquitous commodification, particularly with regard to flora, fauna, land and intellectual property. Nevertheless, up until very recently Maori had continued to support Labor generally, and all of the Maori electorate seats in Parliament were held by the Labour Party.

In 2004, the Government passed the Foreshore and Seabed Act, which had the effect of extinguishing Maori rights to claim customary ownership of the land between the high tide and low tide marks, and to the seabed. In contravention of international law and despite condemnation by the UN, the Government pressed ahead with the law, with near unanimous support in parliament. The following year the Treasury began to include a line-item in the annual financial accounts for these newly acquired Crown assets. This grotesque confiscation was considered a declaration of war by some Maori. It ruptured the Labor Party and brought about the formation of the Maori Party. This now presents a significant threat to Labor’s hold on the Maori vote, and more importantly, to their hold on power.

Politically, this is one of the primary factors behind the raids. In the lead up to the 2008 election, it is crucial that Labour cast radical Maori as a dangerous threat to the stability of New Zealand. This was a gamble by Prime Minister Helen Clark and her cabal to secure a third term through a tactic of divide and conquer. In the media Clark repeatedly stated that the raids were ‘an operational matter for the police,’ but behind the scenes in Wellington, every politico knows that nothing of consequence happens without her direct and explicit nod.

Another significant political factor prompting the raids is the government’s relationship with the US and its other close defense partners. As a member of the exclusive five-nation UKUSA intelligence network (along with the US, UK, Canada and Australia), New Zealand’s security and police are intimately tied to a distinctive post-War relationship with the US. This relationship, and the resultant organizational links, has played a significant role in New Zealand’s response to US terrorism hysteria. Further, the New Zealand government has separate, internal reasons for adopting much of the new terrorism legislation.

Prior to 9/11, the Terrorism Suppression Bill was before the Select Committee and was simply intended to ratify two existing UN conventions against terrorism. After 9/11, the law was radically re-written, kept secret from the public, while the Government and the opposition rushed to appear resolute in support of the US.

Fortunately, the changes were leaked and there was significant public opposition that eventually mitigated the worst aspects of the Act. Unfortunately, there were many more Acts that followed. These Acts mirror changes to US law and include the Border Security Act, the Maritime Security Act, the Telecommunications (Interception Capability) Act, the Identity (Citizenship and Passports) Act, the Security Intelligence Act and amendments to both the Immigration Act and the Crimes Act.

Along with these legislative changes, the state’s security and surveillance services received massive funding injections and personnel increases – all in the name of fighting terrorism. Given this environment with all their new toys, eventually, the police and spooks had to find a terrorist. They tried desperately to pin that label on exiled Algerian politician Ahmed Zaoui who came to New Zealand at the end of 2001 on a false passport.

When that failed, as it did in 2006 when the security risk certificate against him was revoked, they set to work finding others to fill the ‘terrorist’ role. The culture of these agencies is such that they view ex-parliamentary political activity as dangerous; they view Maori politically activity as particularly dangerous.

So the stage was set and the roles cast when some 300 police mounted the first ever ‘terror raids’ late last year.

The Terrorism Suppression Act was the tool to obtain extensive interception warrants for bugging cell phones and cars, but the people who were arrested were initially charged only for join possession of firearms and restricted weapons under the Arms Act. In order for the Terrorism charges to be laid, the police first had to get the approval of the Attorney General.

In the first week following the raids, I sat in solitary confinement with no access to news or information. I was in shock. I have been arrested several times in the past for political activity, but have never been to prison. I was scared. I was also lucky because one of my dearest friends had been arrested that morning and was there with me.

We had adjoining cells and could communicate by yelling over a 25 foot concrete wall in the yard outside between our cells. After the third day, I got a book to read: Kurt Vonnegut’s Jailbird. It made me laugh so hard I had tears in my eyes.

When they finally moved us to the general population at the end of the first week, it felt like a glorious place – which just goes to demonstrate how quickly and easily solitary confinement breaks down your resistance and your tether on reality. It was beautiful to hear voices, to hear music, to go outside and to be able to see the hills and sky.

By the end of that first week, our lawyers managed to put forward an application for bail. We arrived at the Wellington District Court to a mass of supporters and media. Within minutes of the start of the hearing, everyone except the media was excluded from the courtroom. It was an ominous beginning to one of the most disturbing and difficult days of my life.

In the hours that followed, the Crown prosecutor painted a picture of us as a group of people who had been training to commit terrorist acts. We were accused of attending camps in the Urewera area where we used guns, Molotov cocktails and napalm.

The fact that my three immediate co-accused had no convictions of any kind, and I had very minor ones, was used to prove our ill intention to get out of prison and carry out that which we had been planning. Once the terror label was used, no judge in the country, or indeed the world, would bail us. We went back to prison that Friday evening and I felt very, very dark.

On Monday 29 October, the police finally put their evidence to the Solicitor General in order that the charge of ‘participating in a terrorist group’ could be brought against us. That night, I was interned in my new cell with no one to talk to or to question about what might happen next. I had been moved 500 miles north to the Auckland women’s correctional facility in a secretive mission worthy of bin Laden or at least his best mate.

By Wednesday, Prime Minister Helen Clark could no longer hold her tongue and waded into the debate. She arrogantly breached the sub judice standard – the term used for the right to a fair trial – commenting that those arrested ‘at the very least had been training with firearms and napalm’. The media circus continued.

Throughout the country, protests, rallies, fundraising and awareness raising gigs were organized and what remains of the political left in New Zealand rallied around the arrestees. The political analysis ranged from debate about indigenous sovereignty to civil rights and surveillance.

The mainstream media continued its tradition of sensationalist reporting, ill-informed conclusions and downright fabrications. The media concentration in Aotearoa New Zealand is one of the highest in the world, with nearly all the major dailies owned by two multinational corporations. Everyone was singing from the same song sheet, so to speak.

The day before I was due to have another bail hearing, after now nearly a month in jail, I had a long conversation with my lawyer. We discussed his strategy going into the hearing and the possible Crown arguments.

At the end of that conversation, he said, ‘Oh, there was something else I was meaning to tell youoh, that’s right, the Solicitor-General is about to announce his decision. Valerie, they are going to lay the terrorism charges against you.’

I hung up the phone and I found Emily, my co-accused and dear friend. I told her that, ‘we must prepare ourselves for this because it is going to happen’. I was manic, frantic, deeply disturbed and shaken. We sat for a little while before I went to my cell and tuned in National Radio. The four o’clock news immediately went to a live broadcast of the Solicitor-General’s press conference.

I sat on my bed rigid with fear. He announced, ‘I cannot authorize the laying of charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act.’ I ran out of my cell, screaming and running around the prison wing, ‘they’re not going to do it; they’re not going to do it.’ I yelled up to Emily who had retreated to her cell. I could hardly get the words out.

Her immediate response, ‘for all of us?’ and I thought, ‘oh no, I don’t know.’ In my excitement I hadn’t listened to his whole speech. I ran back to my cell where she joined me.

We tuned back in to hear him say that there was ‘insufficient evidence’ that none of us would be charged, and that the terrorism law was ‘complex, incoherent and unworkable’. I was ecstatic. Moments later I got a call from the lawyer saying that the Crown was no longer opposing our bail. We would be out tomorrow.

It was surreal. I have never in my life felt the kind of joyous relief that I felt that night. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t concentrate. I just sat there in wonder at the events of the previous month.

On Friday, November 9, we were bailed from the High Court in Auckland. We are not free, however. Sixteen of us still face charges under the Arms Act. We continue to have onerous bail conditions including curfews, reporting conditions and non-association orders. They are the State’s tactics for control and punishment.

As I have suggested, the evidence indicates that the raids were politically motivated by the long-standing fear of indigenous assertions of power. In this election year, it suits the Labor Government to find ‘bad Maori’ in order to fulfill the old colonial divide and rule strategy.

They will assimilate those they can through propaganda and persuasion; those that resist will be brutalized and criminalized as they have been for more than a century. Maori political activists are under State surveillance because they are Maori.

It comes as little surprise that the United Nations has now accepted a complaint from indigenous lawyers and will investigate the New Zealand Government’s conduct over the raids, although it is the first time that a complaint by a group against a state (rather than vice versa) has been investigated. While this is unlikely to have any substantive effect either on the situation for Maori or on the arrestees, it is another blow to the idealized utopia of the South Seas.

In the coming months, the case of the ‘Urewera 16’ will be heard in the District Court in Auckland. My great hope for this trial and for the future of Aotearoa New Zealand is that the raids will contribute to disrupting the false peace of this colonial state and radicalize people to struggle for justice and freedom.

For more information about the Crown’s invasion of Tuhoe lands, please see:
• Tuhoe: A history of resistance at
http://october15thsolidarity.info/node/221

Other sources for information about the raids:
• Back in the Mists of Fear: A Primer On The Allegations Of Terrorism Made During The Week 15-19 October, 2007. By Moana Jackson.
http://www.arena.org.nz/terprimr.htm

‘Full Coverage: the Terrorists camps on the East Cape.’ Scoop.
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0710/S00262.htm

Other sources of information about tino rangatiratanga and Maori struggle:
http://www.aotearoa.maori.nz/v2/index.php

• Conscious collaborations
http://www.conscious.maori.nz/front.php

• Te Mana Motuhake o Tuhoe
http://tuhoe.net

Valerie Morse is a Wellington-based anarchist and writer. She spent most of her 36 years in and around Tucson Arizona and Washington DC but left the US during the Clinton era in disgust. She is currently facing three charges under the Arms Act for possession of guns, restricted weapons (molotov cocktails) and ammunition resulting from the October 15, 2007 raids.

As a result of her life as a so-called ‘terrorist’, her passports have been confiscated and her life as an anarcho-tourist rather severely curtailed. She is a member of Rebel Press, an anarchist publishing collective. Her book, ‘Against Freedom: the war on terrorism in everyday_New Zealand life’ and prison ‘zine ‘Can’t hear me scream’, are available for free download on www.rebelpress.org.nz

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

Four Children Die in Gaza Strike

February 28th, 2008 - by admin

BBC World News – 2008-02-28 22:56:33

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7269154.stm

Assassinations and bombardment are not going to weaken the steadfastness and the determination of the Palestinian people
— Hamas PM Ismail Haniya

(February 28., 2009) — Four Palestinian children have been killed in an Israeli air strike in the northern Gaza Strip, local medics say.

Reports say they were playing near the Jabaliya refugee camp. Israel said it had targeted a rocket-launching cell.

Later, a Hamas militant was killed in an Israeli air strike near Beit Hanoun and a security post near the house of Hamas leader Ismail Haniya was hit.

On Wednesday, a rocket fired by Hamas killed an Israeli student near Sderot, the first such death in nine months.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said “terrorists” in the territory would pay a very heavy price for the attacks.

The US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, said that the Palestinian rocket attacks “need to stop”.

Ms Rice will visit the Middle East next week for talks with Mr Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has separately expressed “deep concern” at the escalation of violence in which at least 22 Palestinians have been killed in the last two days.

‘Continuous Crimes’
A string of Israeli air raids targeted Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip on Thursday.

In the afternoon, four boys reportedly aged between eight and 15 were killed whilst playing football near the al-Salam mosque in Jabaliya. Three of them were members of the same family, according to the Palestinian news agency Maan.

LATEST GAZA AIR STRIKES
Thursday:
• Four children killed near Jabaliya refugee camp
• Hamas militant killed near Beit Hanoun
• Two Hamas militants killed in Gaza City
Wednesday:
• Six-month-old boy killed near interior ministry
• Five Hamas militants killed near Khan Younis
• Islamic Jihad militant killed near Bureij refugee camp
• An Israeli army spokeswoman told the AFP news agency it had launched “several strikes that targeted and hit rocket-launching cells” in the area.

Shortly afterwards, a separate Israeli strike in nearby Beit Hanoun killed a member of Hamas’ military wing, Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, medics said.

A Hamas security post 150m from the home of the former Palestinian Prime Minister, Ismail Haniya, was also attacked by an Israeli helicopter, wounding several people, officials said.
Hamas said Mr Haniya had not been in the area at the time and his home was not damaged. After his office was bombed on Wednesday, Mr Haniya condemned what he called “continuous crimes” by Israel.

Earlier on Thursday, Hamza al-Haya, son of a prominent hardline leader in the Gaza Strip, Khalil al-Haya, was killed along with a fellow militant.

Palestinian witnesses said the interior ministry building, run by the militant group Hamas, was hit on Wednesday evening. The building was empty.

Nearby buildings were caught in the blast, killing a baby and wounding at about 30 other people, Palestinian medical officials said.

Most of the other recent Palestinian fatalities have been militants, including five Hamas members killed in an air strike in Khan Younis on Wednesday morning. Another two were killed by Israeli troops in the Balata refugee camp.
One of Hamas’s rockets exploded in a car park at Sapir College in Sderot late on Wednesday afternoon, killing an Israeli 47-year-old studying at the college.

Although the Israeli fatality was the first caused by rocket fire in nine months, four other Israelis have been killed in attacks by Palestinian militants since the relaunching of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

In that time, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli military.

© BBC MMVIII

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A Few Days in Iraq

February 28th, 2008 - by admin

Australia Broadcasting Corporation & AntiWar.com – 2008-02-28 22:51:06

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/02/28/2174901.htm?section=world

US Troops Kill Man with Broken arm
BAGHDAD (February 28, 2008) — US soldiers mistakenly shot dead a man with a broken arm after he ignored warnings and approached their patrol in the Iraqi city of Baquba, a US military spokesman said.

The incident occurred yesterday when a group of US soldiers who were on a patrol saw a man wearing a bulky jacket approach, Major Brad Leighton said.

“The soldiers fired a warning shot but he kept approaching. They then fired on him and killed him,” he said.

The soldiers searched the man and discovered that underneath his jacket, he had a cast on one arm which made his clothing “look bulky.”

“There was nothing suspicious found upon him but the incident is under investigation. It was a mistake… an unfortunate incident,” he said.

Baquba has seen a series of suicide attacks against security forces and civilians.

The city is in Iraq’s dangerous Diyala province – a known Al Qaeda in Iraq stronghold. US and Iraqi forces are currently involved in a massive crackdown in the province targeting Al Qaeda militants.
– AFP


Wednesday:
18 Iraqis Killed, 16 Wounded

Compiled by Margaret Griffis

BAGHDAD (February 27, 2008) — Although Baghdad newspapers halted publication in observance of the Arbaeen holiday, a few violent incidents did get reported. Overall, at least 18 Iraqis were killed and 16 were wounded across the country. The situation at the Turkish border remains tense as well. No Coalition deaths were announced.

U.S. Defense Secretary Gates suggested a time limit in which Turkey must wrap up their operations in northern Iraq, but Ankara is resisting such calls. Meanwhile, Turkish authorities claimed that scores more rebels were killed.

In Mosul, a car bomb targeting a police patrol killed two people and wounded another. Two gunmen, one Saudi and one Iraqi, were killed during clashes. Also, three dumped bodies were recovered.

In Baghdad, two dumped bodies were found. One Arbaeen pilgrim was killed and two more were wounded during a roadside bombing in eastern Baghdad. An IED in Ghadeer killed one person and injured two more. The chief of the Iraqi Journalists’ Union died of complications from wounds received four days ago in a shooting in Waziriya. Also, a car bomb was defused in central Baghdad and two gunmen carrying grenades were arrested in Waziriya.

U.S. troops mistakingly killed two civilians in separate incidents in Baquba.

An Iraqi soldier was killed and two others were wounded during an armed attack in Tikrit.

Gunmen killed two Awakening Council members and wounded three others at a checkpoint near Lake Tharthar.
Four off-duty policemen were injured during a drive-by shooting in Baiji.

In Domiz, the police chief escaped an assassination attempt.
A body was found in a drainage ditch near Hilla. He was bound and riddled with bullets.

A truck driver and two workers were kidnapped in Kirkuk.
In Basra, a police officer was gunned down.

A university student was shot dead in Hamdaniyah.

In Saidiya, two people were injured during a roadside bomb explosion.

Sixty detainees were released in Diyala province after proving they were not involved in any crimes.

In Karbala, 17 suspects were detained during operations in a northern district, and another three suspects were captured in a southern neighborhood.


Thursday:
13 Iraqis, 5 Arabs Killed;
12 Iraqis Wounded

Compiled by Margaret Griffis

BAGHDAD (February 28, 2008) — Millions of Shi’ite Muslims are in Karbala today for the Arbaeen religious observance. Violence has been unexpectedly light following attacks on pilgrims earlier in the week. Overall, at least 13 Iraqis were killed and another 12 were wounded in the latest round of violence. Five Arab nationals were killed as well, but no Coalition troop deaths were reported. Meanwhile, U.S. President Bush reiterated the call for Turkish troops to withdraw from northern Iraq quickly.

The Arbaeen festival has gone without a significant hitch in Karbala this year. Although there was a significant bombing on Sunday in Iskandariya, most of the attacks on pilgrims since then have been minor. Three women were arrested for giving away poisoned food; they were among several other people who have been detained.

An al-Qaeda leader and nine assistants, four of them Iraqis, were killed during an operation in the Tharthar region.

In Baghdad, two bodies were found dumped in Zayouna. An assassination attempt on a chairman from the Integrity Committee left him and another man injured, also in Zayouna. In Saadoun, an IED injured two people.

In Mosul, a traffic cop and his son were killed during a drive-by in Tahrir. Also, a bomb near a police station injured six civilians.

An official from the Electric Ministry was kidnapped in Amara.
A captive was freed in Basra.

Three bodies were found in Qaim.

An IED in Habbaniyah left one person dead and two others wounded.

A sniper killed an Awakening Council member in Baquba.
Five homes were set of fire in Mhawla.

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) claimed to have killed 18 Turkish soldiers, but casualty figures during the Turkish incursion into northern Iraq have remained unverifiable.
Also, a spokesman for the popular committees in Diyala province said they had been asked to dissolve their association. This comes in the wake of complaints and protests by the councils that the police chief in Diyala is a Mahdi Army member. In a separate development, the Fallujah police chief noted that al-Qaeda forces are infiltrating the Awakening Council there.

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

Automated Killer Robots ‘Threat to Humanity’: Expert

February 28th, 2008 - by admin

Agence France-Presse – 2008-02-28 22:43:08

http://www.afp.com/english/news/stories/newsmlmmd.de2f3b4b1eb5be502dd4466ee92ae8a8.211.html

Increasingly autonomous, gun-totting robots developed for warfare could easily fall into the hands of terrorists and may one day unleash a robot arms race, a top expert on artificial intelligence told AFP.

“They pose a threat to humanity,” said University of Sheffield professor Noel Sharkey ahead of a keynote address Wednesday before Britain’s Royal United Services Institute.
Intelligent machines deployed on battlefields around the world — from mobile grenade launchers to rocket-firing drones — can already identify and lock onto targets without human help.

There are more than 4,000 US military robots on the ground in Iraq, as well as unmanned aircraft that have clocked hundreds of thousands of flight hours.

The first three armed combat robots fitted with large-caliber machine guns deployed to Iraq last summer, manufactured by US arms maker Foster-Miller, proved so successful that 80 more are on order, said Sharkey.

But up to now, a human hand has always been required to push the button or pull the trigger.

It we are not careful, he said, that could change.
Military leaders “are quite clear that they want autonomous robots as soon as possible, because they are more cost-effective and give a risk-free war,” he said.

Several countries, led by the United States, have already invested heavily in robot warriors developed for use on the battlefield.

South Korea and Israel both deploy armed robot border guards, while China, India, Russia and Britain have all increased the use of military robots.

Washington plans to spend four billion dollars by 2010 on unmanned technology systems, with total spending expected rise to 24 billion, according to the Department of Defense’s Unmanned Systems Roadmap 2007-2032, released in December.

James Canton, an expert on technology innovation and CEO of the Institute for Global Futures, predicts that deployment within a decade of detachments that will include 150 soldiers and 2,000 robots.

The use of such devices by terrorists should be a serious concern, said Sharkey.

Captured robots would not be difficult to reverse engineer, and could easily replace suicide bombers as the weapon-of-choice. “I don’t know why that has not happened already,” he said.

But even more worrisome, he continued, is the subtle progression from the semi-autonomous military robots deployed today to fully independent killing machines.
“I have worked in artificial intelligence for decades, and the idea of a robot making decisions about human termination terrifies me,” Sharkey said.

Ronald Arkin of Georgia Institute of Technology, who has worked closely with the US military on robotics, agrees that the shift towards autonomy will be gradual.

But he is not convinced that robots don’t have a place on the front line.

“Robotics systems may have the potential to out-perform humans from a perspective of the laws of war and the rules of engagement,” he told a conference on technology in warfare at Stanford University last month.

The sensors of intelligent machines, he argued, may ultimately be better equipped to understand an environment and to process information. “And there are no emotions that can cloud judgement, such as anger,” he added.
Nor is there any inherent right to self-defence.

For now, however, there remain several barriers to the creation and deployment of Terminator-like killing machines.
Some are technical. Teaching a computer-driven machine — even an intelligent one — how to distinguish between civilians and combatants, or how to gauge a proportional response as mandated by the Geneva Conventions, is simply beyond the reach of artificial intelligence today.

But even if technical barriers are overcome, the prospect of armies increasingly dependent on remotely-controlled or autonomous robots raises a host of ethical issues that have barely been addressed.

Arkin points out that the US Department of Defense’s 230 billion dollar Future Combat Systems programme — the largest military contract in US history — provides for three classes of aerial and three land-based robotics systems.

“But nowhere is there any consideration of the ethical implications of the weaponisation of these systems,” he said.
For Sharkey, the best solution may be an outright ban on autonomous weapons systems. “We have to say where we want to draw the line and what we want to do — and then get an international agreement,” he said.

_Copyright AFP 2008, AFP stories and photos shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium

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

Chinese Submarine Fleet Is Growing, Analysts Say

February 27th, 2008 - by admin

David Lague / New York Times – 2008-02-27 23:03:55

BEIJING (February 25, 2008) — Several recent events, from an eagle-eyed spotting of an image on Google Earth to an overt military delivery from Russia, suggest that China is continuing its rapid expansion of a submarine fleet that would be particularly useful in a conflict with the United States over Taiwan, analysts and military officials said.

American and other Western military analysts estimate that China has more than 30 advanced and increasingly stealthy submarines, and dozens of older, obsolete types. By the end of the decade, they say, China will have more submarines than the United States, although it will still lag behind in overall ability.

“I would say that the U.S. feels a strong threat from Chinese submarines,” said Andrei Chang, an expert on Chinese and Taiwan military forces and editor of Kanwa Defense Review. “China now has more submarines than Russia, and the speed they are building them is amazing.”

The United States Navy developed a range of antisubmarine sensors and weapons in the cold war that are still considered the world’s best. But fighting submarines has been less of a military priority since then, experts say.

Several events have shed light on the growth and technological advances in China’s fleet.

In late 2006, one of China’s new Song-class conventional submarines remained undetected as it shadowed the American aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk off the coast of Okinawa, Japan, although the exact details of the encounter remain the subject of continuing debate. It then surfaced well within torpedo range.

To some China experts in the United States military, that was an aggressive signal to Washington that China could challenge the United States Navy in waters around Taiwan. It also showed that Chinese submarine technology had advanced more rapidly than some experts had expected.

“The U.S. had no idea it was there,” said Allan Behm, a security analyst in Canberra, Australia, and a former senior Australian Defense Department official. “This is the great capability of very quiet, conventional submarines.”

In July, in another sign of technological progress, China displayed photographs and models of its new Shang-class nuclear-powered attack submarine at an exhibition in Beijing. Two submarines of that class are in service, the official People’s Daily newspaper reported then.

In October, Hans M. Kristensen, a nuclear weapons researcher with the Federation of American Scientists, spotted a Google Earth satellite image that appeared to show two of China’s Jin-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines. Some military analysts were surprised that China had built a second submarine of that class so soon after the first, in 2004.

And to put the improvement of its fleet on a fast track, China has also taken delivery of 12 advanced Kilo-class conventional submarines from Russia, defense experts say. Experts say the designs of the newest Chinese submarines show evidence of technical assistance from Russia.

Many foreign security experts, including senior Pentagon analysts, say China’s main objective in upgrading its submarine fleet is the ability to delay or deter a United States intervention on behalf of Taiwan. China regards Taiwan as part of its territory and has warned regularly that it would use force to prevent Taiwan from moving toward formal independence.

Stealthy submarines with torpedoes and antiship missiles would pose a direct threat to the deployment of American aircraft carrier battle groups, likely the first line of response to a Taiwan crisis, security experts say.

The Pentagon is monitoring China closely, officials say. “Chinese submarines have very impressive capabilities, and their numbers are increasing,” the senior American military commander in Asia, Adm. Timothy Keating, said in Beijing recently.

He urged China to be more open about its plans, which he said would reduce the risk of crisis or conflict.

Senior Chinese officers have said the buildup is strictly defensive.

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

ACTION ALERT: Join Opposition to US Missile Defense in Czech Republic and Poland

February 27th, 2008 - by admin

– 2008-02-27 23:02:44

“ACTIONS:
1. Demonstrate in Washington D.C. this Wed, Feb 27,12:30-1:30pm to greet Czech Prime Minister Topolánek with banners against the proposed US radar base when he visits the White House. Protest coordinated by Campaign for Peace and Democracy and Foreign Policy in Focus. Join us! (press release at the end of this message)

“Demonstrate in Washington DC

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has been invited to the White House; one of the main items on the agenda is the Bush administration’s campaign to place military bases in the Czech Republic and Poland. Our friends from the Czech “No Bases Initiative” have asked us to “greet” Topolánek with signs and banners to show that opponents of the bases have support in the US

• Please join our protest from 12:30 to 1:30 pm on Wed, Feb 27 in front of the White House, across from Lafayette Park — and tell your D.C. friends and colleagues.

• Read. CPD’s letter in the New York Times on line on January 6, 2008: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/06/opinion/lweb06poles.html?ex=1200200400
* A summary of our sign-on statement opposing the radar was published in the February 8 issue of the New York Review of Books: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/21046
* Just a few days ago the following article by Campaign for Peace and Democracy Co-Directors Joanne Landy and Thomas Harrison appeared in Foreign Policy in Focus, and has been picked up on several websites including Portside, ZNet, and After Downing Street.

“Pushing Missile Defense in Europe”
Joanne Landy and Thomas Harrison / Foreign Policy In Focus

(February 22, 2008) — With the occupation of Iraq soon to enter its sixth year and the looming possibility of war against Iran, it’s easy for Americans not to notice the Bush administration’s attempt to expand the US military presence in Europe. A new Cold War between the United States and Russia threatens. And the US media is paying little attention.

Even many in the peace movement don’t know that Washington has proposed to install 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar military base in the Czech Republic. The missiles and radar taken together constitute an anti-missile system purportedly meant to defend against Iran and other “rogue” states. In fact, they represent a new expansion of US global military power and an escalation of the arms race with Russia.

Opposition to the proposed US installations, however, is gathering force within Poland and the Czech Republic. And even the US Congress has shown a measure of skepticism. The expansion of US military presence in Eastern Europe is far from a done deal.
To read the entire article, please go to www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/5005

Coming Attraction
US tour by Czech “No Bases Initiative” leader Jan Tamás in April.
The leader of No Bases Initiative, Jan Tamás, will be coming to the United States in April, and a number of peace groups will be helping to organize a speaking tour for him.

“What you can do.
* Join our demonstration greeting the Czech Prime Minister in Washington on Feb. 27.
* If you are interested in the Tamás tour in April, contact Bruce Gagnon, national coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, at globalnet@mindspring.com. The Campaign for Peace and Democracy is working on a major meeting for Tamas in New York City, so contact us at cpd@igc.org if you want to work on this part of the tour.
* Contact your member of Congress to express your opposition to funding the dangerous and expensive anti-missile system for the Czech Republic and Poland (see the Foreign Policy in Focus article shown above for ideas of how to make the case.)
* Post signs against the radar and missiles at your peace marches and other local activities. Write to us at cpd@igc.org and we will send you PDF’s.
* If you haven’t signed already, add your name to our anti-radar statement at www.cpdweb.org (While you are at our website you can also sign our statement calling for the Iranian government to free jailed student protestors.)
* Stay tuned for work in support of Polish anti-missile activists. You can check our website periodically or email us for information.

Donations to CPD welcome, including a p.c. laptop. We count on your support to sustain our work, so please make a tax-deductible contribution.

Campaign for Peace and Democracy
2790 Broadway, #12
New York, NY 10025
Thanks for your support!

Contact: Joanne Landy
Co-Director, Campaign for Peace and Democracy
jlandy@igc.org (212) 666-4001 cell (646) 207-5203

PROTESTERS AGAINST US RADAR IN CZECH REPUBLIC
TO GREET CZECH PRIME MINISTER AT THE WHITE HOUSE
ON FEBRUARY 27, 12:30-1:30 P.M.

“Activists Support Czech Opponents of Proposed US Military Base

NEW YORK (February 25, 2008) — Protesters will gather on Wednesday, February 27 from 12:30 to 1:30 pm in front of the White House, across from Lafayette Park, to greet Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek with signs opposing a proposed US radar base in the Czech Republic. Mr. Topolánek has been invited to visit President George Bush, where the radar base will be one of the main items on their agenda.

The radar is opposed by 70% of the Czech population, and US peace activists are demonstrating at the White House to show that they support the fight against the radar. The protest is coordinated by the Campaign for Peace and Democracy and Foreign Policy in Focus. Other groups will be represented, including Maryknoll Global Concerns and Code Pink.

The Bush administration is attempting to build a base in Poland to host ten interceptor missiles in concert with the Czech radar base. The Czech and Polish governments hope to finalize an agreement with the US government to accept the bases, but this expansion of the US military presence in Eastern Europe is far from a done deal.

“We are demonstrating to show our support for the Czech group ‘No Bases Initiative’ (Iniciativa Ne základnám), which is leading the fight against the radar in the Czech Republic,” said Joanne Landy, Co-Director of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy. “Washington’s scheme has already produced an ominous response from Russia, which has threatened to direct its missiles toward Poland and the Czech Republic if the US proceeds with the system. Moscow has also threatened to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and to suspend participation in a treaty limiting the deployment of conventional forces in Europe.”

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has called Russian concerns “ludicrous,” insisting that the Czech-Polish missile defense is aimed at Iran and not Russia. But there is no credible evidence that a missile threat from Iran exists today. The National Intelligence Estimate released in December 2007 further undermined the credibility of that claim by stating that Iran had discontinued its nuclear weapons program in the fall of 2003. “And far from protecting against such a threat in the future, the anti-missile system and other nuclear escalations will only create even stronger inducements for Iran to seek nuclear weapons,” Landy said.

“The US bases threaten to restart a cold war between the United States and Russia,” according to John Feffer, co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus. “They have little to do with genuine defense and much to do with an aggressive US military policy.”

“No nation has the moral right to possess nuclear weapons, which by their nature are weapons of vast and indiscriminate mass destruction,” Landy added. “The US and other nuclear powers can best reduce the danger of nuclear warfare by taking major steps toward both nuclear and conventional disarmament and refraining from waging or threatening ‘preventive’ war — not by expanding the nuclear threat. Such steps by the existing nuclear powers would create a political climate that would powerfully discourage new countries from developing their own nuclear weapons.”

THE CAMPAIGN FOR PEACE AND DEMOCRACY (CPD) advocates a new, progressive and non-militaristic US foreign policy — one that encourages democratization, justice and social change. Founded in 1982, the Campaign opposed the Cold War by promoting “detente from below.” It engaged Western peace activists in the defense of the rights of democratic dissidents in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and enlisted East-bloc human rights activists against anti-democratic US policies in countries like Nicaragua and Chile.

FOREIGN POLICY IN FOCUS (FPIF) is a “Think Tank Without Walls” connecting the research and action of more than 800 scholars, advocates, and activists seeking to make the United States a more responsible global partner. It is a project of the Institute for Policy Studies. More information about the US bases strategy in Europe can be found here: http://www.fpif.org/fpiftxt/5005

• Campaign for Peace and Democracy, 2790 Broadway, #12, NY, NY 10025. Tel (212) 666-4001, Cell (646) 207-5203, Fax (212) 866-5847. Email: cpd@igc.org Web: www.cpdweb.org

• Foreign Policy In Focus, Institute for Policy Studies, 1112 16th St., Suite 600, NW, Washington, DC 20036; Tel (202-234-9382); Cell (202-294-9128)

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