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June 2004

Torture in Iraq -
Let's Tell the Arab World How We Feel

Dear Faithful American,

The torture scandal continues to grow, and with it the outrage of the Arab world. As our leaders continue to blame a few rogue soldiers, a cycle of mutual suspicion and dehumanization between the Arab world and the United States deepens.

We need to send a message directly from us, the people of the United States, to the people of Iraq and the Arab world telling them that, as Americans, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them in demanding justice for these sinful abuses committed in our name.

To do this, we've filmed a television ad with Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith leaders to be broadcast on Arabic-language television in the Middle East. You can view the ad by clinking the link below (if it doesn't work, cut and paste it into your browser). If you feel the message expresses what is in your heart, let the world know by endorsing the ad. You can even donate to help put it on the air.
www.faithfulamerica.org/AdClip.htm

As the number of endorsers grows, we will add that figure to the end of the ad. The more people who endorse the message, the more effective it will be. Please send this e- mail to anyone you think might want to get involved.

Blessings,
The FaithfulAmerica.org Team


May 2004
US heading for another election fiasco as reforms fail
By Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles
Independent 22 April 2004

The United States may be on the way to another Florida-style presidential
election fiasco this year because legislation passed to fix the system has
either failed to address the problems or has broken down because of missed deadlines and unmet funding targets.

Such is the conclusion of a damning new report by the US Commission on Civil Rights, a bipartisan government body which previously looked into the Florida mess and found alarming evidence of voter disenfranchisement among poor and minority groups, incorrectly compiled voter rolls and other glaring irregularities. "Many of the problems that the commission previously cautioned should be corrected yet prevail ... Unless the government acts now, many of those previously disenfranchised stand to be excluded again," the report said.

The commission's criticisms focused on the failure to implement President George Bush's Help America Vote Act (Hava), passed in October 2002, which promised $4bn (£2.3bn) to help states overhaul antiquated voting machinery - notably the notorious punchcard devices that caused so much trouble in Florida - and sought to set up a nationwide system of provisional voting for people who believe they have a right to vote but find themselves omitted from the official list.

It said that out of 22 key deadlines that have come and gone since the act's passage, only five have been met. Most seriously, an oversight committee designed to advise states on streamlining their voting procedures and implementing the act's provisions was not appointed until last December, 11 months behind schedule. Most states are unlikely to make reforms before the presidential election on 2 November.

In addition, the Bush White House has consistently proposed less money than promised by the act, so states that have passed their own reform legislation have found themselves crucially short of money for implementation.

On signing the act 18 months ago, Mr Bush said: "When problems arise in the administration of elections we have a responsibility to fix them. Every registered voter deserves to have confidence that the system is fair and elections are honest, that every vote is recorded, and that the rules are consistently applied."

Almost half of the states have requested exemptions from updating their
voting equipment, and 41 out of 50 have requested extensions until 2006 to consolidate voter registration lists at state level so they can more easily
be checked for accuracy. "It will be difficult if not impossible for states
to build the necessary election infrastructure by November," it concluded.

The commission report can only heighten the anxieties of an electorate
already alarmed by a growing controversy over touchscreen voting machines being introduced - with Hava money - in many parts of the South and West. The machines make meaningful recounts impossible and rely on software developed by companies with strong ties to President Bush and his Republican Party. California is expected to decide this week whether to decertify its touchscreen machines.

The debate over the health of America's electoral procedures is turning into a partisan fight, with Republicans dismissing the concerns as Democratic politicing unworthy of serious examination. When the Commission on Civil Rights convened an expert panel in Washington this month to discuss its report, the Republican Party delegation walked out before the proceedings began, one panel participant, Rebecca Mercuri, a Harvard University voting machinery expert, said.

In Florida during the 2000 election, thousands of eligible, predominantly
black, voters were erroneously identified as former felons and purged from the voter rolls by a private company hired by Katherine Harris, who acted as the state's top electoral official and also as co-chair of George Bush's state campaign committee.

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story.jsp?story=513967


KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation
The CIA's Secret Manual on Coercive Qestioning
Click here


Well .. is anything dealing with Eugenics really funny ... but I thought you'd like this.
~K

The American Prospect
Bell Curve' -- Levant Version
Wherein our intrepid correspondent unearths some fascinating right-wing research.
By Tony Hendra Web Exclusive: 05.06.04
Satire by Tony Hendra.

From an unexpected quarter comes some rare good news for embattled U.S. military commanders trying to contain the widening prison-abuse scandals in Iraq. The conservative San Diego-based scientific review No Junk Science published an article today by a team of researchers from the Adolf Coors Center for Studying Arabs at Pepperdine and the Charles Murray Institute of Eugenics at West Texas Christian University. The study presents "overwhelming evidence" that Arabs are not, by any prevailing scientific standard, human.

The idea that there is something uniquely "different" about Arabs has been roiling conservative think-tanks and intellectual circles for some years. An internal paper circulated at the American Enterprise Institute in 1997 posed the question bluntly: Is it prejudice that leads so many people with long experience and intimate knowledge of the Arab world -- Americans, British, French, and Israelis -- to think of Arabs as animals? Or simply that they are perceiving at a non-cognitive level what is biologically the case?

The Coors Center launched several lines of research to explore this question. They ranged from the socio-political, assembling statistics on why Arab populations resist progressive opportunities in favor of self-destructive behaviors (supporting oppressive governments, voluntarily adopting barbaric laws and medieval social structures, embracing "martyrdom," etc.), to the archeological. One provocative Pepperdine monograph demonstrated radical differences in ancient embodiments of divinity as conceived by pre-European BCE populations and BCE precursors of Arab populations. Greco-Roman, Celtic, Indo-Aryan, and Nordic divinities were predominantly anthropomorphic, while the divinities of ancient pre-Arabic peoples of North Africa and the Levant -- with the sole exception of Israel -- were predominantly animal (e.g., the myriad half-animal gods of the Egyptians). If ancient peoples projected an idealized version of themselves into their deities, would not a pantheon of half-human, half-animal deities suggests a population that was at best only half-human?

But it was the Charles Murray Institute that provided the clincher, thanks to huge advances in one particular application of DNA research: population genetics. Population genetics has incontrovertibly established a Homo sapiens family tree of relatively recent origin -- beginning about 60,000 years ago in Ethiopia -- by reading mutations (or polymorphisms) on the Y (or male) chromosome. Both the approximate dates and the destinations of migrations out of northeast Africa into Asia, Australia, the Americas, and Europe can be tracked by these genetic markers. The admirable implication is that racial and ethnic categories are meaningless: We are all descended from the same distinct individuals and -- whether black, white, brown, yellow, Jew, Christian, Hindu, or Muslim -- constitute one human family.

Except, say the DNA experts of the Charles Murray Institute, the Arabs. According to their research results (which have been subjected to peer review by Dinesh D'Souza), Arab male DNA does not carry the common polymorphisms of Homo sapiens. Instead it carries DNA markers from another hominid species altogether, Homo erectus. More commonly known as Neanderthal man, the species was displaced and/or eradicated by Homo sapiens in every region of the world -- with the exception, apparently, of the Middle East. Whether they represent a pure strain of Homo erectus that somehow survived the predations of Homo sapiens or came about through interbreeding between an errant Mediterranean strain of Homo sapiens and indigenous Neanderthals, Arabs are the sole surviving subhumans on the planet.

If true, the findings could have a dramatic impact on the prison-abuse investigation and its legal ramifications, as well as on the treatment and detention of Arab prisoners in general. Kenneth Starr, Dean of Pepperdine Law School, says: "This study annihilates the 'inalienable' and 'human' rights of Arabs, including (but not limited to) property rights, right of assembly, free speech, freedom of religion, privacy, due process, the right to an attorney, and, most importantly in this matter, the rights of combatants. The authors of the Geneva Conventions wrote the rules for humans, not hominids. We are under no obligation to observe the rules of war for a species without rights, nor do we have any criminal liability for our actions toward them in any court from Virginia to The Hague."

Beltway progressives, sensing the evaporation of a major campaign issue, have fired back that even if Arabs are non-human, there is still no reason to treat them inhumanely. "Be kind to animals," is the thought. Animal-rights ethicist Peter Singer of Princeton goes further, arguing that the rights of other species -- regardless of whether they are hominids -- are if anything superior to those of humans: "Centuries and millennia of oppression and exploitation of all other species by humans require us to make massive restitution to them. Arabs in this respect are no different than cows, chickens, shrimp, or oysters."

Harder heads, however, point out more draconian consequences of the scientific breakthrough. A source in the office of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who requested anonymity for reasons of national security, says: "Where animal populations prey on humans, controlling populations by culling herds -- or even, in certain cases or locations, extermination -- is a legitimate response. This could finally bring the enormous firepower and human resources of the NRA front and center in the war on terrorism. The idea of open season is long overdue."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld doesn't go quite that far. He puts the situation differently: "For me it's simple. The burden of proof is on these prisoners or on the thugs in Guantanamo or on these whining widows and orphans in Fallujah who want us to pay them off or on any other Arab who tangles with us -- you prove your human, we'll respect your rights. Otherwise -- you're dead meat."

The Charles Murray Institute is under enormous public pressure to release its lab results, but has so far refused to do so, citing the confidentiality of its DNA sources. The exhaustive study analyzed DNA samples from a comprehensive cross-section of Arab nations; the sole exception was the Saudi Royal Family, which exempted itself on religious grounds. The authors of the article have thus been forced to admit the possibility -- though they stress it's highly unlikely -- that the Saudi Royal Family may be human.

Interviewed in Ohio at a fund-raising dinner thrown for him by the Diebold Corporation, President Bush steered clear of the more incendiary aspects of the research, but he did pointedly use the phrase "human dignity" three times in his response to a reporter's question. He also expressed doubts about the major role played in the study by "the evolution thing." Said the President, "The jury's still out on that."

Tony Hendra is an author and an actor. His latest book, Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul (Random House), will be on sale May 18.

Copyright © 2004 by The American Prospect, Inc. Preferred Citation: Tony Hendra, "'Bell Curve' -- Levant Version", The American Prospect Online, May 6, 2004. This article may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author. Direct questions about permissions to permissions@prospect.org.


April 2004

White Whine: Reflections on the Brain-Rotting
Properties of Privilege

By Tim Wise

To truly understand a nation, a culture, or its people,
it helps to know what they take for granted.

After all, sometimes the things that go unspoken are
more powerful than the spoken word, if for no other
reason than the tendency of unspoken assumptions to
reinforce core ways of thinking, feeling and acting,
without ever having to be verbalized (and thus
subjected to challenge) at all.

What's more, when people take certain things for
granted, anything that goes against the grain of what
they perceive as "normal" will tend to stand out like a
sore thumb, and invite a hostility that seems
reasonable, at least to those dispensing it, precisely
because their unspoken assumptions have gone
uninterrogated for so long.

Thus, every February I encounter people who are
apoplectic at the thought of Black History Month, and
who insist with no sense of irony or misgiving that
there should be no such thing, since, after all, there
is no White History Month--a position to which they can
only adhere because they have taken for granted that
"American history" as told to them previously was
comprehensive and accurate, as opposed to being largely
the particular history of the dominant group.

In other words, the normalcy of the white narrative,
which has rendered every month since they popped out of
their momma's wombs White History Month, escapes them,
and makes the efforts of multiculturalists seem to be
the unique break with an otherwise neutral color-
blindness.

Sorta' like those who e-mail me on a semi-regular basis
to insist, as if they have just stumbled upon a truth
of unparalleled profundity, that there should be an
Ivory Magazine to balance out Ebony, or that we need a
White Entertainment Television network to balance out
BET, or a NAAWP to balance out the NAACP.

Again, these dear souls ignore what is obvious to
virtually all persons of color but which remains unseen
by those whose reality gets to be viewed as the norm:
namely, that there are already two Ivory Magazines--
Vogue and Cosmopolitan; that there are several WETs,
which just so happen to go by the names of CBS, NBC and
ABC; and that the Fortune 500, U.S. Congress and
Fraternal Orders of Police are all doing a pretty good
job holding it down for us white folks on the
organizational front. Just because the norm is not
racially-named, doesn't mean it isn't racialized.

Likewise the ongoing backlash against affirmative
action, by those who seem to believe that opportunity
would truly be equal in the absence of these presumably
unjust efforts to ensure access to jobs and higher
education for persons of color.

We are to believe that before affirmative action things
were fine, and that were such efforts abolished now,
things would return to this utopic state of affairs: to
hell with the persistent evidence that people of color
continue to face discrimination in employment, housing,
education and all other institutional settings in the
U.S.

So if the University of Michigan gives applicants of
color twenty points on a 150-point admission scale, so
as to promote racial diversity and balance out the
disadvantages to which such students are often
subjected in their K-12 schooling experience, that is
seen as unfair racial preference.

But when the same school gives out 16 points to kids
from the lily-white Upper Peninsula, or four points for
children of overwhelmingly white alumni, or ten points
for students who went to the state's "top" schools (who
will be disproportionately white), or 8 points for
those who took a full slate of Advanced Placement
classes in high schools (which classes are far less
available in schools serving students of color), this
is seen as perfectly fair, and not at all racially
preferential.

What's more, the whites who received all those bonus
points due to their racial and class position will not
be thought of by anyone as having received unearned
advantages, in spite of the almost entirely ascriptive
nature of the categories into which they fell that
qualified them for such bonuses. No matter their
"qualifications," it will be taken for granted that any
white student at a college or University belongs there.

This is why Jennifer Gratz, the lead plaintiff in the
successful "reverse discrimination" suit against
Michigan's undergraduate affirmative action policy,
found it a supreme injustice that a few dozen black,
Latino and American Indian students were admitted ahead
of her, despite having lower SATs and grades; but she
thought nothing of the fact that more than 1400 other
white students also were admitted ahead of her and her
co-plaintiffs, despite having lower scores and grades.

"Lesser qualified" whites are acceptable, you see,
while "lesser qualified" people of color must be
eliminated from their unearned perches of opportunity.
This is the kind of racist logic that people like
Gratz, who now heads up the state's anti-affirmative
action initiative with the financial backing of Ward
Connerly, find acceptable.

This kind of logic also explains the effort of whites
at Roger Williams University to start a "white
scholarship fund," on the pretense that scholarships
for students of color are unfair and place whites at a
disadvantage.

This, despite the unmentioned fact that about 93
percent of all college scholarship money goes to
whites; despite the fact that students of color at
elite and expensive colleges come from families with
about half the average income of whites; despite the
fact that there are scholarships for pretty much every
kind of student under the sun, including children of
Tupperware dealers, kids whose parents raise horses,
kids who are left-handed, kids whose families descend
from the founding fathers: you name it, and there's
money available for it.

While there are plenty of whites unable to afford
college, the fault for this unhappy reality lies not
with minority scholarships, but rather with the
decisions of almost exclusively white University elites
to raise the price of higher education into the
stratosphere, to the detriment of most everyone.

But to place blame where it really belongs, on rich
white people, would be illogical. After all, we take it
for granted that one day we too might be wealthy, and
we wouldn't want others to question our decisions and
prerogatives come that day either.

Better to blame the dark-skinned for our hardship,
since we can take it for granted that they're powerless
to do anything about it.

Whites, as it turns out, take most everything for
granted in this country; which makes perfect sense,
because dominant groups usually have that privilege.

We take for granted that we won't be racially profiled
even when members of our group engage in criminality at
a disproportionate rate, whether the crime is corporate
fraud, serial killing, child molestation, abortion
clinic bombings or drunk driving. And indeed we won't
be.

We take it for granted that our terrorism won't result
in whites as a group being viewed with generalized
suspicion. So Tim McVeigh represents only Tim McVeigh,
while Mohammed Atta gets to serve as a proxy for every
other person who either has his name or follows a
prophet of that name.

We take it for granted that our dishonesty will be
viewed in purely individualistic terms, while the
dishonesty of others will result in aspersions being
cast upon the entire group from which they come.

Thus, Jayson Blair's deceptions at the New York Times
provoke howls of indignation at any effort to provide
opportunity to journalists of color--because after all,
diversity and quality are proven by this one man's
exploits to be incompatible--but Jack Kelley's equally
egregious fabrications and fraud at USA Today fails to
prompt calls for an end to hiring white guys as
reporters, or for scrutinizing them more carefully, or
for closing down whatever avenues of opportunity have
helped keep the profession so white for so long.

We take it for granted that we will never be viewed as
one of those dreaded "special interest" groups,
precisely because whatever serves our interests is
presumed universal.

So, for example, while politicians who pursue the
support of black, Latino, gay or other "minority"
voters are said to be pandering to special interests,
those who bend over backwards to secure the backing of
NASCAR dads and soccer moms, whose racial composition
is as self-evident as it is unmentioned, are said to be
politically savvy and merely trying to connect with
"normal folks."

We take it for granted that "classical music" is a
perfectly legitimate term for what really amounts to
one particular classical form (mostly European
orchestral and piano concerto music), ignoring that
there are, indeed, classical forms of all musical
styles, as well as their more contemporary versions.

We take it for granted that the only controversy
regarding Jesus is whether or not he was killed by Jews
or Romans; or whether the depiction of his execution by
Mel Gibson is too violent for children, all the while
ignoring a much larger issue, which is why does Gibson
(and for that matter every other white filmmaker or
artist in the history of the faith) feel the need to
make Jesus white: something he surely could not have
been and was not, with all due apology to Michelangelo,
Constantine, Pat Robertson, and the producers of "Jesus
Christ Superstar."

That the only physical descriptions of Jesus in the
Bible indicate that he had feet the color of burnt
brass, and hair like wool, poses a slight problem for
Gibson and other followers of the white Jesus hanging
in their churches, adorning their crucifixes (if
Catholic), and gracing the Christmas cards they send
each December.

It is the same problem posed by the anthropological
evidence concerning the physical appearance of first
century Jews from that part of Northern Africa we
prefer to call the "Middle East" (and why is that I
wonder?). Namely, Jesus did not look like a long-haired
version of my Ashkenazi Jewish, Eastern European great-
grandfather in his prime.

But to even bring this up is to send most white
Christians (and sadly, even many of color) into fits,
replete with assurances that "it doesn't matter what
Jesus looked like, it only matters what he did."

Which is all fine and good, until you realize that
indeed it must matter to them what Jesus looked like;
otherwise, they wouldn't be so averse to presenting him
as the man of color he most assuredly was: a man dark
enough to guarantee that were he to come back tomorrow,
and find himself on the wrong side of New York City at
the wrong time of night, reaching for his keys or his
wallet in the presence of the Street Crimes Unit, he'd
be dispatched far more expeditiously than was done at
Golgotha 2000 years ago.

But never fear: we needn't grapple with that because we
can merely take it for granted that Jesus had to look
like us, as did Adam and Eve, and as does God himself.
And indeed, most whites believe this to be true, as
proven by every single picture Bible for kids made by a
white person, all of which present these figures in
such a way.

Consider the classic and widely distributed Robert
Maxwell Bible Series for children, popularly known as
the "blue books," which are found in virtually every
pediatrician and OBGYN's office in the U.S. In Volume
I, readers learn (at least visually speaking) that the
Garden of Eden was in Oslo: a little-known fact that
will stun Biblical scholars to be sure.

It would all be quite funny were it not so
incontestably insane, so pathological in terms of the
scope of our nuttiness. What else, after all, can
explain the fact that when a New Jersey theatre company
put on a passion play a few years ago with a black
actor in the lead role, they received hundreds of
hateful phone calls and even death threats for daring
to portray Jesus as anyone darker than, say, Shaun
Cassidy?

What else but a tenuous (at best) grip on reality can
explain the quickness with which many white Americans
ran around after 9/11 saying truly stupid shit like
"now we know what it means to be attacked for who we
are?"

Now we know? Hell, some folks always knew what that was
like, though their pain and suffering never counted for
much in the eyes of the majority.

What else but delusion on a scale necessitating
medication could lead one to say--as two whites did on
CNN in the wake of the first O.J. Simpson verdict--that
they now realized everything they had been told about
the American justice system being fair was a lie? Now
they realized it! See the theme here?

That's what privilege is, for all those who constantly
ask me what I mean when I speak of white privilege.
It's the ability to presume that your reality is the
reality; that your experiences, if white, are
universal, and not particular to your racial identity.

It's the ability to assume that you belong and that
others will presume that too; the ability to define
reality for others, and expect that definition to stick
(because you have the power to ensure that it becomes
the dominant narrative).

And it's the ability to ignore all evidence to the
contrary, claim that you yourself are the victim, and
get everyone from the President to the Supreme Court to
the average white guy on the street to believe it.

It is Times New Roman font, one inch margins, left hand
justified. In other words, it is the default position
on the computer of American life. And it has rendered
vast numbers of its recipients utterly incapable of
critical thought.

Only by rebelling against it, and insisting on our own
freedom from the mental straightjacket into which we
have been placed as whites by this system, can we hope
to regain our full humanity, and be of any use as
allies to people of color in their struggle against
racism

http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2004-04/12wise.cfm

Tim Wise is an antiracist activist, essayist and
father. He can be reached at timjwise@msn.com.
Death threats, while neither appreciated nor desired, will be
graded for form, content and originality.


The Kill Zone: Moving Wounded in Fallujah

dear all-
i really need to learn to write faster. but what with all of this AND working for prothap, everyone else's reports got out before mine. oh well. here is my own description of what happened.

and there will be another one as soon as i can knock it out....we went back in and even crazier stuff happened.

i miss you all.
david
PS carlos pls do not send this to mom and dad or lizzie.

The first thing you notice is the silence. An unnerving, horrible quiet
without the sound of voices, car engines, children playing, or televisions. Even the birds are wise enough to have gone elsewhere. And yet we are in a small city in the middle of the day.

We passed the last mujaheedin patrol two blocks ago, and they waved us
through when our escort told them what we were there for. To evacuate
wounded, and to collect the dead.

We drop out of the truck and start walking, our passports held high in our
otherwise empty hands. We leave our Iraqi driver and guide and enter the
crushing quiet of the Kill Zone, the no man’s land between the rebels and
the American forces, somewhere inside the town of Fallujah.

The team is made up of myself, a British woman, and an Iraqi woman. On the way in, I grab the Brit’s hand and squeeze it. “For luck,” I say, and I think I will remember the wink she gives me for the rest of my life.

No one, and I mean no one, is on the empty streets. We advance cautiously for about fifty yards, and then someone opens the door of a house, gesturing frantically around a corner with wild eyes. We can see what he is pointing at: a man lies in the street, covered in blood, a Kalashnikov still slung around his body. To retrieve him, however, will mean walking into American sniper fire.

If we carefully look through cracks in the brick wall that leads to the street, we can see them. Three soldiers in shooting positions, aiming straight down the way toward the victim. The situation is further complicated by a car that stands abandoned behind the prone man, all four doors hanging open as if the occupants have suddenly fled. Around it are scattered several RPG’s and rockets. So if we attempt to do anything, the Americans will assume we are enemy fighters.

The Brit tries first. “HELLO!”, she yells. “Can you hear me?”
No response.
I give it a try. “We are a medical emergency team! We want to retrieve
this man in the street!”
Maybe it’s the American accent. “Go ahead!” yells someone.
“Okay! We’re coming out! Don’t shoot!” I reply.

We leave the safety of the wall and enter the street. The three Americans
look at us like we’re insane. We go to the victim and immediately see he
is gone: rigor mortis has even set in. We pick him up and start to carry
him through the dead streets back toward the waiting truck. After we have
gone about a block, one of the Americans yells from behind us, “Hey!”
We stop.
“Drop your weapons!”
I want to laugh. But it’s not funny. Or maybe it is. “We don’t have any
weapons!”
He nods. “Oh. Okay!”
We resume hauling the corpse to the truck.

Entering Fallujah was difficult, but not impossible. We came in along the
back roads, following the scintillating Furat river (called the Euphrates
by the colonizers), past beautiful date groves, villages of clay houses,
and herds of goats. The air is marvelously dry, clean, and bright, the
polar opposite of Baghdad’s choking, fume-ridden skies. It is a fantastic
and timeless landscape.

We are a group of six internationals bringing medical supplies to the town
in a chartered bus. Along the way, we pass a stream of vehicles headed the opposite direction, evacuating women and children. On our own path we are joined by minivans and pickups carrying medical and other supplies into the besieged city. People stand by the roadside, offering water and food to anyone helping their city. At one point, a group of young boys literally throws bread and rolls into our bus, hitting us in the heads.
The murderous operation against Fallujah has indeed united Iraqis in
solidarity.

As we get closer, every crossroads is guarded by groups of masked
mujahadeen wielding rifles. They wave us on and shout “Bravo!” in Arabic.
The people’s spirit is strong here, and they intend to fight to the death
against the Americans.

This venture has been arranged by a friend of ours, an Iraqi activist and
professional bodyguard who has the necessary contacts to ensure our
safety. He is tall, given to relentless chainsmoking, with a moustache,
tiny glasses, and a paunch. He is also, incidentally, barking mad. But in
some situations, it’s only the craziest people that you can trust.

When we first arrive in Fallujah, we go immediately to a hospital, which
is really a converted clinic, and deliver the medical supplies. We haven’t
been there ten minutes when casualties start arriving.

A car screeches around the corner and slams to a stop in front of the
hospital. Volunteers scramble for stretchers while young mujahadeen, faces covered by khaffiyas, scan the horizon. A family: a mother and two
children, are removed from the vehicle. They have all been shot, and are
screaming in pain. We help bring them inside the already crowded building.

We are also shown an ambulance that the Iraqis claim was shot up by the
Americans. It has bullet holes in the front windows, sides, and top. They
say the Americans do not respect international law, and openly attack
ambulances.

Our Iraqi host soon wades through the crowd to find us. “I need volunteers!”, he shouts, his preferred method of communication, “Now!”
“To do what, exactly?”, someone enquires.
“Retrieve wounded persons!”
My hand goes up, and the next thing I know, myself, the Brit, and the
Iraqi woman are standing in the back of a truck, with a grimly smiling
Fallujah man next to us who waves a Red Crescent flag and sings “Allah
akbar, God is great”, as we roll towards the Kill Zone. A fighter holding
an RPG-7 waves at us as we pass him.

We return successfully to the hospital with the dead body, to find that
our Iraqi activist friend has driven an ambulance through American sniper
positions to move wounded people. He returns shortly, his mission
accomplished, and the shooting victims are carried into the building.

By now night has fallen. Nevertheless, on the next ambulance run, our team of three volunteers to help. As we mount the van, I squeeze the Brit’s
hand and she winks at me. Then away we go. Iraqi guide drives murderously fast, and as we wheel around one corner, he yells, “Snipers!” and we all hit the floor of the van.

But there are no shots fired, and we arrive at another clinic in a
different part of town to move wounded patients to the main hospital. We
run with rolling gurneys through the dark, there being no electricity in
Fallujah at the moment, and load the patients to the ambulance, for
another harrowing ride back.

As soon as we arrive the hospital staff tell us that there is a pregnant
woman in premature labor that needs to come to the hospital. So we are off again, to another part of town. This time there is no warning from the
driver. Only a rifle crack as American snipers open fire on our ambulance.

Riding in the back, I can see the flash of the gun as bullets pierce the
walls of the vehicle above our heads. Thank God I am on the floor. Another
shooter blows out our headlights, and I hear the Brit, who is in the front
seat, scream as pieces of engine spray into the cabin. Then they take out
our front tires. It is madness, we are in a clearly marked ambulance, with
a flashing, noisy siren, and they are shooting at us. Another bullet rips
into the engine as the driver throws the vehicle into reverse. We hit a
curb doing about ninety miles an hour, which takes out the rear tires. We
screech back to the hospital on rims alone.

That’s the last trip for that night, as the ambulance is, for the moment,
beyond repair. We watch more casualties of the attacks arrive in private
cars, including a severely burned man who was hit by cluster bombs,
breathlessly praying as he is carried inside.

It is now late, and since there is not much we can do at the clinic, we retire to our quarters for the night. We are led along dark streets, keeping close to the walls, while red and orange military flares shoot overhead and rocketfire is heard in the distance. We are put up in a family’s house, where we sit down to a much needed dinner in Fallujah.

The next morning we begin to load our bus, the same one we arrived in,
with wounded people to take to Baghdad hospitals. While this is transpiring, the Iraqi woman whom we went out with the day before runs up to me. “The same mission as before, the same place they want us to go,” she says. ”Do you want to do it?”

We jump on board a truck, carrying a white Red Crescent flag. Our favorite
mujahadeen, a boy of eleven years who is already a seasoned fighter,
shouts that nothing will happen to us, that they will protect us and that god is on our side. We roll back towards the Kill Zone. I squeeze the Brit’s hand. She winks at me.

Where before there were a few Marines, now there are scores. A whole line of houses are occupied, and soldiers are visible on every roof, scanning the horizon with field glasses. We leave the truck and start walking, repeating the same lines: “We are an international emergency medical team! Please do not shoot us!”

Three Marines run down the front stairs of a house and approach us very
cautiously. They take up positions on the street and nervously eye us.
Their team leader, sweaty and covered with dust, looks me over
incredulously, an American in an orange baseball cap and jeans. “What in
the fuck are you doing here?”, he asks. I could well ask the same of him,
but I don’t.
“We’re here to evacuate wounded people,” the Brit replies.
“There aren’t any around here,” he says. We tell him we have to look
anyway, and he says okay and returns to the house that he and his men are operating out of.

We find a middle aged unarmed man nearby lying in the street, shot in the
neck and dead. As we begin to remove his body, his family pours out of a
nearby house, all of them hysterical with grief and fear. They want to know why someone didn’t come earlier, why he had to die, and if they themselves can safely leave. It is a very difficult situation, and the Iraqi woman with us does an excellent job of keeping everyone calm. Myself and the Brit return to the Marines, to negotiate the evacuation of the family, who are one half-block away from the soldiers.

The Marines also ask us a favor: they have a family in a house that they are occupying, and they cannot give them food or water. Can we evacuate
them as well? We agree, and our Iraqi comrade goes inside with the
soldiers to talk to the second family.

The Brit and I wait for her on the curb, the only two people on the otherwise empty streets. The day is hot and dry, and it seems bizarre to be just sitting there in the dust in the middle of a war. But we feel we are doing the right thing at the moment.

As the family in the house emerges, gunfire starts up very nearby, and the
Marines tell us we are going to have to get this thing done fast. We group
the two families together, then load them all onto the truck that we came
in on, as well as a new, functioning ambulance that has just arrived. We
also put the slain father and the bodies of two dead fighters in the back
of the ambulance, where due to space, we are forced to ride. The stench of death is almost overpowering and a cloud of flies accompanies us back to the hospital.

By then it is time to go. The bus is loaded with injured persons, including the burn victim, and we say our goodbyes to the hospital staff. Word is sent out to the mujahadeen guarding the roads to let us through safely, and we begin the journey back to Baghdad.

There is only one hitch on the return trip, when we take a wrong turn and
run into a bunch of fighters who have not heard about us. It seems that
they are not centrally organized, working in small groups, and these folks
don’t know who we are. They literally come out of the woodwork brandishing Kalashnikovs and pistols, pointing them at the bus and demanding to know what we are doing there with a bunch of foreigners on a bus leaving Fallujah. Are we evacuating wounded Americans? Are we spies? It is very tense for a few moments, but luckily the bus is filled with locals, who explain indignantly to the gunmen what is going on, and we are then free to go.

Our first stop in Baghdad is the Italian hospital, to drop off the most severe injuries. An Italian friend meets us there and she greets me in her usual fashion. “Fuck you bastard,” she says, “I am worrying about you all the night.” Yeah, well, I was worrying about me all the night too.

[photo gallery of Iraqi civilian casualties on robert-fisk.com]


March 2004

Theaters Against War (THAW) hosts:
Resistance 101: Theater, activism, change
A Pro-Peace & justice Teach-in
April 15th and 17th, 2004 at City University New York-Hunter College

The University as a Creative Zone for Peace and Dialogue

Hi Everyone -

I have helped organize this great teach-in for artists and activists and anyone who wants to know about the role of arts (especially theater) during these times that call for greater resistance and public demand for accountability. There will be many well known, fun performers, academics and artists.
Hope you all can come and as always - tell a friend - or three - or six.

Love Kayhan

Students! Artists! Citizens!

April 15, 2004 – Noon to 6 pm:
The University as a Creative Zone for Peace and Dialogue
Hunter College Students, Faculty and Staff and others transform the campus into a dense intersection of creative anti-war activities – Agit-Prop, Image Theater, video, Living Newspaper, Forum Theater, Installation art, Parades and more!

April 17, 2004 – All Day: Theater, Activism, Change
11 am – 1:15 pm Panel 1: The Crisis Defined
How Bad Have Things Gotten Under Bush and Co?

1:45 – 4 pm: Panel 2: Theater Responding to Crisis
Inroads and Theatrical Strategies of Resistance
Panel Participants: Key community members, activists, artists, journalists and scholars

4:30 – 6 pm: Interactive workshops
– To culminate in salon presentations

7:30 pm: April Freedom Follies – THAW’s monthly Pro-Peace Party and Cabaret

For ways to participate, location details, and updates, go to www.THAWaction.org

ALL EVENTS ARE FREE

Educate -- Organize – Activate


My New Year is Yours
I had no idea others celebrated Navroze
By Kayhan Irani

Originally published on iranian.com

It started with an online conversation with a friend last year, around this time.

We are both Parsis -- Zoroastrians from the Indian subcontinent -- and were celebrating Navroze, or New Year, on March 21, 2003. We were talking about the proper gestures to make when receiving and giving blessings during a Navroze ritual, and were both equally hesitant to identify any definite gestures.

I have run into this particular issue regularly -- I was raised in New York City around a small moderate Zoroastrian community and never received any formal training or intense guidance regarding ceremonial practice and ritual. In fact, many times I am left feeling like a child, attempting to cross the street alone for the first time, looking to those around me to provide clues as to when I should move and what I should do. After much speculation and laughter between the two of us, it was concluded that neither of us were much help.

She then happened to mention the Mayor's proclamation, made last year in New York, which formally recognized the diverse religions and cultures that celebrate New Year during the vernal equinox.

I was momentarily taken aback by her revelation -- strangely saddened that my small, somewhat obscure, yet special day, may be investigated and pried into by those in the public who might take an interest. I soon got over the passing cloud of romantic exclusivity, and entered into the warm realization that this unique day was not exclusive at all -- but rather, totally inclusive and supremely mixed.

Before she read me the proclamation, I was aware that Iranians, (Zoroastrians and those of different religions), celebrated Navroze -- but I had no idea that Afghans, Kurds (of many nationalities), and others in the Middle East as well as in Central Asia celebrated Navroze (spelled and pronounced differently depending on culture).

That's when it hit me: every year when my family gathers to celebrate the coming of spring and to share our love, so many others are gathering for the very same reason. It is no matter that we are all culturally diverse and even have different religions -- it is the fact that we, all of us, as a collective are taking the same time to be united and peaceful and joyous. The importance is not what gestures we make or how our rituals differ, but that we all do a united SOMETHING.

Growing up I had a somewhat blended Navroze celebration. My parents were born and raised in India but moved to Iran after their marriage -- returning to the country which my father's parents actually emigrated from -- and from which my mother's ancestors came from hundreds of years ago.

Within the Parsi community in India, there are different categories: one includes families who have been in India for generations, (like my mother's). Another category is recent immigrants from Iran, such as my father's parents. Actually it is a tradition now, for these newer Zoroastrian immigrants from Iran, to change their last name to Irani (literally meaning from Iran) when they come to India.

The Parsis of India developed a unique culture of their own, and it is this culture that laid the basis for our family's Navroze celebration; however their time in Iran influenced our celebration as well. They adopted and integrated some Iranian customs. For example, most Parsis include a "Ses," which is a tray holding a container of rosewater, a pot to hold the red paste with which one does a tili, (the red dot adorning the forehead on an auspicious occasion) and a cone filled with sugar lumps.

Most Iranians set a table with seven symbolic items in their celebrations. My mother had both; so I was somewhat different from other Parsis I knew, in that my personal celebration spanned two different countries and cultures. Usually my family also participated in our temple's larger celebration, which brought the religious community together on one evening for prayer and feasting. Up until recently it was separate from the Iranian Zoroastrians; however we do now have joint celebrations.

So all my life I have been aware of two cultures that recognized Navroze -- but definitely thought it was sacred only to Zoroastrians. I've never thought much about Navroze otherwise. Mostly I thought about my family and the Parsi community around me, and perhaps of my relatives in India.

Along with thoughts of family and friends, while ringing in the New Year, one is supposed to give thanks for the blessings they have received in the past year and to also think about those who may not have been blessed with as much. To be honest, when I reflected, I had in me the abstract notion of those who have less, and those whose lives may be harder than mine; but never could I isolate specifics about whom I had in mind.

But the news in last year's mayoral proclamation allowed me to identify with many more people, worldwide -- not just my family and friends -- and allowed me to tap into the special vein that was uniting all of "us," which is the belief in the sacredness of the day.

It was quite mind expanding for me to think about the countless people whose thoughts and prayers were traveling to the heavens along with mine on the same day. All those around the globe may celebrate Navroze in a similar or different manner; however the sentiment behind the ritual and pomp is the same: showing gratitude for all we have and creating blessings for the coming year.

But last year's celebration became more poignant than ever. With the knowledge of the proclamation being made, I was educated to the fact that those other cultures and people celebrating the day with me this year may also have been fighting for their lives, their sovereignty, their voice. The abstract notion of those who have less became all too clear, and it is still as poignant this year.

The Afghans may be remembering this day perhaps under fire or direct occupation of their towns and villages, but were finally able to celebrate the holiday, as of last year, since the Taliban's restrictions are no longer in place. The Iraqi Kurds rang in last New Year under fire, bombed by Saddam Hussein's forces and perhaps by the USA as well; and are most definitely bringing in this New Year under much hardship from intolerance and violence.

I am aware that the Kurds, the Afghans, and many other cultures celebrating New Year have been oppressed for many more years than just the past two but it was the definite knowledge that the country in which I live, the very country that I lift up and give thanks to for all my opportunity and blessings, this very same country has been the source of much grief and turmoil for others who would like to be able to simply gather and give thanks quietly and peacefully.

My new understanding that last year's proclamation brought, not only of the diversity in the expression of New Year but in the actual hopes, fears, dreams and wishes swirling around on this complicated day, led me to think along even broader lines. Especially since this year, on the 20th of March, one day after the official start of Navroze, thousands would be marching in New York in peace and unity to commemorate the one year anniversary of the war waged against Iraq and demand peace.

I wonder where the New Year's thoughts are of those who have recently experienced war and trauma. Perhaps they are thinking of what they have just lived through and asking for the strength to endure some more, just a bit more. Perhaps they are asking to be blessed with a future, with a new day where they may once again plan and have hopes. Who knows?

I know that my own internal ritual has changed forever. I can no longer celebrate Navroze thinking only of my immediate community and family. No, my mind will be traveling the globe seeking out those other little beams of light energy sent towards the Heavens. My prayers will link on to that chain of prayers making its way across time and space and I will be united with many others I have never, and may never meet.

It is wonderful to know that so many peoples that may not usually stand together as "we" are now aware that we are a WE, an US, united in giving reverence to a higher power, united in sending out energy of peace and love together that no ritual can trump.


CIVIL WAR NOW LOOMS IN
BOTH PALESTINE AND IRAQ

"We are entering a dark and sinister period of Iraqi history... An
occupation authority...keeps shouting 'civil war' in our ears
and I worry about that."

MER - Washington - 3 March 2004:
Both in occupied Palestine and in occupied Iraq American and Israeli policies continue to subjugate and divide the populations pushing different groups for different reasons toward civil war. Of course they insist they don't want that result, but their policies at the very least appear designed to risk that most dangerous of conflagrations in pursuit of their own self-serving and hypocritically crass political, strategic, and financial interests.

This is actually history repeating itself of course. The British and the French pursued such policies in the last century, igniting the crises we are dealing with today in Palestine, in Kashmir, and indeed in Iraq. Indeed, in a very real sense what has been taking place since the 1940s in Palestine is a civil war between Jews and Arabs inspired and ignited by the British; with considerable U.N. and American complicity even then.
In more recent times the American Empire has pursued its own versions of divide-and-rule resulting in great anquish and death for the peoples of the Middle East and other regions. Just ask the Kurds, the Lebanese, the Algerians...and the Vietnamese, the Cambodians, and today the Chechnyans...to name only a few others who have terribly suffered at least partly due to the policies and intriques of the Western imperial powers of today and yesteryear.

And now, stoked by Western occupations, interventions, and intriques (i.e., CIA) for so many decades past, here we are in 2004 with historic showdowns looming both in the cradle of civilization, Mesopotamia, and in the once Holy Land of the bible. It takes a serious, committed, and knowledgeable journalist like Robert Fisk to help sum up things Iraqi in a few carefully chosen words and contexts. And it takes a determined and in-the-know Israeli like Roni Ben Efrat to put Sharon and Gaza into better focus.


A Convenient Carnage
All This Talk of Civil War, Now This
By ROBERT FISK*

The Independent - 2nd March 2004 - Odd, isn't it? There never has
been a civil war in Iraq. I have never heard a single word of animosity
between Sunnis and Shias in Iraq.

Al-Qa'ida has never uttered a threat against Shias - even though al-Qa'ida
is a Sunni-only organisation. Yet for weeks, the American occupation
authorities have been warning us about civil war, have even produced a
letter said to have been written by an al-Qa'ida operative, advocating a
Sunni-Shia conflict. Normally sane journalists have enthusiastically taken
up this theme. Civil war.

Somehow I don't believe it. No, I don't believe the Americans were behind
yesterday's carnage despite the screams of accusation by the Iraqi survivors yesterday. But I do worry about the Iraqi exile groups who think that their own actions might produce what the Americans want: a fear of civil war so intense that Iraqis will go along with any plan the United States produces for Mesopotamia.

I think of the French OAS in Algeria in 1962, setting off bombs among
France's Muslim Algerian community. I recall the desperate efforts of the
French authorities to set Algerian Muslim against Algerian Muslim which led to half a million dead souls.

And I'm afraid I also think of Ireland and the bombings in Dublin and
Monaghan in 1974, which, as the years go by, appear to have an ever closer link, via Protestant "loyalist" paramilitaries, to elements of British
military security.

But the bombs in Karbala and Baghdad were clearly co-ordinated. The same brain worked behind them. Was it a Sunni brain? When the occupation authorities' spokesman suggested yesterday that it was the work of al-Qa'ida, he must have known what he was saying: that al-Qa'ida is a Sunni movement, that the victims were Shias.

It's not that I believe al-Qa'ida incapable of such a bloodbath. But I ask
myself why the Americans are rubbing this Sunni-Shia thing so hard. Let's
turn the glass round the other way. If a violent Sunni movement wished to
evict the Americans from Iraq - and there is indeed a resistance movement fighting very cruelly to do just that - why would it want to turn the Shia population of Iraq, 60 per cent of Iraqis, against them? The last thing such a resistance would want is to have the majority of Iraqis against it.

So what about al-Qa'ida? Repeatedly, the Americans have told us that the
suicide bombers were "foreigners". And so they may be. But can we have some identities, nationalities? The US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, has talked of the hundreds of "foreign" fighters crossing Saudi Arabia's "porous" borders.

The US press have dutifully repeated this. The Iraqi police keep announcing that they have found the bombers' passports, so can we have the numbers?

We are entering a dark and sinister period of Iraqi history. But an
occupation authority which should regard civil war as the last prospect it
ever wants to contemplate, keeps shouting "civil war" in our ears and I
worry about that. Especially when the bombs make it real.

* Robert Fisk is a reporter for The Independent and author of Pity the Nation.


Gaza Striptease
By Roni Ben Efrat

When Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced his decision to
withdraw unilaterally from the Gaza Strip and dismantle 17 settlements,
there was reason, one might think, for celebration in certain quarters.
Yet few rejoiced. There is the uneasy feeling that his words do not bode
an end to the 37-year-old Occupation, rather further entanglement.
Some call the would-be withdrawal an escape, some call it a threat
against the Palestinians, and some call it a means to strengthen
Israel's hold on the West Bank. One thing it is not: a step toward
resolving the conflict.

In Israeli eyes, Gaza was always damaged goods. The campaign slogan of Yitzhak Rabin in 1992 was "Pull Gaza out of Tel Aviv". The Oslo
Agreement originally bore the title, "Gaza and Jericho First". (Hamas
and others are mistaken, then, when they present an Israeli withdrawal
from Gaza as a victory for the resistance.) It suits Sharon, whose
approval rating has plunged, to propose "disconnection" from this
unwanted place. It makes a show of progress toward security, and it may
distract the public from corruption scandals in which he is mired to the neck.

Under present conditions, however, Sharon will find it almost impossible
to disconnect from Gaza. The hurdles are high:

Hurdle 1: The White House
First Sharon needs to persuade the Americans. The Bush Administration is fixated on the Road Map, which has won United Nations approval. If only
for the sake of its own prestige, the US cannot countenance a situation
where its protégé withdraws and leaves a vacuum of sovereignty, in which
no one is legally responsible for the area. (The PA, after all, does not
preside over a sovereign state.) That is why the Americans insist that
Sharon "coordinate" the move with the Palestinians. "Coordinate" means
"negotiate". Once you have to "coordinate," however, you can no longer
be "unilateral". Ex-mediator Dennis Ross has coined an oxymoron for the
situation: "coordinated unilateralism". Verbal blankets keep no one warm.

The Bush Administration will not give voice to its opposition. It must
not appear to disagree with Sharon. Otherwise, the Arabs will sit back,
hoping for a rupture. The White House wants to keep the Palestinians
under pressure. It wants them to move forward on the Road Map. Of
Sharon's proposal it says, therefore, "Great idea! But coordinate." A
White House official has advised the Israeli leader, "Think about 'the
day after'." Wise words indeed from the folks who brought us the war
against Iraq!

Hurdle 2: Sharon’s Coalition
Within his own government, Sharon has no majority for a unilateral
withdrawal. He did not raise the proposal in his cabinet, therefore,
preferring to announce it in an interview with Yoel Marcus of Ha'aretz.
With a view to holding his right-wing government together, he has
recently broached the idea of a package deal. In return for withdrawal
from Gaza, the Americans should give him a "green light" for building in
those West Bank settlements that, under any "conceivable" agreement,
will be annexed to Israel. There is little chance that the Americans
would grant him that, forfeiting their relations with the Arab world –
unless, of course, the Palestinians agree. So again there is nothing
unilateral here.

Without such a package deal, the right wing will not go along. As for
the Labor Party, it is in dismal condition since the last national unity
government. It will not join Sharon in a new one unless it sees a chance
for major electoral gains. Labor too will insist on coordination.

There is, then, little chance for unilateral disconnection. But if the
first two hurdles were somehow passed, there would still be:

Hurdle 3: The settlers. They will resist.

Sharon's proposal, in short, does not make sense, except as a threat to
get a positive move out of Abu Ala, the Palestinian Prime Minister. The
hope may be that Abu Ala (and Yasser Arafat behind him), fearing the
result of unilateral disconnection (i.e., further chaos), will agree to
coordinate, taking responsibility for the Gaza Strip, as well as 40%
(Areas A and B) of the West Bank. That would be the beginning of a
long-term interim agreement, which is the kind of thing that Sharon
might be able to sell to his party, the Likud.

There are indications that such is Sharon's thinking. For example, when
Israeli Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon first heard the idea of unilateral
withdrawal from Gaza, his response was that it "would only encourage
terrorism." He leaked his position to the press under the cover of
"senior army officer". After Sharon scolded him privately, Ya'alon changed his tune: "The disconnection plan is a good one, as an act that will get negotiations started." (Quoted by Nahum Barnea in Yediot Aharonot February 20.) Sharon persuaded Ya'alon, it would seem, that the plan is a striptease to get some movement out of Arafat and Abu Ala. The Palestinians have had their fill of interim agreements. Given the present chaos in the Territories, however, it is (just barely) conceivable that they might agree to such an arrangement, hoping then to stabilize the situation.

Two historical footnotes:
1. In going out on a limb with his "unilateral disconnection", Sharon
will do well to remember the fate of his predecessor, Ehud Barak. The
parallels are striking. Barak too tried to save his skin by means of a
daring political venture – against his coalition and against all odds.
He attempted a virtuoso stunt, leaping over the heads of his cabinet and
the Knesset. After stuffing them with bitter herbs, he sought to force
the Palestinians to confer at Camp David "until white smoke appeared,"
that is, until he extracted an agreement to end all Palestinian claims
in accordance with his dictation. The talks collapsed. Barak fell from power. He had sown the seeds of the chaos that grips the Territories
today.

Barak had one major asset, however, that Sharon does not: Bill Clinton
in the White House.

2. There is one thing that the Americans and others find hard to grasp.
If Sharon is ready to disconnect from Gaza, why didn't he do this when
Abu Mazen was Palestinian PM, strengthening the latter by appearing to
make a concession? Israel was so unforthcoming with Abu Mazen that his
government collapsed. This caused loss of face to the Bush
Administration, which had supported him. It also derailed the Road Map.
Yet now Sharon is willing to pull out unilaterally – with nothing in return!

The explanation for such odd behavior may lie, after all, with the
scorpion who wanted to cross a river. He asked the frog to carry him on
his back. The frog was wary: "You'll sting me," he said. The scorpion
replied, "Why in the world would I do that? If I sting you, I won't get
to the other side!" The frog was persuaded. In the middle of the river,
however, the scorpion stung him. "What have you done!" exclaimed the
frog. "Now we'll both drown." "Couldn't help it," said the scorpion.
"It's my nature."

Unlike the scorpion in this parable, Israel has reasons to sting – but
the result is the same. Israel regards the West Bank (not Gaza) as its
strategic hinterland. It has no interest in a peace accord that will
establish, next door, a sovereign state with real independence. It wants
an entity that is nominally sovereign but in fact dependent on it. That
is why it stings all the frogs that try to carry it across. The first
was Yasser Arafat (the Oslo Accords), and the second was Abu Mazen (the
Road Map). The third, Abu Ala, still hesitates on the river bank, but if
he is persuaded, Israel will sting him too.

With the kind of arrangement Israel wants, no Palestinian leader can
stay in power. Both sides drown. The Palestinians sink into poverty and
chaos, while Israel makes memorials from bombed-out buses. The two
societies are torn apart. Havoc, so apparent in the one, has begun to
undermine the other as well.


A YEAR OF SILENCE SINCE RACHEL CORRIE DIED
Elizabeth Corrie, Herald Tribune, 3/4/04

ATLANTA, Georgia Only a year ago, the month of March would have held the same positive associations for me as it has for many - the beginning of the end of winter, the promise of springtime and even summer. This year, and for every year for the rest of my life, the approach of March will mean something else entirely - the anniversary of the brutal death of my cousin, Rachel Corrie.

On March 16, 2003, an Israeli soldier and his commander ran over Rachel with a nine-ton Caterpillar bulldozer while she stood - unarmed, clearly visible in her orange fluorescent jacket - protecting a Palestinian home slated for demolition by the Israeli army. The death of Rachel Corrie, and the response that her case has - and has not - received, reveal several disturbing, indeed immoral and criminal, truths.

First, Rachel died while attempting to prevent the demolition of a home, a common practice of the Israeli Army's collective punishment that has left more than 12,000 Palestinians homeless since the beginning of the second uprising in September 2000. This practice violates international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Second, Rachel was run over by a Caterpillar bulldozer, manufactured in the United States and sent to Israel as part of the regular U.S. aid package to Israel, which amounts to $3 billion to $4 billion annually, all of it from U.S. taxpayers. The use of Caterpillar bulldozers to destroy civilian homes, not to mention to run over unarmed human rights activists, violates U.S. law, including the U.S. Arms Export Control Act, which prohibits the use of military aid against civilians...

As we approach March 16, residents and citizens of the United States should ask themselves how it is that an unarmed U.S. citizen can be killed with impunity by a soldier from an allied nation receiving massive U.S. aid, using a product manufactured in the United States by a U.S. corporation and paid for with U.S. tax dollars. When three Americans were killed, presumably by Palestinians, in an explosion on Oct. 15, 2003, as they traveled through Gaza, the FBI came within 24 hours to investigate the deaths. After one year, neither the FBI nor any other U.S.-led team has done anything to investigate the death of an American killed by an Israeli...

Elizabeth Corrie is an administrator and teacher in a school in Atlanta.


MARCH 20th ALERT - IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED

As tens of thousands of people from around the Northeast prepare to join us for the antiwar demonstration in New York City on March 20th, we need to call your attention to some important information. We have worked out an agreement with the NYC Police Department for the assembly area and March route. At the same time, the police told us they are planning on constructing barricades on Madison Ave. In other words, as people gather for the demonstration the police will direct everyone into barricaded areas within each block, and then use them again for the post-march rally.

Based on many experiences over the past ten years or so, we believe this is not a good plan and raised our objections to their plan at our last meeting with the police. The use of these barricades is part of the national assault on everyone's civil liberties and ability to dissent; mounting a campaign to stop their use is directly connected to the issues we are raising on March 20th. It is especially important to protest their use now in NYC where police efforts to contain protesters last year were criticized by a wide spectrum of people and forced public and media scrutiny of police tactics. We must do everything possible to make sure the police are not allowed to curtail peaceful protest this year.

The use of barricades undermines our constitutionally protected right to assemble. They break us into small units; make it very hard for people to find one another as they are assembling and for contingents to form. Because the police control when they are opened (or closed) they can be used to break up the flow of the march and in that way make us look smaller than we really are. The police say they use the barricades for safety reasons. We agree on their need to maintain a lane on Madison Ave. for emergency vehicles, we have no problem with that. That lane is set aside precisely to help the police should emergency access be needed. The barricades do not provide easier or quicker access for the police. In fact, sometimes the barricades can lead to tensions and in so doing make an otherwise safe situation less safe. We urge you to stand up for your right to unimpeded access: join us in this effort to stop the use of police barricades at the March 20th demonstration.

Here's what you can do:
a) Contact both Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Let them know you oppose the use of police barricades. They should publicly state that no barricades will be used, and at a minimum they should agree to meet with the demonstration organizers to discuss the situation. Call or fax them TODAY!

Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Phone: 212-788-3000
Fax: 212-788-9711

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly
Phone: 646-610-5410
Fax: 646-610-5865

b) Circulate this memo widely. It is important that we get word out quickly and to as many people as possible.

c) Do everything you can to help build the March 20th demonstration. Hand out leaflets, make phone calls, use your email address book, and make announcements at meetings or events you attend.
Our strongest tool is our numbers.

We do not know if we will be able to stop the police from using the barricades on March 20th, although we do know that we must take a strong, unified stand about their use! And whatever the outcome of this effort is, whether the police use the barricades or not, we are confident that March 20th will be a powerful day as people from many diverse communities come together to express our common concerns. Our strength is in both our diversity and our numbers....and we will be on the streets of New York on March 20th in tremendous numbers.

"The world does contain much ugliness and despair, but artists have the divine privilege of reshaping the world to incorporate
not a minimum amount of involvement and interpretation,
but a maximum amount."
-Thomas Kinkaid


February 2004

U.S. Embargos Extended to Editing Articles
by Mary Curtius

Washington, DC -- Saturday, February 21, 2004 -- For U.S. publishers, changing so much as a comma in an author's work can be more than a delicate process. Now it can be a crime, punishable by fines of up to $500,000 or jail terms as long as 10 years.

In a move that pits national-security concerns against academic freedom and the international flow of information, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control recently declared that publishers cannot edit works written in nations under trade embargoes. Although publishing the articles is legal, editing is a "service" and it is illegal to perform services for embargoed nations, the agency has ruled.

One publisher decided to challenge the government last week -- opting to risk criminal prosecution by editing articles submitted from the five embargoed nations: Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya and Cuba.

Weighing the Risks
"I decided that the risks of damaging our publishing program now outweighed the risks of being in violation of the law," said Robert Bovenschulte, president of the American Chemical Society's publications division. The society publishes more than 24,000 articles each year in various scientific journals, and 60 percent are from foreign nations, Bovenschulte said.

"By not publishing articles coming from the five countries under trade embargo, we were, in effect, in violation of our own ethical guidelines that say that the basis for deciding what to publish is the quality of the science in the material and excludes the national origin of that material," Bovenschulte said.

If the government decides to prosecute, he said, "I think we are going to be in good company."

Other publishers are choosing to follow the letter of the law.

"We are an ethical operation," said Michael Lightner, vice president for publications of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). "We operate under the laws of the countries in which we do business." His journals will publish articles from embargoed countries in unedited form.

The different responses reflect the confusion and anxiety in academic circles over the government's new interpretation of the law.

Policy Denounced
Some have denounced the Treasury policy, issued September 30, as a violation of a 1988 legislative amendment that barred the president from limiting the flow of informational material from embargoed nations. Several groups have appealed to President Bush's science advisor.

In a statement issued Friday in response to questions from the Los Angeles Times, that adviser, John Marburger III, indicated unease with the regulations.

Marburger said he supports "the use of economic sanctions against state sponsors of terrorism," but added, "I'm concerned about the impact interpretations of such sanctions may have on scientific publishing and, therefore, scientific openness. We are working on this issue, and hope to achieve a satisfactory resolution."

Richard Newcomb, director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, said the office does not see its ruling as involving First Amendment rights or inhibiting academic exchanges. Rather, he said, the regulations are a technical interpretation of how Congress intended embargoes to be enforced against rogue states.

"This was a straight-up ruling," Newcomb said. "... It is something we can regulate."

But the notion that publishing articles does not involve editing them is mind-boggling to many in the business.

"We were really stunned to find out this was a legal issue," said Bovenschulte of the American Chemical Society. He said his initial reaction was to impose a moratorium on articles from embargoed nations. But the society instead decided to risk running afoul of the law.

© 2004 The Los Angeles Times


Summer - Winter 2003

Career officer from the Pentagon [the Hofstra peace list]
Date: Wed, 6 Aug 2003 23:03:39 -0400

This is an article by a Karen Kwiatkowski, a recently retired Air Force Lieutenant colonel. It originally appeared on Ohio.com (of all places, with all due respect). It has some insights into how policy regarding the Middle East, specifically Iraq, was manufactured in the last year or so.

Subject: A View from the Inside Career officer does eye-opening stint inside Pentagon >By Karen Kwiatkowski.

After eight years of Bill Clinton, many military officers breathed a sigh
of relief when George W. Bush was named president. I was in that plurality.

At one time, I would have believed the administration's accusations of anti-Americanism against anyone who questioned the integrity and good faith of President Bush, Vice President Cheney or Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

However, while working from May 2002 through February 2003 in the office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Near East South Asia and Special Plans (USDP/NESA and SP) in the Pentagon, I observed the environment in which decisions about post-war Iraq were made.

Those observations changed everything.

What I saw was aberrant, pervasive and contrary to good order and discipline. If one is seeking the answers to why peculiar bits of ``intelligence'' found sanctity in a presidential speech, or why the post-Hussein occupation has been distinguished by confusion and false steps, one need look no further than the process inside the Office of the Secretary of Defense. I can identify three prevailing themes.

Functional isolation of the professional corps. Civil service and active-duty military professionals assigned to the USDP/NESA and SP were noticeably uninvolved in key areas of interest to Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith, Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld. These included Israel, Iraq and to a lesser extent, Saudi Arabia.

When the New York Times broke the story last summer of Richard Perle's invitation of Laurent Muraviec to brief the Defense Policy Board on Saudi Arabia as the next enemy of the United States, this briefing was news to the Saudi desk officer. He even had some difficulty getting a copy of it, while receiving assignments related to it.

In terms of Israel and Iraq, all primary staff work was conducted by
political appointees, in the case of Israel a desk officer appointee from
the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and in the case of Iraq, Abe Shulsky and several other appointees. These personnel may be exceptionally qualified; Shulsky authored a 1993 textbook Silent Warfare: Understanding the World of Intelligence.

But the human resource depth made possible through broad-based teamwork with the professional policy and intelligence corps was never established, and apparently, never wanted by the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld organization.

Cross-agency cliques: Much has been written about the role of the founding members of the Project for a New American Century, the Center for Security Policy and the American Enterprise Institute and their new positions in the Bush administration. Certainly, appointees sharing particular viewpoints are expected to congregate, and an overwhelming number of these appointees having such organizational ties is neither conspiratorial nor unusual. What is unusual is the way this network operates solely with its membership across the various agencies -- in particular the State Department, the National Security Council and the Office of the Vice President.

Within the Central Intelligence Agency, it was less clear to me who the
appointees were, if any. This might explain the level of interest in the CIA
taken by the Office of the Vice President. In any case, I personally
witnessed several cases of staff officers being told not to contact their
counterparts at State or the National Security Council because that
particular decision would be processed through a different channel. This
cliquishness is cause for amusement in such movies as Never Been Kissed or The Hot Chick. In the development and implementation of war planning it is neither amusing nor beneficial for American security because opposing points of view and information that doesn't ``fit'' aren't considered.

Groupthink. Defined as ``reasoning or decision-making by a group, often characterized by uncritical acceptance or conformity to prevailing points of view,'' groupthink was, and probably remains, the predominant characteristic of Pentagon Middle East policy development. The result of groupthink is the elevation of opinion into a kind of accepted ``fact,'' and uncritical acceptance of extremely narrow and isolated points of view.

The result of groupthink has been extensively studied in the history of American foreign policy, and it will have a prominent role when the history of the Bush administration is written. Groupthink, in this most recent case leading to the invasion and occupation of Iraq, will be found, I believe, to have caused a subversion of constitutional limits on executive power and a co-optation through deceit of a large segment of the Congress.
I am now retired. Shortly before my retirement I was allowed to return to my primary office of assignment, having served in NESA as a desk officer backfill for 10 months. The transfer was something I had sought, but my wish was granted only after I made a particular comment to my superior, in response to my reading of a February Secretary of State cable answering a long list of questions from a Middle Eastern country regarding U.S. planning for the aftermath in Iraq. The answers had been heavily crafted by the Pentagon, and to me, they were remarkably inadequate, given the late stage of the game. I suggested to my boss that if this was as good as it got, some folks on the Pentagon's E-ring may be sitting beside Hussein in the war crimes tribunals. Hussein is not yet sitting before a war crimes tribunal. Nor have the key decision-makers in the Pentagon been forced to account for the odd set of circumstances that placed us as a long-term occupying force in the world's nastiest rat's nest, without a nation-building plan, without significant international support and without an exit plan. Neither may ever be required to answer their accusers, thanks to this administration's military as well as publicity machine, and the disgraceful political compromises already made by most of the Congress. Ironically, only Saddam Hussein, buried under tons of rubble or in hiding, has a good excuse.


How Did We Become So Hateful?
By James Brooks

The Crime and the Cover-Up
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Monday 21 July 2003


The scandal axiom in Washington states that it is not the crime that destroys you, but the cover-up. Today in Washington you can hear terms like 'Iraqgate' and 'Weaponsgate' bandied about, but such obtuse labels do not provide an explanation for the profound movements that are taking place.

Clearly, there is a scandal brewing over the Iraq war and the Bush administration claims of Iraqi weapons arsenals that led to the shooting. Clearly, there is a cover-up taking place. Yet this instance, the crimes that have led to the cover-up are worse by orders of magnitude than the cover-up itself.

The simple fact is that America went to war in Iraq because George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and virtually every other public face within this administration vowed that Iraq had vast stockpiles of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. America went to war because these people vowed that Iraq had direct connections to al Qaeda, and by inference to the attacks of September 11.

"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised," said Bush on March 17, 2003.

"We know now that Saddam has resumed his efforts to acquire nuclear weapons," said Cheney on August 26, 2002.

"There is no doubt'' that Saddam Hussein ''has chemical weapons stocks,'' said Powell to FOX News on September 8, 2002.

"Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaeda," said Bush in his State of the Union address. On September 26, 2002, Don Rumsfeld laid the groundwork for Bush's statement by claiming that America had "bulletproof" evidence of Iraqi involvement with al Qaeda.

These public statements, augmented by hundreds more in the same vein, stoked fears within an already shellshocked American populace that Iraqi nuclear weapons and anthrax would come raining out of the sky at any moment, unless something was done. This same information was delivered in dire tones to Congress, which voted for war on Iraq based almost exclusively on the testimony of CIA Director George Tenet.

None of it was true. Not one ounce of chemical, biological or nuclear weaponry has been found in Iraq in the 82 days since "hostilities ceased" on May 1, 2003. Not one ounce of chemical, biological or nuclear weaponry has been found in Iraq in the 124 days since the shooting in Iraq officially started on March 19, 2003. Not one ounce of chemical, biological or nuclear weaponry has been found in Iraq in the 230 days since the UNMOVIC weapons inspections began in Iraq in late November of 2002. No proof whatsoever of Iraqi connections to al Qaeda has been established.

Recently, the scandal over the missing Iraq weapons and the Bush administration claims has focused on whether or not Iraq was trying to procure uranium "yellow cake" from Niger in order to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program. The last two weeks have shown decisively that the Bush administration used manufactured evidence, which had been denounced from virtually all corners of the American intelligence community, to justify their war. The administration's explanation for this has changed by the hour - They weren't told by the CIA, and then they were told but Bush and Cheney never heard about it, but it was only sixteen words in one speech, so everybody calm down.

No one is calming down. When the President of the United States terrifies the American people in his constitutionally-mandated State of the Union speech with nuclear threats based upon evidence that was universally known to be shoddily forged garbage, no one should calm down. When he uses that terror to make war on a nation that was no threat to America, no one should calm down. When over 200 American soldiers and thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians die because of this, no one should calm down. When that grisly body count rises every single day, no one should calm down.

The Niger nuclear forgery scandal is merely an accent in this criminal symphony. It has become all too clear that a small cadre of ultra-conservative hawks within the administration led us to where we are today with absolutely no oversight from the rest of the government. This group managed the run-up to war by creating demonstrably exaggerated interpretations of intelligence reports, and used 'insider data' from people with many good reasons to help lie America into this war.

The Office of Special Plans, or OSP, was created by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld specifically to second-guess and reinterpret intelligence data to justify war in Iraq. The OSP was staffed by rank amateurs, civilians whose ideological pedigree suited Rumsfeld and his cabal of hawks. Though this group was on no government payroll and endured no Congressional oversight, their information and interpretations managed to prevail over the data being provided by the State Department and CIA. This group was able to accomplish this incredible feat due to devoted patronage from high-ranking ultra-conservatives within the administration, including Vice-President Cheney.

The highest levels of the OSP were staffed by heavy-hitters like Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J. Feith, and William Luti, a former Navy officer who worked for Cheney before joining the Pentagon. These two men, along with their civilian advisors, worked according to a strategy that they hoped would recreate Iraq into an Israeli ally, destroy a potential threat to Persian Gulf oil trade, and wrap U.S. allies around Iran. The State Department and CIA saw this plan as being badly flawed and based upon profoundly questionable intelligence. The OSP responded to these criticisms by cutting State and CIA completely out of the loop. By the time the war came, nearly all the data used to justify the action to the American people was coming from the OSP. The American intelligence community had been totally usurped.

When the OSP wanted to change or exaggerate evidence of Iraqi weapons capabilities, they sent Vice President Cheney to CIA headquarters on unprecedented visits where he demanded "forward-leaning" interpretations of the evidence. When Cheney was unable to go to the CIA, his chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, went in his place.

On three occasions, former congressman Newt Gingrich visited CIA in his capacity as a "consultant" for ultra-conservative hawk Richard Perle and his Defense Policy Board. According to the accounts of these visits, Gingrich browbeat the analysts to toughen up their assessments of the dangers posed by Hussein. He was allowed access to the CIA and the analysts because he was a known emissary of the OSP.

The main OSP source of data on Iraqi weapons, and on the manner in which the Iraqi people would greet their 'liberators,' was Ahmad Chalabi. Chalabi was the head of the Iraqi National Congress, an exile group seeking since 1997 the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Chalabi had been hand-picked by Don Rumsfeld to be the leader of Iraq after the removal of Saddam Hussein, despite the fact that he had been convicted in 1992 of 32 counts of bank fraud by a Jordanian court and sentenced in absentia to 22 years in prison. It apparently never occurred to Rumsfeld and the OSP that Chalabi had a lot of reasons to lie. It seems they were too enamored of the data he was providing, because that data fully justified the course of action they had been set upon since September 11, 2001.

Chalabi was the main source behind claims that Iraq had connections to al Qaeda. Chalabi was the main source behind claims that Iraq was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. Chalabi was the main source behind claims that the Iraqi people would rise up and embrace their American invaders. Chalabi's claims on this last matter are the main reason post-war Iraq is in complete chaos, because Rumsfeld assumed the logistics for repairing Iraq would be simple - The joyful Iraqis would do it for him.

According to a story entitled "Planners Faulted in Iraq Chaos" by Knight-Ridder reporters Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel, published on July 13, Chalabi proved to be a dangerous wild card. Chalabi's association with and influence over the OSP, however, continued unabated:

"The Chalabi scheme was dealt another major blow in February, a month before the war started, when U.S. intelligence agencies monitored him conferring with hard-line Islamic leaders in Tehran, Iran, a State Department official said. About that time, an Iraqi Shiite militia that was based in Iran and known as the Badr Brigade began moving into northern Iraq, setting off alarm bells in Washington. Cheney, once a strong Chalabi backer, ordered the Pentagon to curb its support for the exiles, the official said. Yet Chalabi continued to receive Pentagon assistance, including backing for a 700-man paramilitary unit. The U.S. military flew Chalabi and his men at the height of the war from the safety of northern Iraq to an air base outside the southern city of Nasiriyah in expectation he would soon take power."

Chalabi never took power. Instead, Paul Bremer was installed as the American proconsul in Iraq, ostensibly with orders to bring stability and liberty to the country. This last aspect is the final lie, the most repugnant crime, perpetrated against the civilians of that ravaged nation.

I spoke last week with a woman named Jodie Evans, long-time peace activist and organizer of a group called the International Occupation Watch Center, or IOWC. The purpose of the IOWC is to stand as watchdogs in Iraq over the corporate contracts being doled out, and to view in person what is happening to the Iraqi people. "I think that if you were against the war, then you need to be there," said Evans, "because there is no one in Iraq who is for the Iraqi people, and the people know it. They know it."

Evans had just returned from Baghdad. Upon her arrival to the city, she saw the demonstrable chaos caused by the war, and by the abject failure to repair the country in the aftermath. "It was 120 degrees, it was dusty, the air had a haze that makes everything gray," said Evans. "The buildings you see on the road are bombed out. In some, you can see the fire coming up. In some, you only see the scaffolding of contorted metal. We got across our bridge and turned right onto the street we know so well, the one we've stayed on, and every building was either boarded up or bombed out, including the United Nations DP. It was all bombed in, the windows were black from the fire."

"Immediately after we arrived," said Evans, "we hear that it is not only worse than before the war. It is worse than during the war. People are upset, people are angry. There were lots of stories about how the Americans are doing this on purpose. A month after the '91 war, which was much worse than this one, everything was back and working. Now, the people live in this chaos they can't even imagine. People can't go outside. Women haven't left their homes. Lots of people haven't come back from Syria or Kuwait or wherever they fled to get away from the bombing, because life in Iraq is unlivable. There is 65% unemployment, and even the doctors and nurses and teachers who are going to work don't get paid, so there's no money."

Evans met a number of Americans in Iraq who are part of the 'rebuilding process.' One such person was in the Compound, a guarded palace that is now home to Bremer's office and staff along with a number of other groups. The overall organization is called the Iraqi Assistance Center, or IAC. The man Evans met was a professor of religion and political theory at a religious college in America. He explained that his job was to collect intelligence for Bremer.

"That professor I spoke to, the one doing intelligence for Bremer, I told him that I had spoken to countless Iraqis and all of them felt this chaos was happening on purpose," said Evans. "He basically said this was true, that chaos was good, and out of chaos comes order. So what the Iraqis were saying - that this madness was all on purpose - this intelligence guy didn't discredit. He said, 'If you keep them hungry, they'll do anything for us.'"

"I met the man who was hired to create a new civil government in Baghdad, to bring Baghdad back to order," said Evans. "His name was Gerald Lawson. I asked him what his background was that allowed him to get this job. He said he was in the Atlanta Police for 30 years. I asked how this gave him the ability to create a stable, civil government. He said he was a manager. I asked him what he knew about Iraqis. He knew nothing, and didn't care to know anything. He didn't know their history, their government, didn't speak a word of Arabic and didn't care to learn. This guy doesn't work for the American government, doesn't work for the State Department, and doesn't work for the CPA. He works for a corporation created by ex-Generals. Their job is to create the new Iraqi government structure."

"We met the man whose job is to make sure the hospitals have what they need," said Evans. "He is a veterinarian. We met a British guy who showed up at the Compound gates one day and said he was a volunteer who wanted to help. The next day he was named the head of rubbish control in Baghdad, which is a huge problem there because there is garbage all over the street. I asked him what he had been doing with his time. He said he'd been hanging out at Odai's palace playing with the lions and the cheetahs. I met the guy in charge of designing the airport, where major jumbo jets are supposed to land. He had never designed an airport before."

"Another man I spoke to associated with this process is named Don Munson," said Evans. "His job is civilian affairs policy. He said to me, 'We are replacing one dictatorship with another.' He's there for two years, and he works in the palace on the first floor."

"Remember," said Evans, "that the first thing America did was to fire 80,000 police officers. These guys weren't associated with the Hussein regime. That's like connecting a cop in LA to the Bush administration. All the people I've talked to over there, the ambassadors and others, said they warned Bremer not to do that. The cops knew who the criminals were, and 80,000 cops are gone. So now there are these little mafias that run neighborhoods. With no other work and no way to survive, people are going to become criminals. The borders are wide open - we didn't even get stopped when we came in - so everything is just flowing into Iraq."

"A friend of mine's husband is an ambassador," said Evans. "I asked him if this was normal operating procedure. He said that, basically, no one will work on this Iraq project who has any respect for their work or career, because it is so clearly a farce. He said that later we will go in after these guys have blown it, but right now with Bremer there it is a farce. Even the press is over there are just shaking their heads and asking, can anyone fail so badly? Can anybody make so many mistakes? You can't imagine they can be so dumb."

"One Iraqi woman I spoke to," said Evans, "said she feels like Iraq is a wounded animal, and everyone is coming in to take their piece of flesh."

The cover-up is one thing, the crime is another. The Bush administration, mainly in the form of Rumsfeld's Office of Special Plans, disregarded any and all intelligence which said Iraq was no threat. They supplanted reliable data with a slew of lies and exaggerations that were fed daily to the American people and Congress, and got their war. In the aftermath, nothing is being done for the millions of Iraqi civilians who suffer daily under their newfound 'liberty.'

American soldiers continue to die. Two more, men from the 101st Airborne, were killed early Sunday when their convoy was attacked with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire. "You have these young American soldiers sitting in turrets," said Jodie Evans, "just sitting ducks for the rage and frustration and vengeance that is coming out."

This is a crime without peer in the annals of American history. The cover-up currently underway must not be allowed to succeed.

When the American government gets hijacked by extremists like the men staffing the Office of Special Plans, when intelligence data stating flatly that Iraq presents no threat to America is disregarded or exaggerated because the truth does not fit ideological desires, when Congress is lied to, when the American people are lied to, when innocent civilians at the sharp end of these lies are left to rot in the dust and the bomb craters on purpose, when American soldiers are shot down in the street because of these lies, no kind of cover-up can be allowed to succeed.

The time has indeed come for a reckoning. Let it begin, and let it begin soon.

Author's Note: The data surrounding this developing story is voluminous, and seems to change every time an administration representative opens his or her mouth. I have collected below the last few stories I have written on this subject in chronological order. Please utilize this data to further your understanding of this matter.

We Used To Impeach Liars (6/3/03)
http://www.truthout.org/docs_03/060303A.shtml

The Dog Ate My WMDs (6/13/03)
http://www.truthout.org/docs_03/061303A.shtml

Slaughtergate (6/23/03)
http://www.truthout.org/docs_03/062303A.shtml

Interview with 27-Year CIA Veteran Ray McGovern (6/26/03)
http://www.truthout.org/docs_03/062603B.shtml

The Insiders Are Coming Out (7/8/03)
http://www.truthout.org/docs_03/070803A.shtml

Mr. Bush, You Are A Liar (7/11/03)
http://www.truthout.org/docs_03/071103A.shtml

The Dubious Suicide of George Tenet (7/14/03)
http://www.truthout.org/docs_03/071403A.shtml


William Rivers Pitt is the Managing Editor of truthout.org. He is a New York Times best-selling author of two books - "War On Iraq" available now from Context Books, and "The Greatest Sedition is Silence," now available from Pluto Press at SilenceIsSedition.com.


House Democrats Storm Out of Ways and Means Committee
Chairman Calls Capitol Police to Restore Order
By Juliette Eilperin and Albert B. Crenshaw
The Washington Post
Friday 18 July 2003


Months of political tension in the House of Representatives erupted into open warfare today when Democrats stormed out of a Ways and Means Committee session and the panel's chairman called in the Capitol Police.

The day began with a fairly ordinary procedural fight over an otherwise-innocuous pension bill. Committee Democrats complained that the Republican majority had not given them enough time to review a substitute bill that they had received shortly before midnight Thursday. Most of the Democrats then moved to a nearby library to plot strategy after they demanded that Republicans read the legislation line by line.

Infuriated, Ways and Means Committee Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) instructed the Capitol Police to remove the Democrats from the ornate library. Republicans said Democrats were being disorderly and did not have the right to occupy the libary.

After the one remaining Ways and Means Democrat got in a spat with a GOP committee member, Thomas dispensed with the reading of the bill altogether and pushed through the legislation, without a single Democratic vote.

The dispute highlights how rapidly relations between Democrats and Republicans have deteriorated in recent months. Virtually shut out from legislating and chafing over repeated procedural slights, House Democrats have adopted combative tactics to draw attention to what they see as Republican heavy-handedness.

By any standards, today represented a low point in the history of congressional comity. Democrats accused the GOP of running a police state; Republicans recounted how one Democratic member of the panel called a Republican colleague "you little fruitcake" in the midst of the standoff.

The blowup occurred as the panel began to mark up a wide-ranging pension bill sponsored by Reps. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.). The changes narrowed the original bill, but retained most of its key provisions.

Ranking Democrat Charles B. Rangel (N.Y.) immediately complained about the timing, saying the measure was not on the House calendar for next week and there was no need to rush.

But Thomas refused to put action off.

At that point, the Democrats objected to a normally perfunctory motion to dispense with the reading of the 200-page original bill and the 91-page substitute. Thomas ruled that reading of the original could be dispensed with since it had been distributed weeks ago, but conceded that the Democrats could demand a line-by-line reading of the substitute.

The reading began, with Thomas interrupting at one point to say loudly, "In the House, the minority can delay. They cannot deny." When the Democrats left for the library, Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.) stayed behind to prevent the Republicans from obtaining unanimous consent to dispense with the reading.

After several minutes, Thomas again asked unanimous consent to dispense with the reading, and instantly brought down his gavel. Stark said later that he had objected, and Thomas had replied, "You're too late."

Thomas then recognized Portman for an opening statement on the bill. Stark attempted to make a "parliamentary inquiry," and Thomas ignored him. Stark then joined the other Democrats in the nearby room.

With no Democrats present, Thomas and the rest of the Republicans approved the substitute and then the final bill unanimously by voice vote and adjourned.

Committee Democrats, meanwhile, held court with the press next door. Sitting under a gilded ceiling and surrounded by cases of tax books, more than a dozen members recounted how they had been slighted by the GOP.

The lone Capitol Police officer dispatched to the scene surveyed the situation and consulted with his superior, who in turn appealed to the Sergeant at Arms office. Sergeant at Arms representative Don Kellaher slipped into the room less than 45 minutes later, saying his office decided "this is a committee matter" and would take no action.

Rather than concluding the fracas, however, this simply emboldened House Democrats. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) used a point of personal privilege to introduce a resolution on the House floor protesting the incident. This set in motion a heated debate this afternoon, in which each side accused the other of debasing Congress as an institution.

The measure before the committee would make a number of changes to the nation's pension and retirement-saving system, including acceleration of increases in various contribution limits enacted in 2001 and scheduled to be phased in over the next five years. Under it, individuals would be able to contribute an annual maximum to $15,000 to a 401(k) plan and $5,000 to an IRA, beginning next year. People aged 50 and over could contribute even more.

Including these and other provisions, the bill would cost the government $10.3 billion over the next five years.
Is the American Economy Really the Best Off in the World?
(posted 6-13-03)
Philippe Legrain, chief economist of "Britain in Europe," the campaign for Britain to join the euro; writing in the New Republic (June 11, 2003):

Pause for a second. Allow some awkward facts to intrude. Which economy has performed better in recent years--Europe's or America's? Surprise: According to the International Monetary Fund, an institution more often accused of imposing Washington's ways than of knocking them, Europe's has. Over the past three years, living standards, as measured by GDP per person, have risen by 5.8 percent in the European Union but by only 1 percent in the United States. An unfair comparison, perhaps, given America's recent recession? Then look at how the European Union and the United States size up since 1995, a period that includes the go-go late '90s, when America apparently advanced by leaps and bounds. While living standards in the United States have risen by a healthy 16.1 percent over the past eight years, they are up by 18.3 percent in the European Union. Another statistical sleight of hand? Not at all. Pick any year between 1995 and 2000 as your starting point, and the conclusion is the same: Europe's economy has outperformed America's.

To be fair, on a different measure, the United States has outpaced Europe. Its economy has grown by an average of 3.2 percent per year since 1995, whereas Europe's economy has swelled by only 2.3 percent. These headline figures transfix pundits and policymakers alike. But this apparent success is deceptive. Not only are U.S. growth figures inflated because American number-crunchers have done more than their European counterparts to take into account improvements in the quality of goods and services, but America's population is also growing much faster than Europe's. It has increased by nearly one-tenth in the past eight years, whereas Europe's population has scarcely grown at all. So, although America's pie is growing faster than Europe's, so too is the number of mouths it has to feed. Most people, though, care about higher living standards, not higher economic growth. If size were all that mattered, the United States could simply annex Canada and, presto, its economy would be larger, whether people in Peoria felt any better or not.

U.S. economic triumphalism is based on more than just GDP growth, of course. Boosters claim that it has enjoyed markedly faster productivity growth, too. Really? It is tough enough to measure how fast productivity is growing in the United States--remember all those wrangles about whether the step up in productivity in the late '90s was a giant leap, a modest bounce, or an illusion. International comparisons are harder still. Even so, the Conference Board, a New York-based business-research group that is hardly a fan of European ways, has taken a stab at it. Their figures show that, although the average U.S. labor-productivity growth of 1.9 percent per year since 1995 exceeds the EU average of 1.3 percent, five individual European countries have done better than the United States. Belgium managed 2.2 percent per year, Austria 2.4 percent, Finland 2.6 percent, Greece 3.2 percent, and Ireland 5.1 percent. If you take a longer time span, 1990 to 2002, not only does the European Union as a whole outpace the United States, so do ten of the 14 individual EU member states for which statistics are available. (The Conference Board does not include figures for Luxembourg.)

Not only is productivity growth higher in several European countries than in the United States--so too are absolute productivity levels. The average American produces $38.83 of output per hour, measured in 1999 dollars, according to the Conference Board. Average productivity in the European Union is still 8 percent less, largely because of lower productivity in Britain, Spain, Greece, and Portugal--although the gap has closed over the past decade. But six European countries have overtaken the United States: Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, France, Belgium, and Norway, where output per hour is $45.55, over one-sixth higher than in the United States.


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