#. 20. Feb. 9, 2002
By Bill Weinberg
SPECIAL REPORT ON NYC WEF PROTESTS
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. US Admits to Bogus Raids--But Life is Cheap in Afghanistan
2. Kabul Backs Down to Paktia Warlords
3. Kochi Nomads Way of Life Threatened
4. US Pumps Aid into Uzbekistan Torture Regime
5. Pakistan Protecting Osama--With US Connivance?
6. Did Musharraf Regime Aid Group Holding Hostage Reporter?
7. Iran Rattles Saber Back at Bush
8. US and Iran Fund Rival Warlords
9. Bush & Blair Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
10. Compromise on Legal Status of Guantanamo Detainees
THE MIDDLE EAST
1. IDF Resistance Spreads; Sharon Suspends, Jails Reservists
2. Palestinians Consider "Nonviolent Intifada"
3. Israeli Bedouins Launch Rights Campaign
4. US-Israel Joint Exercise Tests "Iraq Scenario"
THE WAR AT HOME
1. Utah Dumbs Down "Terrorism" Definition
2. Free Speech Wins FBI Visit
3. Racial Profiling Gets New Lease on Life
4. Super Bowl Saturated with Propaganda
NEW YORK CITY
1. 200 Arrested at WEF Protests
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
1. Bush Asks Congress to Limit 9-11 Probe
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. US ADMITS TO BOGUS RAIDS--BUT LIFE IS CHEAP IN AFGHANISTAN
Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, admitted that at least 15 anti-Taliban fighters were mistakenly killed by US troops in a Jan. 23 raid on Hazar Qadam village in Oruzgan province. Gen. Franks promised to tighten coordination with Afghan allies, and said CIA representatives had paid $1,000 each to the families of those killed in the raid. (NYT, Feb. 8) US officials also acknowledged dozens of Afghans were accidentally killed in the Dec. bombing of a convoy of tribal leaders going to the inauguration of interim prime minister Hamid Karzai. (AP, Feb. 6) A New York Times story on how the US Air Force has established a special team at its operations center in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to investigate "possible civilian losses" and "counter Taliban casualty claims," also quoted Gul Nabi, an "angry young man" who survived a Dec. air strike on his village, Madoo, which "obliterated" 15 houses: "Tell me why our homes were destroyed and 55 people--even little children--are dead? There were only farmers who lived a good life and prayed to Allah for peace." (NYT, Feb. 10) On Feb. 7, a day after Gen. Frank's admission, the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press news agency said the a missile fired by remote control from a pilotless CIA aircraft killed three civilians when it hit a group of young men in the Zawar Khili area. (Reuters, Feb. 7)
2. KABUL BACKS DOWN TO PAKTIA WARLORDS
The New York Times reported Jan. 31 that after weeks of internecine warfare between rival Pashtun militias, the interim regime in Kabul agreed to appoint Pasha Khan Zadran governor of Paktia province, a mountainous domain near the Paskistan border. His rival, Commander Saifullah, Kabul's original choice, was accused by locals of being a pawn of the Northern Alliance. Fighting between the two warlords continues in Gardez. (See WW3 REPORT #18) The Times also reported Feb. 8 that US Green Beret Sgt. Nathan Ross Chapman, who was said to have been killed Jan. 3 under fire from al-Qaeda, is now believed to have lost his life in cross-fire between two regional Paktia warlords, Pasha Khan Zadran and Zakim Khan Zadran. (See WW3 REPORT # 15,WW3 REPORT # 19)
3. KOCHI NOMADS WAY OF LIFE THREATENED
The three-year drought which has devastated Afghanistan is forcing the 2.5 million Kochi people to abandon their traditional nomadic way of life, UN officials report. After centuries of migrating between Afghanistan and Pakistan, they are settling in encampments on the edges of Kandahar and other cities. The Kochi were isolated under the Taliban regime, and their women have never worn burqas. Kochi woman Anara Hayub outside Kandahar told a reporter: "We are Kochi people, we aren't concerned with the government because we migrate. Sometimes we're here, sometimes we're in Pakistan. We pray to have rainfall for our animals." Now some are reduced to street begging. (VOA, Feb. 4)
4. US PUMPS AID INTO UZBEKISTAN TORTURE REGIME
Two days after a referendum in Uzbekistan that was widely criticized by human rights groups, a top State Department official visiting the former Soviet republic promised a tripling of US assistance to $160 million. President Islam Karimov, who has run Uzbekistan since the late Soviet period, "apparently senses that the United States won't be too much of a stickler for democratic norms," wrote AP, Feb. 6. In the Jan. 27 referendum, 91% of Uzbeks backed an extension of his term from 5 to 7 years. Despite criticism from rights groups who charged fraud and intimidation, the Bush administration did not send a monitor. State Department Eurasia Bureau chief Elizabeth Jones showed up in Tashkent, the capital, to announce the aid package two days after the referendum. She did reiterate the official Bush administration criticism of the referendum and called for free elections. Elizabeth Anderson of Human Rights Watch says "Torture is a systemic problem in Uzbekistan." Thousands of opposition figures, mostly Islamic radicals, are detained. There is no free press.
5. PAKISTAN PROTECTING OSAMA--WITH US CONNIVANCE?
India's Hindustan Times reported Jan. 31 that Washington knows from "intelligence intercepts" that Osama bin Laden is in "Pakistan-occupied Kashmir." The US is not pressing president Pervez Musharraf on Osama's presence in the city of Astore because he is cooperating on covert operations. The paper claims: "Two American Senators on the Senate [Intelligence] Committee, Bob Graham and John Edwards, recently leaked to newspapers the fact about Washington's knowledge of bin Laden's whereabouts.
6. DID MUSHARRAF REGIME AID GROUP HOLDING HOSTAGE REPORTER?
Both US and Pakistan officials now say the prime suspect in the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is a leader of Jaish-i-Muhammad, the group India accuses of being behind the Dec. 13 shooting attack on New Delhi's parliament building (See WW3 REPORT #14). India also claims the group is protected and sponsored by Pakistan's government. Wrote the New York Times Feb. 8: "American investigators identified Ahmed Omar Sheikh as a possible suspect soon after the Jan. 23 kidnapping, but Pakistani officials are said to have initially resisted that theory..." Pakistan's president Pervez Musharraf banned the group late last year under pressure from the US and India.
7. IRAN RATTLES SABER BACK AT BUSH
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded angrily to his regime being called part of an "axis of evil" in President Bush's State of the Union address. "The drunken shouts of the American officials revealed the truth that the enemy is the enemy," he told an audience of military officers in a nationally-broadcast speech, warning his 70 million people to be ready to repulse attack. (NYT, Feb. 8) Bush's rhetoric is not likely to win Afghanistan's new government any friends with their Iranian neighbors. Interim prime minister Hamid Karzai was in the audience in Washington when Bush delivered the address. (See WW3 REPORT #19)
8. US AND IRAN FUND RIVAL WARLORDS
The CIA has lavished $7 million dollars to win the loyalty of Afghan warlords since the campaign began, but the enemy these warlords is now less the vanquished Taliban than rival warlords backed by Iran. Uzbek warlord Rashid Dostum in northern Mazar-i-Sharif is reportedly receiving large weapons shipments from Iran. (UK Guardian, Feb. 8)
9. BUSH & BLAIR NOMINATED FOR NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
One has ordered his forces into battle more times than any British leader since World War II. The other threatens military strikes against "evil" nations and keeps a scorecard of dead al-Qaeda leaders, marking each fatality with an X. Now Tony Blair and George Bush have won a nomination for the 2002 Nobel peace prize. The UK prime minister and US president have been jointly nominated by a right-wing Norwegian politician. MP Harald Tom Nesvik of the Party of Progress told the press: "The background for my nomination is their decisive action against terrorism, something I believe in the future will be the greatest threat to peace. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to use force to secure peace." The winner will be announced in Oct. (UK Guardian, Feb. 5)
10. COMPROMISE ON LEGAL STATUS OF GUANTANAMO DETAINEES
THE MIDDLE EAST
While still refusing to call them "prisoners of war," Washington announced that Taliban detainees being held at Guantanamo Naval Station on Cuba will have their rights recognized under the Geneva Convention. The move, which came after pressure from Europe and human rights groups, does not apply to accused al-Qaeda fighters. Said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer: "The war on terrorism is a war not envisioned when the Geneva Convention was signed in 1949. In this war, global terrorists transcend national boundaries and internationally target the innocent. The president has maintained the United States' commitment to the principles of the Geneva Convention while recognizing that the convention does not cover every situation in which people may be captured or detained by military forces, as we see in Afghanistan today." (NYT, Feb. 8)
1. IDF RESISTANCE SPREADS; SHARON SUSPENDS, JAILS RESERVISTS
Israel's armed forces have suspended scores of reserve troops in an effort to quell the largest internal revolt in the ranks since the start of the 16-month Palestinian uprising. Over 170 reservists, including combat officers, have signed a petition saying they will refuse to serve in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip because Israel is "dominating, expelling, starving and humiliating" the Palestinian population. The "refuseniks" insist their objections are principled, and stress that they are willing to defend Israel within its pre-1967 borders. (The UK Independent, Feb. 6)
But this movement is just part of a wave of general non-cooperation among Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) reservists. At least 2,500 reservists have gone absent without leave, while thousands of others have become "gray conscientious objectors," having fabricated medical or personal reasons not to be called up. Israel has jailed 600 reserve soldiers on draft-dodging charges. Ishai Menuchim, a reservist tank commander and leader of Yesh Gvul (There is a Limit), an anti-occupation group, said: "The reservists do not care about the territories. Many are in their '30s and '40s, they have families and care more about their businesses or studies. So they are not willing to pay the price and risk their lives for something they don't believe in." (London Telegraph, Jan. 31)
2. PALESTINIANS CONSIDER "NONVIOLENT INTIFADA"
Just before Palestinian militant Raed Karmi was killed, Yasser Arafat was close to a decision to order the armed intifada to switch to nonviolent civil disobedience, Haaretz reported Feb. 5. The violence that followed Karmi's Jan. 14 "work accident," as Israeli Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer referred to his assassination, postponed the change--but didn't cancel it. At the Palestinian Authority offices in Ramallah, officials are studying how South African blacks challenged apartheid, and Arafat is speaking of an unarmed march on Jerusalem. Israel's security services are considering how to respond to a scenario in which thousands of unarmed Palestinians march from Ramallah, Jericho and Bethlehem toward the army checkpoints surrounding Jerusalem. Peace Now and other Israeli activist groups are also organizing for a series of demonstrations to take place between now and June. They plan to invade the highway intersections, offering drivers bumper-stickers reading: "Leave the territories to return to ourselves," and "Leave the territories and save the state."
3. ISRAELI BEDOUINS LAUNCH RIGHTS CAMPAIGN
Israel's Bedouin minority, whose "unrecognized settlements" are being demolished by the government, have formed a task force to oppose the policy. The group began two months ago by young Bedouin in the Negev Desert, and includes members from several different clans. Among its leaders are discharged IDF soldiers who live in homes that have been slated for demolition. The group is circulating a petition demanding that the government halt the policy of demolishing homes that have been built without permits. The campaign picked up momentum following a demolition last Nov. that toppled six structures in the Bedouin community of Al-Katamat. The demolition crew was backed up by some 300 police and border patrol troops, along with a helicopter. Since then, local courts have issued more demolition orders. The group's petition declares authorities should cease demolitions "as long as the State of Israel does not have an alternative plan for unrecognized communities, and for the 70,000 citizens who live in them without basic infrastructure services." (Haaretz, Feb. 4)
4. US-ISRAEL JOINT EXERCISE TESTS "IRAQ SCENARIO"
THE WAR AT HOME
Israel and the US held a large joint exercise in Jan., deploying the Arrow and Patriot missile defense systems. The exercise played the "Iraqi scenario" in which Baghdad fires "Scud" missiles at Israeli population centers. Hundreds of soldiers from US Army anti-aircraft units based in Europe came to Israel for the exercise. Similar exercises have been held almost every year since Desert Storm, but officials now speculate the US may move against Iraq as soon as May. (Haaretz, Feb. 5)
1. UTAH DUMBS DOWN "TERRORISM" DEFNINITION
The Utah House of Representatives on Feb. 4 passed Bill 100; a new law which would criminalize acts of protest and civil disobedience, such as holding a sit-in on a company's steps, as "commercial terrorism." A blurb about the measure on the web site of Philadelphia's Kensington Welfare Rights Union asks, "Would these people be considered terrorists in Utah?" over photos of Rosa Parks, Mohandas Gandhi and the Greensboro sit-in.
2. FREE SPEECH WINS FBI VISIT
60-year-old retired San Francisco phone-company worker Barry Reingold says he was visited at his home by FBI agents after getting into a political discussion at his local gym. Someone at the Folsom Street gym where Reingold works out apparently called the agency's tip line about his vocal opinion that the war in Afghanistan is really about oil. The FBI is seeking interviews with 85 people in the Bay Area who are among 5,000 in the nation singled out as "potential witnesses" to the 9-11 terror attacks. The FBI has reportedly received 435,000 citizen "tips." (SFGate.com, Dec. 18)
3. RACIAL PROFILING GETS NEW LEASE ON LIFE
James Kenna and John Hogan, the two NJ state troopers indicted in a notorious racial attack on the state Turnpike, cut a deal to avoid the jail time--an outcome indicative of the post-9-11 atmosphere. The April 1998 incident, in which the two fired 11 shots into a van full of Black and Latino men on their way to a basketball match, injuring three, sparked citizen crusades and official investigations of the practice of "racial profiling." The two pled guilty to charges of obstructing the investigation by lying about the incident in exchange for State Judge Charles Delehey agreeing to drop charges of aggravated assault and attempted murder. They also convinced the judge not to impose probation, saying they were only carrying out police policy. They each had to pay a $280 fine and resign from the force. Civil rights leaders were outraged by the decision. "This was not justice," said Rev. Reginald T, Jackson, executive director of the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey. "And we will not stop until justice is ours." The US Justice Department also decided not to pursue the case. Despite the national outcry against "profiling" since the 1998 incident, civil rights leaders acknowledge that the practice has become more widespread and accepted since the 9-11 attacks. (NYT, Jan. 15)
4. SUPER BOWL SATURATED WITH PROPAGANDA
NEW YORK CITY
The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) spent $3.4 million to air two 30-second anti-drug spots during the Super Bowl--the largest single government ad purchase in history. The ads, alleging the illegal drug trade fuels terrorism, are paid for by the White House's much-criticized "National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign"--a five-year, $1.5 billion program approved by Congress in 1997 to allow the Drug Czar's office to purchase advertising in various media. "These advertisements as well as this entire campaign is a colossal waste of taxpayer's money," charged Keith Stroup, director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). "It is patently absurd to suggest that marijuana smokers are in any way supporting terrorism. The overwhelming majority of marijuana consumed in this country is domestically grown or imported from Mexico, Jamaica or Canada. It does not come from or finance terrorist regimes in Afghanistan or other potentially hostile nations." Last year, the Drug Czar's media campaign came under fire when it was discovered that officials had secretly sponsored network programming with anti-drug themes and influenced television scripts. A 2001 GAO report found financial improprieties between the ONDCP and the advertising firm Oglivy & Mather--who produced many of the anti-drug ads, including those for this year's Super Bowl. (NORML press release, Jan. 31)
1. 200 ARRESTED AT WEF PROTESTS
The Feb. 1-3 protests against the meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel were seen as test of whether the anti-globalization movement has survived 9-11. By all accounts, New York was chosen for the WEF (instead of the usual Geneva) because it was perceived that protest--especially violence or property destruction--would be unwelcome in a city still recovering from the terrorist attacks. The results of this test were decidedly mixed. Up to 20,000 came out for the protests, and there was comparatively little vandalism or property destruction by protesters. But draconian police control kept the protests effectively contained and isolated.
The first confrontations were on Friday Feb. 1, when 5 were arrested at an impromptu rally at Ave. B and 9th St. on the Lower East Side, outside the site of a community center which had been evicted by the City in Late Dec., Charas/El Bohio. The protest was set upon by police almost immediately, indicating the high degree of surveillance and probable infiltration. Several were beaten by the police, including a 14-yr-old who was bleeding from a head wound for several hours.
Saturday Feb. 2 was the day of biggest protests. The group Reclaim the Streets met at Columbus Circle, on the southwest corner of Central Park, shortly before noon, to hold an un-permitted march on 59th St. to meet up with the permitted "Green March" assembling at the Park's southeast corner. Rather than force a confrontation with the police, the group--resplendent with banners, costumes and giant puppets--marched through the south of the Park instead of taking 59th St. At 59th and 5th Ave., it met up with the legal "Green March," organized by the umbrella group Another World is Possible ( AWIP). When the Green March started to leave this assembly point to march towards to the Waldorf-Astoria, police formed a "gauntlet" across 5th Ave., closing in on the procession on either side and forcing the protesters to pass through a narrow space between tight rows of intimidating riot police. Protesters who were wearing masks or otherwise looked to cops like troublemakers were picked off for arrest--especially the stragglers at the end of the procession.
The convoluted route to the Waldorf--overshooting Park Ave. by 3 blocks and doubling back--was the only one city authorities would allow for the permit. Closely hemmed in by cops for the entire route, confined to one traffic lane, it took the 10-to-20,000 marchers 3 hours to reach the permitted rally point on Park Ave. and 47th St., 2 blocks south of the Waldorf. There, things got worse. Protesters were squeezed into two "pens" behind police barricades along Park Ave. The pens were quickly filled, and thousands of marchers were backed up onto the side-street for 3 bocks. Police threw up barricades at the intersections, making new pens on the blocks. The vast majority of the protesters were effectively trapped blocks away form the Waldorf. Access in and out of the pens was entirely barred by police for hours. Even when the rally ended at around 5 PM, protesters had to line up single-file to leave the Park Ave. pen ten at a time. The pens on the sidestreet were released in a similar manner at 25-minute intervals.
Throughout the day, police on motorcycles, horses, scooters and bicycles nearly outnumbered protesters, as more officers surveyed the scene from helicopters passing overhead. Police video surveillance was ubiquitous--and since wearing masks was deemed illegal, this effectively meant that being recorded by police video units was the cost of exercising First Amendment rights. Several protesters were singled out and stopped for questioning and photographing by police. This was a probable violation of the 1985 Handschu agreement, which bars police from engaging in video surveillance unless there is a crime underway, or reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Several protesters also reported that they had been followed by police over the course of the weekend--one as far as the home where he was staying on Staten Island (A.K. Gupta for the NYC Indymedia Center
"This was the most blatant violation of civil rights New York has seen in a long time," Bill Times Up of the activist group Times Up, a veteran of years of street actions in the city, told WW3 REPORT. "Forget about our rights to the street--most of the people were arrested on the sidewalk." But this kind of overkill--unlike the tear gas and club-swinging of Seattle--was safely invisible to TV cameras and the outside world, allowing the press to portray a tolerant new city under Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who recently succeeded the hardline Rudolph Giuliani.
All told, there were 40 arrests on Saturday. Instead of being brought to Central Booking ("The Tombs"), as is standard practice, the arrested protestors were brought to the brig at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, a decommissioned military base, where they were interviewed by officers from the NYPD Intelligence Division (the "Red Squad"), according to a WW3 REPORT confidential source.
Sun. Feb. 3 saw smaller protests--but 155 arrests. A samba band gathered at noon at 2nd Ave. & 12th St. on Manhattan's Lower East Side for an un-permitted street march-cum-dance party, aimed precisely at protesting the tight police control of the streets. The police shut the march down almost immediately. Many were arrested just watching from the sidewalk. 2 hours of street chases ensued. A couple of hours later, an animal rights demonstration at 2nd Ave. & 60th was also shut down. This was the only action which saw any property damage, as one protester smashed the lobby window of an apartment building where the activists said the CEO of animal testing firm Huntington Life resides. (Sarah Ferguson in the Village Voice, Feb. 12)
Property damage was at an all-time low for the anti-globalization protests, but TV news kept showing footage of windows getting smashed at the Nov. 1999 Seattle protests. TV news also showed police preparing for the protests in exercises at Shea Stadium, with profligate display of batons, guns and helicopters. Activists were also shown preparing with giant street puppets, costumes and banners. Yet reporters only asked activists--not the police--if they intended to be violent.
A few mysteries also surround Saturday's events. The AFL-CIO was mysteriously denied a permit for a march on Saturday (Esther Kaplan in the Village Voice, Feb. 5), while their president John Sweeney attended the Waldorf meeting (NYT, Feb. 1).
While AWIP held their rally just south of the Waldorf, another group, Act Now to Stop War and End Racism ( ANSWER), held a permitted rally on Park Ave. just north of the Waldorf, at 50th St. The deceptively-named ANSWER is a front for the International Action Center (IAC), which is fronted by former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark--the two groups share an address, phone number and leadership, and are, in effect, the same group. The IAC, in turn, is a front for a Stalinist cult known as the Workers World Party (WWP). During the "ethnic cleansing" of Bosnia and Kosovo, IAC/WWP served as the stateside propaganda arm of the Serbian regime, dismissing all accounts of atrocities by the Serb forces as "imperialist propaganda." WWP also favors the cheerless, ritualized, tightly-controlled mode of protest which the anti-globalization movement finally broke out of, and for years monopolized large-scale left protests in the Northeast. The Feb. 2 ANSWER rally was considerably smaller than the simultaneous AWIP rally. But WW3 REPORT asks why ANSWER has not been exposed as a front for the sectarian, genocide-apologist IAC/WWP, and generally repudiated and isolated within the movement. (For more info on IAC/WWP's real agenda, see "The Mysterious Ramsey Clark: Stalinist Dupe or Ruling Class Spook?" by Manny Goldstein in The Shadow.)
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
1. BUSH ASKS CONGRESS TO LIMIT 9-11 PROBE
President Bush personally asked Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) to limit the congressional investigation into the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, congressional and White House sources told CNN Jan. 29. The request was made at a private meeting with congressional leaders that morning. Sources said Bush initiated the conversation. He asked that only the House and Senate intelligence committees look into the possible breakdowns among federal agencies that may have allowed the attacks to happen, rather than a broader inquiry that some lawmakers propose, the sources said The discussion followed a rare call to Daschle from Vice President Dick Cheney Jan. 25 to make the same request. "The vice president expressed the concern that a review of what happened on Sept. 11 would take resources and personnel away from the effort in the war on terrorism," Daschle told reporters. Daschle said he has not agreed to limit the investigation. "I acknowledged that concern, and it is for that reason that the Intelligence Committee is going to begin this effort, trying to limit the scope and the overall review of what happened," he said. "But clearly, I think the American people are entitled to know what happened and why." The heads of both House and Senate intelligence committees have been meeting to map out how to hold a bipartisan investigation and hearings. Outstanding questions include what would be made public, what would remain classified, and how broad the probe would be.
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