Current Issue

Back Issues

Our Mission

Contact Us



Support Us



About Us

Exit Poll

ISSUE: #. 57. Oct. 28, 2002






By Bill Weinberg
with David Bloom, Subuhi Jiwani, and Sarah Ferguson, Special Correspondents

1. Settlement Suicide Attack Kills Reservists
2. Islamic Jihad Car Bomb Kills 14
3. Jane's: "Sharon Embarks on Ethnic Cleansing"
4. Knesset Refuses to Bar Pro-"Transfer" Faction
5. "Transfer" Talk Escalates

1. Tel Aviv-Delhi Anti-Terror Alignment

1. Moscow "Rescue Operation" Kills 115 Hostages
2. Guerilla Leader Barayev Dead in Raid
3. Moscow Mass Murder Mystery: It's a Gas
4. Stop The Presses: Gas Mystery Solved?
5. Russia to Respond with WMD?
6. Russian Atrocities in Chechnya
7. Starship Sabateurs Behind Soyuz Snafu?

1. Sniper Suspect: Son of Uncle Sam?
2. Peace Movement Re-Mobilizes
3. Cyber-Activists Target Congress
4. Activists Buy Media Access

1. Was Wellstone Murdered?


A suicide attack on a gas station in the West Bank settlement of Ariel killed three Israeli reserve soldiers and wounded 15 other on Oct. 27. Hamas claimed responsibility. (Ha'aretz, Oct. 28) (David Bloom) [top]

On Oct. 21, a car laden 220 lbs of exploded next to a bus at Karkur junction in Northern Israel. Fourteen passengers were killed, and 42 were injured. (Ha'aretz, Oct. 22) Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility. "When we saw that Israel's security measures were keeping people off buses, we had to find a new way," said an Islamic Jihad official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We found that with the cars, we could load them with explosives and harm many people." (AP, Oct. 22)

The IDF had recently pulled thier forces out of Jenin. "The terrorists took advantage of the lifting of the curfew in Jenin to carry out the attack at the Karkur junction," IDF General Moshe Yaalon said. (AFP, Oct. 23)

"There is good reason to believe the people who carried out the attack received help from members of other groups, like Hamas and Fatah," said a PA security official in Ramallah.. "In recent months, there has been increased cooperation between all the armed groups. In most cases, we are talking about cooperation initiated by local leaders. They are functioning under the umbrella of the Popular Army." The Jerusalem Post says Palestinian police and security troops have joined radical groups because they have not been paid in months, and the radical groups offer them money. (Jerusalem Post, Oct. 22)(David Bloom) [top]

The highly respected British publication Jane's Foreign Report issued a stark warning Oct. 24 of impending ethnic cleansing on a massive scale in the West Bank:

"As the Middle East braces itself for the violent convulsions that many fear George W Bush's expected assault on Iraq will trigger, there is growing concern that Ariel Sharon will use the upheaval to carry out what is widely seen as his primary objective: driving out large numbers of Palestinians from the West Bank into neighbouring Jordan. At the very least, the Israeli leader is expected to escalate his military offensive against the Palestinians to crush the Intifada and effectively eliminate the prospect of a viable independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These fears, long harboured by the Palestinians and the Jordanians, were heightened recently when Sharon recently appointed Effi Eitam, a right-wing retired army general who has been one of the most vociferous advocates of what the Israelis euphemistically call 'transfer', as his infrastructure minister. 'Transfer' envisages forcibly deporting the large majority of the 1.8m Palestinians in the occupied territories and moving them to Jordan, their substitute homeland.

"Earlier this month, Israel's education minister, Limor Livnat, instructed schools to devote an hour of study every week to the teachings of the late right-wing 'hawk' Rehavam Zeevi, the tourism minister who was assassinated by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in a Jerusalem hotel in October 2001. He was an outspoken advocate of 'transfer'.

"As far as the Jordanians are concerned, this process is already under way. According to some Jordanian officials, as many as 200,000 Palestinians, fleeing from the violence or the economic misery caused by the Al-Aqsa intifada, have entered Jordan and not returned to the West Bank since the uprising against Israeli occupation broke out on 28 September 2000. Many have stayed on in Jordan with relatives or friends, their future plans unclear; some have moved on to other parts of the Arab world or elsewhere.

"The spectre of a mass migration by Palestinians from the territories has haunted Jordan for decades. The Hashemite kingdom's original Bedouin inhabitants are already heavily outnumbered by Palestinians who have fled there since 1948. An estimated 70% of the 6.4m population are Palestinians or have Palestinian roots. The 1994 peace treaty with Israel, signed by the late King Hussein, remains widely unpopular amid deep economic malaise; poverty is rife with up to one-third of the population unemployed. Amid the simmering discontent, Hussein's heir, King Abdullah II, trapped between maintaining ties with Israel and the West while paying allegiance to Arab nationalism and the Palestinian cause, has imposed a political crackdown, including the suspension of parliament under 'temporary' laws that many in Jordan consider repressive. This has added to the unease, now heightened by concern at the consequences of a US war against neighbouring Iraq. 'There is a population flight from the occupied territories," says Jordanian economist Fahad Fanek, "and if this continues it will not be long before the majority of the inhabitants of the West Bank are Jewish settlers. And the majority of Jordan's inhabitants are refugees and displaced persons. This would enable the Palestinian state to be established outside Palestine, as Sharon plans and actively seeks.'

"'One cannot blame them as individuals, because life in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is intolerable, but we have a national duty to Jordan first, and to Palestine second, to block gradual transfer and prevent a Palestinian state from being relocated outside Palestine, specifically to Jordan.'" (Jane's Foreign Report, Oct. 24)(David Bloom)

Jane's issued this following clarification on Oct. 31: "In our issue dated 24 October (2710), the sixth article was entitled 'Sharon embarks on ethnic cleansing.' As the story made clear we were in fact reporting wide spread fear among Palestinians that the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, might be planning ethnic cleansing, not that it had started. " [top]

On Oct. 23, the Israeli Knesset rejected a bill banning the pro-"Transfer" right-wing Moledet party from upcoming elections. The bill, introduced by Hadash, was defeated 51-23. Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit (Likud) argued "'Transfer' is a term with many definitions, some of which may not contradict the state's democratic character." Sheetrit, speaking for the government, added "For the government, it is unclear if a list of candidates that supports a voluntary exchange of population or supports the expulsion of citizens convicted of offenses against state security, deviates beyond what is allowed in a democracy." MK Azmi Bishara (National Democratic Alliance) interrupted in anger. "What happened to you?" he asked Sheetrit. Moledet released a statement noting that "transfer by consent is not a dirty word. It is the only way to achieve real peace. Whoever opposes a willing transfer supports the alternative, which is a forced transfer." (Ha'aretz, Oct. 23)(David Bloom) [top]

The military failure to stop suicide bombings has increased talk of "transfer" in Israel. "At the beginning of the intifada, one of the most popular slogans among the right wing, was: 'Let the army win the war.' You don't hear that anymore," said Ha'aretz Palestinian affairs commentator Danny Rubinstein. "People think: 'We won, so what's going on here with this victory if we can't stop the intifada.' So in the right-wing corner, you see graffiti slogans for transfer. It's become more popular to talk about it." Popular graffiti and posters seen recently bear slogans like "Transfer = Peace and Security" and "Deport the fuckers." Polls show a support of 20-30% among the Israeli public for some kind of deportation of Palestinians from the occupied territories. Israeli historian Benny Morris, author of "The Beginning of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949," who himself has recently swung to the right, notes: "The transfer idea waxes when the country is in crisis." He adds: "In the existential war of the last two years, Israelis view Palestinians as unwilling to accept an Israeli state." Morris believes the idea persists because "in 1948, a Jewish state would not have come into being without Arabs being displaced."

MK Benny Elon, who replaced the assassinated "transfer" proponent Rehavim Ze'evi as Moledet's leader, said "when you look at it, transfer is the only conclusion. It is the only light at the end of the tunnel." Elon says he favors "voluntary" transfer, financed with international money.

Elon has spent a lot of time in Washington recently, where he says he found a receptive audience to his eight-page glossy "transfer" brochure among members of Congress, and was cheered at the annual convention of the Christian Coalition when he called for "relocation" of Palestinians from the West Bank into Jordan.(see WW3 REPORTS # 40 & 56)

AFP concludes that "While the transfer movement is nowhere near to coming to fruition," many in Israel say an upsurge in violence could spark it. (AFP, Oct. 23) (David Bloom)



India's decades-old unequivocal support for the Palestinian cause has been changing since 1992, when full diplomatic relations were established with Israel. The new policy is a "studied neutrality" between Israel and Palestine, with arms exchanges amounting to over $3 billion. Today, Israel has emerged as the second largest defense provider for India after Russia. The seemingly newborn friendship between the two countries includes intelligence sharing, counter-insurgency operations training and border management. (Asian Age, Aug 22, 2001)

Jane's Intelligence Review states that India's overseas intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, worked closely with the Mossad even before 1992 and shared information on militant Islamic groups. (Jane's Intelligence Review, Mar 1, 2002) India sought military aid from Israel as early as 1962 during the Sino-Indian war, and in the 1965 and 1971 conflicts with Pakistan. (Jane's Foreign Report, July 20, 2000)

In a three-day visit to New Delhi in January of this year, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said, "India and Israel are co-operating on security and intelligence matters because we have a common enemy: terrorism." In order to combat this perceived common threat of Islamic terrorism from their "hostile" neighbors, India and Israel have set up a joint ministerial commission to share intelligence and provide a "functional mechanism" for counter-terrorism strategies. During his 2000 visit to Tel Aviv, India's Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh stated that older governments held up diplomatic relations due to fear of losing access to Arab oil--and "Muslim vote banks." (JIR, Aug 1, 2000) New Delhi's have Adm Sushil Kumar went to Tel Aviv to meet the director of the Mossad in 2001. LK Advani, a hardline Hindu Nationalist and India's newly appointed deputy Prime Minister, visited Israel's border with Lebanon to assess security systems in June 2000.

Both nations have openly denied the exchange of nuclear weapons. However, Jane's Defense Weekly presents evidence which points to its possibility. "Media reports during Indian Home Minister LK Advani's Israel visit in June 2000 hinted at closer nuclear relations between the two [nations], but both sides downplayed this aspect. Dr AJP Abdul Kalam, the 'father' of India's nuclear weapons programme [and current President] also visited Israel twice in the 18 months prior to Delhi emerging as the world's sixth nuclear weapon state in 1998. Defence analysts speculate that Israel might have violated the US government's embargo by exporting to India sensitive and dual-use nuclear technologies." (Jane's Defense Weekly, Mar 1, 2002)

Jane's Defense Weekly also mentions India's attempts to reorganize intelligence sharing between its army, paramilitary and border security forces in Kashmir with the assistance of Israeli communications systems, jamming gear and night vision devices. (Jane's Defense Weekly, August 22, 2001) Israel has denied allegations of assisting the Indian military forces on the ground in Kashmir. However, Jane's Intelligence Review states: "In the wake of [India's 1999] conflict with Pakistan in the Kargil area of Kashmir, Israel is also rumoured to have provided India with over a dozen technical teams. Their job has been to help fill serious holes in the latter's border intelligence gathering capabilities." (Jane's Intelligence Review, Aug 1, 2000)

An Indian military official told Asia Times online that India's tapping into Israeli defense expertise has "witnessed a manifold increase since September 11." He continued to say that "India and Israel are not just on the same side in the war against terrorism, they want the problem to be tackled in all its manifestations. Unlike the US, which is hesitating to go after al-Qaeda in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, the Israelis have no problem providing quiet input for any operation there." (Asia Times, June 26) (Subuhi Jiwani) [top]


On Oct. 26, Russian special forces troops under the command of the FSB internal security agency stormed the Moscow theater where Chechen guerillas had been holding some 800 hostages for 58 hours. The approximately 50 guerillas, who were demanding an end to the Russian war in Chechnya, were all killed in the raid--but so were at least 115 hostages, with some 400 more hospitalized in critical condition, victims of the still-unidentified "knock-out gas" the FSB troops sent in before entering the building. The guerillas had killed two hostages before the raid, and set off explosives in the theater, providing Russian authorities with a rationale for the deadly raid, which was initially claimed as a success. The use of the mysterious gas "allowed us to neutralize, among others, those women kamikazes who were literally encased in explosives with their fingers on the detonators," said deputy interior minister Vladimir Vasilyev. Nearly half of the guerilla team was said to be women.

In subsequent days, as the death toll rose dramatically, calls grew for an investigation into why doctors were not provided an antidote to the gas. Alexei Arbatov, head of the Russian parliament's defense committee, told CNN: "I blame the authorities for not providing the doctors with antidotes and instructions on how to use them. That was certainly a great blunder, and many people are paying for that blunder with their health--and some even with their life."

Authorities refused to tell doctors what gas was used, so doctors spent the first several hours testing various antidotes before they found one that worked. Reports CNN: "Anguished relatives have descended on Moscow hospitals, begging for news of their kin, while others have been scouring the city morgues." In response to the criticism, Russian President Vladimir Putin said: "Please forgive us. The memories of the victims must unite all of us."

Chechnya's elected government, which has been ousted by the Russian military, condemned the guerilla take-over of the music hall. Akhmed Zakayev, an envoy of elected Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov, told Reuters: "We cannot come down to the level of our opponents, targeting innocent people," a reference to human rights abuses by Russian forces in Chechnya. (CNN, Oct. 27, 28) [top]

The taking of the Moscow theater was led by Chechen guerilla Movsar Barayev, a little-known member of Shamil Basayev's radical Jamaat faction. He was the nephew of the notorious Arbi Barayev, known as "The Terminator," held responsible for over 170 murders, including 3 Britons and a New Zealander in 1998. (IWPR, Oct. 28) The elder Barayev was killed in June of 2001. Commentator Sanobar Shermatova of The Moscow News said Barayev was considered the most important kill of Russia's Chechen campaign until the April assassination of the al-Qaeda-trained Jamaat warlord Khattab, an Arab who lived openly in Chechnya until his death. Shermatova cited divisions within the Russian security forces: "This fight among the special services in Chechnya led to the most important Chechen commanders being left in peace--including such generals [and] slave-traders as Barayev and the Akhmadov brothers. Until now, they were alive [and] healthy, and no one tried to even arrest them even though they lived openly in Chechnya." She says Barayev cooperated in smuggling operations with top Russian officials, and accused the Interior Ministry of black-marketing oil. (Radio Free Europe, June 26, 2001) (David Bloom) [top]

Official silence on the identity of the mystery gas used by Russian secret service troops in the hostage crisis is raising concern about Moscow's compliance with the international treaty banning chemical weapons. Lev Fyodorov, who once worked with the Soviet chemical weapons agency and now heads the Social and Ecological Union for Chemical Safety, told the New York Times that the gas appeared to be a Valium-based agent developed for the military in the Soviet-era, and still a state secret. Vil Mirzayanov, a former colleague of Fyodorov in the chemical weapons program who was twice imprisoned for reporting in 1991 that the USSR had continued to test and develop chemical weapons after publicly disavowing them, told the Times that in 1988 the agency had altered the molecular structure of the incapacitating agent BZ, which the US had studied extensively in the 1960s. Mirzayanov said the agency, known as the State Scientific and Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology, found the new substance to be an effective anesthetic following tests at a Moscow military hospital. Neither Fyodorov or Mirzayanov could confirm that the altered BZ was the agent used in the theatre raid, and they admitted that the use of the mysterious substance could fall into a legal gray area. The treaty ostensibly banning chemical weapons, which Russia has signed and ratified, has a loophole for the use of chemical agents in "law enforcement, including domestic riot control." However, it requires that the effects of such agents "disappear within a short time following termination of exposure." The mounting death toll, and the fact that hundreds remain hospitalized, provide evidence that the spirit of the treaty was violated at least, said Mirazayanov. "It may be less a crime than taking hostages, but it is a crime to use this in this way," he said in an interview from New Jersey, where he now lives.

None of the victims seem to be suffering from blistering, convulsions and internal bleeding associated with most banned chemical agents, such as sarin. But Amy Smithson, a chemical weapons expert at the Henry L. Stimson Center, an arms research institute in Washington, said the Moscow affair raises serious questions about Russian treaty compliance. "This is kind of like pornography: you know it when you see it," she told the Times. (NYT, Oct. 28)

While it was not mentioned by the Times, the US military tested BZ gas on enemy troops in Vietnam. BZ, which basically induces a massive bummer acid trip that lasts about a week, was used at least once to flush Viet Cong troops out of their underground tunnel networks.

>(See Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD by Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain)

Human rights investigators also claim that Bosnian Serb forces used BZ in taking the city of Srebrenica in 1995. British investigators found gas canisters on the scene after the city fell, and collected reports that a mysterious gas "caused the previously stout defenders of Srebrenica to become disoriented and hence easy pickings for Serb gunners."

(OMRI, Jan. 23, 1996) [top]

The US embassy in Moscow has identified the gas used by Russian forces as Fentanyl, a narcotic agent more powerful than heroin, used sometimes as an anesthetic in dental surgery. This theory stems from the fact that Nalexone, a drug used to treat heroin abuses, was administered by doctors to survivors. The Russian government refused to tell doctors what agent was used, so they initially tried atropine, used to combat the effects of nerve gas, on the survivors. Nalexone was found to be more effective. However, John Tinker, head of the anesthesiology department at the University of Nebraska medical center in Omaha, doubted the Fentanyl theory. "You could pump New York City's entire supply of gaseous anesthetics into that room and no one would go to sleep," he said. Tinker said the only substance that could act so quickly on people would have to be a nerve gas. He added that atropine is only partially effective against nerve gas. Other scientists quoted by the UK Guardian suggested atropine proved ineffective because BZ was used. (BBC, Oct. 29; UK Guardian, Oct. 29) German doctors who have treated survivors of the rescue attempt identified the agent used as Halothane, another anesthetic agent. (BBC, Oct. 29) (David Bloom) [top]

The Russian paper Moskovskiy Komsomolets wonders what Putin meant when he said Moscow "will respond with measures commensurate to the threats." The newspaper consulted experts who suggested "this might mean the pre-emptive use of weapons of mass destruction," and that Russian troops in Chechnya will now "have the chance to use military hardware and weaponry previously regarded as unsuitable for local conflicts at home and intended only for warfare on a global scale." (BBC Monitoring: Moskovskiy Komsomolets, Oct. 29) (David Bloom) [top]

An Oct. 27 article in the UK Observer by Krystyna Kurczab-Redlich, correspondent for the Polish edition of Newsweek, titled "Torture and rape stalk the streets of Chechnya," chronicles grave human rights abuses by Russian forces in Chechnya. Russian Federation forces have take to blowing up their captives with explosives. On July 3 in the village of Meskyer Yurt, 21 men, women and children were tied together and blown up. Their remains were thrown in a ditch. This method keeps the number of victims from being known, or possibly ever being found. Since this practice started in the spring, dogs digging up body parts has been a daily occurrence.

Other atrocities cited: On Sept. 9, six men from Krasnostepnovskoye were found dead, naked, with plastic bags wrapped around their heads. In June, a ditch near the Russian army post in Chankala was found to contain 50 mutilated corpses, with missing ears, eyes, limbs, and genitals.

Spetsnaz, Russian special forces, and OMON, Russian special police forces, have conduced some 20 'mopping-up" operations this year. Typically, a village is encircled by tanks, armored vehicles, and trucks. One truck is known as the "purification car" and is designated for torture, to gather intelligence. One village, Zuhra from Enikaloi, described one such operation. "They arrived on 23 August at 5 AM. There were about 100 army vehicles, all packed with soldiers. We ran out to meet them with our documents. God forbid you encounter an impatient 'federal.' If you do, then in the best-case scenario you may be tortured or shot dead on the spot. In the worst case, they take you away. About 20 of them, armed to the teeth and wearing masks, climbed into the yard and the house. As always, they were dirty, unshaven and reeking of vodka. They cursed horribly. They shot at our feet. They took my identification papers and started to shred them. I had bought them for 500 rubles. They cost me everything I had. They went to our neighbors' house, the Magomedova family. We heard shots and the screams of 15-year-old Aminat, the sister of Ahmed and Aslanbek. 'Let her be!' screamed one of the brothers, 'Kill us instead!' Then we heard more shots. Through the window we saw a half-dressed OMON commander lying on top of Aminat. She was covered in blood from the bullet wounds. Another soldier shouted, 'Hurry up, Kolya, while she's still warm.'"

Kurczab-Redlich also reported that in Zernovodsk this past summer, townspeople were chased onto a field and forced to watch a mass rape of the town's women. When their men attempted to defend them, 68 of their number were handcuffed to a truck and raped as well. This convinced 45 of them to join the Chechen guerilla fighters in the mountains. The abuses by the Russian military have solidified support for Chechen leader Aslan Maskhadov. Once considered comparatively secular, Maskhadov now has welcomed Islamist forces back into his ranks, downplaying nationalist imagery in favor of Islamist.

Russia does not deny the sort of abuses Kurczab-Redlich has chronicled are taking place. An order to cease the abuses has been issued. She also notes Chechen resistance forces are responsible for abuses--such as kidnapping and ransoming "collaborators," sometimes killing them. Russian forces also abduct Chechens, returning them for thousands of dollars if they are alive--often maimed for life--less if they are dead. (UK Observer, Oct. 27) (David Bloom) [top]

The chief of Russia's space agency says investigators are considering foul play behind the rocket launch disaster that killed one person Oct. 15. A Soyuz-U rocket blew up within seconds of lift-off from the northern Plesetsk launch pad. Officials blame an unidentified object in the fuel line. The launch vehicle was carrying a Foton-M satellite containing scientific equipment from several countries, including both Russia and the US. One soldier was killed and several others injured when the burning rocket's debris crashed to the ground and exploded. Russian Space Agency chief Yuri Koptev told the official ITAR-Tass news agency that a foreign object had obstructed a hydrogen peroxide pipe in one of the rocket's engines. "Traces of iron and chromium--materials that are not used in the production of this pipe--have been found in the remnants of the engine," Koptev said. He added that possible explanations for the explosion are being considered, "from a manufacturing defect to malicious intent." A modified version of the Soyuz-U is scheduled launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Oct. 30, four days later than originally scheduled, on a flight to the international space station. The crew of two Russians and one Belgian are to deliver a fresh Soyuz capsule, to serve as emergency lifeboat for station residents. (AP, Oct. 28) [top]


Following some lucky leads, good detective work and teasing hints left by the perpetrators themselves, police arrested two suspects in the DC sniper case Oct. 24--John Allen Muhammed, 41, and his 17-year-old stepson John Lee Malvo. Both are accused of shooting 12 in the DC area from the trunk of a 1990 Chevy Caprice which had been drilled with holes to accommodate a rifle barrel and scope. Authorities say Malvo will be tried as an adult, and may face the death penalty in Virginia (although not in Maryland, which has a minimum age of 18 for the death penalty). Muhammed, an African American from Louisiana, was a hard-luck drifter who sought meaning by converting to Islam, and was apparently an enthusiastic participant in Rev. Louis Farrakhan's 1995 Million Man March in Washington DC. He was also a decorated Desert Storm veteran. While his Black Muslim affiliation will provide useful propaganda to advocates of the depressing "Clash of Civilizations" theory--as well as the white supremacists salivating for a "Racial Holy War"--Muhammed's past as cannon fodder for Uncle Sam may have far more to do with his monstrous insensitivity to human life. Despite his anti-establishment affectations, he had also boasted to friends in the past of being an expert marksman from his military training--and of having been a hit man for the CIA. (Facts from NYT, Oct. 25, 26)

While the media had a field day comparing Muhammed to past serial killers, few noted that Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was also a Desert Storm vet. And while coverage frequently invoked the notorious psycho-killer David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz (e.g. NYT, Oct. 28), who terrorized New York City in 1977, it was not noted that Berkowitz was also an Army veteran--or that media at the time (including the New York Times) theorized that his sinister code name was actually a reference to his military years--when he was a "Son of (Uncle) Sam." (See The Crime Web) [top]

With the startling emergence of antiwar protests at Congressional offices and government buildings across the country comes the reflexive retort by talking heads too deep in the DC spin cycle to see this coming. "US Protests Against Iraq War Make Slow Start" announced Reuters Oct. 14, going on to cite a litany of actions--from prayer vigils and sit-ins to full-page protest ads in national newspapers--that tens of thousands of Americans have undertaken in hopes of halting a US-led invasion of Iraq. Meanwhile, some ostensible progressives warn of a plague of "peace kooks" and a Maoist takeover of the antiwar movement.

"A Smart Peace Movement is MIA," proclaimed a Sept. 29 LA Times op-ed by Nation contributing editor Marc Cooper, who argued that the peace cause has been hijacked by knee-jerk leftists unable to parse a line critical of both the Bush administration's war driveand Saddam Hussein's brutal dictatorship.

A similar critique was voiced last week by Mother Jones contributor Todd Gitlin, who bemoaned the absence of "sensible anti-war forces" capable of countering the Bush administration's blood-for-oil juggernaut.

In fact, there is already a remarkably diverse and cogent movement of dissent afoot in America, one that belies the typical efforts by the media to cast it as a meager replay of the 60s.

Part of the reason the media may be overlooking the depth of dissent is because today's antiwar forces are mobilizing largely without the direction of any easy-to-identity umbrella groups. "It's the anti-corporate globalization model of not having individual leaders, but lots of coalitions and affinity groups and nodes of action," says Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange, the Bay Area environmental and human rights group.

Organized labor, which backed the war in Afghanistan, is beginning to openly question the war drive. Just prior to the congressional vote, AFL-CIO president Jon Sweeney wrote a letter to President Bush urging him to seek a diplomatic solution to conflict with Iraq. Though his letter stopped short of opposing war, Sweeney blasted Bush for seeking to "politicize" the Iraq issue by timing the vote just before Congressional elections. Meanwhile, several labor groups have already adopted anti-war resolutions--including the Washington State and San Francisco Labor Councils, the California teachers union, Local 1199 hospital workers in New York, and the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers.

Many of these labor groups encouraged their members to attend the mass marches held last weekend in Washington DC and San Francisco. The demonstrations were called several months ago by the International ANSWER Coalition, which was formed after 9-11 by the International Action Center (IAC)--itself a front group for the hard-left Workers World Party (WWP).

With the threat of war so imminent, activist groups are swallowing their distaste for the IAC's crypto-Stalinist track record to mobilize for these national rallies. IAC front man Ramsey Clark, the former US Attorney general turned anti-imperialist, is on the legal committee for Slobodan Milosevic, and the IAC has been an apologist for both Saddam and North Korea. During Operation Desert Storm, the peace movement split into two camps because of the IAC's refusal to condemn Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. But this time around, the push is for unity, at least at these demonstrations.

"The fact that WWP is calling the shots unfortunate, but it's less important than getting out mass numbers," says David McReynolds, the 73-year-old stalwart of the War Resisters League, which has been advocating alternatives to war since 1923.

With more than 500 busses chartered for the DC event, including over 300 from the Muslim community, organizers claimed a turnout as large as the 200,000 who marched in 1991 against Desert Storm. Speakers included Jesse Jackson, Martin Sheen, Rep. Barbara Lee, ex-Rep. Cynthia McKinney and Hans Von Sponeck, the former director of the UN oil for food program in Iraq. Simultaneous demonstrations took place that day in Berlin, Copenhagen, Madrid, Mexico City, Seoul and San Juan.

Antiwar activists have yet to engage the mainstream women's movement, which sanctioned the bombing of Afghanistan as a way to liberate Afghan women. And other than Greenpeace, the major environmental groups have yet to take a public stance--despite the oft-stated accusation that Washington's plans for war in Iraq are motivated by America's thirst for oil. "We're trying to get them to realize that they could be capitalizing on this oil issue," says Benjamin.

"I think Bush is in serious trouble," argues McReynolds. "There's a very deep feeling that this [Bush] regime is out of control and illegitimate, and that the White House has been captured by some weird rightwing cabal," McReynolds continues. "If you're Wall Street, you're not happy with this. The only countries really backing Bush are Israel and Britain. So I think you have a very combustible situation, and the White House is starting to see that." (Sarah Ferguson)

(A version of this story appears this week on the Mother Jones website) [top]

Much of the momentum for anti-war dissent is being fueled by the Net. During the debate over the resolution to grant Bush war powers in Iraq, House and Senate members were deluged with emails, faxes, petitions and phone calls from literally hundreds of thousands of constituents, most of them activated through online campaigns coordinated by groups such as,,, and the Christian-based

Many of those cyber-activists went on to set up meetings with their representatives--some of which (like a proposed town hall meeting with House Leader Dick Gephardt) turned into sit-ins when the Congress members ignored their views. This wave of grassroots lobbying didn't swing the vote, but online agitators aren't backing off.

The week after the vote, the PAC raised $1.6 million from its base of 600,000 email subscribers in a campaign to "Reward the Heroes" in Congress who voted "no" on the Iraq resolution. MoveOn encouraged its subscribers to back the campaigns of five Democrats who voted no on the war resolution and face tight races in November: Senator Paul Wellstone (MN) and representatives Rush Holt (NJ), Jay Inslee and Rick Larsen (WA), and Jim Maloney (CT). "We want to demonstrate that peace is a mainstream, patriotic value," says Peter Schurman, executive director of MoveOn, which was formed four years ago by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Wes Boyd and Joan Blades to oppose the impeachment of President Clinton. The Wellstone campaign said the donation could prove critical. "We were absolutely astonished by the response around this. We didn't even know what MoveOn is," said Wellstone campaign spokesperson Jim Farrell. (Sarah Ferguson)

(A version of this story appears this week on the Mother Jones website) [top]

Frustrated at the media's refusal to register the depth of antiwar sentiment, some have taken to buying media access. Earlier this month, Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities took out a full-page ad in the New York Times featuring the blunt message: "They're Selling War. We're Not Buying It." The ad was signed by 500 business leaders, including Dee Hock, the founder of Visa International, Bob Burnett of Cisco Systems, and New York real estate magnate Douglas Durst. "Our people are saying, let the UN do it's job," says executive director Gary Ferdman of the business group, which is a spin-off of, the progressive lobby founded by Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. "Bush, by being this unilateralist giving the moderate elements of the left a reason to act."

Other prominent ads opposing war have been taken out by the Not In Our Name pledge campaign [led by the Revolutionary Communist Party, a Maoist sect--ed.],, New York's health and human services union, and actor Sean Penn.

Three months ago, Lyla Garrett, a longtime Southern California Democratic Party, led a drive that collected $12,000 from 1000 people for a full-page ad in the LA Times that asserted: "What will War with Iraq Accomplish? A million new terrorists." "The response from was so overwhelming, we decided to take another ad in New York Times with more than 2000 signatures, including Jesse Jackson, Lily Tomlin, and Maxine Waters," says Garrett. "We spent $38,000 for the ad, and got back more than $45,000, along with thousands of new names."

"All of these ads and protests and write-in campaigns are spokes in the same wheel to stop Bush's permanent war agenda," argues Garrett, whose online campaign, Americans Against War With Iraq (, also generated more than 140,000 phone calls to Congress. (Sarah Ferguson)

(A version of this story appears this week on the Mother Jones website) [top]


Writing for the Buffalo Independent Media Center journalism professor Dr. Michael I. Niman of Buffalo State College dares to ask the question on everyon'e mind: was Paul Wellstone Murdered?

The Minnesota Democrat was the only progressive in the Senate, and Mother Jones magazine once described him as "The first 1960s radical elected to the US Senate." He was also the last. Since defeating the incumbent Republican in a grassroots upset 12 years ago, Wellstone has emerged as the most persistent and vocal Senate opponent of the Bush administration.

In a Senate that is "one heartbeat away from Republican control," Wellstone earned the special ire of the White House and Republican Party, who made his defeat a top priority this year. But despite being outspent by the Republicans, polls indicate that Wellstone's popularity surged after he voted against the resolution authorizing military action against Iraq. He was pulling ahead of opponent Norm Coleman and moving toward a victory that would both be a humiliation for the GOP and Bush administration. Then he died.

Niman provides a litany of other public figures who died in plane crashes convenient to the powers-that-be. The most recent victim was Missouri's former Democratic governor, Mel Carnahan, who was killed three weeks before Election Day 2000--during his Senatorial race against John Ashcroft. Carnahan went on to become the first dead man to win a Senatorial race, defeating Ashcroft posthumously. Ashcroft went on to be appointed Attorney General by George W. Bush. Investigators determined that Carnahan's plane went down due to "poor visibility."

Carnahan was the second Missouri politician to die in a small plane crash. The first was Democratic Representative Jerry Litton, whose plane crashed the night he won the Democratic nomination for senate in 1976. His Republican opponent ultimately captured the seat from his successor in November.

While the New York Times Oct. 26 pointed out the danger politicians face due to their heavy air travel schedules, the only one other sitting US Senator to die in a plane crash since World War II was liberal Republican John Heinz--an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War who later emerged as a strong proponent of health care, social services, public transportation and the environment. He called for reconciliation with Cuba. He died when the landing gear on his small plane failed to function, and a helicopter dispatched to survey the problem crashed into his plane. One former senator also died in a small plane crash--John Tower, best known as the chair of the Tower Commission, which investigated the Reagan-era Contragate scandal.

Another member of a prominent government commission who died in a small plane crash was former Democratic representative and House Majority Leader Hale Boggs--best known as one of the seven members of the Warren Commission, charged with investigating the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Boggs, it turns out, had "strong doubts" about the Commission's official findings that assassin Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. While he went along with the findings at the time, in 1971 and '72 he went public with his doubts. He was presumed dead after the small plane carrying him and Democratic Representative Nicholas Begich disappeared in 1972.

Also to die in a plane crash was Texas Democratic Representative Mickey Leland. The six-term member of Congress and outspoken advocate of sanctions against apartheid South Africa died while traveling in Ethiopia. Another US politician to die overseas in a plane crash was the Clinton administration's Commerce Secretary (and former Democratic Party chair) Ronald Brown, whose plane went down in Bosnia in 1996.

Niman then cites an example from beyond the USA's borders: Panama's populist strongman Gen. Omar Torrijos, "who in 1981 thumbed his nose at the Reagan/Bush administration and threatened to destroy the Panama Canal in the event of a US invasion." Torrijos died shortly thereafter when the instruments in his plane failed to function upon takeoff. Panamanians have since speculated that the CIA was behind his death. Torrijos was replaced by his intelligence chief Gen. Manuel Noreiga--a longtime CIA operative, who had worked closely with former CIA chief and then-Vice President George HW Bush.

While insisting he is "not a conspiracy theorist," Niman concludes: "For our government to maintain its credibility at this time, we need an open and accountable international investigation into the death of Paul Wellstone. Hopefully we will find out, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that this was indeed an untimely accident. For the sake of our country, we need to know this."

Another example Niman could have cited was a critical episode in the rise of European fascism. Generalissimo Francisco Franco became the absolute ruler of fascist Spain in 1939 after his two main rivals were both killed in mysterious plane crashes. The original mastermind of the fascist military coup, Gen. Jose Sanjurjo, was killed almost immediately after the July 1936 rebellion when the small plane carrying him back to Spain from Portugal (where he had been exiled following an earlier coup attempt) crashed shortly after take-off. Sanjurjo's successor as coup leader, Gen. Emilio Mola, was killed when his plane went down near Madrid the following year. Although the crashes occurred in the midst of Spain's bloody civil war, both were purported to be "accidents." Historians have since speculated that Franco, who emerged as the fascist leader, was behind the "accidents." Which raises an ominous question: If Wellstone was murdered, are we witnessing the fascist take-over of the United States by stealth? [top]


EXIT POLL: Was Sen. Paul Wellstone murdered?

EXTRA CREDIT: If so, are we witnessing the fascist take-over of America by stealth?

EXTRA EXTRA CREDIT: If you didn't think we were cranks before, how about now?

OUR POLICY: Either answer the Exit Poll or send us a check

Send feeback to:
To reply, remove NOSPAM from e-mail address

Send generous checks to:

Bill Weinberg
44 Fifth Ave. #172
Brooklyn NY 11217

Or donate by credit card:

Subscribe to WORLD WAR 3 REPORT:
Receive WW3 Report by email each week.


Reprinting permissible with attribution.
Subscriptions free but donations needed!!!

Search WWW Search

Reprinting permissible with attribution.