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ISSUE: #. 62. Dec. 2, 2002









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

1. IDF Kills Ramadan Drummer; Assassinations Continue
2. Gaza Strip: Israel Demolishes House on 68-Year Old Man
3. Al-Qaeda Claims Attacks in Kenya on Israeli Targets
4. Al-Qaeda in Palestine?
5. Attack on Polling Station Kills Six, PA Disavows Al-Aksa
6. Abu Mazen Criticizes Intifada
7. Palestinians Turning Against Attacks on Israel?
8. Sharon Refuses to Say No to Transfer
9. B'tselem: Israel Failed to Protect Olive Harvesters
10. Stolen Olive Trees Show Up on Israel Black Market
11. Widespread Desertion Among Israeli Reservists
12. Powell: New US Aid Not for Settlement Use
13. Hijack Suspect Confessed Under Threat of Castration?
14. IDF Doctors Issued Childbirth Kits
15. Israel Lands Authority Squeezes Out Bedouin
16. Ramsey Loses One
17. International Volunteers Needed in Dec. 15-Jan. 15 Action

1. Saddam Cooperates, Pentagon Worried
2. Saddam Hiding the Evidence?
3. US Plots Military Rule for Iraq
4. Iraqi Shias Ready to Take Up Arms
5. US Escalates Qatar Militarization
6. Amnesty International Protests "Manipulation"
7. California High School Walkouts Protest War Drive
8. CND Takes British Government to Court Over War Drive
9. Thousands March Against War in Istanbul
10. Feds to Snoop on Iraqi-Americans
11. US Reservists Leaving in Droves

1. 60 Dead in Fighting Near Herat; US Bombs Front Lines
2. US Troops Hunt Weapons
3. Student Protests Rock Kabul
4. UN Probes Terror in Dostum's Domain
5. Book: US Paid Off Afghan Warlords

1. Chevron Dispute Halts Kazakh Oil Sector Expansion
2. MP: US, UK Seek to Re-Draw Borders of Middle East

1. Colombian Town Revolts Against Para Terror
2. Ashcroft Indicts More FARC Commanders
3. US to Hunt Down Paras?
4. Colombia's Central Pipeline Dynamited
5. Eco-Activists Shut Down Ecuador Pipeline
6. Halliburton Moves in on Peruvian Rainforest
7. Enron Moves in on Bolivian Rainforest
8. Bechtel Strikes Back at Bolivia

1. Fox: Peace in Chiapas; Human Rights Groups: Not
2. Marcos Breaks Silence...Sort Of
3. More Religious Violence in Chiapas

1. Race to Contain Oil Slick off Spanish Coast
2. Bush Rolls Back Air Pollution Regs
3. Bush Rolls Back Forest Protection Regs
4. NASA: Arctic Ice Cap Disappearing Fast
5. New Dogma on Climate Change: It's Inevitable
6. White House-Linked Firms Bilked California Energy Crisis

1. Protesters Demand: Free Farouk!
2. INS Expands "Registration"
3. Veterans Get Shafted
4. More Airport Harassment for Peace Activists
5. Supreme Court Poised to Overturn Miranda Rights

1. Noted War Criminal to Lead 9-11 Investigation
2. 9-11 Probe: FBI Ignored Saudi Link to Hijackers
3. Swiss: Bin Laden Tape a Fake
4. Pentagon "Ministry of Truth" Still Alive?
5. White House to Gut Government Printing Office?
6. Microchip Implantation Moves Ahead

1. Anti-WTO Radio Pirates Free Aussie Airwaves


A Palestinian musahhir--the person who beats a drum at dawn to notify Muslims of the start of Ramadan fast--was shot dead by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) troops Nov. 27 as he went from door to door waking people for prayers in the Askar refugee camp in Nablus. (AFP, Nov. 27; BBC Monitoring: Voice of Palestine Radio, Nov. 28)

A three-year-old Palestinian boy was killed by Israeli army fire in Hebron on Nov. 28, Palestinian medical sources said. (AFP, Nov.28) The IDF claims the boy was struck by shrapnel from an explosive device thrown at Israeli troops. (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Israel, Nov. 28)

Two Palestinian militants were killed in Jenin refugee camp Nov. 26. Hospital officials identified the dead men as Alaa Sabbagh, 21, of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Hamas militant Imad Masharqi, 26. Witnesses said they saw an F-16 fire a missile at the house they were in. But a military source told Reuters: "It wasn't the Israel Defense Forces," leaving open the possibility a non-military security service such as Shin Bet could have carried it out. (Reuters, Nov. 27)

In a message to Israeli fathers, Alaa's father, Ahmed Sabbagh, appealed to them to get rid of Sharon's government. "You need to open a new page with the Palestinian people on the basis of justice and mutual respect." He added: "I've already lost my younger son, Ala. Now I have only one son, Muhammad, who is serving a three-life term sentence and an additional 30 years in an Israeli prison. As a heartbroken father, I send my message to all Israelis, children, elderly, and youth, and tell them, let's get rid of this corrupt junta, which has destroyed our lives. Let's work towards restoring the smile to our children." (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 2) A Fatah official said the assassination ruled out any possibility of stopping suicide attacks on Israeli civilians. (AFP, Nov. 27)

A 13-year-old Palestinian youth was shot in the leg by Israeli gunfire as troops opened fire on a group of stone-throwers in Jenin on Nov. 27. (AFP, Nov. 27) A 33-year-old man, Atiyah Ulayyan Rabayi'ah from Al-Ubaydiyah, was killed by Israeli gunfire while driving in his vehicle in Bethlehem. (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Palestine Radio, Nov. 28)

A 16-year-old was shot in the back and killed in Jenin Dec. 2. The IDF claimed the youth, Metez Odeh, was killed while climbing on an Israeli armored personnel carrier. The army said Odeh was shot because soldiers feared he was carrying explosives. The boy's father and Palestinian witnesses said Israeli troops trying to impose curfew opened fire on a crowded marketplace, injuring 23. Odeh, whose father and relatives describe as having been too overweight to climb up onto an armored personnel carrier, was shot while running away from the gunfire with his father and the rest of the crowd. "We carried the sacks of nuts and started running away," said Muhammad Kamal Odeh. "He [Metez] ran for 100 yards, then fell to the ground. People started yelling, 'Your son was injured, your son was injured!' I threw down the sack I was carrying and ran back," Odeh said. "'My son! My son!' He didn't reply." Responded an Israeli military spokesman: "I don't think the father would say he was trying to climb an armored vehicle when he was shot. Of course, not to the media." Many of the wounded were school children. (Ha'aretz, Dec. 2; Jerusalem Post, Dec. 2; Washington Post, Dec. 2)

On Dec. 2, in Tul Karm, one Palestinian was killed and fourteen injured when Israeli troops fired on youths violating curfew and throwing Molotov cocktails at soldiers, the Israeli military said. A Palestinian hospital spokesman said four of the youths had bruises and fractures caused by beatings from soldiers. (Washington Post, Dec. 2) (David Bloom) [top]

Another bloody week in the Gaza Strip left at least three dead--including a 68-year-old Palestinian man whose house demolished on top of him. A school was also badly damaged Nov. 27 when two Israeli Apache helicopter gunships carried out a raid on western Khan Younis, firing five missiles. Four missiles hit the al-Khalidiye schoolhouse. (AFP, Nov. 27)

An attempted suicide bombing on the Israeli District Coordinating Office (DCO) at the Erez checkpoint liaising with the Palestinians failed when the bomber's taxi exploded on the Palestinian side, setting the empty Palestinian DCO on fire. Israeli forces opened fire on the car when it refused to slow down. Palestinian forces also tried to stop the car. It's not known if the Israeli fire or the bomber set off the explosion. (AFP, Nov. 27) The Palestinian Authority released a statement critical of the attack, calling it "politically childish." It added: "What point is there to a daylight operation that doesn't have a chance of reaching the Israeli side, and only damages the Palestinian offices?" (Ha'aretz, Nov. 29) The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claimed responsibility. The bomber was identified as Muhannad Mahdi, a member the Abu Ali Mustafa Martyr Brigades' local Gaza sub-branch, the Gaza Guevara Battalions. (AFP, Nov. 27)

Two Palestinians were wounded Nov. 29 when Israeli troops shelled houses in Khan Younis' Al-Arabi Camp. (AFP, Nov. 29) Two Palestinian gunmen opened fire on a Jewish settlement Nov. 29, wounding two Thai workers, and an Israeli. The attack took place at the Dolah settlement in the southern Gaza Strip (AP, Nov. 29). Hamas claimed responsibility. (Canadian Press, Nov. 29)

Israeli forces backed by about 30 tanks rolled into Beit Lahiya, 3 miles north of Gaza city on Nov. 29. One Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire. During the three hour incursion, there were fierce exchanges of fire, Palestinian witnesses reported. A 68-year old deaf father of an Islamic Jihad militant was killed when his house was bulldozed by the IDF. (AP, Dec. 1) The Palestinian news agency, Wafa wrote: "The occupation forces stormed several houses during the incursion and arrested several citizens, taking them to an unknown destination. The occupation forces also seized an intelligence centre in al-Atatirah area. They advanced towards Bayt Lahiyah and surrounded the police centre, the municipal house and a Fatah office there. Several of the occupation forces' snipers took up positions on towering buildings and started to aim their machine-guns at anything that moves in the streets or balconies. Medical officials confirmed that the occupation forces are obstructing the work of medical teams and have prevented ambulances from entering the area, threatening to fire at them if they move in." (BBC Monitoring: Palestinian news agency Wafa, Nov, 30)

On Nov. 30, A 16-year-old Palestinian boy was shot and killed and one injured when Israeli soldiers opened fire on a group of Palestinians approaching a "security zone" near the Karni crossing, east of Gaza City. (NY Times, Dec. 1) In a a failed assassination attempt on Dec.1, two Israeli Apache helicopters fired missiles at a car driving east of the Jabalya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. The car's occupants apparently saw the helicopters and got out of the car before it was hit. (Ha'aretz, Dec. 2) On Dec. 2, an Israeli soldier was lightly wounded and an armed Palestinian wearing an IDF uniform was killed as he tried to infiltrate the settlement of Netzarim. (Ha'aretz, Dec. 2) (David Bloom) [top]

Fifteen were killed in twin attacks on Israeli targets in Mombassa, Kenya, on Nov. 29. The dead included ten Kenyans, three Israelis vacationing at an Israeli-owned resort, and the three attackers. In addition, about 80 were wounded. Simultaneously, two shoulder-fired missiles missed their target, an Israeli passenger jet taking off from Mombasa airport. A previously unknown group, the Army of Palestine, took responsibility. (Ha'aretz, Nov. 29) A claim by al-Qaeda on a website affiliated to the group is being regarded as credible by US officials. "Al Qaeda announces officially it's behind the two attacks in Mombasa," the message said. "This statement comes as a challenge to the American enemy and to let it know it's capable of reaching anyplace in the world."

Israeli sources told CNN they believe the attacks were launched from Kenya's neighbor, Somalia, by the al Qaeda-affiliated al-Ittihad al-Islami (AIAI) led by Fazul Abdullah Mohammed. (CNN, Dec. 3) (See WW3 REPORT #52)

Six Pakistanis and four Somalis are among the suspects held in connection with the attacks. (AP, Nov. 29) Prime Minister Hassan Abshir Farah of the Transitional National Goverment (TNG) of Somalia announced: "The government feels it is time to work together as a region and international community to dismantle terror groups wherever they are," (Reuters, Dec. 1)

The Boeing 757-300 Arkia passenger jet narrowly evaded two heat-seeking missiles as it took off from Mombasa's airport shortly after the hotel attack. It is speculated the plane was equipped with decoy flares, countermeasures similar to those used on military aircraft. "Israel has been working on programs to protect civil aviation from terrorist missile attacks since the 1970s," said Yigal Eyal, a Hebrew University lecturer on insurgency and former Israeli intelligence agent.(Reuters, Nov. 29)

Kenya's main Muslim group, Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM), condemned the attacks: "The perpetrators of the attacks have no regard for human life and were enemies of Muslims of Kenya." SUPKEM chairman Abdulghafur el-Busaidy added, "we would like to assure our enemies that the Muslims of Kenya will continue to co-exist with Kenyans of other faiths as they have always done." (Palestine Chronicle, Nov. 29)

Relatives of Kenyan victims of the attack are furious at the Israeli government, press and public for apparently ignoring them, while focusing solely on the Israeli victims. The wife of one wounded Kenyan asked, "So why do the Israelis keep talking about their three dead, without bothering to mention that 10 of our people were killed and dozens injured?"

"They are only talking about the dead Israelis," concurred Asha Abudu, a 36-year-old mother of eight whose husband was killed in the attack. "What about my husband, my family?" Relatives also were angered that Israel did not offer to treat most of the Kenyan victims in Israel, where the care is much better. Only two Kenyans were taken to Israel for care. They also charge that Israel's team of 150 doctors and nurses sent to Kenya treated only victims at the hospital where the Israeli victims were located, ignoring the others. Israeli sources counter their doctors did examine many Kenyans and offer to take them to Israel for treatment, but only one took them up on the offer. (Ha'aretz, Dec. 1) Relatives were further angered by the $234 fee required to get their relatives' bodies from a Kenyan hospital mortuary. The families, who were unable to pay, were helped out by British vacationers who chipped in. (BBC, Dec. 1)

Israeli political commentator Yoel Marcus said in Ha'aretz that the attack signifies "a new reality. Nobody is safe at home or outside it, few fly now for business or tourism. The world is in danger. Columnist Thomas Friedman once called this terror 'a war of cultures.' But there are other descriptions: 'the clash of civilizations,' 'North versus South,' 'Islam against the infidels,' 'poor against the rich,' and so forth. But the way things are going, it would be more accurate to call this crazed bloodshed the Third World War." (Ha'aretz, Dec. 3) (David Bloom) [top]

IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon said Dec. 2 that Israel security forces had foiled attempted al-Qaeda attacks in Israel, and that the militant organization has Palestinian operatives in the occupied territories. (Ha'aretz, Dec. 2) (David Bloom) [top]

On Nov. 28, six Israelis were killed and more than 20 wounded after three Palestinian gunmen opened fire and threw grenades at commuters outside a bus station near the Likud Party's offices at Beit Shean in northern Israel. Three of the wounded were sons of Likud MK David Levy. (UK Guardian, Nov. 29) The al-Aksa Martyr's Brigades took responsibility (BBC Monitoring: Hezbollah TV al-Manar, Lebanon, Nov. 29) The Palestinian Authority took the opportunity to disassociate itself completely from the Brigades for the first time. In a statement, the PA said there was no relationship "between the Fatah movement and its institutions" and the attack. "The Palestinian leadership condemns the attack on Beit She'an and the attacks against Israeli civilians in general," the statement continued. "These attacks do not serve the just cause of the Palestinian people but cause us great damage on every level and strengthen the warmongers and settlements of Israel."

A second PA statement condemned Islamic Jihad's attack suicide attack on an Israeli Navy patrol boat on Nov. 23. The PA called the attack "a childish action that gave Israel an excuse to close the sea to thousands of fishermen." The PA seemed to take responsibility for the current state of affairs. "We are now sowing unexpected fruits because we allowed things to get out of control," said the statement. "Every organization and group are replacing the fruits we hoped for with actions that harm the future of the coming generations. We will not allow anyone to impose his view on the silent majority of the Palestinian people through arbitrary actions that do not achieve a thing and cause great harm to our people." (Ha'aretz, Nov. 29) (David Bloom) [top]

Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen and the number two man in the PLO, criticized the military nature of the Intifada in a speech in Gaza Nov. 28, according to the London-based Arabic-language al-Hayat. "The militarization of the Intifada distracted it from its right path," said Abbas. "Instead of getting rid of [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon, he has become one of the most popular leaders in Israel." Al-Hayat reported that Abbas was addressing leaders of the Popular Committees of the refugee camps in the Gaza Strip, some of whom greeted his words with anger.

Abbas said the Intifada had to turn back from its military path to a non-violent uprising. "What happened in the last two years is a destruction of all that we had built and now we have slipped below the poverty line and our people are at a loss," he added. "They are starving and suffering. The reason for this is that many people were tempted to respond to the Israeli provocations and the result was that the Intifada deviated from its natural path... Two years after the intifada started, we should ask a legitimate question: What have we achieved? What are the negative and positive achievements?"

Abbas took to task the Fatah and Hamas gunmen who turned the Intifada into a military campaign instead of a civil uprising. "They began using weapons and everything else they could build, like mortars and bombs...and they began firing from the houses and the neighborhoods," he said. "We reached the point where we became involved in a military battle and not a popular Intifada... We are not saying stop the Intifada, but we are saying correct it. Get rid of the negative phenomena, especially the phenomena of militarization. We could hold peaceful demonstrations and marches... I have said this several times in Ramallah in front of Fatah leaders and they were angry with me. They said, you are crossing red lines."

Abbas concluded: "Every Jew in Israel is now with Sharon because they believe he is defending them. I want to take this excuse from him by saying that we want our rights and we don't want war. Then the number of Israelis who stand with us will grow." (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 28) (David Bloom) [top]

A poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research showed that 56% of Palestinians want the Palestinian Authority to crack down on militant attacks on Israel. That number is down from 86% last May. (AP, Nov. 29) (David Bloom) [top]

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has refused a request by the Jordanian government that he publicly come out against the "transfer" of Palestinians from the West Bank into Jordan. When asked about it, Sharon "took exception to the Jordanians raising such a suspicion about him." President Bush and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice raised the issue in their meeting with Sharon in Washington last month. They then assured the Jordanians that no such plan is in place. Still, the Jordanians hope Israel will issue a formal declaration against transfer. Top Israeli officials have speculated Jordan has refrained from public remarks about transfer due to the assurances from Washington. (Ha'aretz, Nov. 28) (David Bloom) [top]

The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem relased a report charging Israel with failing to provide adequate protection to Palestinian olive harvesters during the recent harvest season. In a report entitled "The Performance of Law Enforcement Authorities in Responding to Settler Attacks on Olive Harvesters," B'Tselem charges: "The security forces did not prepare in advance for potentially violent events, despite the fact that such incidents could have been anticipated, nor did they intervene in most cases when such incidents occurred." The failure to provide adequate protection "is particularly unreasonable when contrasted with the enormous efforts made by the IDF to protect the settlers," B'Tselem contends. The human rights group said Israeli security forces only took significant action after four weeks of "violent and systematic attacks by groups of armed settlers." The report also noted there have been no arrests in the murder of Beni Maniyeh, 22, from Akrabeh, shot dead by settlers from Itamar on Oct. 6. (Ha'aretz, Dec. 2) (David Bloom) [top]

An illegal trade in olive trees uprooted to make way for Israel's West Bank security fence is flourishing in Israel. Thousands of olive trees have been cleared already to make way for the 150-foot wide barrier and "security zone." The trees, some of them 600 years old, can be replanted and still bear fruit. They have been showing up in Israeli nurserys to be sold as ornamental trees to Israeli customers. Some of the contracts for building the fence require contracters to relocate the trees, but the human rights organization B'Tselem says "we have never seen any relocation. The contractors cannot just sell the trees. That is theft." The practice was uncovered by two reporters from the Israeli newpaper Yedioth Ahronoth, who were offered 100 trees for $235 each by the owner of a contracting company. (UK Telegraph, Nov. 28) (David Bloom)

See also WW3 REPORT #61 [top]

Reservists by the score are refusing to show up for service, the IDF disclosed in November. Military police are persuing 40% more deserters this year over the same time last year. Last week, there were 2,616 deserters, compared with 1,564 over the corresponding week in 2001, an increase of 67.2%. There are a total 445,000 reservists in the total pool. The high desertion rate is attributed to the country's economic problems, as reservists fear losing their jobs while serving long periods, the average service being 33 days. Many are thought to not be showing up for service for moral reasons, without formally declaring themselves "refuseniks." The current number of official refuseniks stands at 506. The army's Manpower division found that 45% of young men are currently not performing their service. (Lebanon Daily Star, Nov. 30) (David Bloom) [top]

According to US Secretary of State Colin Powell, none of the $14 billion in US military aid and loan guarantees will end up being used for further Israeli colonization activities in the West Bank and Gaza. "We believe that settlement activity is something that should be stopped and it is part of the comprehensive solution to the problems in the Middle East and that has been our position for some time," he said. "So this money is not to underwrite settlement activity." (AFP, Nov. 28) (David Bloom) [top]

Tawfik Fukra, a Palestinian Israeli arrested for attempting to hijack an El Al aircraft Nov. 17, said his confession came under duress from Turkish interrogators. "They told me that they castrate anyone who doesn't co-operate with them. So I told them anything they wanted to hear," Fukra said. Fukra, who denies he tried to hijack the aircraft, is being held in a Turkish prison. (UK Independent, Nov. 27) (David Bloom) [top]

The Israeli army magazine Bamachane recently reported that IDF doctors are being issued "childbirth kits." The ongoing closures and curfews imposed on the occupied Palestinian territories are forcing many women to give birth at home unassissted, or are denied access through checkpoints on the way to Palestinian hospitals--resulting in 39 Palestinian women giving birth at checkpoints in the last two years. The kits include sterile blankets, umbilical cord clips, surgical gloves, diapers and other equipment. Approximately 70% of Palestinians are cut off from hospital care for weeks or months on end as a result of the occupation. (Palestine Chronicle, Dec. 1) (David Bloom) [top]

Israel's ministerial committee for the development of the Negev and the Galilee issued a series of measures to prevent what Negev community representatives call "the taking over of state land by the Bedouins" and an increase in "illegal" building in the area. In order to "protect State land," the committee decided to instruct the Israel Lands Authority to lease currently unused land to the Jewish National Fund for "afforestation" (tree farming), thereby preventing "illegal" grazing and building. (Haaretz, Nov. 7)

See also WW3 REPORT #42 [top]

Declaring for the first time in a US court that the Palestinian Authority does not meet criteria for statehood and sovereign immunity, a Rhode Island federal judge refused to dismiss a $250 million lawsuit filed by the family of a US citizen killed in a 1996 drive-by shooting carried out by Hamas. Judge Ronald Lagueux ruled that the PA is not a foreign state under the Antiterrorism Act of 1991, and that the family of Yaron Ungar can proceed with a suit for damages. Ungar and his wife Efrat, an Israeli citizen, were both killed in the 1996 attack. Their two young sons and seven other relatives are named as plaintiffs in the suit. The suit, naming the PA and Hamas as co-defendants, claims that the Palestinian Authority "praised, advocated, encouraged, solicited, and incited" terrorist attacks. Lagueux rejected the PA's motion to dismiss, writing that "the PA is not a member of the United Nations and has never been fully recognized as a sovereign state," and is therefore "not immune from suit" under the Antiterrorism Act. Under US law, nations are granted immunity from lawsuits provided they are not on the State Department's list of states that sponsor terrorism. The PA's attorney, former US attorney general Ramsey Clark, did not respond to an interview request. (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 6) [top]

The International Solidarity Movement (ISM) is urgently seeking international volunteers to come to the Occupied Palestinian Territories to stand with Palestinians against attacks:

"As the fourth largest army in the world continues to use its military might on a population, largely unarmed and struggling for its freedom and independence; as the international community and formal governments continually fail to live up to their obligations to protect, and treat as protected persons, the Palestinian people; as Israeli colonial policies continue to strip Palestinians of their human rights and deny them human dignity; as grave violations of human rights and international law are being committed by the Israeli Occupation Forces every day; as hundreds of tanks, and armored personnel carriers roam the destroyed streets of Palestine continually shooting at civilians and civilian infrastructure; as missiles continue to fall on the Gaza Strip; as Palestinian children are systematically denied their education and the Palestinian people are denied the right to live and make a living; as dozens of civilian homes continue to be destroyed by the Israeli government and military; as the International Solidarity Movement has been witness to war crimes and is expecting an escalation in the months to come, WE NEED YOU to come stand with us against this injustice.

"With the United States preparing for a war against Iraq , the Palestinian people fear the worst in Palestine. If the attention of the international community is diverted to Iraq , the Israeli government can be expected to step up its war on the Palestinian people, viciously striking them while the world is not watching. Israeli academics even warned of the possible 'mass transfer' of Palestinians, should the US strike Iraq and Ariel Sharon is given free reign. The International Solidarity Movement wants to make sure the world is watching. Come join us in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and join the Palestinian people's struggle for freedom, truth and justice.

"In addition to maintaining presences in various areas repeatedly attacked by Israeli settlers and the military, in particular, Gaza, the ISM will focus on supporting farmers resisting the building of the "Separation Wall" which is destroying and isolating their farmland and will effectively put in a cage thousands of Palestinians.

"Our call out to the world is ongoing, but since we know December is a time of vacation, we hope you will arrange to be with us here in Palestine . Join us December 15, 2002 - January 15, 2003. For more information or to register, please click the registration link on the left hand side . Contact us by phone at +972-2-277-4602." [top]


With UN inspectors now on the ground in Iraq, Pentagon planners are facing the prospect that weapons inspections will drag on for months, pushing the Pentagon's timetable for action from the ideal weather of February to the searing heat of midsummer, administration officials told the Washington Times. The paper claims that Central Command chief Gen. Tommy Franks, in contrast to Desert Storm's Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, is thinking more in terms of a land invasion than relying on overwhelming air power. "When Franks briefs, he doesn't talk about the predominance of air power," said one Pentagon official. "It is not an air-centric brief. He wants to put the Army in the center. He doesn't keystone air-power benefits." (Washington Times, Nov. 29) [top]

UN weapons inspectors are at work in Iraq following Saddam Hussein's agreement to abide by the new Security Council resolution. But advisors have apparently warned British Prime Minister Tony Blair that Iraqi officials have begun systematically hiding documents and other material relating to weapons of mass destruction.. The analysts reportedly believe Saddam's strategy is to distract the inspection team with numerous offers to open selected facilities that are suspected of "dual use" purposes, which the Iraqis can then demonstrate are being used innocently for civilian purposes, such as petrochemical production. (UK Indpedendent, Nov. 29) [top]

US News and World Report wrote Nov. 25 that "a high-level, interagency task force called the Executive Steering Group" has been secretly established by the White House to plan for a post-Saddam government in Iraq. The current plan "calls for a three-phase scenario beginning with a period of military rule, most likely by an American general, and ending with a new, representative Iraqi government within a relatively short but undefined number of years." The magazine also reports some disagreement on how revenue from the sale of Iraqi oil should be used. Some argue that it should be used to reimburse the US for the costs of the invasion, while others want to use it to fund humanitarian work in order to show the Iraqi people, "immediately and decisively that [the US is] not after their wealth." [top]

Shia militiamen opposed to Saddam Hussein have gone into action in southern Iraq, disrupting communications and military supply routes, leaders announced. Ayatollah Hakim al-Baqir of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, said on a fund-raising mission in Kuwait: "It is high time military preparations on the ground began. War is inevitable. Now it is up to America to stop delaying." The Ayatollah, who heads the Iran-based Shia opposition group, says he has an estimated 10,000 troops ready to assist a US military campaign . (UK Telegraph, Dec. 2) [top]

The US military is installing a new command center at a heavily guarded base in the small Persian Gulf state of Qatar to serve as the main headquarters for a war on Iraq. The official purpose of the base, As Sayliyah, is to prepare for a major US military exercise in December called Internal Look, which officials admit is a dry-run for command-and-control procedures to be used in the Iraq attack. US Central Command chief Gen. Tommy Franks is expected to arrive next week to oversee the exercise. The new base augments the US military presence at Qatar's Al Udeid Air Base. (NYT, Dec. 1)

See also WW3 REPORT #40 [top]

Amnesty International said a newly-released dossier by British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, containing graphic accounts of torture, rapes and other abuses perpetrated by the Saddam Hussein regime, is a "cold and calculated manipulation" of the work of human rights activists. "Let us not forget that these same governments turned a blind eye to Amnesty International's reports of widespread human rights violations in Iraq before the Gulf war," said Amnesty secretary general Irene Khan. "They remained silent when thousands of unarmed Kurdish civilians were killed in Halabja in 1988." (UK Guardian, Dec. 2) [top]

About 50 high school students in Petaluma, CA, walked out of class Nov. 27 to protest US policy on Iraq, and received one-day suspensions. Some students and parents protested the suspensions as unfair, noting that students at other Sonoma County high schools who also staged walkouts were not suspended. "I don't think we should have been suspended," said Rosie Heartte, 17, one of the protesters. "One of our main purposes was to educate students about the issue and we did that. If we go to war, it's absolute that innocent civilians are going to die and that young Americans will be sent over to fight. We need to explore other options, continue to make use of the UN." (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Nov. 28) [top]

Lawyers for Britain's Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) went to court in London in a bid to stop their government from going to war against Iraq. The case focuses on whether the government will be acting illegally if force used against Iraq without the UN Security Council passing a fresh resolution. Named defendants include Prime Minister Tony Blair, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon. CND chair Carol Naughton said: "If war on Iraq is unleashed, 500,000 could die. We face the real possibility of a first use of a nuclear weapon, which could be British, American or Israeli. We are acting on behalf of all the citizens of the world who want to stop war on Iraq." (CND press release, Nov. 27) [top]

Thousands marched in Istanbul Dec. 1 to protest Turkish participation in the looming war on Iraq--just two days ahead of a visit by US officials. Waving signs reading "Peace Now" and "Long live the brotherhood of men," protesters led by opposition political parties, unions and non-governmental organizations filled a square on the European side of the city. Protesters demanded that Turkey not open its air bases to US planes in the event of military action against Iraq. But a leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) told the IslamOnline agency that the former government, led by Bulent Ecivet, had authorized Chief of Staff, Helmi Uzkock to deal with the Iraqi file. "Turkey's role in the possible war (against Iraq) has already been settled during a visit to Washington on November 2, by Uzkock. This means our government will not be able to hve a say about it now," the AKP leader said, asking not to be named. (Palestine Chronicle, Dec. 1) [top]

On Nov. 17, the New York Times published an article outlining the Bush administration's plans to monitor thousands of Iraqis and Iraqi-Americans, who senior government officials say could pose a terrorist threat in the event of war with Iraq. The intelligence project, kept secret until now, targets Iraqi citizens and Iraqi-Americans with dual citizenship. Special national security warrants have been issued to track individuals electronically, while others will be recruited as informants.

The UK Guardian wrote Nov. 19 that word of the program was leaked "as a riposte to allegations made in Congress that US intelligence agencies were proving incompetent in dealing with potential threats." The paper also notes that "any evidence linking Iraqis to terrorism would boost President George Bush's claim that Saddam Hussein has a history of cooperating with al-Qaeda, a claim with which the CIA disagrees."

The government has been interviewing Arab-Americans on a "voluntary" basis in an effort to unearth suspicious activities related to Iraq. The Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a national advocacy group for American Muslims, says over 8,000 legal Muslim and Arab residents of the US have been interviewed "voluntarily" by the FBI or INS over the past year. Ibrahim Hooper, communications director of the Washington-based CAIR said: "[It] goes against all accepted norms of due process and legal rights. To monitor someone who has exhibited no probable cause for any link to illegal activity is a violation of American law, or at least it used to be."

CAIR-NY, with the New York Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights organizations, has written an open letter to the local Muslim community with guidelines on how to protect your constitutional rights if you are approached by the FBI.

(Subuhi Jiwani) [top]

The UK Guardian reported the following Oct. 24: that one concern for the Pentagon "may come in the form of a congressional report claiming that trained pilots and crew in two of the US army's reserve forces--the air national guard and the air force reserve--are leaving in droves to avoid taking the Pentagon's anthrax vaccine whose side-effects include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and, in rare cases, hallucination, depression or delirium." (UK Guardian, Oct. 24) [top]


Three days of fierce fighting in Afghanistan's western province of Herat left 60 dead before the central government brokered a cease-fire. The fighting took place between forces loyal to the Tajik warlord Ismail Khan, governer of Herat, and a rival warlord, the ethnic Pashtun Ammanullah Khan. Amanullah said Ismail Khan's forces attacked his with with artillery, mortars, machine-guns and tanks on the morning of Dec. 1 in the mountains above Zer-e-Koh. Amanullah's forces fought back with artillery and assault rifles, as well as a tank and a truck-mounted rocket launcher. Some 51 civilians were killed by rockets, though it was unclear who was responsible for those deaths. US Special Forces patrolling in the area came under attack, prompting them to call in an air strike from B-52s on the front lines. (AP, Dec. 2; BBC, Dec. 2)

US fighter jets also hit suspected enemy positions in Afghanistan after two US bases came under rocket fire in the east of the country. In the first attack Nov. 14, nine 107mm rockets were fired at a US military base near Gardez, reportedly causing no casualties. A-10 fighter planes responded by dropping several bombs and firing some 2,000 rounds of ammunition. US Special Forces troops found a suspected enemy vehicle and destroyed a rocket that had not been fired. Several hours later, a US base in Lwara, 110 miles southwest of Kabul, came under rocket and mortar fire, with at least one round exploding inside the compound, the military said. Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne division moved on the launch site, trading small arms and mortar fire with the suspected attackers. An A-10 also fired missiles at the launch site and dropped a 500-pound bomb, and another aircraft dropped a 1,000-pound bomb shortly afterward, the military said. Meanwhile, the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad came under fire Friday from suspected Taliban/al-Qaida fighters, police chief Haji Ajab Shah said. Four rockets hit a high school, which was empty at the time, and the airport, but caused no casualties. (AP, Nov. 15) (David Bloom and Bill Weinberg) [top]

Some 400 US troops raided the villages of Naray and Kot Kalay, acting on tips they were transit points for weapons and pro-Taliban fighters moving across the nearby Pakistani border. They found 115 107-mm rockets--the same kind fired almost daily at US bases--in a stable. They also found 14 rocket-propelled grenades, land mines, detonators and thousands of rounds of ammunition, some of it armor-piercing. Five residents were detained for questioning. Villagers said everyone owns an automatic rifle and the rockets are used in local tribal disputes, denying they were weapons stored by the Taliban or al-Qaida. (AP, Nov. 11) [top]

Hundreds of students enraged over a lack of food and electricity in their dormitory clashed with police in all-night protests in Kabul Nov. 11. Police responded with water cannons and automatic fire, leaving at least four students dead and dozens injured . (AP, Nov. 12) [top]

The UN is said to be investigating reports that witnesses to mass killings in northern Afghanistan are being harassed, tortured and murdered. Few have spoken publicly about what happened to the some 1,000 men, believed to be captured Taliban fighters, who are buried in a mass grave near the northern town of Sheberghan. A preliminary UN investigation of the site revealed that the cause of death in the cases of three exhumed bodies was suffocation. That is consistent with allegations by human rights groups that the men died when they were shut in shipping containers and driven across the north of Afghanistan. The preliminary investigation in May recommended a full investigation, the securing of the mass grave site and protection for witnesses. None of these has happened--despite a commitment by the government of Hamid Karzai. Any inquiry is contingent upon security guarantees for witnesses to give evidence against people like the northern power broker, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum--whose forces are widely considered responsible for the killings. At the time of the killings, he was a key local ally for US forces fighting to overthrow the Taliban. Dostum says only 200 prisoners died and most were already sick or wounded from the fighting. (BBC, Nov. 14) [top]

A new book says President Bush's advisers had serious doubts about the early course of the war in Afghanistan and suggests the defeat of the Taliban was largely due to millions of dollars in hundred-dollar bills the CIA handed out to Afghan warlords to buy their support. "Bush at War," by Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, draws on four hours of interviews with Bush and quotes 15,000 words from National Security Council and other White House meetings to reconstruct the internal debate surrounding the US military action in Afghanistan, as well as the decision to aggressively confront Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The book reports that Bush advisers had grave doubts about the strategy of bombing the Taliban while relying on ground forces from the Northern Alliance. At one point, the Pentagon developed plans to send in 50,000 U.S. troops. Bush, according to the book, hated what he saw as "hand-wringing" by his aides, but even he expressed doubts about the strategy, roaring at one point that he was "concerned about the fact that things aren't moving." The book also documents that the CIA spent $70 million in direct cash outlays on the ground in Afghanistan, including outlays for setting up field hospitals. (Washington Post, Nov. 16) [top]


One week after the suspension of Kazakhstan's biggest oil project, Kazakh Energy Minister Vladimir Shkolnik told a press conference in Astana that the $3 billion expansion of the giant Tengiz oil project was halted following a rift over financing. The sudden shelving of the second phase of the nine-year-old TengizChevrOil venture shocked the industry. Shkolnik took a tough line with the Tengiz consortium, led by an affiliate of US-based ChevronTexaco. "If all partners do not reach an agreement on how to finance this project... it means the project will not expand," he told Reuters. As a partner through its state-owned KazMunaiGaz company, Kazakhstan voted against the project at a production meeting, blocking the required unanimity. The project, which was expected to boost output by nearly 75% to 440,000 barrels per day. Reuters reported that the dispute concerned taxes and Chevron's plan to re-invest profits. Another explanation by the Russian Energy newsletter cited sources at KazMunaiGaz as saying that the company demanded its 20% share of the costs to be paid by ChevronTexaco. (Asia Times, Nov. 28) [top]

British MP George Galloway claims that a plan for a new division of the Middle East is circulating in the corridors of power on both sides of the Atlantic. In an interview with Sasha Lilley on the Common Dreams website, Galloway asserted that British government ministers are deliberating the partition of the Middle East, harking back to post-World War I colonial map-making. Galloway says US and British war aims go well beyond replacing Saddam Hussein. "They include a recasting of the entire Middle East, the better to ensure the hegemony of the big powers over the natural resources of the Middle East and the safety and security of the vanguard of imperialist interests in the area--the state of Israel. And part of that is actually redrawing boundaries." Galloway is vice-chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party Foreign Affairs Committee, with close relations to Britain's Ministry of Defense. Galloway says that British ministers and advisors are seeking the break-up of both Iraq and Saudi Arabia in the wake of an attack against Saddam Hussein--and are discussing the possible partition of Egypt, Sudan, Syria and Lebanon. Says Galloway: "There are many ways in which a new Sykes-Picot dispensation could be drawn up in the Middle East to guarantee another few decades of big power hegemony over the area."

The Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, codified by the League of Nations in 1920, divided the crumbling Ottoman Empire between Britain and France. These powers then drew the new boundaries. Under the aegis of Britain, the modern state of Saudi Arabia emerged in the late 1920s, absorbing the hitherto separate eastern, central and western regions of the country. The oil conglomerates of the time were closely involved. Britain pushed through the interests of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (British Petroleum's predecessor) and Royal Dutch Shell, over the US companies now known as Exxon and Mobil. Iraq's modern boundaries derive from an Anglo-French agreement giving Britain the northern Iraqi province of Mosul. Iraq's borders are a British creation combining the three Ottoman provinces of Mosul, Baghdad and Basra--with respective Kurdish, Sunni and Shi'a Muslim majorities.

Saudi Arabia alone holds a quarter of the world's petroleum reserves--and is no longer seen by the US and UK as a trustworthy ally. "I think the United States in particular has lost confidence in the ruling family in Saudi Arabia, so far as their interests are concerned," says Galloway. "They realize that the radicalization of the Saudi Arabian population has proceeded at very great pace, has reached very great depths, particularly amongst young people." If the House of Saud is overthrown, the new rulers could shut off the oil. "The United States is afraid that one day they'll wake up and a Khomeini type--or be it Wahhabi Sunni Khomeini--revolution would have occurred, and they would have lost everything in the country." The solution may be to eliminate Saudi Arabia altogether. "Saudi Arabia could easily be two if not three countries," Galloway says, "which would have the helpful bonus of avoiding foreign forces having to occupy the holiest places in Islam, when they're only interested really in oil wells in the eastern part of the country." Mecca and Medina might be left to the Saud family, while US forces establish a separatist enclave around the eastern oilfileds. "The theorists of this idea have fastened on to the fact that a very substantial proportion of the population in the Eastern Province, where the oil is, are Shi'ite Muslims with no particular affection for the ruling Wahhabi clique who form the House of Saud."

In July, a Rand analyst presented a briefing in Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's private conference room titled "Taking Saudi Out of Arabia," Lilly writes. Assembled members of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board were told that the US should demand Saudi Arabia stop supporting hostile fundamentalist movements and curtail the airing of anti-US and anti-Israel statements--or face seizure of its financial assets and oilfields. A month later Max Singer of the Hudson Institute gave a presentation to the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment advising the US to forge a "Muslim Republic of East Arabia" out of Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province. (Common Dreams, Nov. 11)

See also WW3 REPORT #45 [top]


Following the assassination of a beloved mayoral candidate by suspected right-wing paramilitaries, some 500 men and women in Concordia, on Colombia's Rio Magdalena, ransacked government offices, the headquarters of rival politicians and the state-run phone company. The mob used sledgehammers on walls, gasoline to burn filing cabinets and furniture, and stones to batter away at the bricks. But much of the work, carried out through the night of Nov. 7, was done with bare hands. The body of the candidate, Eugenio Escalante, 47, turned up soon after he met with local leaders of United Colombian Self-Defense (AUC) who demanded he get out of next month's mayoral race. Mayor Pablo Salas, who handpicked a majoral candidate with his paramilitary patrons, fled to the provincial capital of Santa Marta as the mob reduced City Hall, the municipal council building and the Telecom office to rubble and ash. Residents said Salas essentially answered in his daily duties to "Sonia," local commander of the AUC's Northern Bloc. More than half of Colombia's 1,098 mayors are working under death threats issued by armed groups, according to the Colombian Federation of Municipalities. In 2002, 10 mayors have been killed and 10 others kidnapped. (Washington Post, Nov. 18) [top]

US Attorney General John Ashcroft says he may seek the death penalty against three indicted members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Commander Jorge Briceno (alias El Mono Jojoy), his deputy Henry Castellanos (alias Romana) and a guerrilla named only as El Loco are wanted in connection with the kidnapping of US citizens. Briceno is charged with conspiring in 1997 to kidnap Jerel Shaffer and Earl Goen from neighbouring Venezuela. Shaffer was beaten and held hostage in the Colombian jungle for nine months until a $1 million ransom was paid, while Goen was released shortly after the kidnapping. The indictments came a week after the US Justice Department announced it had disrupted a drugs-for-arms operation involving the AUC, paramilitary rivals of FARC. Earlier this year, a federal grand jury returned indictments against FARC itself and six of its members in the 1999 and kidnap-murder of three US citizens. (BBC, Nov. 14)

See also WW3 REPORT #42 [top]

US troops in Colombia will soon train a special 400-man commando unit to track rebels and paramilitaries, with a special emphasis on hunting down leaders. The US Congress is also consideringa a measure to provide $5 million to train an elite Colombian Army unit dedicated solely to pursuing paramilitary chiefs, such as the AUC's Carlos Castano, who is under indictment in both the US and Colombia. "Castano has been a wanted man for years and they have yet to go after him," said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chair of the foreign operations subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee. "So we said, 'We'll give you the money so you can have the capacity to capture them.'" But as the New York Times put it: "Those close to Mr. Castano said the indictment had blindsided him, because the paramilitaries have always viewed themselves as allies of the Colombian Army in their war against the rebels." (NYT, Nov. 14)

See also WW3 REPORT #54 [top]

Colombia's largest oil pipeline was dynamited Nov. 25, causing a spill and forcing the brief evacuation of 280 people. The Central Colombian Pipeline, known by its Spanish acronym Ocensa, was ruptured near the town of Aguazul, 100 miles northeast of Bogota. It was the second attack this year on the line, which is run by BP Amoco and Colombia's state company Ecopetrol. While officials did not say who might be responsible, the National Liberation Army (ELN) guerillas have frequently attacked the Cano Limon pipeline, the country's second-largest. The US is preparing to train an elite military unit to protect the Cano Limon line, which carries oil for Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum. Colombia produces 590,000 barrels of oil a day, despite frequent attacks on pipelines. (AP, Nov. 25)

See also WW3 REPORT #59 [top]

Some 100 residents of Ecuador's Mindo reion, joined by members of the Italian Green Party, peacefully occupied a construction site of Ecuador's new OCP pipeline inside the Mindo Nambillo Cloudforest Reserve Nov. 12. Citizens blocked construction workers and machinery from entering the site throughout the day, and were sprayed with tear gas in skirmishes with military police. Meanwhile, members of the ecology group Accion por la Vida ascended to the cloudforest ridgeline known as Guarumos to re-occupy their private property where OCP construction continues illegally, according to a report by Amazon Watch. After spending roughly ten hours on the ridgeline, three representatives--Mindo residents Cesar Fiallo and Cesar Patino and Italian Green Party representative Giuseppe De Marzo--were arrested and transported to a central detention center in Quito.

See also WW3 REPORT #43 [top]

Two Texas energy companies--both closely tied to the Bush administration--are lining up White House support for nearly $900 million in US financing for a natural gas project in Peru that will cut through one of the world's most pristine tropical rain forests. Backers of the Camisea project--including Hunt Oil and Halliburton--are seeking financial support from US development banks. In December, Hunt Vice President Steve Suellentrop is to accompany Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans on a trade mission to Peru, where President Bush traveled in March to promote Andean trade. A consortium led by Dallas-based Hunt, Argentina's Pluspetrol and Peru's Tecgas, began work earlier this year on the $1.6 billion project in the southeast of Peru's Amazon basin. Hunt brought in Halliburton's Kellogg Brown & Root unit to engineer a proposed next phase--a $1 billion plant from slated to export liquid natural gas to the US by 2006.

Under federal regulations, projects backed by the US Export-Import Bank and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) must pass rigorous reviews to ensure that they will not threaten rare natural habitats. But officials reviewing the Camisea loan applications, who asked not to be identified, told the Washington Post the project is proceeding despite warnings that it may violate international environmental standards. This month, Peru's energy ministry fined the pipeline consortium $1 million for clearing too much land, including parts of a protected nature preserve, and building unauthorized access roads. The companies have appealed. Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), James M. Jeffords (I-VT) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) have met with representatives from the World Wildlife Fund and Friends of the Earth to dicsuss the project. "Even a carefully designed and well-managed project--which this, so far, is not--will cause permanent harm," said Leahy, the lead Democrat on the committee that gives US funds to the ExIm Bank and IDB. "If it goes ahead, far more needs to be done to mitigate the damage." Hunt and Halliburton declined to comment. A White House spokesperson said the decision is up to the two agencies. The ExIm Bank, a US agency, and the IDB, run by the US and other countries, are each considering up to $500 million in financing.

The project envisions 21 wells from four drilling platforms over two fields, with heliports, worker camps, sludge pits, and water and waste disposal facilities. A gas-and-liquid separation plant is being built in the forest. Two pipelines--700 and 335 miles long--will cross the Andes before forking toward Lima and the Paracas National Reserve, Peru's only marine sanctuary. The sponsors hope to ship natural gas to the US West Coast through a terminal in Baja California, Mexico. The gas project, which would be one of the largest in South America, would dissect the Lower Urubamba River region of the Amazon basin. (WP, Nov. 20) [top]

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is slated to vote on financing $125 million in loans to Enron and Shell for a controversial pipeline in Bolivia. Enron and Shell, who jointly control 50% of Bolivia's recently-privatized Transredes pipeline company, are seeking financing for expansion of capacity on the Yabog pipeline, which cuts through Guarani and Weenhayek indigenous ancestral lands, including 6 legally recognized indigenous territories containing 13 Guaran’ communities and 3 Weenhayek communities. The Guarani Peoples' Association has been vocal in its opposition to fossil fuel extraction on Guarani territory, and demands that all development for Guarani lands be based in their own Indigenous Development Plan.

The US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) recently cancelled a $200 million loan for the Enron-Shell Cuiaba pipeline, and asked the Justice Department to investigate Enron for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The scandal-plagued Enron was OPIC's largest business client. International environmentalists say Cuiaba pipeline threatenes the Chiquitano, the last intact large expanse of dry tropical forest in the world. A number of communities are initiating a lawsuit for reparations for long-term damages.

The Bolivian Congress is currently investigating allegations that Enron entered Bolivia through an illegally closed bidding process, in violation of the Bolivian Constitution. In Spring 2002 Bolivian politician Jorge Richter presented evidence that Enron paid $2.5 million to Bolivia's state oil company before signing the Transredes contract.

Concern over the pipeline project is aggravated by Transredes' poor environmental record. In 2000, 29,000 barrels of oil spilled into the Rio Desaguadero from the Sica Sica-Arica pipeline, causing $6 million in economic damage and affecting 18 municipalities. On Nov. 15, President Gonzalo Sanchez of Lozada, who brokered the partial sale of Transredes to Enron and Shell, was in Washington meeting with President Bush and IDB representatives to win support for the Yabog pipeline. Amazon Watch is calling for pressure on the IDB not to approve the project. (Amazon Watch, Nov. 15)

See also WW3 REPORT #44 [top]

Behind closed doors in Washington DC, a World Bank trade court will decide if the people of South America's poorest country will have to pay $25 million to one of the world's biggest corporations. The Bechtel v. Bolivia case is round two of a struggle over Bolivia's water resources. Two years ago Bechtel took over the public water system of Bolivia's third-largest city, Cochabamba, and within weeks raised rates by as much as 200%--far beyond what local residents could afford. When the company refused to lower rates, widespread protests eventually forced Bechtel to leave. In November 2001, Bechtel filed a demand of $25 million against Bolivia, seeking to recover investments as well as a portion of expected profits. "We're not looking for a windfall from Bolivia. We're looking to recover our costs," said Michael Curtin, the head of Bechtel's Bolivian water company. But the company didn't invest nearly $25 million in Bolivia in the few months it operated there. While Bechtel earns $25 million in half a day, for Bolivians that sum translates into the annual cost for hiring 3,000 rural doctors, or 12,000 public school teachers, or hooking up 125,000 families who don't have access to the public water system. The pending Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) would establish a hemisphere-wide system of secret trade courts, in which multinational corporations could sue local, state and national governments. The prototype for these courts is the World Bank's International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), where Bechtel v. Bolivia is pending. (Jim Shultz for Pacific News Service, Nov. 11) [top]


Speaking at a forum on Mexico's democratic transition at Trinity College in Dublin, President Vicente Fox responded to a question about the long-stalled Chiapas peace process, saying: "We are truly proud of what we have done in the indigenous communities, and we are proud to have peace in Mexico." (Proceso, Nov. 14)

Meanwhile, Amnesty International called on Fox to "correct" irregularities and abuses recorded in southern Mexico's jails during a recent fact-finding mission. Fox responded that he would make rights guarantees "a priority." (Milenio, Nov. 14)

See also WW3 REPORT #59

Within days of Fox's Dublin address, the Chiapas-based Fray Bartolome Human Rights Center issued a statement that "The grave problem of the paramilitaries has not been resolved," citing new interviews with residents of the conflicted state documenting "the support extended to the paramilitaries by high civil and military authorities." (Proceso, Nov. 17)

See also WW3 REPORT #60 [top]

Insisting that he was not breaking the official silence that the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) has maintained since the peace dialogue broke down last year, the rebel's frequently verbose Subcommander Marcos issued his first communique in many months. Not addressed to the government or media but to Fernando Yanez, a prominent supporter of the movement, the letter commemorated the 19th anniversary of the founding of the EZLN, and stated that none of the political parties on the Mexican scene represented an "alternative" to the one-party machine ousted in the 2000 presidential elections. The letter also poked fun at those who have speculated that Marcos is dead or seriously ill during his months-long silence.(La Jornada, Nov. 18)

See also WW3 REPORT #60 [top]

Chiapas state police occupied the Maya Indian village of Chamula after seven residents were injured in the latest clash between Catholics and Evangelical converts. (Proceso, Nov. 16) Meanwhile, top papal envoy Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, head of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops, toured Chiapas and announced to disappointed Indian Catholics that the Pope would not reverse his decision to suspend the training of lay Indian deacons in the state for five years. "In all of the other 85 dioceses in Mexico combined, there are less deacons than in Chiapas," he said, alluding to the 344 deacons who work in Chiapas' predominantly Indian diocese of San Cristobal. Continuing the work of his predecessor, Samuel Ruiz, the local Bishop Felipe Arizmendi has aggressively pursued the training of Indian deacons. The deacons are a key part of the so-called "Indigenous Church" founded by Ruiz, which incorporates Maya Indian customs. [Local rightists have accused the "Indigenous Church" of being a base of support for the Zapatista rebels.--BW] On July 31 and Aug. 1, respectively, the Pope declared Juan Diego the first Indian saint in the Americas and beatified two other Indians during a tour of Mexico--a move widely seen as reinforcing the Church's appeal to counter Evangelical Protestant gains. (AP, Nov. 11)

See also WW3 REPORT #60 [top]


Rough seas prevented Spanish authorities from efforts to contain the huge oil slick moving towards Spain's northwest coast two weeks after an aging oil tanker ruptured in a storm. The government declined to estimate the size of the slick, but Spanish newspapers put it at 2.4 million gallons of fuel oil--far more than all the oil that has washed up on Spain's beaches since the Bahamas-flagged Prestige first ruptured on Nov. 13. Six days later the damaged ship broke in two and sank to the bottom of the ocean, taking most of its 20 million gallons of fuel oil down with it. The slick is now about 55 miles off the coast of Galicia. An estimated 1.6 million gallons initially spilled from the Prestige and eventually reached the shore. Spain hopes the oil that went down with the ship will solidify at that depth of 2.2 miles and temperatures just above freezing. A French research submarine is on the way to check for leakage. Two oil-skimming vessels from France and the Netherlands have managed to suction 533,000 gallons of oil from the slick, but high waves have slowed the effort. The oil that has already washed ashore in Galicia has blackened 300 miles of beaches and rocky shore, and forced a ban on fishing and seafood harvesting. Tens of thousands of fishermen are living off government handouts. (AP, Nov. 28) [top]

Environmental lawyers say new air pollution regulations issued by the Bush administration undermine the rights of states to adopt stricter controls than the federal government. "This is the first time in history that the federal government has attempted to pre-empt states' rights in the area of environmental law," said Richard Toshiyuki Drury, a lawyer at Communities for a Better Environment, an Oakland-based advocacy group. "We've never seen anything close to this." California has industrial emissions standards far stricter than the federal government's, and now faces a review to determine if its rules are in conformity with the new policy.

New York, New Jersey, Maryland and the New England states--which receive industrial pollution blown in from the Great Lakes and Midwest regions--intend to file legal challenges to the new federal guidelines. But industry applauded the changes. Jeff Wilson, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association, representing major oil refiners such as ExxonMobil, BP and Texaco, said his group has run into problems with California's stringent requirements for reviews of plant upgrades and maintanance. "We are cautiously optimistic that under this new proposal, that will be revisited," Wilson said. (San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 30) [top]

On Nov. 27, the Bush administration announced new rules which would give the managers of the United States' 155 National Forests discretion to waive environmental impact studies of new commercial logging leases. Reversing a Clinton policy requiring the government to protect fish and wildlife in the National Forests so that the species do not become endangered, the new rules simply say the forest management plans "should provide" such protections, but do not require them. The Clinton rules took effect in November 2000, but were put on hold five months later by the Bush administration. The new rules will take effect after a 90-day public commentary period. (NYT, Nov. 28)

In related news, the administration reversed a Clinton decision to cancel a 48-megawatt geothermal project slated for Northern California's Modoc National Forest, on lands considered sacred by the Pit River Indians and other local tribes. The site at Telephone Flat is two miles from Medicine Lake, which is used ceremonially by the tribes. The Calpine company, which seeks to build the plant, is already developing a similar one at nearby Fourmile Hill, also within the National Forest but just outside the sacred area. The tribes had agreed to drop protests over the Fourmile Hill plant in exchange for a five-year moratorium on new geothermal development in the area, and now say the government has betrayed them. "We sat down and worked out a compromise," said Gene Preston, chairman of the Pit River Tribe. "We thought we had five years so that studies could be done and level minds could make more informed opinions. Now that is all moot." (NYT, Nov. 28) [top]

The vast expanse of permanent ice that has capped the Arctic Ocean for millennia is disappearing far faster previously thought, and will be gone before the century is out, according to a new NASA satellite study. The new survey shows that an area of ancient ice roughly as big as Alberta is vanishing every decade as global climate warms. Over the course of the 1978-2000 survey, about 1.2 million square kilometers of supposedly permanent ice melted away. And the rate of melt--roughly 9% a decade--is speeding, said physicist Josefino Comiso of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, author of the study. "This year we had the least amount of permanent ice cover ever observed," Dr. Comiso said. His findings, published in Geophysical Research Letters, show that the permanent ice cover is melting at roughly three times the rate scientists had thought. (Toronto Globe & Mail, Nov. 28) [top]

As world leaders met in New Delhi for talks on global climate change, the US remained intransigent in refusing to support the pending Kyoto Protocol, which includes a timetable for reduction of "greenhouse gas" emissions. Instead, the US supported a corps of private analysts at the conference who argued that the correct strategy is to adapt to global climate change rather than try to halt it. "By building capabilities to deal with climate change, we'll be much better off than by just paying attention to global warming," said Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. (NYT, Nov. 3) [top]

Federal authorities have released new evidence that two California energy suppliers, AES Corp. and Williams Cos., conspired to artificially squeeze the state's market at the peak of the crisis in early 2000. Indications of bogus power plant shutdowns released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) showed Williams employees cutting deals in April and May 2000 with AES employees to shut down one Southern California power plant that AES operated for Williams. The two firms apparently prolonged a maintenance closure at another. The FERC investigation found that Williams employee Rhonda Morgan, in two taped telephone conversations, told an AES worker on April 27 that "Williams wanted the outage to run long" at a Long Beach power plant that had closed for repairs two days before. In a conversation later that day with high-ranking AES employee Eric Pendergraft, Morgan said, "I don't wanna do something underhanded, but if there's work you can continue to do... " Pendergraft responded: "I understand. You don't have to talk anymore." AES extended the outage through May 5. Williams earned over $10 million by selling more expensive electricity from other AES plants to the California Independent System Operator during the outages at the Long Beach and Huntington Beach plants. In April 2001, Williams, without admitting wrongdoing, agreed to refund $8 million to Cal-ISO--$2 million less than the profit Williams made. In May, FERC released Enron Corp. documents showing that the company used trading tactics to create artificial shortages and boost prices. Former Enron trader Timothy N. Belden has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud. The Justice Department and the California attorney general are also pursuing anti-trust investigations against other energy suppliers, including AES of Arlington, VA, and Williams of Tulsa, OK. The newly released evidence presents California officials with an opportunity to renew demands that FERC order $9 billion returned to the state for overcharges during the energy crisis. (LAT, Nov. 16)

Both Williams and AES have links to the Bush White House. Thomas Cruikshank, who has served on the Williams board for the past 12 years, is retired chief executive officer of Halliburton and personally selected Vice President Dick Cheney to succeed him at the helm of the Dallas oil services giant. Cheney subsequently oversaw Halliburton's acquisition of Dresser Industries, which saddled the company with huge asbestos liabilities, and approved accounting practices that are now under investigation by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). AES board member Richard Darman headed the Office of Management and Budget in the first Bush administration when Cheney was secretary of defense. Darman is also a managing director of the Carlyle Group, the Washington investment firm led by former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci--and in which the bin Laden family are investors. (San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 22)

See also WW3 REPORT #21 [top]


Some 30 protesters gathered outside Newark's Penn Station Nov. 23 to demand the relase of Farouk Abdel-Muhti, a New York-based Palestinian activist who has been held in New Jersey county jails since his April arrest on immigration charges. He has sued the federal government for holding him over the usual six-month limit for deportation, arguing he must be allowed to stay in the US because there is no nation to which he can be deported. "It's all very political," said David Wilson of the Committee for the Release of Farouk Abdel-Muhti. "They're trying to see if they can take an activist who's been on the radio and lock him away based on what is saying." Federal officials deny Abdel-Muhti was detained because of his views. "He is being held because he violated US immigration law, and his deportation is pending," said Scott Dempsey of the Immigration and Naturalization Service's Newark district office. Abdel-Muhti is at the Passaic County Jail in Paterson, and was previously held in Camden and Middlesex counties. He had been a regular guest on New York radio station WBAI, commenting on Palestinian issues. Shortly before his apartment was raided, he was at the station as a live guest. "Farouk was making a lot of contacts and saying a lot of things on the radio," said his roommate, Bernard McFall. "People in Lebanon, people in the West Bank, people in Gaza--he knows all their phone numbers." McFall believes Abdel-Muhti's arrest was triggered by an April 25 radio show on the idea of Israel paying reparations to the Palestinians. "Our guess is that was the straw that broke the camel's back," McFall said. "This is a free speech issue."

Abdel-Muhti was born in 1947 in Ramallah, on the West Bank. He lived briefly in Honduras without legal resident status, but authorities there refused to take him. Israel also refuses to deal with the matter, referring Abdel-Muhti's lawyers to the Palestinian Authority's offices in Washington. Abdel-Muhti came to the United States in the early 1970s, but overstayed his visa, finding work as a vendor and advocating Palestinian causes. The government tried to deport him in 1975, but gave up when Israeli officials could not find his name on a list of residents of the occupied territories, according to court documents. They again tried to deport him in 1993, but could not find a country willing to take him and released him on a $15,000 bond the next year. He was to appear before an immigration judge in 1995, but says he missed his court date because he was being treated in a hospital emergency room at the time. (AP, Nov. 23)

A habeas corpus petition on Abdel-Muhti's behalf is now pending before Judge Faith S. Hochberg at US District Court in Newark. "If they let someone like him sit in jail indefinitely, they would allow that to happen to many others," said Joel Kupferman, attorney for Abdel-Muhti. "That's what we're concerned about." (Patterson Herald News, Nov. 7)

Organizers say the crowd at the Newark protest actually approached 60 people. The day after the rally, Abdel-Muhti was also able to call into Amy Goodman's national "Democracy Now!" radio show for a live interview from the Passaic jail. Abdel-Muhti's supporters are asking for citizen pressure on the INS to demand that Farouk not be transferred to a more remote facility, and that he be immediately released. Please send polite but firm letters to:

David Venturella, Director,
and Michael Kidd (officer in charge of Farouk's file)
Headquarters Post Detention Unit
Immigration and Naturalization Service
425 I Street NW
Washington, DC 20536

Phone: 202-305-2734
Fax: 202-353-9435

Please send a copy of your letter to:

Committee for the Release of Farouk Abdel-Muhti
PO Box 20587, Tompkins Square Station, New York, NY 10009
Phone: 212-674-9499

Vigils to demand Farouk's release are held every Friday, noon-1 PM outside the New York City Federal Bldg, 26 Federal Plaza in Manhattan (Broadway at Worth).

See also WW3 REPORT #59 [top]

On Nov. 22, the Justice Department announced a second phase of a new INS "registration" requirement. The first phase, announced Nov. 6, required all males 16 years or older who are nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria or Sudan to "register" with the INS and be fingerprinted, photographed, and interviewed under oath. The second phase expands the requirement to nationals of 13 more countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Visitors, students or temporary workers from these countries who entered on or before Sept. 30 of this year must register between Dec. 2 and Jan. 10. Diplomats, lawful permanent residents and asylum applicants who filed before Nov. 2, 2002 are exempt from the requirement. Anyone who does not register is subject to deportation. (American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee Immigration Advisory, Nov. 22)

(From Immigration News Briefs, Nov. 29) [top]

A federal appeals court ruled that the US government does not owe free lifetime medical care to World War II and Korean War veterans--despite promises made to them when they agreed to serve 20 years in the armed forces. The 9-4 ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington DC overturns a February 2001 ruling by a three-judge appeals panel which held that the veterans were entitled to the lifetime health care based on the military's promises. Wrote the majority: "Because [the law] at most authorizes space available treatment and not free health insurance for life, we hold that the Air Force Secretary lacked the authority in the 1950s when plaintiffs joined to promise free and full medical care." (CNN, Nov. 19) [top]

A Sept. 8 flight from Newark, NJ, for Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and a final destination of Kabul, Afghanistan, was halted when FBI agents boarded and escorted seven passengers off the plane and into a room where they were interrogated for six hours. Flight 91 took off without the group. The group had signed up for a two-week "Reality Tour" of Afghanistan, organized by San Francisco-based human rights group Global Exchange. "They wanted to know about Global Exchange," says one of the detainees, Glenda Marsh, a Sacramento peace activist and state-employed biologist. "They asked me if I'd heard the people I was traveling with make anti-American statements." Marsh is preparing to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to see if the FBI is compiling a dossier on her. (San Francisco Bay Guardian, Nov. 20)

See also WW3 REPORT # 53 [top]

The so-called Miranda rule--which mandates that suspects must be informed of their right to remain silent--is about to be reconsidered by the Supreme Court in the case of a California farm worker who was shot five times after a brief encounter with police. While the worker lay wounded, a police supervisor pressed him to talk. He survived, paralyzed and blinded, and sued the police for coercive interrogation. But police in Oxnard, CA, assert that the Miranda ruling does not include a "constitutional right to be free of coercive interrogation"--only a right not to have forced confessions used at trial. Bush administration lawyers have sided with the police in the case. Police can hold people and force them to talk if their incriminating statements are not used to prosecute them, US Solicitor Gen. Theodore B. Olson and Michael Chertoff, chief of the Justice Department's criminal division, say in their brief to the court. They write that it "will chill legitimate law enforcement efforts to obtain potentially life-saving information during emergencies," including terrorism alerts, if police and FBI agents can be sued for coercive questioning.

The case began five years ago when Oliverio Martinez, 29, rode his bicycle across a vacant Oxnard lot. Two officers, Andrew Salinas and Maria Pena, had stopped to question a man they suspected (wrongly) of selling drugs. When they heard the bike approach in the dark, they called for the rider to stop. Martinez dismounted and was frisked, but police say he tried to run when they grabbed the knife he used for cutting strawberries. A scuffle ensued, and Pena opened fire. When patrol supervisor Sgt. Ben Chavez arrived, Martinez lay handcuffed and bleeding on the ground. Once Martinez was loaded into an ambulance, Chavez climbed in with a tape recorder--and repeatedly grilled him throughout the 45-minute ride to the hospital. Martinez sued Oxnard police for illegal arrest, the use of excessive force and coercive interrogation in custody. (LAT, Nov. 24) [top]


On Nov. 27, President Bush signed legislation creating a new independent commission to investigate the 9-11 attacks, and named former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to lead the panel. "Dr. Kissinger will bring broad experience, clear thinking and careful judgment to this important task," Bush said at a signing ceremony in the White House Roosevelt Room. "Mr. secretary, thank you for returning to the service of your nation." The commission, building on the limited joint inquiry by the House and Senate intelligence committees, will have 18 months to examine issues such as aviation security, border control and possible intelligence lapses. (AP, Nov. 27)

The AP account provides the following short bio: "Kissinger, one of the best known American diplomats of the 20th century, was secretary of state to Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 with North Vietnam's Le Duc Tho for cease-fire negotiations during the Vietnam war. Kissinger also made a determined peacemaking effort in the Middle East and made repeated trips to the region."

The account fails to mention that Vietnamese leader Le Duc Tho refused to accept the prize in protest of having to share it with Kissinger, the architect of the bombardment of North Vietnam. See the Nobel Museum homepage.

The AP account also failed to note that Kissinger is wanted for questioning by judicial authorities in Chile, Spain and France for his close involvement in the bloody CIA-organized coup d'etat in Chile which brought Gen. Augusto Pinochet to power. Ironically, the date of the 1973 coup was Sept. 11, and it resulted in the immediate round-up and murder of some 5,000 Chilean leftists. See WW3 REPORT # 31

Democrats appointed as vice-chair George Mitchell, the former Senate majority leader who brokered Northern Ireland peace talks. Senate "liberals" hailed the Kissinger appointment. Charles Schumer (D_NY) said the appointment of two "strong, distinguished leaders...bodes well for the commission." Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) called Kissinger's appointment "a very, very good beginning." (Newsday, Nov. 28)

But even the staid New York Times expressed deep misgvings about Kissinger's appointment in its Nov. 29 editorial:

"In naming Henry Kissinger to direct a comprehensive examination of the government's failure to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks, President Bush has selected a consummate Washington insider. Mr. Kissinger obviously has a keen intellect and vast experience in national security matters. Unfortunately, his affinity for power and the commercial interests he has cultivated since leaving government may make him less than the staunchly independent figure that is needed for this critical post. Indeed, it is tempting to wonder if the choice of Mr. Kissinger is not a clever maneuver by the White House to contain an investigation it long opposed.

"It seems improbable to expect Mr. Kissinger to report unflinchingly on the conduct of the government, including that of Mr. Bush. He would have to challenge the established order and risk sundering old friendships and business relationships...

"The new inquiry will be undone if the 10-member panel is hesitant to call government organizations and officials to account. There can be no place for the kind of political calculation and court flattery that Mr. Kissinger practiced so assiduously during his tenure as Richard Nixon's national security adviser and secretary of state. Nor is there any tolerance for the kind of cynicism that Mr. Kissinger applied to the prosecution of the Vietnam War.

"The commission will be made up of five Republicans and five Democrats. Choosing its remaining members and staff director wisely will also be vital to its success. They must be fiercely independent and unafraid to challenge some of Washington's most powerful institutions. We were mildly encouraged to hear Mr. Kissinger say that he would 'accept no restrictions' on the commission's work. To deliver on that promise, Mr. Kissinger must start by severing all ties to Kissinger Associates, the lucrative consulting business he has built up during the past two decades.."

Author Christopher Hitchens, whose recent book "The Trial of Henry Kissinger" calls for the elder statesman to face an international war crimes tribunal, notes in an on-line commentary:

"When in office, Henry Kissinger organized massive deceptions of Congress and public opinion. The most notorious case concerned the 'secret bombing' of Cambodia and Laos, and the unleashing of unconstitutional methods by Nixon and Kissinger to repress dissent from this illegal and atrocious policy. But Sen. Frank Church's commission of inquiry into the abuses of US intelligence, which focused on illegal assassinations and the subversion of democratic governments overseas, was given incomplete and misleading information by Kissinger, especially on the matter of Chile. Rep. Otis Pike's parallel inquiry in the House (which brought to light Kissinger's personal role in the not-insignificant matter of the betrayal of the Iraqi Kurds, among other offenses) was thwarted by Kissinger at every turn, and its eventual findings were classified. In other words, the new 'commission' will be chaired by a man with a long, proven record of concealing evidence and of lying to Congress, the press, and the public."

Hitchens notes that Kissinger Associates' client list is secret, but is known to include several foreign governments. Writes Hitchens: "Most notable in incubating al-Qaeda were the rotten client-state regimes of the Saudi Arabian oligarchy and the Pakistani military and police elite. Henry Kissinger is now, and always has been, an errand boy and apologist for such regimes." [top]

A draft report by the joint Congressional committee investigating the 9-11 attacks has concluded that the FBI and the CIA failed to aggressively pursue leads that might have linked the hijackers to Saudi Arabia. The report charges that the authorities failed to investigate the possibility that two of the hijackers, Saudis named Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaq Alhazmi, received Saudi money from two Saudi men they met with in California in 2000. The committee's preliminary findings also accuse the Saudi government of failing to fully cooperate with US investigators. In a rebuttal sent to the committee, the FBI challenged allegations that Midhar and Alhazmi, then living in San Diego, met with Omar al-Bayoumi and Osama Bassnan, then receiving financial support from figures in the Saudi government. But the FBI is still investigating whether Saudi funds were diverted to Midhar and Alhazmi. (NYT, Nov. 23) [top]

A Swiss research institute says the latest audiotape statement attributed to accused terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden is not authentic. The Lausanne-based Dalle Molle Institute for Perceptual Artificial Intelligence said it is 95% certain the tape does not feature the voice of the long-missing terrorist leader. The review of the tape was commissioned by France-2 TV, and its findings were presented by the institute's Prof. Herve Boulard in a special broadcast. He said the institute compared the voice on the tape, first aired two weeks ago on Qatar's al-Jazeera cable TV, with some 20 earlier recordings of bin Laden. The claim contradicts that of US intelligence agencies, which determined that the voice probably is that of bin Laden. (AP, Nov. 29)

See WW3 REPORT #61 [top]

In remarks during a recent press briefing, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld suggested that while the controversial Office of Strategic Influence (OSI) no longer exists in name, its programs are still being carried out. Said Rumsfeld: "And then there was the Office of Strategic Influence. You may recall that. And 'oh my goodness gracious isn't that terrible, Henny Penny the sky is going to fall.' I went down that next day and said fine, if you want to savage this thing, fine, I'll give you the corpse. There's the name. You can have the name, but I'm gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done and I have." (Federation of American Scientists Secrecy News, Nov. 27)

The OSI came under scrutiny last Feb. 19, when the New York Times reported that the new Pentagon office was "developing plans to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations." The news was met with outrage, and within a week the Pentagon closed down the OSI, saying that negative attention had damaged the office's reputation so much "that it could not operate effectively." (AP, Feb. 26).

Rumsfeld's revelation that the mission of the ostensibly disbanded office survives vindicates numerous skeptics, including WW3 REPORT, which wrote at the time: "This raises the logical dilemma of whether an agency which admits to lying can be believed when it says it doesn't exist. Is the agency's supposed non-existence the first piece of disinformation?"

See WW3 REPORT #23

Thanks to Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) [top]

Wrote the Los Angeles Times in a Nov. 8 editorial: "Since it's the threat of obscurantism we're hoping to thwart, let's be blunt: The Bush administration's plan to strip the Government Printing Office's authority is a threat to democracy." White House Office of Management & Budget Director Mitch Daniels wants to transfer control of information management from the printing office to individual Cabinet agencies. "That would spell the end of the current system, in place since the Jeffersonian era, which requires executive branch agencies to send their documents and reports to neutral librarians, who then make them available to the public both online and in 1,300 public reading rooms nationwide. Daniels would replace that system with a more secretive one in which individual agencies would manage -- and possibly sanitize--their own electronic databases. Currently, a federal agency such as the Pentagon can't delete an embarrassing passage from a historical document without first going through the hassle of asking each reading room to obscure the passage with a black marker. If Daniels gets his way, all an agency will have to do is call up the document in Microsoft Word and quietly hit Control X to delete the passage for eternity." Daniels calls the move a cost-cutting measure. [top]

A Nov. 15 debate at the National Academies, a non-profit think-tank advising the government on matters of technology and science, focused on the threat to individual privacy versus the convenience of using skin-implanted microchips to phase out conventional paper identification. Applied Digital Solutions Inc. says its tiny glass capsule, injected into forearms and other fleshy body parts, could help authorities find missing persons and speed up medical diagnosis treatment. The VeriChip, a scannable device worn under the skin and encrypted with personal information like medical records and emergency contacts, was unveiled last year in Florida. So far about 20 people have been "chipped," including an entire family in Florida. "I can't feel them at all," said Richard Seeling, an Applied Digital executive who has implanted two microchips into his right forearm to test the product. "Most of the time I forget they're there until someone asks about it." The National Academies warned the chip could pose health risks like infections and immunity disorders for bearers. The FDA ruled in October it would not regulate the device so long as it was not used for medical purposes such as diagnosis. (Reuters, Nov. 15) [top]


During protests against a mini-ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Sydney, Australia, an activist group calling itself the Institute For Applied Piracy jammed commercial radio signals with a pirate broadcast of ten minutes of anti-WTO propaganda. The transcript of the statement was provided by the Microradio Network.


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