Bill Weinberg

Iraq: generals see long war

Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, the top US military commander, said Feb. 25 that the country must be prepared for a decade of war in Iraq, judging by the examples of history.  "This is not the kind of business that can be done in one year, two years probably," said Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a speech to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council. (Reuters, Feb. 25)

A yet more pessimistic analysis came from Maj Gen. Alan Stretton, who was chief of staff of the Australian force in Vietnam from 1969-70. "I really believe it will go the same way as Vietnam," he told Australian radio. "It will get no better – [only] worse – and eventually public opinion in both the US and Australia and elsewhere will demand our troops come back and when they do they will be pretending that the locals can handle it all themselves, and we will just leave a bloody mess." (AAP, Feb. 24)

Syria behind Iraq rebels?

On Feb. 24, Baghdad's al-Iraqiya TV—the US-funded government station—broadcast a "confession" by a supposed Syrian intelligence officer that his country's secret service had been assisting the Iraqi rebels.

Canada withdraws from "Star Wars," forfeits "sovereignty"

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin announced yesterday that his country will not participate in the missile defense system that the US hopes to build for North America. "This is our airspace, we're a sovereign nation and you don't intrude on a sovereign nation's airspace without seeking permission," Martin said.

Jewish Republicans: Dean supports terrorism

The Republican Jewish Coalition greeted Howard Dean's election to chair the Democratic National Committee this week with an ad campaign seeking to depict him as a supporter of terrorism.

Bush: al-Qaeda trying to kill me

Ahmed Abu Ali, 23, of Virginia, held for 20 months in Saudi Arabia, was flown to the US yesterday to face charges of plotting to assassinate President Bush. At his court hearing in Alexandria he requested permission to show scars on his back as proof he was tortured by Saudi authorities. The request was blocked by federal prosecutors, who also argued that he should be denied bail and held indefinitely, charging links to al-Qaeda and saying he would pose "an exceptionally grave danger" if released. A doctor who examined him reportedly found "no evidence of physical mistreatment." A lawsuit filed by his family is seeking release of details on his detainment and treatment in Saudi Arabia, charging he was arrested and held there at US behest. A valedictorian at the Islamic Saudi Academy in Alexandria, he went to Saudi Arabia to study, and was never officially charged with any crime there. Priti Patel of the group Human Rights First warned that the torture allegations could taint the government's case: "If the information comes from mistreatment in Saudi Arabia, it would raise questions about whether there's enough evidence for the indictment to hold." (UK Guardian, Feb. 23)

Chavez: Bush trying to kill me

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez charged Feb. 21 that President Bush is behind a plot to assassinate him—and warned that if it succeeded, Venezuela would halt oil exports to the US.  "If I am assassinated, there is only one person responsible: the president of the United States," Chavez said during his weekly radio and TV show, Hello President, claiming he had received a tip from his good friend Fidel Castro. "If, by the hand of the devil, these perverse plans succeed...forget about Venezuelan oil, Mr. Bush," Chavez said. Addressing his own people, he added: "I will not hide, I will walk in the streets with all of you...but I know I am condemned to death." (UK Guardian, Feb. 22)

Zimbabwe: journalists flee

Three international reports have fled Zimbabwe ahead of President Robert Mugabe's 81st birthday celebrations, and a fourth is in hiding after police searches their offices and threatened to have them arrested for slandering the state. Those who fled, Angus Shaw of AP, Brian Latham of Bloomberg news and Jaan Raath of the London Times, left last week following a Zimbabwe Central Intelligence Organization statement that it had launched a manhunt for a fourth journalist, Cornelius Nduna, a freelancer for several news organizations. Nduna has yet to be found. His lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, said the government accused him of possessing videotapes shot at a training camp for the Green Bombers, a government-backed youth militia. (AP, Feb. 22)

Brooklyn's Abu Ghraib

Attorneys for former post-9-11 detainees at New York's federal Metropolitan Detention Center call it "Brooklyn's Abu Ghraib." The detainees—none of whom were ever charged with anything related to terrorism—say in sworn affidavits and interviews with Justice Department officials that correction officers at the facility in the Sunset Park neighborhood:

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