#. 39. June 23, 2002
SPECIAL REPORT: U.S. PLANS MILITARY ACTION AGAINST IRAQ, CANADA, NETHERLANDS
ULTRA-HAWKS: FIRST WE TAKE BAGHDAD, THEN WE TAKE THE HAGUE!
*"PRE-EMPTIVE ACTION" DOCTRINE: BACK TO THE FUTURE
*FIRST BLOOD IN THE PHILIPPINES --NEPAL NEXT?
*UPDATE ON AMERICA'S "DISAPPEARED"
*SPECIAL MESSAGE TO OUR LOYAL FANS!
"They're doing their best, they're doing what
they can, to get us ready for Vietnam
From old Hanoi to East Berlin, commando--involved again!"
RIP, Dee Dee Ramone (1952-2002)
By Bill Weinberg
with David Bloom and Subuhi Jiwani, Special Correspondents
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. Two Suicide Bombings in Jerusalem in Two Days
2. Palestinian Statement Condemns Suicide Bombers
3. PA Places Yassin under House Arrest
4. Six Killed In IDF Hit on Hamas
5. Operation "Determined Path" to Be "Crushing and Decisive"
6. Arafat Surrounded Again
7. Ben-Eliezer: Military Action Counterproductive
8. More Expulsions, Demolitions in Store for Palestinians
9. "Warning Fire" from a Tank Kills four in Jenin
10. Attack on Jewish Settlement Kills Five
11. Settlers Raid Arab Village, Killing One
12. New Kids' Craze in Palestine: Martyr's Necklaces
13. Oliver Stone "Understands" Suicide Bombers
14. Israeli Think-Tank: Palestinian Casualties Combatants
15. Egypt Trying to Obtain Nukes
16. Likud to Support Oslo Probe
17. Israel Kills Alleged TIPH Assassin
18. Weisenthal Center vs. Tutu
19. Arafat Pockets $5 Million in Arab Aid?
20. Demographic Shift to Arabs Seen
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. Brits Head Home
2. Britain's Troops Were Immune from ICC Prosecution
3. Turkey Takes over Command of ISAF
4. Human Rights Groups Question Turkey's Role
5. Dostum Wants ISAF Extended To Mazar
6. US Forces Engage Hostile Forces
7. Servicemen Killed in Chopper Crash
8. US Forces Arrest Suspected Taliban/al-Qaeda
9. Iran Radio: Four US Commandos Killed in Pakistan
10. Kabul Rocket Attack during Loya Jirga Blamed on Taliban
11. Inquiry Faults U.S. Pilot in Friendly Fire Deaths
12. Solar Energy For Afghanistan?
13. China Denies Arms Sales to Afghanistan
14. Khandahar Quail-Fighting Back in Style
THE IRAQ FRONT
1. Washington Post: Bush Orders CIA Operation Against Iraq
2. Saddam "Paranoid", Gloats White House Leak
3. The "Afghanistan Model" or "Gulf War Lite"?
4. Powell Pugnacious
5. Joint Chiefs Skittish
6. Post-Saddam Chaos Potentially Worse than Saddam
7. "Prominent Hammer": War Game Tests Iraq Scenario
8. US Frustrated in Search for Iraq Proxies
9. Kurdish Leaders Protest Bush War Moves
10. US Expels Iraq Diplomat as Spy
11. Bombing Continues
12. Saddam Accuses Kuwait of Stealing Oil--Again!
13. Congressional Report: Iraq Reaps Illegal Oil Profits
14. Syria Accused of Selling Illegal Iraqi Oil
15. Ex-UN Humanitarian Coordinator: End The Sanctions
16. Did Saddam Stage Million Dead
17. Saddam-Saudi Reconciliation?
18. Leaks and Counter-Leaks On Saddam's 9-11 Connection
19. Historical Revisionism and the Halabja Massacre--Again!
20. Saddam's Ethnocidal "Development" Programs In Basra
1. Bush Calls For "Pre-Emptive Action"
2. "Pre-Emptive" Doctrine for NATO
3. "Axis Of Evil" Expands
4. US Troops Spill Blood in Philippines
5. Nepal Next?
7. The Netherlands?
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
1. Al-Qaeda: Osama Alive
2. NSA Intercepted Pre-9-11 Terrorist Chatter
3. 9-11 Planned For Years, CIA Chief Says
4. Fear in Los Angeles
5. Fear in Las Vegas
6. Fear in Connecticut
7. False Alarm in New York
8. Attacks on US Jews Planned?
9. White House Evacuated; Bush in the Dark
10. Lawmakers Call for CIA/FBI-Homelands Security Merger
11. Al-Qaeda Cell Busted in Saudi Arabia?
12. Briton Dead In Saudi Car Bomb Blast
13. Syrian Torture State: US Terror War Ally?
14. North Carolina Cig Smugglers Deny Hezbollah Link
15. Unidentified Floating Object Beached In South Carolina
THE WAR AT HOME
1. Brooklyn Rallies Pressure Feds on the "Disappeared"
2. Detainee's Attorney Reports Retaliatory Harassment
3. Court Rules Against Secret Detainments--Again
4. Supreme Court Waters Down Fourth Amendment
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. TWO SUICIDE BOMBINGS IN JERUSALEM IN TWO DAYS
On June 18, a suicide bomber blew himself up on a Jerusalem bus, killing 19 and injuring 50. Seven of dead were Israeli Arabs. It was 8 AM, and there were schoolchildren on the bus, one of whom was killed. The bus was headed into central Jerusalem from the settlement "suburb" of Gilo. Built on land annexed by Israel to Jerusalem after 1967, Gilo has been a flashpoint in the current conflict, often drawing gunfire from the neighboring Arab village of Beit Jala. The bombing was the deadliest attack in Jerusalem since February 1995, when 26 were killed in a bus explosion, and the costliest in Israel since the Passover massacre in Netanya on March 27, which triggered April's Operation Defensive Shield . (BBC, June 18) The Islamic militant group Hamas took responsibility in a phone call to Hezbollah TV in Lebanon. (ABC, June 18) The bomber, Mohammed al-Ghoul, 22, was a student of Islamic studies. The note he left read "How beautiful it is to make my bomb shrapnel kill the enemy. How beautiful it is to kill and to be killed, not to love death, but to struggle for life, to kill and be killed for the lives of the coming generation." Al-Ghoul wrote "Izzedine Kassam," the name of the military wing of Hamas, next to his own. According to the Jerusalem Post, his sister Samar said "My brother is a hero. I'm not sad," and his father, Hazaa, said, "He's a martyr. We have only to ask our God to be merciful with him.... Our sons want to die for our land, to get it back." (JP, June 19) According to the UK Guardian, the family was more regretful. "He was my dear child, of course I did not want him to kill himself," Hazaa al-Ghoul told the paper June 19 . "If he had asked me for my advice I would have told him not to do it." His brother Amjad, a 38-year-old science teacher, concurred. "I would have tried to stop him if I knew," he said . (UK Guardian, June 20)
Israeli Prime Minister visited the site of the attack, the first time as prime minister that he has done so. "The terrible pictures we see here are stronger than every word," Sharon told reporters at the site. "It's interesting to speculate what kind of Palestinian state they want. What are they talking about ?" (ABC, June 18) US President George Bush was not awakened by his staff when news of the bombing reached the White House situation room. "The sad fact is, after so many of these, as horrible as they are, the 10th and the 20th and the 30th just don't have the same emotional impact as the first," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer told AP. "It's repeat horror," he said. The attack marked the 67th successful Palestinian suicide attack since Bush took office . (AP, June 19)
The Palestinian Authority condemned the attack "The Palestinian Authority...retains its position of not condoning the killing of civilians--Palestinians and Israelis," said Saeb Erakat, chief Palestinian negotiator. "We reject any Israeli attempt to assign blame or finger-pointing at us. The Israelis have done nothing in the last 21 months but destroy our ability [to go after the bombers]." But Israel blamed the Palestinian leadership, calling its statements "false condemnations."(CNN, June 18)
Amir Arshid, a friend of one of the Arab victims, Ayman Kabaha, noted he had been a peace advocated and had Jewish friends. "The two governments must do everything to reach peace and stop this," Arshid said, in tears. "It doesn't distinguish between Jews and Arabs. The death and pain are the same." (NYT, June 20)
The second suicide bombing occurred the next day at 7:10 PM, at a hitch-hiking post in Jerusalem. Seven were killed and 38 injured when a suicide bomber ran towards the post and detonated his explosives. Al-Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, linked to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the attack. A statement read on Hezbollah's TV station, al Manar, said the attack was carried out in response to Israeli attacks on Palestinian territory, and the assassinations of Palestinian activists by Israeli forces. "Zionists, leave this land. We will not stop our operations as long as there remains an occupier on our land," the statement said . (Haaretz, June 19)
2. PALESTINIAN STATEMENT CONDEMNS SUICIDE BOMBERS
In an advertisement appearing in al-Quds daily, Palestinian leaders Sari Nusseibeh and Hanan Ashrawi called on their people to reconsider launching suicide bomb attacks. The ad in the Arabic-language newspaper counsels "those dispatching the Palestinian youths to take personal stock of their actions," which "are only hurting innocent people, creating more hatred and distancing the prospects of achieving Palestinian independence." (Jerusalem Post , Jun. 19)(David Bloom)
3. PA PLACES YASSIN UNDER HOUSE ARREST
According to a Palestinian security official, the founder and spiritual leader of the Islamic militant group Hamas, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, was placed under house arrest by the Palestinian Authority (PA) in his Gaza City home on June 24. Hamas claimed responsibility for the June 18 bus bombing in Jerusalem that killed 19 Israelis. The move came amidst renewed pressure on Palestinian President Yasser Arafat to crack down on militants. "It was decided, starting from tonight, to impose house arrest on Sheikh Ahmed Yassin to safeguard the ultimate national interests of the Palestinian people," the official told Reuters. "The decision was issued from high up, from President Yasser Arafat," he said. (Reuters, June 24) Palestinian police opened fire on armed Hamas supporters as the marched towards Yassin's house. Police say the Hamas supporters fired first. One Hamas militant was wounded in the gun battle that followed . (Haaretz, June 24)
4. SIX KILLED IN IDF HIT ON HAMAS BIG
IDF Apache helicopter gunships firing missiles assassinated two senior Hamas militants and four other people June 24. The victims were riding in two taxis in the Rafah area in the southern Gaza Strip. The commander of Hamas' military wing in Rafah, Yasser Rizak, was the main target of the hit. Also killed; Amr Kouffa, described as a "central activist" in Hamas' military wing. Rizak was defined by Shin Bet security officials as a "ticking bomb;" they claim he was involved in several recent attempts to dispatch suicide bombers into Israel. Two of Rizak's brothers, one of the taxi drivers, and another man were also killed. (Haaretz, June 24) PM Ariel Sharon called the strike on Rizak part of a larger push against Hamas. Sharon said that Israeli is "preparing to launch a massive operation in the Gaza Strip against the Hamas organization, the beginning of which we witnessed today." (Haaretz, June 24)
5. OPERATION "DETERMINED PATH" TO BE "CRUSHING AND DECISIVE"
In response to suicide bombings and attacks on a settlement that killed 31 Israelis in two days, the Israeli army announced it would re-occupy Palestinian territory for an unspecified period, and occupy more each time another attack occurred. An Israeli defense official said this response would be "crushing and decisive," and the IDF has called up 2,000 reservists for the operation. (Jerusalem Post, June 23; BBC, June 23) Nine Palestinians have been killed in the operation. The IDF has entered Nablus, Jenin Tul Karm, Bethlehem, Ramallah, Qalqilyah and Beitounia. Two Israeli soldiers were killed during operation in Qalqilyah June 19. (Haaretz, June 20) In Jenin June 21, a 13-year old Palestinian boy was killed when the IDF blew up a building next to the house he was in, thought to house an explosives factory. On June 21, the IDF entered Nablus shortly after an attack on the nearby settlement of Itamar. Four Palestinians were killed in Gaza June 21. Anti-tank shells were fired at an IDF post near the settlement of Netzarim in northern Gaza. The IDF responded by bulldozing a nearby Palestinian naval police position they claimed had been the source of the fire, and opened fire on nearby protestors. A ten year old boy was killed in his home nearby by the shelling. A little while later, three Palestinians were killed at the Erez crossing by gunfire from the Border Police, reportedly returning fire from a Palestinian man who threw hand grenades and opened fire on them . (Haaretz, June 23)
6. ARAFAT SURROUNDED AGAIN
For the third time in a month, IDF tanks and armored personnel carriers surrounded Palestine Authority President Yasser Arafat's headquarters compound, the Mukata'a, in Ramallah. Seventeen tanks took up positions around the compound, and the IDF parked armored vehicles on Arafat's helicopter landing pad. According to Palestinian intelligence officials, 130 tanks have been seen moving into the city. No resistance is reported. Within an hour of their arrival, the IDF announced over loudspeakers that a curfew had been imposed on the area's 200,000 residents . (Jerusalem Post, June 24)
7. BEN-ELIEZER: MILITARY ACTION COUNTERPRODUCTIVE
In an interview with Haaretz, Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer admitted that Israeli military action to prevent suicide bombings proves counterproductive:
"My objective is to prevent suicide bombings. That's what Operation Defensive Shield was for. That's what all the other operations are for. But, unfortunately, while the IDF is carrying out these necessary actions, the operations themselves become a hothouse
that produces more and more new suicide bombers. The military actions kindle the frustration, hatred and despair and are the incubator for the terror to come. The religious and political environment immediately exploits this effect and dispatches the new suicide bombers and the pattern is repeated." (Haaretz, June 23)
8. MORE EXPULSIONS, DEMOLITIONS IN STORE FOR PALESTINIANS
At a June 21 cabinet meeting, the government approved the deportation of families of suicide bombers from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip, and demolition of their homes . (UK Guardian, June 24) Israel is also considering expelling senior Palestinian officials, although it has ruled out expelling Yasser Arafat at the moment. (Haaretz, June 19)
9. "WARNING FIRE" FROM A TANK KILLS FOUR IN JENIN
Saying it had "erred in its action," an Israeli army spokesman said the IDF mistakenly killed three children and wounded more than 20 others when a tank fired two shells at a crowd of shoppers in Jenin. The shoppers thought a three day Israeli-imposed curfew was over, and had rushed to the market to stock up on supplies. It is unclear how the rumor of the curfew ending started. The army spokesman said soldiers on conducting house-to-house searches saw some Palestinians breaking the curfew, and fired two tank shells to disperse the crowd. Unfortunately, one of the shells exploded near the crowd, he explained. The IDF stopped short of an apology or expression of regret, but admitted a mistake had probably been made: "An initial inquiry indicates that the force erred in its action," the army said. Palestinian residents, security and hospital officials said troops also fired their machine guns in three separate areas; two streets with markets, and a nearby neighborhood. Muhammad Abdullah, 63, after hearing the curfew was lifted, went out to buy medicine for his back. Near the market, he saw a tank fire, then spin its turret in his direction. "Just as I moved back, I heard a shell hit the second floor of a nearby house," said Abdullah, who received shrapnel wounds to his leg and hand. Jenin hospital officials said four were killed, including two six-year-old boys, and one who was twelve. (Jerusalem Post, June 23)
The father of two of the boys, told the IDF had admitted their error, said, "Do they think that will bring back my kids?" Yousef Ghazawi, 49, a driver for the United Nations, asked. "What is my guilt if someone blows himself up? It's their responsibility to look for these people. It's not their responsibility to kill my kids." (NYT, June 24) Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer expressed his regret for the deaths of innocent Palestinians. He ordered the army to investigate the incident, and inform him of the results of their inquiry and recommendations. In response to the incident, US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, "We would expect the Israelis to look into this kind of tragic incident." (Jerusalem Post, June 23)
10. ATTACK ON JEWISH SETTLEMENT KILLS FIVE
Guerillas from the Popular Front for the Liberation for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) attacked the West Bank Jewish settlement of Itamar June 20, killing five. The gunmen entered a house in the settlement and took hostages. A fierce gun battle with armed settler guards and Israeli soldiers ensued. One of the attackers was shot dead, and the second is believed to have escaped. Eight were wounded in the attack. A mother and her three children, who lived in the house, were among the victims. The house itself caught fire in the gun battle.
Itamar was settled by 500 members of the Gush Emunim group, a messianic settler movement who believe it is their task to "redeem" the West Bank under Jewish rule. Despite its small population, the land under Itamar's control extends over 7,000 dunams, or 1,750 acres. Most of the land was confiscated from local Palestinian farmers, and is guarded by seven illegal settler outposts, according to the Israeli human rights group, B'tselem. (UK Guardian, June 21) Despite the hostility of neighboring Arabs, the settlement has no security fence; the settlers refuse a fence on principle, maintaining all the West Bank is theirs. (AP, June 20)
11. SETTLERS RAID ARAB VILLAGE, KILLING ONE
After funerals for the five Jewish settlers killed during an attack on the West Bank settlement of Itamar, armed settlers, dissatisfied with the level of protection provided by the Israeli military, went in a convoy to the nearby Arab village of Howera, where they killed a 22-year old Arab man and set fire to cars. (Independent, June 22) The 3,000 mourners at the funeral, were in an angry mood. Some bought t-shirts that said, "no Arabs, no attacks," and scuffled with Israeli police and the army. "Vengeance" was seen written on several car windshields at the funeral. At their arrival in Howera, the settlers started to throw stones at houses, according to residents, smashing windows. A food store and two cars were set on fire, including one if front of the Odeh family house. The Odeh family gathered on the roof, and the two sides threw stones and shouted at each other. The settlers fired off several rounds, striking Adnan Odeh, a 22-year old stonecutter, in the chest. He died almost instantly. After causing wide-scale damage, the settlers withdrew. One the victim's cousins, Muhammad Salih, said: "The settlers want us to leave this country. They burned our lands, attacked our houses and kill us. They want us to leave. But we will die here and will not leave." Another cousin, Ali Omar, said "We do believe there is such a thing called the Israeli state," he said. "It's a fact. You cannot deny it exists. It will exist for the next generations. But without a Palestinian state, peace and security will be a dream for Israel." (NYT, June 22) Yosef Cohen, from the settlement of Yitzhar, was arrested by Israeli police as a suspect in the shooting. (Haaretz, June 23)
12. NEW KIDS' CRAZE IN PALESTINE: MARTYR'S NECKLACES
Necklaces with pictures of dead suicide bombers have replaced Pokémon cards as the new collecting craze for Palestinian children, according to report in the Toronto Star. The necklaces cost from 65 cents to $3.30 for top-end plastic ones. "I used to have plenty of Pokémons--my school bag was half full of them," said 14-year old Saleh Attiti. "I threw them all away. They're not important now. The pictures of martyrs are important. They're our idols." The Star reporter says it is difficult to find a child in the 20,000-person Balata refugee camp who does not sport at lease one necklace with a picture of a "shaheed," or martyr. Kids who used to trade Pokémon cards with each other now trade "shaheed" necklaces. "It works like this," says 12-year-old Assam Kandil, proud owner of some 30 necklaces. "If I have an extra one of Mahmoud Attiti, I will trade one for Yasser Badawi." "These children are convinced that martyrdom is a holy thing, something worthy of the ultimate respect," said Munir Jabal, head of a Balata teachers association. "They worship these pictures. I think it will lead them in the future to go out and do the same thing." Saleh Attiti is nephew of bomber Jihad Attiti, who less than a month ago blew up an 18-month old baby and her grandmother in a Tel Aviv suburb. "We love them and we want to be like them.," said Attiti of the "shaheeds" pictured in his pendants.
The craze started in November, when a shopkeeper in the adjacent city of Nablus, Assam Kanaza, was asked by a family to produce a plastic medallion of her son. When his work was noticed by other families, new orders came in, until the medallions had become a popular craze, Kanaza says he has produced more than 5,000, and another 6,000 plaques and key-chains with "shaheed" pictures inlaid. Kanaza's necklaces are the costliest, but he is willing to be haggled down to a more reasonable bargain: "Sometimes a child will say, 'Don't you think that's too much,'" said Kanaza. "I say, `If you bring me half that much I will give it to you.' He comes back in a week with five shekels and he's very, very happy." (Toronto Star, June 17; Newsday, June 16)(David Bloom)
13. OLIVER STONE "UNDERSTANDS" SUICIDE BOMBERS
Hollywood director Oliver Stone told a interviewer from industry mag Variety that he "understands why they [the suicide bombers] feel the way they do." Not that he condoned their actions. "I'm against violence in these matters. I'm against suicide bombers they kill innocent people," Stone told the paper. Stone is currently working on a TV biography of Yasser Arafat, a cause of some concern to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which fears the film work be anti-Israel, and portray Arafat in a positive light. Stone told Variety he considers Israel's settlement activity to be illegitimate. "The settlements, they are something else. The Israelis have no business in the West Bank. The settlements have to be gotten out of the West Bank." Variety wrote that Stone compared Jewish settlers in the West Back to "vigilantes of the Old West in America." ( Jerusalem Post, June 21; The Scotsman, June 21)(David Bloom)
14. ISRAELI THINK TANK: PALESTINIAN CASUALTIES COMBATANTS
According to a study by Israel's International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT), the majority of the 1,450 Palestinians killed during the current Intifada have been "combatants," while just one in five of the 525 Israelis killed have been combatants. More than twice the number of Israeli females (152) have been killed as Palestinian females (61), a number including four suicide bombers, the study found. The study also noted that casualties among children have been equal on each side. (Jerusalem Post, June 21)
The brief story on the study in the Jerusalem Post did not make clear what the definition of "combatant" is for either side, and the report is not on the ICT web site. Is any Palestinian who ever chucked a rock considered a "combatant"? What about Israelis who have served in the IDF, as nearly all Israelis have? As one WW3 REPORT reader put it, without these definitions, "this is pointless pseudo-news."(David Bloom)
15. EGYPT TRYING TO OBTAIN NUKES
According to a June 22 report in the German daily Die Welt, western intelligence agencies believe Egypt is trying to obtain nuclear weapons. The report says Egypt wants to mine natural uranium in the Sinai Peninsula, and enrich it into weapons-grade material with the assistance of Chinese technology. Egypt denied the existence of a nuclear weapons project, and the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency said it had no information on Egyptian nuclear projects. Die Welt claimed that despite the denials, there was evidence Egypt is attempting to obtain enriched uranium. On Jan. 23, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarkak went to China, where he signed an agreement on cooperation. Much of the details have remained secret, but Die Welt claimed security sources believe the agreement has to do with nuclear research and development, including "Chinese aid for mining natural uranium in the Sinai Peninsula." (Haaretz, June 23) A report in the Washington Post June 15 said Israel had purchased diesel submarines from Germany with the aim of obtaining sea-based nuclear capability, raising concern of a regional nuclear arms race. (See WW3 RERORT #38)
16. LIKUD TO SUPPORT OSLO PROBE
Minister Dan Naveh of the Likud announced June 18 that his party would support a proposal for a Knesset inquiry in to the Olso accords, after Labor MKs voted in favor of a probe into the establishment of illegal settlements. That proposal was rejected in a 40-18 vote. These moves come in the wake of a rift that developed after a June 12 vote in which several Likud MKs voted in favor of a proposal to probe the Oslo accords, angering their coalition partners in the Labor party. (see WW3 REPORT #38) (Jerusalem Post, June 19)(David Bloom)
17. ISRAEL KILLS ALLEGED TIPH ASSASSIN
Mohammed Basharat, an Islamic Jihad militant considered by Israel to be responsible for killing two members of The International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) force in March, was shot dead on June 18 by Israeli forces at a surprise checkpoint near Hebron. Basharat was killed during an identity check at an army roadblock. There are two other suspects in the TIPH killings, one of whom was arrested during Operation Defensive Shield, and the other one who is still at large. (Haaretz, June 19) (See WW3 REPORT #27)
18. WEISENTHAL CENTER VS. TUTU
In a June 14 essay in the International Herald Tribune, South Africa's Archbishop Desmond Tutu called for divestment from Israel, to compel it to withdraw from occupied Palestinian territories. Comparing it to the similar movement to induce South Africa to dismantle apartheid, Tutu encouraged the divestment movement on US campuses that has called on 40 colleges and universities to review their investments in Israel. "If apartheid ended, so can the occupation, but the moral force and international pressure will have to be just as determined. The current divestment effort is the first, though certainly not the only, necessary move in that direction," Tutu wrote. Tutu also noted the boycotts and arms embargoes of Israel in Europe. (see WW3 REPORT #32) (IHT, June 14)
Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an LA-based watchdog on anti-Semitism, takes exception to Tutu's opinion piece (which Reuters says ran in the IHT, but which the Wiesenthal Center says ran in the Jordan Times). "Comparing apartheid to what is happening in the West Bank and Gaza is both disingenuous and a distortion of the truth," said Hier. "In South Africa, a minority controlled and denied the rights of the majority. In Israel, all citizens, including Israeli Arabs, have equal rights under the law. If there is no peace in the territories, it is because Arafat rejected former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's offer of a Palestinian state and deployed terror as a deliberate means to bring Israel to her knees. If there are security check-points in Israel, it is because there have been 70 suicide attacks that have murdered more than 260 men, women, and children, many of those attacks carried out by terrorist groups affiliated with Arafat's own Fatah organization.... But what is most hurtful is rather than cry out on behalf of the innocent victims of terror, Tutu aligns himself with those who have refused to stop it. Rather than urge American universities to divest from the Middle East's only democracy, Tutu should be urging Moslem religious and political leaders to unequivocally condemn the terrorist organizations whose only aim is the total destruction of the State of Israel." (Simon Wiesenthal Center, June 14)
19. ARAFAT POCKETS $5 MILLION IN ARAB AID?
According to a report in the Kuwaiti daily al-Watan, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat deposited $5.1 million taken from Arab aid money into his own personal account. The newspaper was given documents by unnamed sources in the Cairo branch of an Arab bank showing that had made the deposit. "According to sources, this is theft of Arab aid funds allocated to the Palestinians through an arrangement between Arafat and his Cairo office head, Ramzi Khouri," al-Watan reported. The report claimed the funds were used to cover some of Arafat's personal expenses, including those of his wife Suha, and their daughter, who live in Paris and Switzerland . (Jerusalem Post, June 19)
20. DEMOGRAPHIC SHIFT TO ARABS SEEN
The chairman of Israel's National Security Council told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on June 10 that Jews will become a minority in the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean by 2020. Gen. Uzi Dayan said if current demographic trends continue, that area--comprising Israel and the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip--will have 15 million inhabitants by then. Jews will comprise 45% and Arabs 55%. The current ratio is 5:4 in favor of Jews. (Haaretz, June 11)
Former Shin Bet security service chief Ami Ayalon and Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Melchior said at a June 12 meeting of the Meimad party that the coming demographic shift makes it imperative that Israel leave the occupied territories. "The need to leave Judea and Samaria is not connected to the security issue but to the continued existence of the Jewish people in the land of Israel," Ayalon said. "If we don't leave the territories, either we will no longer be a democratic society, or we will not be a home for the Jewish people." Melchior noted that the average age of Palestinians is under 13; Israelis, over 40. "We need to leave the settlements as soon as possible, with or without an agreement with the Palestinians," Melchior said. "We simply cannot afford to be an occupier in today's world." The Meimad party is a member of Ariel Sharon's governing coalition. (Jerusalem Post, June 13)
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. BRITS HEAD HOME
With the exception of 300 troops remaining as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the British forces who took part in the allied campaign against the Taliban and al-Qaeda are returning home, 3,000 troops in all. There were no British casualties during their deployment. Some in the British media and political caste had warned of "mission creep" and a Vietnam-like quagmire, but that never materialized . (UK Guardian, June 23) The British did wound two gunman who fired on their observation post in a drive-by shooting (UK Guardian, May 14; see WW3 REPORT #35), but their much-vaunted avian-monikered operations Ptarmigan, Snipe, Condor and Buzzard merely netted some arms caches, with occasionally embarrassing results. A May 14 report in the UK Telegraph claimed an enormous arms cache destroyed by the British belonged to an Afghan ally, and Royal marines at the tail end of Operation Condor found themselves being accosted by gay Afghan farmers. "They were more terrifying than the al-Qaeda. One bloke who had painted toenails was offering to paint ours. They go about hand in hand, mincing around the village," said marine James Fletcher. "We were pretty shocked. We discovered from the Afghan soldiers we had with us that a lot of men in this country have the same philosophy as ancient Greeks: 'a woman for babies, a man for pleasure.'" (The Scotsman, April 24) The British choice of "Snipe" as the code-name for one of their missions amused their US colleagues, for whom "Snipe hunt" represents a hunt for a mythical beast. (CNN, May 3) But while they failed to actually find any al-Qaeda or Taliban, who have mostly retreated to safe havens in the mountains of Pakistan, the British felt their deployment was a success. British commander Brigadier Roger Lane claimed the war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda was "all but won" in early May, a declaration which was criticized as "hype" by officials in the Ministry of Defense. (UK Guardian, May 20; June 23)
2. BRITAIN'S TROOPS WERE IMMUNE FROM ICC PROSECUTION
Britain's troops in Afghanistan were immune from prosecution in the new International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, due to a guarantee obtained from the Afghan interim government. Britain, a signatory to the Rome convention that established the ICC, has been critical of the US for its refusal to sign the convention and accept the tribunal. Britain and France said last week they would oppose US efforts to obtain official immunity from prosecution for war crimes for its troops that take part in UN-mandated missions. The US has said failure to grant such immunity would result in the withdrawal of US troops from UN missions. But the British themselves obtained just such a guarantee from the Afghan interim government, granting British and allied troops immunity from prosecution for offenses committed while taking part in the International Assistance Force (ISAF). A US official said this deal shows British hypocrisy. "It is hypocritical of them to claim that we are somehow blocking justice when they seem to have the same reservations about international tribunals." (UK Independent, June 21)
3. TURKEY TAKES OVER COMMAND OF ISAF
Turkey, the only Muslim country that is a member of NATO, took over command of ISAF from the British on June 20. The Turks will command a force of nearly 5,000 from 19 nations. Turkey's force will comprise 1,400. The US, which has no forces in ISAF, was an enthusiastic advocate for Turkey to take over, to demonstrate to the Islamic world that the coalition against terrorism is not anti-Islamic. At the handing-over ceremony with the Afghans and British, the Turkish commander, Maj. Gen. Akin Zorlu, said, "Turkey has willingly agreed to take over leadership with the aim of contributing to the peace and security that the Afghan people have long deserved. We shall do our best to enhance the peace and welfare of the people of Kabul." He promised that the Turkish troops would "treat everyone equally and fairly." (LA Times, June 21) The Turks were initially reluctant to assume the role, and agreed only after guarantees of $228 million in US aid. (UK Guardian, May 28)(David Bloom)
4. HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS QUESTION TURKEY'S ROLE
An article by Isabel Hilton in the May 28 UK Guardian raises concerns about the recent human rights record of Turkish forces troops. Hilton relates how a report from the Kurdish Human Rights Project describes systematic rape and sexual abuse by Turkish security forces in Turkish Kurdistan. The Project's report is an observation of a trial in Turkey, in which Kurdish women who spoke out against crimes committed against them by Turkish forces are on trial for undermining state security. The charges stem from a June 2000 conference by several NGOs to address their claims of systematic sexual violence committed against women in custody. The Turkish government's response to the array of evidence presented was to investigate and then charge 19 of the conference speakers for "denigrating" the security forces. For claiming Kurdish women were disproportionately the victims, five of the speakers were charged with more serious crimes--this time before the state security court. The conference organizers, lawyers and victims, the state claimed, had "incited people to enmity and hatred by pointing to class, racial, religious, confessional or regional differences," simply by mentioning the fact that Kurdish women had been raped in custody and during raids on villages. The charges carry a maximum six year sentence. (UK Guardian, May 28)
5. DOSTUM WANTS ISAF EXTENDED TO MAZAR
Uzbek warlord Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, who showed up to the Loya Jirga absent his usual fatigues in favor of a suit and tie, says he wants ISAF extended to his base of Mazar-i-Sharif in the turbulent north of Afghanistan. The new leader of ISAF, Turkish Major-General Hilmi Akin Zorlu, told a June 23 news conference at ISAF headquarters that Dostum "expects also that ISAF forces may go to other cities in Afghanistan, including Mazar-i-Sharif, in order to maintain security and help the people to reconstruct." Zorlu added that Dostum "said he supports Mr. Karzai and the transitional authority...and he's ready to support ISAF forces all the time." Dostum also told Zorlu that although some were not happy with the result of the Loya Jirga, he was generally hopeful "He's optimistic," Zorlu said. "He said he has good relations with everyone. He doesn't have trouble with anyone." While Dostum has a checkered past as head of the Uzbek Jumbesh-i-Melli faction, he recently signed a peace agreement with his rivals in the north. At the meeting in which the agreement was signed, Dostum made the rival commanders assembled listen to a reading of a scathing human rights report, which detailed abuses made by many, if not all, of those present. (see WW3 REPORT #33)Dostum, who was deputy defense minister in Karzai's interim administration, is still negotiating for a government post, possibly the unfilled job of justice minister. (Reuters, June 23; CSMonitor, May 9)(David Bloom)
6. US ENGAGES HOSTILE FORCES
According to the American Forces Press Service, quoting Pentagon officials, on June 18 US Special Operations Forces (SOF) came under small-arms fire in two separate incidents in Afghanistan. There were no US casualties in either incident. In the first incident, SOF on a mounted patrol in Tarin Khot, capital of Oruzagan province came under fire. The US troops returned fire, killing two of the attackers. The second incident occurred near the village of Skhin in Paktika province, near the Afghan-Pakistan border. Enemy forces fired on US SOF and their Afghan allies from inside a group of buildings, according to Central Command officials. The US troops called in an air strike. AC-130 Spectre helicopter gunship returned fire. An assement of whether the strikes were successful is being made by US officials at the scene. (AFPS, June 19)
7. SERVICEMEN KILLED IN CHOPPER CRASH
A US military supply plane crashed on take-off near Bande Sardah Dam in eastern Afghanistan, killing three of the 10 personnel on board. The crash of the Air Force MC-130 brings the number of US dead in aircraft accidents in the Afghan campaign to 15. (NYT, June 13)(David Bloom)
8. US FORCES ARREST SUSPECTED TALIBAN/AL-QAEDA
US forces arrested eight suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda members north of Gardez, capital of Paktia province in eastern Afghanistan. US troops, backed by helicopter gunships, entered the village of Qarmakh after landing in several helicopters. They searched the village, and arrested eight suspects. A US military base near Gardez had come under rocket fire in early June, the perpetrators believed to be al-Qaeda or Taliban forces . (NNI, June 23)
9. IRAN RADIO: FOUR US COMMANDOS KILLED IN PAKISTAN
Iran Radio, monitored by the BBC, claims that four US commandos were killed while "carrying out operations against" al-Qaeda forces in Pakistan's Northern Waziristan Agency (NWA). The station quoted sources who said witnesses "have seen damages and casualties sustained by the American commandos and their transport vehicles." The radio report continued, "it has been reported that situations in the [southern] Khost, Paktia and Paktika provinces in Afghanistan are tense and the American forces are continuing their operations in those areas in order to capture the al-Qaedah members." (Iran Radio, June 21)(David Bloom)
10. KABUL ROCKET ATTACK DURING LOYA JIRGA BLAMED ON TALIBAN
On June 18, two rockets were fired near the US embassy in Kabul. Afghan officials blamed the attack on forces of the deposed Taliban regime. The officials said the attack would not disrupt the Loya Jirga. Efforts by the Taliban and al-Qaeda to disrupt the Loya Jirga process were widely predicted, but besides the rocket attack and a unexploded grenade found near the tent housing the Loya Jirga, none materialized. (Reuters, June 19)(David Bloom)
11. INQUIRY FAULTS U.S. PILOT IN FRIENDLY-FIRE DEATHS
An investigation of a friendly-fire incident that resulted in the deaths of four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan has found that a US F-16 pilot mistakenly dropped a 500-pound bomb on the ground troops. The Canadian forces were taking part in a night-time live-fire exercise in April. The pilot apparently did not take the time to properly assess the threat before releasing the bomb, and may face criminal charges. The inquiry concluded that the pilot, Maj. Harry Schmidt of the Illinois Air National Guard, thought he was under attack from the ground. But instead of leaving the area to better assess the threat, and consider a possible counterstrike--standard operating procedure--Maj. Schmidt and the pilot of a second plane immediately attacked. An AWACS plane told Maj. Schmidt that "potential friendlies were in the area" seconds after the bomb was dropped. Maj. Schmidt is a seasoned former Navy pilot and an instructor in the Navy's Top Gun weapons school. His fellow pilots refer to him as "Psycho" as his call sign. (NYT, June 18) A report in the June 3 Vancouver Sun said that "Psycho" and his fellow pilots, who were exhausted from not getting enough rest in between missions, were advised by superiors to take amphetamines and tranquilizers--"no/go" pills--to alleviate their complaints. It is unknown if the pilots took the advice. (See WW3 REPORT #37) Families of the Canadian victims are not anxious to see Schmidt punished. "He didn't do this on purpose,'' said Maureen Decaire, whose son Cpl. Brian Decaire was injured in the attack. "He may have not followed procedure and quite possibility deserves to be punished for that. But do I want to see him flogged? No.'' Joyce Clooney, who lost her 21-year-old grandson Pvt Ricky Green in the attack said of Schmidt, "It'll ruin his life because he'll have that on his conscience. I feel sorry for him really. He should have had better training or been more careful, but I really do think he'll worry about it all the time.'' (Canadian Press, June 20)(David Bloom)
12. SOLAR ENERGY FOR AFGHANISTAN?
The new Afghan Ambassador to the US, Ishaq Shahryar, is former NASA scientist and enthusiastic promoter of solar energy. Shahryar, born in Kabul, was a naturalized US citizen who gave up his citizenship to become his original homeland's ambassador to Washington. Shahyar comes from a "family of intellectuals: scientists, doctors, lots of writers and poets, a few advisers to the old government when the old king was on the throne." He received a scholarship in 1956 to study in the US. Though he originally expected to go back to Afghanistan after six years, he ended up working for NASA, entrusted with the task of figuring out how to develop solar cells to be used on spacecraft. The technique he came up with: printing solar cells on silicon wafers.
Shahyar left NASA and soon founded his own solar company, Solec International, one of a very few solar companies to turn a profit. Shahyar became a tireless prosletylizer of the solar gospel. "I thought there would be a tremendous market in the Middle East, where they had lots of oil money and lots of remote villages that needed power," he said in an interview with New Scientist. "I took a small solar panel that powered a radio on these journeys. Wherever I went, people were delighted and amazed by it. I told them I was a 'photovoltaic fundamentalist.'"
Shahryar was critical of Bush's energy policies while still a US citizen. "Unfortunately, this administration is turning the clock back to the '60s and '70s, with its emphasis on oil, gas and nuclear," he told New Scientist. "I'm very upset about that, especially after President Clinton had promoted the idea that a million roofs should be solar-powered. It's very dangerous for our environment and our future, especially nuclear, for God's sake. I hope Bush will eventually see things our way."
Shahryar hopes Afghanistan, a dry, sun-drenched land, can be a model for using solar energy. "My idea is to create a model solar village," he said. "In Afghanistan right now, I am hoping to get funding from the agencies involved in reconstruction to set up such a model village. We'd build 500 prefabricated houses, each with two bedrooms, living room, shower and so on, with 500 kilowatts of panels on the roof... If you want to build a city like that, then you can put 10 or 15 of these villages together." (Cox News Service, June 20)
13. CHINA DENIES ARMS SALES TO AFGHANISTAN
China denied on June 20 selling weapons to Afghanistan, and claims they were unaware of the seizure of 30 Chinese-made anti-aircraft rockets in Kabul by US forces. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters, "China has never provided weapons to Afghanistan. No one has briefed us about the missiles you have mentioned. I have no knowledge of what you have mentioned just now." The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers says US troops in Afghanistan seized the shoulder-fired rockets in an arms cache recently uncovered while searching for fugitive Taliban and al-Qaeda forces. (NNI, June 21)(David Bloom)
14. KANDAHAR QUAIL-FIGHTING BACK IN STYLE
THE IRAQ FRONT
Afghanistan's southern city of Kandahar is the domain of Gul Agha Sherzai, once known for staging dog fights in the region, but who now, as governor, has banned the popular practice (see WW3 REPORT #17). The practice continues, but dog-fighting and rooster-fighting are diversions for the early spring. June is the time Khandahar's die-hard gamblers turn to quail and partridge fighting. Quail fighting has a 300-year-old history in Afghanistan, Kandahar being one of the few regions in which the pastime is still popular. The quail are caught in wheat fields by men with nets in the early spring, and trained with jostles of the hand. When placed in proximity of each other, the quail will usually fight. This pastime was banned by the Taliban, and those caught wagering on quail fights could have a hand amputated. While still illegal, proponents of quail fighting note the relative humanness of the practice; unlike dog fighting, quail are not severely injured in the bouts. The match usually ends when one bird turns away from the fight, and runs. (AP, June 20)(David Bloom)
1. WASHINGTON POST: BUSH ORDERS CIA OPERATION AGAINST IRAQ
President Bush early this year signed an order directing the CIA to launch a covert program to destabilize Saddam Hussein--including authority to use lethal force against the Iraqi leader--reporter Bob Woodward revealed in the Washington Post June 16. According to high-placed sources, the presidential order directs the CIA to use all available tools, including:
*Increased support to Iraqi opposition forces, including money, weapons, equipment, training and intelligence.
*Expanded intelligence-gathering efforts within the Iraqi government, military, security service and populace in where areas of anti-Saddam sentiment.
*Deployment of CIA and Special Forces teams, similar to those active in Afghanistan. These forces would be authorized to kill Saddam in self-defense.
The White House has already allocated tens of millions of dollars to the program. But CIA Director George Tenet reportedly told Bush the CIA effort alone has only 10 to 20% chance of success. One source told Woodward the CIA program should be viewed as "preparatory" to a military strike. Another source said, "It is not a silver bullet, but hopes are high and we could get lucky." A CIA spokesman declined to comment.
Woodward writes that Vice President Dick Cheney has played a key role in the
Iraq policy. A White House briefing on the president's order reportedly took place in Cheney's West Wing office. "Cheney acted as a kind of quarterback, one source said, introducing the subject, and then turning the briefing over to Tenet, who outlined the covert plan." ( Washington Post June 16).
NOTE: Cheney is a former CEO of Halliburton, which has reparations claims against Iraq (see WW3 REPORT #32) and also has lucrative oil contracts in Iraq, exploiting a loophole in the sanctions (see WW3 REPORT #23).
2. SADDAM "PARANOID", GLOATS WHITE HOUSE LEAK
Another player is Gen. Wayne A. Downing, deputy national security adviser for counter-terrorism, who has a large and growing staff in the White House. Downing, a former commander of Special Operations forces, is trying to identify persons or organizations that could be groomed for a post-Saddam Iraq. The CIA has had a contentious relationship with the Iraqi National Congress (INC), a top opposition group led by Ahmed Chalabi from London. The agency has funded the INC, but also conflicted with the leadership. For at least six years, the CIA also has supported another opposition group, the Iraqi National Accord. Downing has also reportedly been meeting with leaders of the two Kurdish militias that control northern Iraq under the protection of the US/UK-enforced "no-fly" zone for Saddam's aircraft.
Saddam Hussein has been in power since 1979, and in 1990 had his puppet legislature declare him president for life. Woodward writes that he "is notoriously suspicious, elusive and unpredictable"--especially since 9-11. He now moves each night among various residences, palaces and bunkers, and deploys decoy look-alikes. Purges and killings are becoming common within his inner circle. "He is already totally paranoid," said one source.
In 1998 Saddam shut down UN inspections of Iraqi facilities suspected of making weapons of mass destruction. President Bill Clinton in December launched Operation Desert Fox, sending 650 bomber and missile sorties against 100 Iraqi targets in a 70-hour period. Saddam still refused to let the inspectors back. In April 2002, Bush told a journalist, "The worst thing that could happen would be to allow a nation like Iraq, run by Saddam Hussein, to develop weapons of mass destruction, and then team up with terrorist organizations so they can blackmail the world. I'm not going to let that happen." "And how are you going to achieve this, Mr. President?" the reporter asked. Bush replied, "Wait and see." ( Washington Post June 16).
3. THE "AFGHANISTAN MODEL" OR "GULF WAR LITE"?
The White House is considering three scenarios against Iraq, Congressional and administration sources told the New York Times. The first calls for US Special Forces teams working with opposition forces on the ground, "along the Afghanistan model." The US would send Special Forces troops to southern Iraq and declare a liberated zone there. This option is said to have strong proponents in the National Security Council, led by Deputy National Security Adviser for counter-terrorism Gen. Wayne A. Downing, and on the civilian side of the Pentagon, led by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, however, are apparently grumbling that the differences between Iraq and Afghanistan are vast, and favor "a decisive, overwhelming use of troops." The chiefs say an invasion would require at least 200,000 troops. Officials call the invasion option "Persian Gulf War Lite," because it would involve less than half the 540,000 troops deployed in the 1991 conflict. But the Joint Chiefs have expressed concerns over the costs and risks of this option, especially if it entailed a long-term occupation of Iraq. Gen. Tommy R. Franks, who as commander of the Central Command would oversee any military action against Iraq, presented Defense Department officials June 18 with a strategy paper laying out his requirements for toppling Saddam. The third option, provoking a military coup, is considered the most desirable, but the CIA's efforts for over a decade to weaken and sabotage Saddam's rule have been thwarted by his close control over his own security apparati. Even within the CIA, officials give a coup little chance . (NYT, June 19)
4. POWELL PUGNACIOUS
The US will try to remove Saddam Hussein from power even if he agrees to further weapons inspections, Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters. His remarks came less than 48 hours after Iraq's foreign minister met the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan for talks aimed at resolving the impasse over inspections. "US policy is that, regardless of what the inspectors do, the people of Iraq and the people of the region would be better off with a different regime in Baghdad," Powell said. "The United States reserves its option to do whatever it believes might be appropriate to see if there can be a regime change." He said the issue of inspectors is a "separate and distinct and different" matter from that of Saddam's leadership. (UK Guardian, May 9)
5. JOINT CHIEFS SKITTISH
The Pentagon Joint Chiefs of Staff warned the White House that the US would face appalling casualties as they fought their way into Baghdad "block by block" if President Bush went ahead with an early invasion. Urging President Bush to drop plans for a military confrontation with Iraq, or at least put off any action until next year, the six Joint Chiefs expressed fears that Saddam Hussein would not hesitate to use biological or chemical weapons. A series of co-ordinated leaks to US newspapers described how the Joint Chiefs stood "shoulder to shoulder" in challenging the wisdom of attacking Saddam. (UK Telegraph, May 24)
6. POST-SADDAM CHAOS POTENTIALLY WORSE THAN SADDAM
In the on-line magazine Salon this month, Laura Miller interviews Sandra Mackey, a journalist and author of "The Reckoning: Iraq and the Legacy of Saddam Hussein," who argues that the destabilization of Iraq is potentially more dangerous to the world than Saddam's regime. She worries that US officials have "some exaggerated expectation that the removal of the despot of Baghdad will solve all of Iraq's problems and all the challenges to the United States in the Persian Gulf." Instead, his ouster could lead to chaos, violence and an anti-US backlash throughout the region. Iraqis are fragmented into ethnic, sectarian and tribal groups, providing an atmosphere ripe for civil war. The dominant Sunni, Saddam's group, make up only 20% population. The Shia in the south make up 60%. "Then you've got the Kurds, who have their own agenda. With all these rivalries, it's very difficult to get together the cross-communal alliances to overthrow a government, particularly a government like Saddam Hussein's."
7. "PROMINENT HAMMER": WAR GAME TESTS IRAQ SCENARIO
A top-secret Pentagon war game has revealed that expanding the campaign against terrorism to a country like Iraq would place severe strains on personnel and cause deep shortages of Cruise missiles and other critical weapons, senior officials told the New York Times. The war game, code named "Prominent Hammer," made clear that the new post-9-11 military missions are seriously taxing combat readiness. (NYT, May 24)
8. U.S. FRUSTRATED IN SEARCH FOR IRAQ PROXIES
Bush administration officials are still at odds over which Iraqi opposition groups to support. Defense Department civilians, Vice President Cheney and Pentagon advisor Richard N. Perle are said to support the Iraqi National Congress, but US financing of the group has become contentious. Last week the State Department informed the organization that it was willing to provide a short-term grant of around $1.1 million a month--on condition that a State Department official directly oversee expenditures. The group informed the State Department it would not accept the grant on those terms. The group says it has run out of funds, and halted its daily satellite TV broadcasts to Iraq, suspended publication of its newspaper and cut off salaries. The Iraqi National Congress argues that an Afghanistan model can work in Iraq and says it is willing to carry out operations.
Jockeying surrounds a US-sponsored conference of Iraqi opposition leaders to be held this summer in Europe. In preparation for the conference, a small group of opposition leaders were recently invited to a planning session in Washington. The nine who attended included representatives from the two main Kurdish factions and the Iraqi National Accord, an group that includes former generals and defectors from Saddam's ruling Baath Party. The groups are members of the Iraqi National Congress, but were invited individually. The Iraqi National Congress was limited to a single representative. Leader Ahmed Chalabi arrived for the session but left when the rule on a single representative was enforced. He arranged for another member to represent the group.
There was also dissension from the Middle East Institute, the private think-tank charged with overseeing the conference, whose leader Edward Walker, a former assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, criticized Bush's statements about an Iraq-Iran-North Korea "axis of evil." It did not help that the institute receives funding from wealthy Saudis and Qataris. Capitol Hill conservatives moved to block financing to the think-tank . (NYT, May 10)
9. KURDISH LEADERS PROTEST BUSH WAR MOVES
Kurds in northern Iraq will refuse to cooperate with any covert action to topple Saddam Hussein, a top Kurdish leader announced. "The Iraqi issue won't be solved by military action or covert action," said Massoud Barzani, leader of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), one of the two main groups controlling northern Iraq's Kurdish enclave. "We cannot stop the US [from taking covert action], but we would like there to be transparency and clarity, and for there to be no covers or curtains to hide behind," he said in an interview near the regional capital, Irbil.
Despite internecine warfare in the mid 1990s, Iraq's three-and-a-half million Kurds have an unprecedented degree of autonomy and security since the establishment of the "no-fly zone" after 1991's Operation Desert Storm. Barzani said the Kurds now have "a united stand on Iraq" and are a modernizing and stabilizing factor within the country. The KDP leader and one-time rival Jalal Talabani, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), based in Sulaymaniyah, have an estimated 80,000 troops under their command. But Barzani said the Kurds reject any solution that would replace Saddam's regime with another military dictatorship. The Kurds are not demanding an independent state, but "there should be a prior agreement on a federal solution for the Kurdish problem within a democratic, pluralistic parliamentary Iraq." (UK Guardian, June 19)
The Washington Post's Nicholas Birch reported from Irbil on the stability and prosperity in the northern autonomous zone which Kurdish leaders are reluctant to upset: "In the shops you can buy everything from Turkish yogurt to German vacuum cleaners, designer Italian shoes to frozen chickens from the United States. Work has begun on converting the bullet-ridden former local headquarters of the Kurdistan Democracy Party into a luxury hotel. Unaffected by the inflation that has plagued the rest of Iraq, the Kurdish currency is a hundred times stronger than the Iraqi dinar. Sami Abdulrahman, whom everyone here refers to as the deputy prime minister of Iraqi Kurdistan, explains, 'We Kurds have never had it so good, and we've never had more to lose.'"
The Kurdistan Regional Parliament, once a rubber-stamp for Saddam's regime, now passes its own laws, and the military base Saddam built opposite the parliament building has been turned into a public park. Kurdish leaders fear a US attack on Saddam would undo UN Resolution 986, the foundation of the Kurdish spring. Adopted in 1995, this "oil-for-food" program provides funds to Iraq in exchange for limited petrol exports. The Kurds receive 13% of the funds, which account for 60% of their $1.5 billion annual economy, according to Kurdish officials.
Kurdish leaders also have bitter memories of past experiences as US proxies. After 1991's Operation Desert Storm, the first President Bush encouraged the Kurds to revolt against Saddam, then offered no help when Saddam's troops took brutal retaliatory measures. "Let's be frank," says Abdulrahman. "The US has let us down badly in the past. We must be sure the same will not happen again." (WP, May 5)
10. U.S. EXPELS IRAQ DIPLOMAT AS SPY
The US has ordered the expulsion of an Iraqi diplomat based at the United Nations in New York, accusing him of espionage. A US official said the move was taken because he had engaged in "activities incompatible with his diplomatic status"--the diplomatic euphemism for spying. The diplomat was named in reports as Abdul Rahman Saad, a first secretary at the Iraqi mission. "We expect him to be out by the end of June," said Richard Grenell, a spokesman for John Negroponte, the US ambassador to the UN. (BBC, June 14)
11. BOMBING CONTINUES
The US expulsion of an Iraqi diplomat came the same day that US aircraft bombed an Iraqi military facility in the "no-fly zone" in southern Iraq. The strike hit a radar facility at al-Amarah, about 165 miles southeast of Baghdad. Officials said it was retaliation for Iraqi fire. Iraq does not recognize the no-fly zones in the country's north and south, which are not covered by any UN Security Council resolution. Baghdad claims that US and British air strikes have killed 1,477 people and injured 1,358 since the no-fly zones were set up after Desert Storm. The figures have not been independently confirmed . (BBC, June 14)
In a similar incident less than a week later, Baghdad claimed four people were killed and ten wounded in US air-strikes in southern Iraq, which the Pentagon said were in retaliation for Iraqi anti-aircraft fire at jets policing the "no-fly zone." A statement from the Pentagon's Central Command headquarters in Tampa said the planes attacked an Iraqi military command-and-control center southeast of Baghdad. It was the second day in a row that US or British planes struck targets in Iraq. (Reuters, June 20)
12. SADDAM ACCUSES KUWAIT OF STEALING OIL--AGAIN!
In September, Baghdad accused Kuwait of stealing its oil from the Rumaila and Zubair fields which straddle the border--a chilling echo of accusations Saddam made shortly before he ordered his troops to invade his smaller neighbor on Aug. 2, 1990. (Jane's Intelligence Review, Dec. 1, 2001)
13. CONGRESSIONAL REPORT: IRAQ REAPS ILLEGAL OIL PROFITS
A recent congressional report confirmed that from 1997 to 2001, Iraq earned more than $6 billion in oil revenue from smuggling and surcharges. The General Accounting Office, Congress' investigative arm, said the sales took place in spite of UN sanctions. The report stated that "according to US and UN officials, Iraq uses the illegal revenue to buy items prohibited by the Security Council," including war material. The report confirms recent allegations by the Wall Street Journal about illegal surcharges on all Iraqi oil sales, including those to Chevron-Texaco and Exxon Mobil. The surcharges often are hidden by a maze of subsidiaries. The report characterizes its $6.6 billion estimate of Iraq's illegal oil revenue as conservative. (WSJ, May 31)
14. SYRIA ACCUSED OF SELLING ILLEGAL IRAQI OIL
Britain has accused the UN Security Council of overlooking a blatant violation of the Iraq sanctions by one of its members. The UK says Syria, which began a two-year term on the 15-nation Security Council in January, has been pumping oil illegally through a pipeline from Iraq for the past 18 months in defiance of the UN embargo, channeling up to a billion dollars a year into Saddam Hussein's coffers. The sanctions committee, on which Syria sits, took no action in response to Britain's accusation.
The UN stipulates that all Iraq's oil exports must pass through one of the two UN-monitored exit points: the pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan or the terminal at Mina al-Bakr on the Gulf. Britain and the US have asked Syria to place the 552-mile pipeline from Iraq's Kirkuk oilfield to the Syrian port of Baniyas under UN supervision. Oil analysts discovered the pipeline had been reopened in 2000, when Syria's oil exports soared despite no increase in domestic production. (London Times, May 10)
15. EX-U.N. HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR: END THE SANCTIONS
Former UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Denis Halliday opposes the sanctions, and resigned his position in 1998 in protest. In a Jan. 16 interview with CNN, he portrayed a Saddam Hussein regime struggling to feed its people in the face of unjust international strictures. Here are some excerpts:
CNN: David Welch, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs, points out that the oil-for-food program produces billion of resources "that can be used to address humanitarian concerns of the Iraqi people." David Cortright, president of the Fourth Freedom Forum and co-author of "The Sanctions Decade," says that the responsibility for the humanitarian situation lies with the Iraqi regime's "malicious, diabolical strategy" to gain international sympathy. Why should the U.S. or the international community bear the brunt of the blame for Iraq's humanitarian crisis when Saddam Hussein refused to accept the oil-for-food deal until the worst of the humanitarian crisis had passed?
Denis Halliday: Since the oil-for-food program began at the end of '96, Iraq has pumped and sold some 35 billion dollars worth of oil. Of that money, the U.N. has taken 35 percent off the gross amount. To date, Iraq has received food and medicines equivalent to some 10 billion dollars over the four-year period... Ten billion dollars over four years divided by 22 million people, believe me, is not adequate funding to feed and provide medical care for the Iraqi people. In addition, it falls very much short in dealing with the damage of the Gulf War bombing by the US... [P]olitics have been used within the Security Council to block expenditure of oil revenues to meet the basic needs of the Iraqi people. The Iraqis rejected the first offers for oil-for-food until 1995, when calorific intake had fallen below 1,000 calories per day. They did so acknowledging that they were giving up their sovereignty over oil resources, but they did so in the best interests of the Iraqi people... To my mind, it is Western propaganda to say now that Baghdad does not care about its children. The fact is, it's the U.S. that is in control of the Iraqi economy.
Question from audience: Aren't you concerned that by lifting sanctions now, you could give Saddam Hussein a major political victory and increase his prestige among the Iraqi people?
Denis Halliday: Yes, undoubtedly, he will claim a victory and, of course, he will also undoubtedly stay in power. If one considers the alternative, using UNICEF data, some 4-5,000 children are dying unnecessarily each month. I don't believe loss of face on the part of Washington or London is important if we can save the lives of the Iraqi people. I think we should do that, regardless of a victory or not a victory for Baghdad...
I believe that today we see a huge demonization of Iraq, an exaggeration of Iraq's threat "to the neighborhood" and a huge capacity for military aggression amongst the neighbors of Iraq. Today, in fact, it is Iraq that is disarmed and surrounded by countries, such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which are heavily armed by Europe and North America. This is not a situation that encourages Baghdad to cooperate. And it is further compounded by Washington's decision to finance the overthrow of President Saddam Hussein himself. (CNN, Jan. 16)
In an interview with BBC News Online, Halliday spoke out against US war moves: "I don't think Saddam Hussein possesses any weapons of mass destruction. There'd be no doomsday option for him in the event of a US attack. But it could mean horrific casualties among Iraqis, who I think would fight, and for the Americans." (BBC, June 6)
16. DID SADDAM STAGE MILLION DEAD IRAQI BABIES?
After 9-11, Osama bin Laden justified the attack by claiming that UN sanctions had killed one million Iraqi children. Saddam Hussein's regime says 7,000 children are dying each month. But BBC reporter John Sweeney in northern Iraq interviewed a man named Ali who used to work for Saddam's son Uday. After an attempted assassination of Uday, Ali fell under suspicion and fled to the Kurdish-controlled enclave of northern Iraq. There, he told Sweeny that Saddam's regime is faking mass baby funerals in Baghdad as a media ploy to weaken international support for sanctions. Ali said there aren't enough dead babies around, so the regime stores them for the mass funerals. "They used to collect children's bodies and put them in freezers for two, three or even six or seven months - God knows - till the smell gets so unbearable. Then, they arrange the mass funerals." Parents who have lost a baby can't bury it until the regime says so, according to Ali. (BBC, June 21)
17. SADDAM-SAUDI RECONCILIATION?
In May, Iraq sent its industry and minerals minister to Saudi Arabia in a clear signal of thawing relations between the two longtime foes, Baghdad newspapers reported. Maissar Rija Shlah is to attend an Arab meeting in Riyadh, the first high-level official contact between the two countries since the 1991 Gulf War, sparked by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. The government newspaper al-Jumhouriya said the visit by the Iraqi delegation came in response an invitation by Saudi Minister of Industry and Electricity Hashem bin Abdullah bin Hashem bin Yamani. Iraqi and Saudi also leaders shook hands and embraced at the Arab League summit in Beirut in March . (Reuters, May 11) In March, Saudi crown prince Adbullah warned the US that an attack on Iraq would only fuel anti-US sentiment in the Middle East (see WW3 REPORT #25).
18. LEAKS AND COUNTER-LEAKS ON SADDAM'S 9-11 CONNECTION
In its May 8 edition, Newsweek said the alleged meetings in Prague between 9-11 hijacker and Iraqi agents were a "phantom." The magazine quoted unnamed law enforcement officials as saying the Czechs had admitted they were mistaken, and that Atta wasn't even in Prague at the time of the supposed rendezvous. But on May 9, New York Times columnist William Safire, furious at the leaks, railed against the CIA and Justice Department for downplaying the Atta link to cover up their intelligence failures. A "senior Bush Administration official" told Safire that the Czech report was not "discredited or disproved in any way." And a Czech government official told Safire they were sticking to their original story. (For more on the alleged Prague meetings, see WW3 REPORT #4)
19. HISTORICAL REVISIONISM AND THE HALABJA MASSACRE--AGAIN!
Speaking on the new doctrine of "limited sovereignty" to justify US military intervention in Iraq and elsewhere, Richard Haas, State Department director of policy planning, told The New Yorker April 1 that "sovereignty entails obligations; one is not to massacre your own people; another is not to support terrorism in any way. If a government fails to meet these obligations...other governments, including the United States, gain the right to intervene. You essentially can act in anticipation if you have grounds to think it's a question of when, and not if, you're going to be attacked". WW3 REPORT has repeatedly pointed out that Saddam Hussein's biggest massacre and the one instance when he used chemical weapons against his own populace--the March 1988 gassing of the Kurdish city of Halabja, instantly killing 5,000--came when he was still considered a loyal US client. A bill to impose sanctions against Iraq in response to the Halabja massacre never got out of Congress. See WW3 REPORT #s 4, 25.
20. SADDAM'S ETHNOCIDAL "DEVELOPMENT" PROGRAMS IN BASRA
After Operation Desert Storm, Saddam Hussein ordered a mega-scale "development" project that international ecologists charge was intended to destroy the culture of the rebellious Marsh Arabs in the southern district of Basra. The project drained vast expanses of wetlands at the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, where the Marsh Arabs had maintained a self-sufficient way of life, harvesting the waters for fish and fowl. The massive engineering project both destroyed Marsh Arab economic autonomy and devastated a critical flyway for migratory waterfowl. Comparing satellite images from 1992 and 2000, the UN Environment Program (UNEP) concluded that nearly 90% of the southern Mesopotamian marshlands had vanished in less than a decade. UNEP has called the destruction of these ancient wetlands a "major ecological disaster, comparable to the drying of the Aral Sea [see WW3 REPORT #27] and the deforestation of the Amazon." Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey are being urged to agree to a recovery plan to increase water flow through the heavily-dammed Tigris and Euphrates and re-flood the drained marshlands. (Earth Island Journal, Spring 2002)
1. BUSH CALLS FOR "PRE-EMPTIVE ACTION"
The US will launch pre-emptive strikes against suspected terrorists and terrorist states to deter attacks on Americans, President Bush told West Point graduates June 1. "The war on terror will not be won on the defensive," he said. "We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt its plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge."
He told 25,000 cadets at West Point's Michie Stadium, "The gravest danger to freedom lies at the perilous crossroads of radicalism and technology. When the spread of chemical and biological and nuclear weapons, along with ballistic missile technology, when that occurs, even weak states and small groups could attain a catastrophic power to strike at great nations." Without mentioning any names, he made references to "unbalanced dictators with weapons of mass destruction" and advised Americans "to be ready for pre-emptive action, when necessary, to defend our liberty and to defend our lives."
"More and more, civilized nations find ourselves on the same side, united by common dangers of terrorist violence and chaos. All nations that decide for aggression and terror will pay a price. We will not leave the safety of America and the peace of the planet at the mercy of a few mad terrorists and tyrants," Bush said, vowing to "take the battle to the enemy, disrupt its plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge.” (AP, June 1)
Vice President Dick Cheney followed up a week later, telling a group of world conservatives the US will not shy away from first strikes against terrorists. In a Washington speech to the International Democrat Union, Cheney said a strike-first policy is necessary because past approaches to global security--Cold War deterrence, summit meetings and treaties--will not work against terrorists who have "nothing to defend." "Grave threats are accumulating against us, and inaction will only bring them closer," Cheney said. "We will not wait until it is too late." Cheney singled out Saddam Hussein, stating, "Containment is not possible when unbalanced dictators with weapons of mass destruction can deliver those weapons on missiles, or secretly provide them to their terrorist allies. We have a responsibility to protect ourselves against future attack, to prepare our military for all future threats, to maintain the global coalition we have built to defeat global terror, and to take pre-emptive action when necessary." Bush plans to formalize the "strike first" military policy when he submits his first national security strategy to Congress by early fall. (AP, June 10)
The IDU, comprised of representatives from over 60 countries and 80 political parties, was formed in 1983 by former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, then-Vice President George Bush, French President Jacques Chirac and former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. (AP, June 10)
At a Republican fundraiser June 14, President Bush called the pre-emptive strategy a "new doctrine," and has reportedly instructed White House national security staff to draw up a document on the strategy (NYT, June 17).
2. "PRE-EMPTIVE" DOCTRINE FOR NATO
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a NATO meeting in Brussels that the alliance must adopt a new anti-terrorist role and accept the doctrine of pre-emptive strikes. "If a terrorist can attack at any time, at any place, using any technique, and it's physically impossible to defend in every place, at every time, against every technique, then one needs to calibrate the definition of defensive," Rumsfeld said at a news conference. "The only defense is to take the effort to find those global networks and to deal with them, as the United States did in Afghanistan. Now is that defensive, or is it offensive? I personally think of it as defensive."
Rumsfeld's statement came as NATO's defense ministers debated new missions for an alliance created to check Soviet aggression in Europe. In his remarks to a closed-door session of the defense ministers, Rumsfeld said "absolute proof cannot be precondition for action," and warned that NATO members have "consistently underestimated" the threat from terrorists and weapons of mass destruction, according to an outline of his remarks.
NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson declined to openly address the pre-emptive strike doctrine, but said, "We must be ready to deal with threats whenever they occur and wherever they occur."
The meeting was the first by NATO defense ministers to include their Russian counterpart, Sergei Ivanov, since NATO's May 28 meeting in Rome that formally welcomed Russia as a participant in the alliance. Under the accord, Russia was given a role in NATO discussions on various fixed topics, including nonproliferation, missile defense and counter-terrorism. But Moscow is still not a full NATO member, and is not bound to alliance members by the collective defense pact. (NYT, June 6)
Opening the meeting, Lord Robertson said NATO must commit more resources to the new counter-terrorist mission. "The attack on the United States last September brought home to everybody that there is no relief in today's world from the obligations of defense or the need for military preparedness," Lord Robertson told the ministers. Several European ministers voiced support for plans to give the alliance more flexible, rapid-reaction forces that can project power beyond NATO's borders to remote regions of the world.
European ministers also pledged to close the widening gap between US military power and "under-funded" European forces. Alliance leaders are expected to unveil a far-reaching package of military reforms at the NATO summit scheduled for Nov. 21-22 in the Czech capital. "NATO's Prague summit...must be a watershed in our efforts to ensure our forces are properly organized and equipped for their future missions," Robertson said. (CBS News, June 6)
3. "AXIS OF EVIL" EXPANDS
BBC News cited an anonymous "senior US official" as adding Syria, Libya, and Cuba to the list of terrorist states seeking to develop nuclear, chemical or biological weapons--defined by Bush as an Iran-Iraq-North Korea "axis of evil" in his January state of the union address (see WW3 REPORT #19). Syria is said to have launched a vigorous chemical weapons program after clashes with Israel in 1982. By 1984 Syria had built two chemical weapons plants producing significant amounts of nerve gases Sarin and VX. Libya has pursued research into unconventional weapons since the 1970s. Cuba "is believed to have" a limited biological warfare research program. (BBC, May 9)
Libya's efforts to attain nuclear weapons was discussed in a round of strategic talks between the US and Israel last week in Washington. Officials decided to step up monitoring of Libya's nuclear-related activities. (Haaretz, May 22)
4. U.S. TROOPS SPILL BLOOD IN PHILIPPINES
US Special Forces troops exchanged fire with suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels in the southern Philippine province of Mindanao June 17. It marked the first US combat in Southeast Asia since the Vietnam War. At least two rebels were reported killed after attacking a party of US and Philippine troops. The firefight coincides with signs that Washington is to announce a big increase in its Philippine military commitment. The conflict has intensified since a bungled US-supervised rescue operation led to the deaths of hostages Martin Burnham, a US missionary, and a Filipina nurse, Ediborah Yap (see WW3 REPORT #16).
A Pentagon spokesman said US and Philippine soldiers guarding a road-building party that included US Naval personnel near the provincial capital of Isabela, on the rebel stronghold of Basilan Island, returned fire after being attacked by rebels. The US and Philippine army forces suffered no casualties. That same day, suspected Abu Sayyaf militants hijacked a barge and tugboat in waters near Basilan, taking the captain and two others hostage aboard three speedboats.
The Los Angeles Times reported that President Bush is nearing a decision on recommendations by Pentagon officials to intensify anti-terrorist operations in the Philippines, allowing US personnel, now ostensibly confined to a support role, to directly join in the hunt for Abu Sayyaf.
Philippine President Gloria Arroyo is said to favor expansion of US military involvement, but any extension of the Pentagon role would face opposition from nationalist groups, who campaigned successfully 10 years ago to close US bases in the Philippines. The Philippine constitution prohibits foreign forces fighting within the country except during a state of emergency. The rules of engagement for the US troops in Mindanao permit them to open fire only if attacked. (Sydney Morning Herald, June 19)
5. NEPAL NEXT?
The US has pledged $20 million in aid to help the government of Nepal fight a Maoist guerilla insurgency. The UK has also promised support, and the British Chief of General Staff, Sir Michael Boyce, arrived in Kathmandu May 19 on a four-day visit to assess how best to help the Nepalese army. Three days later, King Gyanendra dissolved Nepal's parliament at the behest of Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. The move was taken when it became clear the government lacked the majority needed in parliament to extend a six-month state of emergency imposed in the fight against the guerillas. The cabinet and ruling party are divided on the issue. More than half of the 4,000 dead in six years of civil war have been killed since the state of emergency was imposed last November. Deuba pledges to hold elections this November. (BBC, May 22, 24)
For complete reports on the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), see the "People's War in Nepal" series in the Revolutionary Worker (http://rwor.org), organ of the US Revolutionary Communist Party ( RCP), vigorous supporters of the guerillas, who they link to a worldwide Maoist movement also including Peru's Shining Path and Turkey's PKK. The Feb. 20, 2000 issue includes an interview with Comrade Prachanda, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), who says: "Now on the world's highest peak, Sargamatha [Mount Everest]--the red flag is there. This will be seen from all over the world. People will say: What country is Nepal? It is the country with the world's highest peak, Mount Everest. What is there? Heroic proletarian revolution, People's War is there. This will be seen."
A new study by a Toronto think-tank, the C.D. Howe Institute, warns that the US could use the military to seal the Canadian border if officials fear national security is threatened by loose Canadian immigration policy and policing. Said military historian J.L. Granatstein, author of the report: "Although terrorism poses a real threat, it is not the most serious crisis. The danger lies in wearing blinkers about the United States when it is in a vengeful, anxious mood... The United States is deadly serious about homeland defense. The Americans will act, alone if necessary."
The United States has already deployed specially-trained customs agents to detect explosives and unconventional weapons at Canada's three busiest seaports: Halifax, Montreal, and Vancouver. The first-of-its-kind undertaking is plugged as ''cross-border cooperation,'' but it also undermines Canadian sovereignty "in a way that would have been unthinkable prior to Sept. 11," writes the Boston Globe June 13. US troops have been assigned to northern border posts, and military helicopters patrol what was once hailed as the world's longest undefended border.
Canadian intelligence services warn that at least 50 international terrorist groups--from al-Qaeda to Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers--operate in Montreal and other cities, and officials on both sides of the border now fear Canada is unprepared. ''Montreal has a large multiethnic population into which it is easy for North Africans and other Muslims to disappear, but the real attraction is its location right on the Great Satan's doorstep,'' said David Harris, former chief of strategic planning for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and now chief of consulting firm Insignis Strategic Research. ''Until Canada deals with an out-of-control immigration and refugee situation, the situation will deteriorate. We are heavily penetrated...forcing [the US] to take ever more defensive measures at the northern border.''
The Boston Globe concludes Canada will have to crack down: "Last year, roughly 44,000 people claiming to be refugees arrived in Canada, often arriving with false passports or no paperwork at all. Most are automatically allowed to live freely in Canada and are given welfare benefits and a health card while their requests for asylum wend through the bureaucracy, a process that can take years. But refugee advocates say that for every undesirable alien who slips through, hundreds of deserving refugees benefit from Canada's liberal policies." (For related Canada-bashing see WW3 REPORT #38)
7. THE NETHERLANDS?
Dutch Foreign Minister Jozias van Aartsen expressed outrage at US legislation to authorize President Bush to use "all means necessary" to free US citizens detained for trial by a new international war crimes court. Referred to locally as "The Hague Invasion Act," the legislation approved last week by the US Senate prompted tongue-in-cheek headlines in the Netherlands, with newspapers warning of a looming military confrontation with the USA. "We're digging tank trenches and sending reinforcements to the coast," one foreign ministry official joked. Farah Karimi, a lawmaker with the Greens party, portrayed a dire scenario: "Warships glint on the horizon. An invasion of the beach of Scheveningen [a Hague suburb] is held out as the prospect for us. Suddenly, they know in the United States where The Hague is." Van Aartsen was not amused, calling the legislation "unnecessary" and said it "goes much too far." "The Dutch government took notice of the law with great outrage and also concern," van Aartsen said before parliament.
So far, 68 countries have ratified the Rome Treaty establishing the International Criminal Court, enough to bring it into force on July 1. The court will have its seat in The Hague, where the UN World Court and ad hoc war crimes tribunal for the former Yugoslavia are located.
The bill, the American Servicemembers' Protection Act (ASPA), prohibits cooperation with the International Criminal Court by any US government agency or court. It also stipulates that "the President is authorized to use all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release from captivity" of any US service members detained by order of the court. A final version of the bill still needs to be signed into law by President Bush. (AP, June 13)
On Sept. 25, the White House pledged to support the ASPA, which is sponsored by Republicans Jesse Helms, Henry Hyde and Tom DeLay. It suspends military assistance to any non-NATO member that joins the court (except key allies like Israel, Japan and Egypt), and rejects participation in any UN peacekeeping operations unless the Security Council exempts US troops from prosecution. (The Nation, Nov. 5, 2001)
The bill also states: "The United States Government has an obligation to protect the members of its Armed Forces, to the maximum extent possible, against criminal prosecutions carried out by United Nations officials under procedures that deny them their constitutional rights." (H.R.1794)
A June 12 statement on the matter from the US embassy in the Netherlands read: "Should matters of legitimate controversy develop with the ICC's
host-country, the Netherlands, we would expect to resolve these
controversies in a constructive manner, as befitting relations between
close allies and NATO partners. Obviously, we cannot envisage
circumstances under which the United States would need to resort to
military action against the Netherlands or another ally."
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
1. AL-QAEDA: OSAMA ALIVE
Osama bin Laden is alive and well, and preparing new attacks, an al-Qaeda spokesman said in audio-taped remarks aired June 23 on Qatar-based al-Jazeera satellite TV. Al-Jazeera said it received the recorded message from Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, the Kuwaiti-born spokesman for bin Laden. "I want to assure Muslims that Sheik Osama bin Laden...is in good and prosperous health and all what is being rumored about his illness and injury in Tora Bora has no truth." It also responded to the recent slew of US government warnings of imminent terrorist attacks. "I say 'Yes' to what American officials are saying...that we are going to carry out attacks on America." Abu Ghaith said al-Qaeda still has "the capability to threaten America and execute such threats. The few coming days and months will prove to the whole world, Allah willing, the truth of what we are saying." He called the Sept. 11 attacks a "great historic victory that broke the backs of the Americans, the strongest power in this world," and also referred to the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania and the 2000 strike against the USS Cole in Yemen.
Abu Ghaith also claimed al-Qaeda was behind the fuel tanker explosion at an ancient synagogue on the Tunisian island of Jerba, in which 15 died (see WW3 REPORT #30). "This is an operation that was carried out by the al-Qaida organization, [by a man]...who could not see his brothers in Palestine being killed, slaughtered, their blood spilled and honor violated and he looks around him and sees Jews in the city of Jerba wandering and enjoying and practicing their rituals at will," the recording said. The statement denied reports that Ayman Al-Zawahri, bin Laden's No. 2 man, was hurt in Tora Bora, an eastern Afghanistan mountain region where US heavily bombed by US forces. "I can say that 98 percent of the leadership of al-Qaida are safe and are running their affairs perfectly," Abu Ghaith said. Al-Qaeda, he said, "is now monitoring, detecting and observing new American targets other than the targets previously monitored, which we will strike at in a period that is not long." (AP, June 21)
2. NSA INTERCEPTED PRE-9-11 TERRORIST CHATTER
An anonymous senior official told the Washington Post that the National Security Agency intercepted two messages on the eve of the Sept. 11 attacks warning that something was going to happen the next day--but the messages were not translated until Sept. 12. The Arabic-language messages said, "The match is about to begin," and "Tomorrow is zero hour." They were first discussed June 18 before the joint House-Senate Intelligence Committee during closed-door questioning of NSA director Lt. Gen. Michael V. Hayden.
CNN, which first reported on the committee's discussion of the messages, said a lawmaker told the panel it is almost impossible to translate everything intercepted in a timely manner. "They get tons and tons of information," CNN the lawmaker reportedly said. For the past month, various reports have emerged in the media about untranslated messages, including one claiming the words of 9-11 ringleader Mohamed Atta were intercepted right before he got on the aircraft . (WP, June 19)
At President Bush's direction, Vice President Dick Cheney called Rep. Porter Goss (R-FL), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, to complain that news organizations were reporting the contents of the intercepted messages. "We will cooperate with the FBI in any way possible" to find out how the information became public, said Rep. Goss. (AP, June 21)
3. 9-11 PLANNED FOR YEARS, CIA CHIEF SAYS
CIA Director George Tenet told a congressional intelligence panel the 9-11 plot was probably hatched shortly after al-Qaeda bombed two US embassies in East Africa in 1998, according to lawmakers who attended the closed-door session. Al-Qaeda takes about "three years between the time they identify a target and when the target is hit," Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, told reporters during a break in the session. (WP, June 19)
4. FEAR IN LOS ANGELES
The FBI is investigating a tip that dozens of al-Qaeda terrorists may be on board a merchant ship headed for the Los Angeles area, the Bureau told ABC News. Federal investigators reportedly received a tip that 30 to 40 militants were on a commercial vessel that left a Middle Eastern port in May. FBI spokesman Matt McLaughlin confirmed the tip was being investigated but declined further comment. "We have been unable to corroborate or dispel the information," he said, and urged the public to report anything suspicious. According to a report in the Washington Times, which first disclosed the tip, the plot involves unloading terrorists and weapons near Santa Catalina Island, off LA's coast. The revelations came as the Bush administration warned Congress that terrorists might use foreign-flagged merchant ships arriving in US ports. (ABC News, June 18)
5. FEAR IN LAS VEGAS
The FBI says it is investigating a Nevada man's claim that he picked up a conversation in Arabic on his cell phone in which someone said there would be a "hit" on the "day of freedom." "We've initiated a full-scale investigation to determine if this constitutes a threat, and if so, what kind of threat," said FBI Special Agent Daron Borst in Las Vegas. Borst said agents interviewed Michael Hamdan, a Lebanon-born US citizen who reported the conversation, and planned to question him again. "They said in Arabic, not even a word of English, 'We are in the city of corruption, the city of prostitution, the city of gambling, the city of unbelievers,"' Hamdan told the AP. '"We are going to hit them on the day of freedom."' Hamdan said he said he believes the men were talking about July Fourth. "I was frozen, absolutely cold," Hamdan said. "I was sweating. I couldn't believe what I heard." (AP, June 21)
6. FEAR IN CONNECTICUT
Local, state and federal authorities searched a reservoir in Groton, CT, for an object reportedly dropped from a small, low-flying plane. Two witnesses in a car called Groton police at about to report that something was dropped from a plane flying only about 150 feet to 200 feet above Smith Lake, which supplies drinking water for Groton and Ledyard. Utility officials immediately shut off supply from the lake to the water system. Initial tests showed no sign of contamination, and no homes or businesses lost water service, authorities said. (AP, June 21)
7. FALSE ALARM IN NEW YORK
Men who tried to buy a replica ambulance in New Jersey two weeks ago, sparking fears of terrorists using emergency vehicles in New York City attacks, were not involved in any terrorist plot, police said. Employees of Movie Time Cars, Inc. in Lyndhurst, NJ, called police when two men, who didn't provide identification, tried to pay cash to rent an ambulance. When their cash was turned down, the men left, and employees jotted down their license plate numbers. Investigators later confirmed the men were making a movie and only wanted the ambulance as a prop. But police and FBI say the incident raises concerns about the use of emergency vehicles by terrorists. (ABC News, June 21)
8. ATTACKS ON U.S. JEWS PLANNED?
The FBI is advising police nationwide to be on the alert for terrorists who may be planning to use fuel tankers to attack Jewish neighborhoods and synagogues, an anonymous federal law enforcement official told AP. Another official, also speaking anonymously, said the warning was not based on a specific threat, but on interviews with captured al-Qaeda fighters who said such a scheme had been discussed. The official said the advisory was sent across the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, an electronic system allowing the FBI to send alerts to police in all 50 states simultaneously. The official said the Homeland Security office approved the message before it was sent. FBI agents have been contacting hundreds of scuba diving shops out of concern the next wave of attacks could be carried out by divers (see WW3 REPORT #36). (AP, June 21)
9. WHITE HOUSE EVACUATED; BUSH IN THE DARK
Many White House staff were evacuated June 19 because of an approaching wayward plane. FBI officials concluded the Cessna pilot made an innocent navigational error when he flew into restricted airspace, prompting the scrambling of two F-16s from Langley Air Force Base, near Norfolk, VA. President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush were not relocated--or even informed, his spokesman has disclosed. "It never did reach the point, however, where it was either necessary to either move or even inform the president. He found out this morning," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters the following day. (CBS News, June 20)
10. LAWMAKERS CALL FOR CIA/FBI-HOMELANDS SECURITY MERGER
Proposed legislation calling for a Homeland Security Department would have little effect on the FBI and CIA, requiring only that the two agencies submit intelligence data to the new department. A small number of FBI agents from the National Infrastructure Protection Center, which protects on-line commerce and the Internet against cyber-attacks, also would be moved to the new department. But some lawmakers support moving the FBI to the new department. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), who is expected to chair Senate hearings on the proposed legislation, will push for part of the FBI to be put under the new department's purview, according to an aide who spoke on condition of anonymity. House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX), R-Texas, believes the matter of how the FBI and Homeland Security coordinate should be the subject of an extensive inquiry. Last week he said the FBI should be "more formally" involved with Homeland Security. "The new department will be one of the FBI and CIA's customers, but how to do that will be an important policy consideration," said Terry Holt, a spokesman for Armey. (AP, June 18)
In a piece critical of the Homeland Security plan, New York Times columnist William Safire revealed that it was drawn up in the utmost secrecy by a team working "down in the bomb-proof bowels of the White House--in PEOC, the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, compared to which the Situation Room is like the front lawn." Safire claimed the secretaries of State and Defense were kept in the dark about the plan until it was released, and the Treasury Department was not informed despite the fact that its Secret Service is slated to be transferred to the new department. (NYT, June 10)
11. AL-QAEDA CELL BUSTED IN SAUDI ARABIA?
Saudi Arabia, after months of denial that any al-Qaeda militants may be in the kingdom, announced the arrest of members of a terrorist network believed responsible for the attempted shooting of a US military aircraft with a shoulder-fired missile. The Interior Ministry announced that six Saudis and a Sudanese, the accused ringleader, were arrested. Five Saudis and an Iraqi were also detained for hiding the ringleader and helping him to escape briefly to Sudan, where he was seized and returned to Saudi Arabia. (See WW3 REPORT #38) "They were planning to undertake terrorist attacks targeting some vital places in the kingdom, using explosives and two SA-7 surface-to-air missiles that were smuggled into the kingdom and hidden in remote places," the announcement said . (NYT, June 19)
12. BRITON DEAD IN SAUDI CAR BOMB BLAST
British national Simon Veness was killed by a car bomb June 20 in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, the country's official news agency reported. Authorities said he worked in the banking industry. There has been a series of similar attacks in Saudi Arabia in recent years. Two bombings in Riyadh in late 2000 killed a Briton and injured four others. A Scottish man was injured in an explosion in Khobar in December of that year. And in March 2001, a Briton and an Egyptian were injured in a blast outside a Riyadh bookshop. Two months later a US citizen was seriously injured in Khobar when the package he was opening exploded in his face. After the previous attack, Saudi authorities denied suggestions that Islamic militants were involved, asserting the attacks were part of a "turf war" between rival bootleggers over the lucrative illicit alcohol market. Five Britons are currently being held on charges relating to the bombings. One, Alexander Mitchell, 44, of Glasgow, is reportedly facing death by beheading after a summary trial without legal representation. Glasgow-born Canadian Bill Sampson is also reportedly facing the death penalty, while four other Britons and a Belgian are said to have been secretly sentenced to up to 18 years. (CNN, June 20)
13. SYRIAN TORTURE STATE: U.S. TERROR WAR ALLY?
President Assad of Syria said his intelligence services--notorious for using torture and accused of links to terrorists--are secretly co-operating with the US in the struggle against al-Qaeda. Assad threatened to disclose details of that co-operation if Syria is not given more credit by the White House, and boasted that a Syrian tip-off three months ago thwarted an al-Qaeda attack that would have killed "many American soldiers." The Bush administration, which continues to list Syria as a state sponsor of terrorism, did not want him to talk about his assistance, Assad charged. "If they continue to call Syria a terrorist nation, I will talk about it," he said. Assad issued his threat as it was revealed that Mohammed Haydar Zammar, a Syrian-born German citizen accused of recruiting 9-11 ringleader Mohamed Atta, has been in Syrian custody for months. Zammar was secretly arrested in Morocco and flown to Syria with full US knowledge, a US official told the Washington Post. US agents had been allowed to submit written questions to Zammar. In contrast, German officials reportedly learned of Zammar's whereabouts only last week. US officials also confirmed that Morocco is holding Abu Zubair Haili, a leading al-Qaeda suspect known as "The Bear." Haili's arrest last week was reportedly "aided" by a tip-off from US agents. There have been no reports that the US has sought their extradition, fuelling suspicions that it is willing to allow their interrogation in countries with more lenient attitudes towards torture. Alastair Hodgett, a spokesman for Amnesty International in Washington, said: "Whereas in the past the United States has often endeavored to ensure people do not end up in the hands of torturers, we've seen a new willingness to transfer people to countries where torture is known to take place." (UK Telegraph, June 20)
14. NORTH CAROLINA CIG SMUGGLERS DENY HEZBOLLAH LINK
Two brothers were convicted of running a North Carolina-based cell that funneled cigarette-smuggling profits to the militant group Hezbollah were found guilty. Accused ringleader Mohamad Hammoud, 28, was convicted of 16 counts, including providing material support to Hezbollah. Chawki Hammoud, 37, was found guilty of cigarette smuggling, credit card fraud, money laundering and racketeering. The brothers allegedly ran a North Carolina-to-Michigan smuggling operation, but maintained their innocence of funding the Lebanon-based Hezbollah. The prosecution's case relied on wiretaps of Hammoud speaking with alleged Hezbollah leaders, including reputed military commander Sheik Abbas Harake, and on a receipt for a $1,300 donation to Hezbollah. The receipt was signed by Sheik Muhammad Fadlallah, identified as Hezbollah's spiritual leader. (Washington Post, June 19; ABC News, June 21) (See also: WW# REPORT #36)
15. UNIDENTIFIED FLOATING OBJECT BEACHED IN SOUTH CAROLINA
A silver orb, weighing some several hundred pounds, and measuring some three feet in diameter, washed up on a beach in South Carolina, alarming and confusing area residents. The orb was first spotted floating in the ocean by the vacationing Segneri family. "They thought it was a giant beach ball, they were going to bring in," said Marie Segneri, near their rented beach house at Isle of Palms. "They swam out and said it was a very heavy ball, it was metal, had numbers on it, and there was no way they were bringing it in." The orb eventually washed up on the shore all on its own. Residents called the police, who cordoned off the area around the ball with crime-scene tape, and began trying to identify it. The Air Force bomb squad was consulted, as were the Coast Guard and state officials, but no one could make head or tail of the mysterious sphere. There were some numbers written on the surface of the orb, but that was the only clue that might have helped determine its origin. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanographic and Space Administration (NOAA) were contacted, but they couldn't shed any light on the situation. WW3 REPORT searched Google, Lexis-Nexis, the Dow-Jones Interactive Library, and the respected Jane's Information Group (JIG) using the key words "orb" and "Carolina," with little success.
There is speculation the orb be a flotation device used by a dredging company, but since there are no fasteners on the object where a line or cable might be fixed to it, this seems an unlikely theory. Isle of Palms fire chief Ann Graham opted to call the object a UFO--unidentified floating object. The orb cracked in half on the way to the town's public works department. Nothing but seawater emerged. "There was nothing green, nothing glowing," Chief Graham told the news agency. "It will probably just go to the scrap yard." (AP, June 14)
The FBI and Coast Guard have recently been warning of a "credible" terrorist maritime threat (see WW3 REPORT #36). The presence of the orb has not changed the threat level of the Homeland Security Advisory System, currently at yellow, or elevated. (CNN, June 8)
THE WAR AT HOME
1. BROOKLYN RALLIES PRESSURE FEDS ON THE "DISAPPEARED"
Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC), a federal prison used to house detainees in the post-9-11 sweeps, has witnessed weekly rallies in its parking lot for the past twenty-one weeks, organized by a coalition of local civil rights organizations. Spearheaded by Justice for Detainees, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM) and the Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants (CHRI), the rallies demanded a release of the names of all immigrants detained in the terrorism investigations, the release of immigrants who were not being deported, and access to legal representation and public judicial hearings for detainees. The groups are also demanding the right to tour MDC and interview detainees in private. Present at some of the rallies were Brooklyn Congressional representatives Major Owens and Nydia Velasquez, and City Council members Charles Barren, Angel Rodriguez and John Liu.
The MDC currently holds 25 INS detainees, who are charged with minor visa violations and have no prior record of violence, according to Martha Cameron of Justice for Detainees. Of these detainees, Cameron believes 7 are being held in Security Housing Unit (SHU), a "super-maximum-security" custody designed for dangerous and violent inmates. (Amnesty International, March 14)
Detainees are kept in 23-hour, lights-on solitary confinement in 5X8 cells and allowed half an hour of solitary exercise each day. Food is served through a slot in the cell's door. When detainees are brought out to meet family or lawyers, they are handcuffed and shackled with waist chains. They are allowed only non-contact interactions with visitors across a thick plexiglass screen under video surveillance. Cameron says, "Solitary confinement with no mental stimulation--no TV, books or magazines--is most certainly cruel--though not unusual--punishment." An Egyptian national detained at MDC was punished by blacking out the window to his cell. In the midst of prayer, he did not stand up when a guard entered his room; this was the sole reason for his punishment. (Amnesty International, March 14)
The rallies outside MDC--as well as lawsuits challenging government secrecy on the detentions by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Amnesty International--have pressured the Office of the Inspector General to file an inquiry into the violation of detainees' civil rights in New York and New Jersey. (New Jersey Law Journal, April 22)
This inquiry has "rediscovered" one individual who had "disappeared" into the system. Nabil Almarabh, a former taxi driver in Boston was held at MDC in solitary confinement for eight months without access to legal representation or timely judicial hearings. He was arrested on September 18 as a terrorism suspect and denied access to a judge for several months because of an outstanding order of deportation. Mark Corallo, a spokesperson for the Justice Department has said, "He had no right to see a judge because he had been previously deported, and when he came back into the country and was apprehended, his deportation order was reinstated." (Washington Post, June 12)
While the INS quotes the official number of detainees rounded up since 9-11 to be 1,200, Cameron disagrees. She says that "none of the figures for the arrests that have been taking place in immigrant communities every single week [are mentioned by the INS]." The official government figure does not include the arrests made after the initial 1,200; this figure only represents the arrests that took place in the first two months after September 11.
"In the middle of the prison parking lot, we created a small island of democracy," Cameron told WW3 REPORT. The weekly rallies are coming to an end, but the pressure campaign continues. Justice for Detainees is in the process of collecting 5,000 signatures for a petition that it plans to send to Edward McElroy, INS director for New York, and U.S. Attorney General, John Ashcroft demanding "Gives us their names! What are the Charges?" (Subuhi Jiwani)
2. DETAINEE'S ATTORNEY REPORTS RETALIATORY HARASSMENT
Facing harassment against her client, a post-9-11 detainee's lawyer now fears talking about the case to the press. In an interview she gave WW3 REPORT, she requested that her name and that of her client, as well as his nationality and age, be kept secret for fear of retaliation by the FBI and INS. The client, held in Passaic County Jail since October 2001, simply overstayed his visa. The INS refuses to either deport him or release him on bond. He also did not receive appropriate medical care for several months, his lawyer says. "Our client is a victim of ethnic profiling, and is being unconstitutionally detained by the INS. INS should release him if they can't or won't, remove him from the U.S."
The detainee's caseworker, who has been visiting him at Passaic County Jail, put out an e-mail on progressive list-serves about the FBI's refusal to let him see a judge and conditions in the jail. The detainee was subsequently re-interrogated by the FBI. "The detainees are being held as hostages for the actions of the activist and immigrant communities," the caseworker told WW3 REPORT. The lawyer has also voiced fears about federal wiretapping of conversations with her client, which is permitted under Section 203 (b) of the USA Patriot Act
"These men are not dangerous or criminals," the attorney said. "These guys are immigrants who are responsible for supporting their families, not just here, but back home in other countries--who is taking care of their families now?" (Subuhi Jiwani)
3. COURT RULES AGAINST SECRET DETAINMENTS--AGAIN
The US Third Circuit Court of Appeals refused to stay a district judge's order that "special interest" immigration hearings must be open to the public. The ruling lets stand last month's decision in Newark that the nation's chief immigration judge acted unconstitutionally by ordering hearings closed. The district judge in Newark said the government could only hold secret immigration hearings if it could demonstrate that making them public would harm an ongoing terrorism investigation. (See WW3 REPORT #36) The government may appeal to the Supreme Court. (AP, June 18)
4. SUPREME COURT WATERS DOWN FOURTH AMENDMENT
A divided Supreme Court, raising concerns about the safety of passengers on inter-city buses, reduced the privacy rights of travelers by giving police and federal agents additional power to conduct searches. The 6-3 ruling is likely to extend to those who travel by train, mass transit, and other forms of public transportation. The Justice Department urged the court to take the War on Terrorism into account. ''In the current environment,'' the department said, police and federal agents need authority to freely approach individuals who ''travel on the nation's system of public transportation.'' The court ruled that officers do not have to inform bus passengers of their right to refuse to submit to frisks and searches. The majority opinion by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy stipulated that officers should ask in ''a polite, quiet voice'' and not ''brandish a weapon" when requesting a search. Bus passengers, the opinion stated, should be inclined to cooperate with officers because they ''know that their participation enhances their own safety and the safety of those around them.'' The dissenting justices, in an opinion written by Justice David H. Souter, said the majority underestimated the degree to which passengers would feel compelled to comply with officers' requests. Souter said, a passenger would feel like an individual surrounded by police in an alley, ''unable to move effectively, being told their cooperation is expected.'' The ruling threw out a lower court decision that officers boarding a stopped bus to check out the passengers must make it clear to passengers that they are free to refuse cooperation and can get off the bus anytime they wish. The ruling came in a cocaine case involving a bus search in Tallahassee, but the broad wording made clear the decision will affect railroad and other forms of transportation as well. Josh Dratel of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, which filed a brief in the case, said that ''any captive audience is essentially fair game under this ruling.'' (Boston Globe, June 18)
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