1. ATTACK AT HEBREW UNIVERSITY KILLS 7
Five US citizens were among the dead when a bomb exploded July 31 in a crowded Hebrew University dining hall, killing 7 and wounding 86. The bomb was set off by remote-control, with a cell phone used to trigger the blast. The dining hall, named after Frank Sinatra, was known to be frequented by foreign students, and by both Jews and Arabs. Arabic students were among the wounded. Dr. Abdel-Aziz Rantisi of Hamas' political wing said the attack came in response for the July 23 air-strike that killed Hamas military chief Salah Shehadeh and 16 others, including 11 children. However, he said US citizens were not deliberately targeted. "The fighter of Hamas did not ask the students about their identity cards and he can't do so. He does not know if they are Arab or Israelis. But we are not targeting at all American targets," al-Rantissi told Reuters Aug 1. After the attack, hundreds of Hamas supporters celebrated in the streets of Gaza City. "If they are going to attack our children, then they will have to expect to drink from the same poison," said Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh. (LA Times, July 31)
US President George Bush said he was "furious" about the attack . (Ha'aretz, Aug 1) US ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer, said "This is a new depth of depravity. It is not enough for Palestinians and other Arab nations to only condemn this act." The FBI is assisting in the investigation. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 2) The Palestinian Authority condemned the attack, but said Sharon's "policies of destruction and collective punishment" were ultimately to blame. (LA Times, July 31)
Hebrew University's Mount Scopus center, site of the attack, is seen as an oasis of coexistence. Twenty percent of the school's student body is Arabic, and the school is located at the edge of an Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Decried David Harris, director of the American Jewish Committee: "Here was a university that had the gall, if you will, that tried to create a laboratory for Arabs and Jews to come together, study together, live together." (Chicago Tribune, Aug. 2) (David Bloom)
2. 27 KILLED IN PALESTINIAN REVENGE ATTACKS
Two Israeli brothers from the settlement of Tapuah near Ariel were killed July 30 in an ambush as they drove their fuel tanker in the Arab village of Jamain. The al-Aksa Martyr's brigade took responsibility. Also July 30, a suicide bomber injured five Israelis when he blew himself up near a Jerusalem falafel stand. His family's house in Beit Jalla was demolished by Israel in retaliation. Two Jewish settlers were wounded by a knife-wielding attacker in the Jewish settlement of Itamar in the West Bank. (Ha'aretz, July 31: Ha’aretz, Aug. 1) On August 1, an Israeli was bound and killed with a gunshot to the head, in the Kshuri industrial zone near Tulkarm. The assailants were Palestinians from Tulkarm. While not ruling out a criminal motive, police call it a terrorist attack. Also on Aug. 1, a bomb detonated alongside a bus full of settlers near Morag in the Gaza Strip. There were no injuries. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 2)
Thirteen Israelis were killed and over 80 injured in separate attacks on August 5. Nine were killed and 52 were wounded when a bomber blew himself up in bus full of soldiers traveling near the northern Israeli city of Safed. Hamas took responsibility, saying the attack was revenge for the assassination of their military chief Salah Saledeh July 23. Two Israelis were killed and 14 injured when a Palestinian gunman opened fire near the Damascus gate in East Jerusalem. Al-Aksa Martyr's brigade took responsibility. Two Israelis were killed, and two injured when their car came under gunfire north of Ramallah, in the West Bank. The "Martyrs of the Palestinian Popular Army" took responsibility. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 5; Ha'aretz, Aug. 5) Twenty-seven Israelis have been killed since the July 23 assassination of Saledeh. (Ha'aretz, Aug. 5) (See WW3 REPORT #44)
Hamas has published a pamphlet declaring it will kill 100 Israelis for every Hamas leader assassinated. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 1) Israeli defense minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer says Israel has in its custody 140 men and women who intended to carry out suicide attacks. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 1) PA Minister of International Cooperation Nabil Sha'ath critized Hamas Aug 5 for killing civilians in suicide attacks, saying only IDF soldiers should be targeted. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 5) Four were injured in a drive-by shooting on a bus traveling between the settlements of Avnei Hefetz and Einav, near Tul Karm in the West Bank. Four IDF soldiers were wounded when a bomb exploded near their vehicle north of Ramallah. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) took responsibility . (Ha'aretz, Aug. 5) An Israeli Arab security guard was injured when a Palestinian suicide bomber he was giving a ride to blew himself up near the northern Israeli city of Umm al Fahm. (Ha'aretz, Aug. 5) (David Bloom)
3. ISRAEL SHUTS DOWN WEST BANK
Israel tightened its closure of five West Bank towns and cities in response to the spate of Palestinian attacks Aug. 5. Travel between cities in the northern part of the West Bank has been banned, and movement within the cities has been severely restricted. The Israeli government has promised a "fight without mercy" against Palestinian militants. In the Gaza Strip, Israeli helicopters destroyed a building with three missiles, setting it ablaze. Israel said the building contained a metal shop used in the manufacture of weapons. Two Palestinians were injured in the attack. (BBC, Aug. 5) (David Bloom)
4. NABLUS: ROCK THE CASBAH REDUX
Israeli troops moved into Nablus with 150 armored vehicles in a retaliatory operation for the July 31 bombing in Jerusalem. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) says the bomb could have come from the old city, or casbah, of Nablus. Israel's military has concluded that "Nablus serves as a focus of activity of terror groups, led by Hamas and Fatah." Nablus' casbah, scene of intense fighting during Operation Defensive Shield (see WW3 REPORT #28), has not be re-entered since April, despite a tight closure and curfew on the city by the IDF. Machine-gun fire could be heard in the city, and six people have reportedly been killed, with two of them killed in the casbah. Israeli forces are conducting house-to-house searches for weapons and suspects. The army detained more than 50 Palestinian men. The IDF claimed it found two explosive factories in the Casbah, and blew up the apartment buildings that contained them. Explosions were occasionally heard throughout the city. Nablus residents claim the Israelis have demolished houses there. Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat called the incursion "a new massacre." The IDF also killed a Hamas activist just outside Nablus, who they claimed ran when they tried to arrest him. (NYT, Aug. 3; Reuters, Aug. 2) The incursion comes a week after Nablus residents successfully defied the curfew en masse. (See WW3 REPORT #44) (David Bloom)
5. SHARON PLEDGES GAZA DEPORTATION FOR MILITANT'S FAMILIES
A petition before the Israeli high court to halt the expulsion of three relatives of Palestinian militants from the West Bank to Gaza seems certain. The Israel government made the decision to expel the three after a ruling by Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein that family members held directly responsible for the actions of militants could legally be expelled. One prospective deportee was among 21 family members of those held responsible for the July 16 attack on the West Bank settlement of Immanuel. In a cabinet meeting on Aug. 4, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon scolded the Shin Bet security agency for delays in the expulsions. "I don't understand why you waited so long," Sharon said. Security officials responded it was taking a while to gather evidence. "So send him away by car with a crust of bread and a bottle of water, without God forbid harming him," Sharon said. "Everything must be done with respect, just send him away." Sharon related how he dealt with Palestinian children who threw stones as head of IDF Southern Command 30 years ago. "I expelled two families, and the screams of the children being beaten by their parents was heard above everything." (Ha'aretz, Aug. 5) (David Bloom)
6. GUSH SHALOM WARNS IDF: WE HAVE WAR CRIMES EVIDENCE
The Israeli peace organization Gush Shalom is sending letters to IDF officers on duty in the territories warning they could be guilty of war crimes. The officers are warned by Gush Shalom that their actions are being monitored, and that the peace organization intends to compile incriminating evidence to submit to the International Criminal Court at the Hague. The letters, signed by "Gush Shalom's team for the collection of evidence against war criminals," have been sent to 15 IDF officers ranked between lieutenant colonel and brigadier general. Gush Shalom picked the officers on the basis of interviews they gave the press, and complaints lodged by Palestinians. One such letter was sent to a brigadier general who rounded up family members of wanted suspects. The letter warns that "taking hostages is a grave violation of the fourth Geneva Convention." It adds that "We warn you that evidence about these acts has been compiled, and put in a file that we are preparing."
One high-ranking IDF officer accused Gush Shalom of "an attempt to harm the morale" of soldiers. "This is an exercise in incitement and sedition...and they're trying to foster a sense of personal threat among officers," he said. (Ha'aretz, Aug. 4) On Aug. 4, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ordered attorney-general Elyakim Rubinstein to look into legal proceedings against Gush Shalom. He called it "inconceivable" that the organization would try to deter IDF officers from carrying out their duties, and threaten to bring them to international justice. Gush Shalom responded that it would "not be deterred by Prime Minister Sharon's threats. By collating information on violations of international law by IDF troops in the occupied territories, we have committed no crime." (Ha'aretz, Aug. 5) (David Bloom)
7. U.S., ISRAEL TO SIGN HAGUE COURT RESTRICTION AGREEMENT
The US and Israel will sign a reciprocal pact restricting the extradition of their citizens to the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague. Citizens from one country can not be extradited from the second. Israel and US did not ratify the treaty creating the court. Israel fears the court will be used to condemn Israeli settlements, and the presence of the IDF in the occupied Palestinian territories. Both countries intend to pursue further reciprocal agreements with other countries. The US has already signed a similar agreement with Romania. (Ha'aretz, Aug. 4) (David Bloom)
8. PLAN FOR JOINT U.S.-ISRAEL HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICE IN FLUX
The creation of a joint US-Israeli Homeland Security office, to be stationed in Washington, has been slowed by Israeli hesitancy and Democratic opposition to the proposal for a US Homeland Security Department. As the Washington Times describes it, "[the office] would be in Washington and would be run by an official inside the Department of Homeland Security. It would monitor a live communications link between the two nations, swapping non-classified security information ranging from visa policies to terrorists' profiles." A precursor to the proposed office, the US-Israeli Inter-Parliamentary Commission on National Security (IPC), failed to meet in June to discuss the new proposal. Rep. Neil Abercombie (D-HI) said the IPC had not convened because "some of us have concerns about the new [Homeland Security] Department that must be resolved first." Legislation for the creation of the office is expected to be ready after Labor Day. However, Israeli Security Minister Uzi Landau and Brig. Gen. David Tzur met with Pentagon officials and top members of both houses in private meetings to discuss the proposal. (Washington Times, July 11) (David Bloom)
9. HAMAS BIG'S SON FAILS TO SHOW UP FOR MARTYRDOM TRAINING
Hamas political leader Dr. Abdel-Aziz Rantissi has been embarrassed by a broadcast of a taped conversation in which his wife says she would not allow their son to be considered for martyrdom. The conversation was probably recorded by Palestinian intelligence forces. Umm Mohammed, Rantissi's wife, told an activist from Hamas' military wing that she would not allow her son, Mohammed Rantisi, to be recruited for one of the group's suicide missions. Dr. Rantissi told news site Albawaba.com, "This incident took place 10 years ago when my son Mohammed was young and I was in the Negev desert prison." The recording was found in Arafat's Ramallah compound, and was broadcast in Israel Aug. 1. The caller, who identifies himself as "one of the brothers," asks if he has reached the Rantisi residence, and then asks to speak to Umm Mohammed's son, who had failed to show up for a meeting with "the guys from the mujahadeen." She replies her son is fine, but that he had slept through the previous day, because he had stayed up studying for an exam. The Hamas man tells her that her son has been selected to become "one of the martyrs." Umm Mohammed says her son "is not involved in any of that. I bless you, but my son is busy with his studies." The militant replied: "We in the Hamas hope that your son with be one of those who go all the way for the Palestinian people, and I am surprised that a woman like you should refuse our request to continue the jihad against Zionism." The caller also said, "With Allah's help, you will soon hear news of Mohammed that will bring you joy."
When Umm Mohammed demanded to know who was calling, the caller replied, "I am one of the students of the shahid [martyr]." "Which Shahid?" she asked. "The shahid--Yehiyeh Ayash, the Engineer [Hamas bomb maker killed by Israeli agents in 1996]." Before hanging up, Umm Mohammed said they had no connection to "the students of the shahid." She told the caller, "I do not know people like you."
Israel released the story to demonstrate how Hamas leaders propagandizing young Palestinians to martyr themselves often protect their own children . (Itim, Aug. 1; Haaretz, Aug. 2) Arafat's wife, Suha, lives abroad in Paris and Switzerland with their daughter. Suha Arafat has said she wished she had a son so he could be a martyr. (NYT, April 15) The al-Aksa Martyr's brigade, a military wing of Arafat's Fatah faction, had a bureau in Ramallah especially for recruitment of girls for suicide bombing attacks, until it was shut down by the IDF in April (Newsweek, April 15) (See WW3 REPORT #29). On Aug. 2, Rantisi told AFP he encourages all Palestinians, including his own son, to carry out suicide attacks. He claimed he and his wife agreed four years ago to their son becoming a suicide attacker, and said reports of his wife's opposition to the idea were Israeli propaganda. (Haaretz, Aug.2) (David Bloom)
10. U.N. JENIN REPORT PLEASES ISRAEL
A long-awaited UN report of the events related to the fighting in the Jenin refugee camp during Operation Defensive Shield has been released. The report, compiled without Israeli cooperation over objections to the composition of the UN's investigating team, is based on press accounts and reports from UN investigators. In the report, no basis is found for Palestinian claims of an Isreali "massacre" of civilians in Jenin. Both sides are criticized for endangering civilians, and the Israelis are criticized for preventing medical aid to reach the injured. Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, who made claims of 500 Palestinian dead in April, reacted with anger. "The UN should have used the word 'massacre' or 'war crime,'" he said. "The Israeli massacre in Jenin's refugee camp clearly happened..." Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Daniel Taub reacted by saying "The report overwhelmingly negates this Palestinian fabrication and repudiates the malicious lies spread regarding this issue."
The report declared its "particular concern" for the suffering of Palestinian civilians in the camp, noting the IDF was "reported to have used bulldozers, tank shelling and rocket firing, at times from helicopters, in populated areas." But it also had criticism for Palestinian fighters: "Palestinian groups are alleged to have widely booby-trapped civilian homes, acts targeted at IDF personnel but also putting civilians in danger." UN secretary-general Kofi Annan opined, "I would hope that both parties will draw the right lessons from this tragic episode and take steps to end the cycle of violence which is killing innocent civilians on both sides." (BBC, Aug 1; Ha'aretz Aug. 2) (David Bloom)
11. TWO ISRAELI TROOPS CHARGED WITH TORTURE
An IDF company commander and one of his soldiers in the reserves have been charged with torture of a Palestinian youth, according to Israel Radio. The charges claim the two were carrying out a search for a man in the village of Doha near Bethlehem, and encountered his son. The commander reportedly threatened the son with a loaded rifle, and made him remove his pants and underwear. The two soldiers then held a flame near the boy's genitalia. The two are charged with beating the boy and sexually abusing him. (Jerusalem Post, July 24) (David Bloom)
"Lowy was on the edges of the funeral procession when two of the kippa-wearing thugs walked up to him and forbade him to photograph. Lowy didn't manage to get a word out when a fist landed in his face and one of his valuable cameras was ripped from his neck and smashed to pieces. A policeman who tried to get him into one of the alleyways, out of trouble, ran for his own life when a dozen settlers joined in on the rumble against the photographer. Lowy was knocked to the ground, kicked in the ribs and head. Someone grabbed the camera straps remaining around his neck and began strangling him. He then let them take the rest of his equipment. Soldiers who arrived on the scene finally chased off the thugs."
Lowy was in Hebron to shoot a documentary on life in mixed cities. While he was there, he observered a group of Hebron settlers vandalize and loot Palestinian shops. Lowy observed that the police did not intervene. He also overheard soldiers say they did not understand why they were there, and why they are allowed to hit rioting Palestinians, but not rioting Jews. (See WW3 REPORT #44) (Ha'aretz, Aug. 6) (David Bloom)
13. INTERIOR MINISTRY SEEKS ARAB CITIZENSHIP REVOCATION
The Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) is planning to revoke the citizenship of two Israeli Arabs and the papers of one permanent resident. The three have been charged with crimes against national security, but have not been convicted of any offense. Nevertheless, Shadi Surfa, Nahda Abu Kishak and Keis Hassan Kamel Obied have all received letters informing them of the Interior Ministry's intentions. This would mark the first time Israel has taken this kind of measure. Critics charge Yishai has been actively seeking revocation of citizenship for the symbolic value of such a move. The Israeli Justice Ministry opposes it. The Interior Ministry says it has information linking Kishak to Hamas. Surfa has been linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and Obied to Hezbollah. (Ha'aretz, Aug. 5) (David Bloom)
14. MARY ROBINSON: U.S. BLIND TO PALESTINIAN SUFFERING
Outgoing UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, claiming she was blackballed for another term by the US for a perceived bias towards the Palestinians, commented about losing her job, and the situation in Israel and Palestine:
"Even...in 2000, it was very evident that the occupation is at the root of many of the human rights problems. And the Intifada, which had started then, was only at the stage of stone throwing... Since then we have drive-by shootings and suicide bombing which is of course appalling and cannot be condemned strongly enough, certainly not justified by any cause--but the Israeli responses are also excessive. It worries me that in this great country [the US] that's not the perception: They don't see the suffering of the Palestinian people; they don't see the impact of collective punishment. They do immediately see and empathize--and rightly--with the suffering of Israeli civilians who are killed, or injured, or just frightened, and of course I do too. But I find it very disheartening that there is not more understanding here of the appalling suffering of the Palestinian population, nor appreciation that this is not going to lead to a secure future. It's going to lead to greater hatred and desperation, to further suicide bombings." (Salon.com, July 26) (David Bloom)
15. ISRAELI ECOLOGISTS PROTEST "ROAD FOR THE RICH"
Environmental and social groups turned out to protest the Aug. 5 opening of the first section of the Trans-Israel Highway. The road will be Israel's first toll road. Using the slogan "We are all financing a road for the rich," the demonstrators protested that in a time of austerity measures, the Israeli government is building the road at the public's expense, and then plans to hand it over to a private contractor, who will keep the profits from the toll. The protestors are demanding the money be spent instead on the development of public transit (Ha'aretz, Aug. 5) (David Bloom)
THE IRAQ FRONT
1. REAGAN-ERA NUCLEAR HAWK BEHIND "INSIDE-OUT" IRAQ PLAN
After plans for a 250,000-man invasion of Iraq were leaked to the press last month, several of Arab states neighboring Iraq--including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan--publicly or privately sent word to Washington that they would not open their territory or military bases for the operation. Now a new Pentagon plan has been leaked to the New York Times, dubbed the "inside-out-attack"--under which US forces would swoop down and capture territory in the middle of Iraq, neutralize Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and then attack outward and conquer the country. The leakers told the Times the plan wouldn't require bases on the soil of reluctant Arab nations, and it would require only about 80,000 troops. UPI reports this new plan was devised by Richard Perle, a former defense official in the Reagan administration, and Douglas Feith, a longtime colleague of Perle's who is a Pentagon planning official. They are reportedly backed by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Vice President Dick Cheney. Opposing the plan is Secretary of State Colin Powell, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and most of the uniformed military. Writes UPI's Richard Sale: "It might be worth noting that Perle, Feith, Wolfowitz and Cheney never served in the United States Armed Forces. Perle, Wolfowitz and Cheney were all eligible to serve in Vietnam. Cheney once told a reporter in 1989 that he had 'other priorities in the 60s than military service' and he was deferred as a husband and later as a father. Powell, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and [Central Command chief] Gen. Franks are decorated American military men." (UPI, Aug. 1)
Perle, an assistant secretary of defense under Reagan, was a leading member of the Committee on the Present Danger, a high-level think-tank which advocated for the Reagan-era nuclear arms build-up. (See " With Enough Shovels: Reagan, Bush and Nuclear War" by Robert Scheer, Vintage, 1983, p. 94-6)
2. WAR BUILD-UP IN PERSIAN GULF
Twelve years after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait sparked Operation Desert Storm, the Pentagon is moving equipment, troops and communications gear into the region in an indication that President Bush may order an attack to drive Iraqi's Saddam Hussein from power. Pentagon officials decline to discuss troop movements, but analysts site numerous indications of attack preparations, including:
* Army Gen. Tommy Franks has moved the headquarters of the Third Army to Kuwait from Fort McPherson, GA.
* Army units in Kuwait include so-called quartering parties--units that plan the logistics required for the arrival of large numbers of troops.
* The Army's crack 101st Airborne Division is being withdrawn from Afghanistan and sent back to Fort Campbell, KY. The 101st is an air assault division that can deploy anywhere within 36 hours.
* The Pentagon has moved communications gear, including a sophisticated air operations center, to Qatar.
* The US Maritime Administration is undertaking a review of the fleet of cargo ships that would be mobilized to ship heavy Army weaponry overseas.
* The US has built up forces and hangars at Qatar's al-Udeid air base. The base has a 15,000-foot runway, the longest in the region, capable of accommodating the Air Force's largest transport planes.
The Army has about 20,000 soldiers in Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The Navy and Marine Corps maintain headquarters staff in Bahrain with nearly 3,000 troops, while the Air Force has several air bases in the region including a headquarters in Saudi Arabia. Another 12,000-plus military personnel, including Marines and sailors, are spread across several warships in the Persian Gulf, Red Sea and Indian Ocean. (Hearst Newspapers, Aug. 4)
3. BUSH BEEFS UP STRATEGIC RESERVES FOR NEW OIL SHOCK
In anticipation of a new oil shock sparked by a massive US attack on Iraq, Bush is pumping petrol into the Energy Department's Strategic Reserves, established after the 1973 crisis. Oil shipments into the Strategic Reserve are at record levels, adding some 150,000 barrels a day. The White House aims to add more than 100 million barrels to the reserve, which would bring it close to its 700 million barrels capacity. Despite the embargo, Iraq is the sixth-biggest oil supplier to the US, contributing 8% of US oil imports last year--a million barrels a day at its peak. (See "US Guzzles Iraqi Oil," WW3 REPORT #32)
While the administration is beefing up its oil reserves, there is less the White House can do to guard against the wider economic impact of a new Persian Gulf war. Due to the post 9-11 recession, combined with Bush's ten-year $1.3 thousand billion tax cut, a $127 billion federal budget surplus has been transformed into a $165 billion deficit in less than a year. In 1991, the $61 billion cost of Operation Desert Storm was split between Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Japan and the US. The first three paid $48 billion, with the US picking up the rest. This time, the US cannot count on any allies to make financial contributions. (London Times, July 31)
4. PENTAGON TO FUND IRAQ OPPOSITION
The Defense Department has agreed to pick up the budget for the opposition Iraqi National Congress in an attempt to resolve a conflict between the group and the State Department. The decision to shift funding for the London-based umbrella group to the Defense Department was reached in late July, about the same time that State and Defense issued a joint invitation to six Iraqi opposition leaders to visit Washington. The meeting, scheduled for this week, is aimed at ending chronic fighting among the rival groups. (Washington Post, Aug. 2)
Among those invited are Ahmad Chalabi of the INC, Iyad Allawi of the CIA-supported Iraqi National Accord, Sharif Ali bin Hussein of the monarchist movement, Jalal Talibani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Masoud Barzani of the Kurdish Democratic Party and Mohammed Baqr Hakim of the Iran-based Shiite rebel group Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). (UPI, July 26)
The scheduled DC meeting follows US-brokered talks among the various factions in London last month. (See "London Hosts Iraq Destabilization Confab," WW3 REPORT #41)
5. BAGHDAD BLINKS, BUSH UNBENDING
With an Aug. 1 letter from Iraq's Foreign Minister Naji Sabri to chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix, the Saddam Hussein regime invited an inspection team to Baghdad for talks on resuming the suspended program. Talks last month deadlocked over Iraq's insistence that discussions must address US threats against Iraq, no-fly zones and sanctions. UN sanctions can only be lifted after the weapons inspectors verify that all of Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons have been destroyed. Inspectors have not been in Iraq since December 1998, when they left in advance of US-British air-strikes. They have not been allowed to return since.
Meanwhile in Washington, President Bush told Congress in a letter: "The crisis between the United States and Iraq that led to the declaration of a national emergency on August 2, 1990, has not been resolved. The government of Iraq continues to engage in activities inimical to stability in the Middle East and hostile to US interests. Such Iraqi actions pose a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States." (CNN, Aug. 1)
6. EX-INSPECTOR: SADDAM "WON'T ARM TERRORISTS"
Iraq's President Saddam Hussein is unlikely to share any weapons of mass destruction with terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda, says Richard Butler, former chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq. The Australian specialist told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Iraq continues to develop chemical and biological weapons and to seek nuclear weapons. "But I have seen no evidence of Iraq providing weapons of mass destruction to non-Iraqi terrorist groups," he said. (AP, Aug. 1)
7. EUROPE TO UNCLE SAM: DON'T GO UNILATERAL!
The leaders of Germany and France highlighted the gap now separating Britain and the US from some of their closest allies on policy towards Iraq, saying they could not support an attack without a UN mandate. At the end of talks in the German city of Schwerin, Chancellor Gerhard Schroder and President Jacques Chirac insisted that clear UN approval was necessary. While Chirac urged Saddam to agree "very, very quickly" to the return of UN weapons inspectors, he warned the White House: "I do not want to imagine an attack against Iraq, an attack which--were it to happen--could only be justified if it were decided on by the security council." (UK Guardian, July 31)
8. BRITS EQUIVOCATING?
King Abdullah of Jordan told reporters that British Prime Minister Tony Blair had confided to him his "tremendous concerns" about an invasion of Iraq. The King, who met President Bush in the White House July 31 to reiterate his opposition to an Iraq invasion, said that a reluctance by US allies to confront Washington over Iraq may have left US policymakers wrongly believing there is little opposition to the war. Abdullah, who met the Prime Minister earlier that week, said: "Blair has tremendous concerns about how this would unravel." He continued that "everybody is saying this is a bad idea..." Downing Street offered a guarded response to the assertions. "The Prime Minister held a press conference on the issue of Iraq earlier this week and his position was set out there: he believes weapons of mass destruction is an issue which has to be addressed," a spokesman said. "No decisions have been made, and we said on Monday when King Abdullah met the Prime Minister in London, that they had an instructive dialogue and that they had discussed Iraq." (London Times, Aug. 2)
9. TURKEY TO UNCLE SAM: CHILL OUT!
The Prime Minister of Turkey said July 31 that his government was trying to dissuade the US from launching a military campaign against Iraq. "If there's military action, it will affect us," said Bulent Ecevit, whose country is likely to be used as a launching pad for military action against Iraq. "We're trying to dissuade the American administration from a military operation," Ecevit told the Sabah newspaper. (London Times, Aug. 1)
Ecevit also warned that the US risks becoming bogged down in a long war if it moves ahead with plans to topple Saddam Hussein. "Iraq is...so developed technologically and economically despite the embargo, that it cannot be compared to Afghanistan or Vietnam,'' he told Turkey's state TV station. "It will not be possible for the [US] to get out of there easily.'' Ecevit's comments came after a visit to Turkey by US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to lobby for Ankara's assistance in any move against Saddam .(NYT, July 21)
10. KUWAIT: PLEASE WAIT!
Kuwait's defense minister, Sheikh Jaber al-Hamad al-Sabah, said July 18 that Kuwait would only accept a US attack on its former occupier Iraq if it is carried out under the auspices of the United Nations. "Kuwait does not support threats to hit Iraq or to launch an attack against it," he told reporters. (Reuters, July 18)
11. IRAN: BACK OFF!
Iran's President Mohammad Khatami warned the US July 23 to abandon plans to attack Iraq. "We wish to caution the great powers against further interference in the region and against the exacerbation of the flames of war," Khatami said during a visit to Malaysia. "We live in a very frightening situation today. We have never witnessed war being so much promoted in the US." He said Iran's leadership would not bow to US "threats and insults ." (UK Guardian, July 24)
"The Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 divided the Levant into areas under British and French rule...and facilitated the creation of a federation of 'independent Arab states' under both countries' protection. We can easily trace the Middle East, as we know it today, to those historic events... Today history is about to repeat itself. The United States is busy redrawing the map of this region to serve its interest and that of its Israeli ally. The focus of Washington's efforts in the coming phase will be to topple the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq and implant a subservient government in its place....
"Turning Iraq into an American base will limit any threat to Israel by the Islamic republic in Iran, prepare for a new approach to Saudi Arabia and put the small Gulf states under US protection and control for decades... Furthermore, if Iraq or the entities that will rise from its ruin fall under American aegis, then the road will be open for Israel to execute a final solution to its Palestinian problem. Transfer will no longer be a dream entertained by a handful of Zionist extremists, but a viable option towards achieving the goal of a pure and exclusive Jewish state."
13. IT'S THE OIL, STUPID!
The London Times writes that the removal of Saddam Hussein "would open Iraq's rich new oilfields to Western bidders and bring the prospect of lessening dependence on Saudi oil... No other country offers such untapped oilfields whose exploitation could lessen tensions over the Western presence in Saudi Arabia... President Bush has used the War on Terror to press his case for drilling in a protected Arctic refuge, but predicted reserves in Alaska are dwarfed by the oil wells of the Gulf."
Iraq has oil reserves of 112 billion barrels, second only to Saudi Arabia, which has some 265 billion. Iraqi reserves are seven times those of the combined UK and Norwegian sectors of the North Sea. Iraq's three giant southern fields--Majnoon, West Qurna and Nahr Umar--have the capacity to produce as much as Kuwait. "There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world" said Gerald Butt, Gulf editor of the Middle East Economic Survey. "Its the big prize." And it isn't just Iraq's own oil reserves which are at stake, Butt emphasized. "The removal of Saddam is, in effect, the removal of the last threat to the free flow of oil from the Gulf as a whole." Added Anthony Cordesman of the DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies: "You are looking down the line to a world in 2020 when reliance on Gulf oil will have more than doubled. The security of the Gulf is an absolutely critical issue." (London Times, July 11)
14. U.S. TO REDUCE ICBM INVENTORY BY FIRING THEM AT IRAQ?
Russia's on-line magazine Gazeta.ru speculates the US will use intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with conventional warheads to attack Iraq. Gazeta.ru referred to July 18 statements by Stephen Younger, head of the Pentagon's Threat Reduction Agency, "to the effect that his unit is working on the issue of using ICBMs with non-nuclear warheads, in a possible armed conflict." Younger apparently did not mention Iraq, but Gazeta.ru wrote: "The Pentagon has declassified yet another detail of the military operation that is being prepared against Iraq. If the United States is unable to reach agreement with [Saddam] Hussein's neighbors on the use of their territory for advance deployment of its troops, the main strike against Iraq will be delivered by ICBMs."
The use of ICBMs would make it possible to destroy even hardened Iraqi military targets--and would be a cheap and efficient way to slash nuclear weapons delivery systems, as mandated under the Treaty on the Reduction of Strategic Offensive Potentials, signed by Presidents Bush and Putin! Gazeta.ru writes that "as a result of using strategic weapons, the Pentagon will gain unique experience of the combat use of its own ICBM guidance systems--experience which none of the other members of the nuclear club has."
But the alleged plan carries grave and obvious risks. Gazeta.ru concluded that "the use of ICBMs in the operation could trigger an entirely unpredictable reaction not only from Russia, but also from China....ICBM launches against Iraq might be misinterpreted by the Russian missile-attack early-warning system." (Gazeta.ru, July 25)
15. NUREMBERG PROSECUTOR PROTESTS BUSH WAR MOVES
Benjamin B. Ferencz, a prosecutor at the Nuremberg war crimes trials in the aftermath of World War II, had the following letter printed in the New York Times August 1 in response to a recent op-ed by two US senators, a Democrat and a Republican:
"To the Editor:
"Senators Joseph R. Biden Jr, and Richard G. Lugar call for serious discussion of what can be done to remove Iraq's dictator Saddam Hussein from power (Op-Ed, July 31) In reviewing the options and problems, no reference is made to the United Nations. A preemptive military strike not authorized by the Security Council would clearly violate the UN Charter that legally binds all nations. In debating the options for Iraq, let us never forget that the rule of law remains our best safeguard for a more peaceful and humane world.
"Benjamin B. Ferencz,
New Rochelle, NY, July 31, 2002"
But the following paragraph from the middle of the letter was deleted in the published version:
"When a similar issue arose in 1990, there were detailed congressional debates followed by Security Council resolutions authorizing member states to use 'all necessary means' to repel Iraq's aggression and crimes against humanity. On January 16, 1991, as combined military forces led by the United States launched their successful assault against Iraq, then-President George Bush proclaimed to the nation that we had an opportunity 'to forge for ourselves and future generations a new world order, a world where the rule of law, not the law of the jungle, governs the conduct of nations.'"
16. SCOWCROFT SKEPTICAL
Brent Scowcroft, US National Security Adviser during Operation Desert Storm, warned President Bush Aug. 4 that invading Iraq would cause an "explosion" in the Middle East and mean defeat for the US in the War on Terrorism. Scowcroft, who remains close to the Bush family, said that by going to war with Iraq without linking Saddam Hussein to 9-11, Washington would undermine its Arab allies. "I think we could have an explosion in the Middle East," Scowcroft said. "It could turn the whole region into a cauldron and destroy the War on Terror." Scowcroft pointed to the "almost consensus" around the world against the US going to war with Iraq at this moment . (London Times, Aug. 5)
"Three and a half years ago, some key information about UN weapons inspectors in Iraq briefly surfaced on the front pages of American newspapers -- and promptly vanished. Now, with righteous war drums beating loudly in Washington, let's reach deep down into the news media's Orwellian memory hole and retrieve the story.
"'US Spied on Iraq Under UN Cover, Officials Now Say,' a front-page New York Times headline announced on Jan. 7, 1999. The article was unequivocal: 'United States officials said today that American spies had worked undercover on teams of United Nations arms inspectors ferreting out secret Iraqi weapons programs.... By being part of the team, the Americans gained a first-hand knowledge of the investigation and a protected presence inside Baghdad.'
"A day later, a followup Times story pointed out: 'Reports that the United States used the United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq as cover for spying on Saddam Hussein are dimming any chances that the inspection system will survive.'
"With its credibility badly damaged by the spying, the UN inspection system did not survive. Another factor in its demise was the US government's declaration that sanctions against Iraq would remain in place whether or not Baghdad fully complied with the inspection regimen. But such facts don't assist the conditioned media reflex of blaming everything on Saddam Hussein. No matter how hard you search major American media databases of the last couple of years for mention of the spy caper, you'll come up nearly empty. George Orwell would have understood. Instead of presenting a complete relevant summary of past events, mainstream US journalists and politicians are glad to focus on tactical pros and cons of various aggressive military scenarios. While a few pundits raise cautious warning flags, even the most absurd Swiss-cheese rationales for violently forcing a 'regime change' in Baghdad routinely pass without challenge..."
Solomon also cited a Hartford Courant editorial on Jan. 10, 1999, which stated: "That American spies have operations in Iraq should be no surprise. That the spies are using the United Nations as a cover is deplorable." While noting "Saddam Hussein's numerous complaints that UN inspection teams included American spies were apparently not imaginary," the Courant mentioned that the operatives "planted eavesdropping devices in hopes of monitoring forces that guarded Mr. Hussein as well as searching for hidden arms stockpiles." Concludes Solomon: "The US news media quickly lost interest in that story. We should ask why."
18. IRAQI KURDS: KEEP US OUT OF IT!
Kurdish leaders in northern Iraq fear that a US attempt to topple Saddam Hussein could bring war to the their mountainous homeland, where they have built autonomous quasi-states free of Baghdad's control. A leader of one of the Kurdish factions that have held Saddam's troops at bay for over a decade told Reuters the US must provide security guarantees for the Kurds before launching any military attack on Iraq. "We need to have guarantees for our future in Iraq, guarantees for our future security. My people have suffered so much, we must not put them in harm's way unnecessarily,'' said Barham Salah, prime minister of one of the two Kurdish enclaves in northern Iraq.
The Kurds feel they were sold out by the US after rising up against Saddam at the end of the 1991 Gulf War, encouraged by then-US President George HW Bush. Saddam's forces crushed the rebellion, sending millions of Kurds fleeing to neighboring countries as refugees. "We have no interest in being dragged into half-baked adventures," Salah said. "This is too big an issue."
The Western-educated civil engineer governs the eastern side of a triangle of territory which broke away from Baghdad's rule after government troops withdrew later in 1991 following a world outcry and threats from Washington. The head of his party, Jalal Talabani, is among those invited to Washington this week for talks on unifying the Iraqi opposition. But Salah said no decision has been made on whether Talabani, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), would attend the talks.
The Kurdish "peshmerga" or guerilla fighters of the PUK and its rival Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) are no match for the tanks and heavy artillery of Saddam's forces. Salah said the PUK would not automatically join a US attack on Saddam. "We are not guns for hire," he said. "We are democrats, we are freedom fighters, we have a cause."
The PUK and the KDP both support a federal solution that would give Kurds substantial autonomy within a united Iraq. Both parties have expressed misgivings about the possible fallout for Kurds of any US attack on Iraq.
While most of the rugged Kurdish region is shielded from government air attack by a US/UK-enforced "no-fly zone," the PUK capital Sulaymaniyah is not--and Iraqi front lines are less than an hour's drive away. "We actually want to avoid a situation of conflict, we have no interest in confrontation," Salah said. "We would want to convey to all parties concerned the need to prevent havoc being inflicted upon the defenseless people of Kurdistan."
Iraq's Kurds are still haunted by memories of Saddam's bloody ethnic cleansing of the late 1980s, including a poison gas attack on the eastern town of Halabja that killed thousands. "The record is very clear to see, another Halabja awaits us if we are not careful," Salah said. "The risks are very, very serious for us. We cannot afford to be complacent and we cannot afford another seven or eight decades of misery." (Reuters, July 29)
19. U.S. MILITARIZES IRAQI KURDISTAN
The US is close to completing a project to refurbish three abandoned Iraqi air force bases in the Kurd-controlled north of the country. Iraqi opposition sources said the effort began nearly a year ago and involves the repair of runways and facilities to accommodate US warplanes and transport craft for any attack on Baghdad. The work is being carried out by Kurdish contractors, under the supervision of US military personnel, sources say. (Middle East Newsline, July 29)
20. SADDAM "CLEANSING" KURDS, ASSYRIANS
While Iraq's Kurds have won a modicum of stability and security in the northern enclaves controlled by their peshmerga militias, they are being "ethnically cleansed" from government-controlled Iraq under Saddam's policy of "Arabization." The lands of Kurds and other ethnic minorities in Saddam-controlled northern Iraq are confiscated and given to Arabs, sending hundreds of refugees into the peshmerga-controlled zones--where they wait in camps before housing can be found for them. Kirkuk, a Kurdish city which is a center of the Iraqi oil industry and agriculture, is also center for the regime's policy of expelling non-Arabs such as Kurds, Assyrian Christians and Turkomans, say local minority leaders and international rights groups.
"Iraq is accelerating the process so they can control us," said Nasih Ghafoor, a member of the Committee for Confronting Arabization in Kurdistan, based in Erbil. "These areas are very strategic areas, and the economy of Kurdistan depends on them." The Baghdad regime is reportedly digging new wells to prepare for settling the maximum possible number of Arabs, allocating residential plots of land in Kirkuk and its suburbs to Arab army officers, and bringing in Arab tribes southeast of the city for settlement. Kurdish shops have been destroyed and Kurdish sheepherders are banned from selling their wares. In outlying areas, entire Kurdish villages have been torn down and replaced with government housing for Arabs. Non-Arabs are required to change their ethnicity on identity cards and census documents, or face deportation to Kurdish-controlled territory. No education in the Kurdish language is offered in Kirkuk, and the only Kurdish-language media in is a two-hour daily TV program of propaganda from Hussein's Baath Party.
Yonadam Kanna, general secretary of the Assyrian Democratic Movement and a member of the autonomous Kurdish-zone parliament, said Assyrians are deported if they are suspected of supporting to the two main parties in the Kurdish zone--the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). "If you support [KDP President Massoud] Barzani, they push you into KDP territory," he said. "If you say [PUK President Jalal] Talabani, they push you into PUK territory."
Kurds say that Arabs receive financial incentives to move into Kurdish areas--new houses with modern amenities, a plot of land to farm, or a better job. They report relocated Arabs are even paid to rebury their relatives in Kirkuk to create the appearance of a long Arab presence in the area. Baghdad also imported thousands of palm trees into Kirkuk in an attempt to make the city look more like the Arab parts of Iraq, the committee said. But the colder climate refused to cooperate, and the trees died. (Joshua Kucera for the San Francisco Chronicle, July 15)
Saddam is also engaged in similar "cleansing" of the Shiite Marsh Arab people in Iraq's south. See "Saddam's Ethnocidal 'Development' Programs In Basra," WW3 REPORT #39)
ELSEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
1. BRIT, CANADIAN TO LOSE HEADS IN SAUDI ARABIA?
A Saudi court has sentenced one British and one Canadian citizen to death and ordered four Britons and a Belgian imprisoned for their roles in fatal bombings in 2000, according to a lawyer for some of the defendants. Canadian William Sampson and Briton Alexander Mitchell were sentenced to death. The men were arrested after Briton Christopher Rodway, 48, who worked in a Saudi hospital, was killed in a Nov. 17 blast in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, that also slightly injured his wife. On Nov. 22, another car bomb injured two men and a woman, all Britons. Sampson, Mitchell and other defendants were shown on Saudi state TV in February 2001 confessing to carrying out the bombings. No motive was given. Attorney Michael O'Kane said lawyers had appealed for the verdicts to be dismissed, saying the men were tortured into making confessions. Those facing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia are beheaded in public by a sword-wielding executioner under the kingdom's strict interpretation of Islamic law . (AP, July 28)
2. SAUDI ARABIA ON "BRINK OF COLLAPSE"?
The UK Observer reports that Saudi Arabia "is teetering on the brink of collapse," fuelling fears by the British Foreign Office of an extremist takeover of a key Western ally in the War on Terrorism. Anti-government demonstrations have swept the desert kingdom in the past months in protest of the pro-US stance of the de facto ruler, Prince Abdullah. British officials "are concerned that Abdullah could face a palace coup from elements within the royal family sympathetic to al-Qaeda."
Saudi sources said the Pentagon recently sponsored a secret conference to look at options if the royal family fell. Demonstrations broke out in March, triggered by a fire in a girls' school in which 14 pupils died after the religious police stopped them escaping (see WW3 REPORT #26). Unrest in the east of the country rapidly escalated to nationwide protests that were brutally put down by the police. The Observer says it has obtained secret video footage of the protests smuggled out of the country, showing hundreds of Saudis--including women--demonstrating in support of the Palestinians and in opposition to the regime.
The Foreign Office believes that the failure of Abdullah's recent Middle East peace plan has "terminally" undermined his position. The Crown Prince's main rival, defense minister Prince Sultan, is in vocal opposition to Abdullah's pro-Western policy. His brother Prince Naif, interior minister, has led a crackdown on the Saudi media to prevent word of the demonstrations leaking out. Abdullah has reportedly even sent his own representative to Washington to counter the influence of the ambassador, Prince Bandar, a son of Prince Sultan. Anti-Abdullah elements within the Saudi government are also believed to have collaborated in a wave of bomb attacks on Western targets by Islamic terrorists. The authorities blame the attacks on a supposed "turf war" between Westerners involved in the bootleg alcohol trade, and have jailed five Britons, a Canadian and a Belgian for the bombings. But British intelligence sources "have confirmed" that the attacks were carried out by Islamists linked to al-Qaeda.
Tensions between the royal factions will likely intensify with the long-expected death of King Fahd, the official ruler now incapacitated by illness. The condition of the king, in a hospital in Switzerland, is "unstable," doctors say. UK-based Saudi dissident Dr Saad al-Fagih said: "There is now an undeclared war between the factions in the Saudi royal family." (UK Observer, July 28)
3. BLOODY PURGE IN SAUDI ROYAL FAMILY?
Saudi Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Saud al Kabir was found dead at a remote desert location, the official SPA news agency reported July 30--claiming that the prince apparently died of thirst. The report said the 25-year-old prince had been travelling in Rimah province, south of the town of al Ammaniya, and provided no further details. Prince Fahd was the third member of the extensive Saudi royal family to die in a week. Prince Sultan bin Faisal bin Turki al-Saud, 41, died in a car accident July 23 as he was driving from the coastal city of Jeddah to the capital Riyadh for the funeral of his cousin Prince Ahmed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, 43, who had died the day before of an ostensible heart attack . (AFP, July 30)
4. U.S. GROOMING "SUDARI SEVEN" FOR SAUDI COUP?
Stratfor Global Intelligence Update writes that an "odd series of visits to Saudi Arabian King Fahd in Geneva could be an indication of the initial stages of a plan to shift power away from Crown Prince Abdullah. Though still embryonic, such a plan--even if it fails--would reverberate throughout the Middle East." Prince Salman and Prince Abdul Rahman, both full brothers of King Fahd, left Riyadh July 26 to meet with the aged king in Switzerland, the official Saudi Press Agency reported. This follows two private visits to the king by Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah II. The diplomatic and royal traffic to Geneva is highly unusual, given that King Fahd no longer governs Saudi Arabia except in name. Stratfor thinks it "may suggest the very earliest stages of a plan by America and its closest Arab allies to encourage the Sudairi Seven, a powerful faction of senior princes, to make a play for power against de facto ruler Crown Prince Abdullah." Although still king, Fahd has been marginalized since he suffered a stroke in 1995. De facto ruler Abdullah is perceived by the US as a less reliable ally than the "Sudairi Seven," a bloc of full-brother princes. King Fahd, Prince Salman, Prince Abdul Rahman, Prince Ahmed, intelligence chief Prince Turki, defense minister Prince Sultan, interior minister Prince Naif and all are members. While conceding that the visiting princes may have been checking up on the king following eye surgery, Stratfor writes: "The combination of all of the unusual traffic may point to another, more clandestine agenda. Fahd is still the leader of the Sudairi Seven and his approval would be needed before any coherent plan could emerge for his full brothers to challenge half-brother Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah." Stratfor speculates that the Egyptian and Jordanian leaders were stand-ins or "emissaries" for the US in preparation for the coup. (Stratfor Global Intelligence Update, July 26)
5. SAUDIS SNIPE AS QATAR COZIES TO BUSH
Stratfor Global Intelligence Update writes that "Saudi Arabia and Qatar are headed for a quarrel" over US plans to launch a new military campaign against Iraq. "Qatar's willingness to support the US military's buildup for a war with Iraq is making rulers in Riyadh irate, a feeling the Al Jazeera TV network has only compounded by airing criticisms of the Saudi regime." The Saudi daily al-Watan called Qatar's foreign minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani, a "dwarf" July 29 after he met with his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres in Paris. (WorldNetDaily.com, July 29)
6. THINK-TANK: PENTAGON SHOULD "TARGET" SAUDIS
The Pentagon distanced itself from a think-tank recommendation that Saudi oil fields and financial assets should be "targeted" if the kingdom doesn't do more to fight terrorism. The suggestion came in a briefing to the Defense Policy Board, a panel of academics and former senior officials that advises the Pentagon. The government-contracted briefing was produced by Laurent Murawiec, a Rand analyst and former adviser to the French Defense Ministry. "The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader," the Washington Post quoted the briefing as saying Aug. 6. Describing the desert kingdom as "the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent" in the Middle East, the briefing said "Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies." It did not specify how the Saudi oil fields and assets should be "targeted." A Pentagon statement said the briefing does not "reflect the official view of the Defense Department." It added: "Saudi Arabia is a long-standing friend and ally of the United States. The Saudis cooperate fully in the global war on terrorism and have the department's and administration's deep appreciation." (AP, Aug. 6)
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. U.N. REPORT ON WEDDING ATTACK SUPPRESSED
A UN report said to implicate the US for human rights abuses committed during and after its attack on a wedding party in the village of Karakak on July 1--leaving over 50 dead--will not be released to the public. Although the UN said it would release the report July 31, it reversed its decision the next day. Instead, the contents of the report will only be available to US and Afghan authorities investigating the incident. (UK Independent, July 31) When asked if there was a cover-up, Afghan President Hamid Karzai replied, "I don't think so. Someone would have told me." Karzai also said: ''The UN report was not correct. Lots of people had much misinformation. The second report, the official report, will be much more accurate." ( AP, Aug. 2) (David Bloom)
2. DID U.S. TROOPS TIE WOMEN'S HANDS AT WEDDING ATTACK?
In the outcry over the US air attack at Karakak in Uruzagan province and its aftermath, reported abuses include sanitizing the scene of the carnage, and tying the hands of women at the scene--a point of humiliation for the villagers. (London Times, July 29) The accusation of hand-tying echoes similar allegations made after a US raid on the village of Bandi Temur May 24. "The killing of men is not important," villager Nazar Gul told AP. "The problem is that they insulted our women, they grabbed and tied their hands. We are very ashamed." Lt. Cmdr. Bruce Erickson of the Pentagon's Central Command headquarters for Afghanistan operations said that while he was unfamiliar with details of the raid, he found it "difficult to believe." Erickson added, "It's not the policy of our military to bind women's hands." (AP, May 26)
Commander Frank Merriman, a spokesman for US Central Command in Tampa, FL. told WW3 REPORT that at Bandi Temur, a "female was 'sat down' because she was armed with a weapon. She made herself a combatant and was fortunate she was not shot. She was not flex-cuffed." Merriman also said that tying women's hands was not a US practice: "United States Central Command is extremely sensitive to the cultural beliefs of the Afghan people, especially concerning the treatment of females. We would never do anything to offend the customs of the region. Our troops are trained in cultural sensitivity to ensure we are respectful at all times. Our soldiers have never flex-cuffed any female in Afghanistan. If the situation occurred where such restraint was necessary because of a potentially hostile confrontation, our guidelines are to ensure that any restraint that must be applied to a female is done by a female in the US contingent. During the planning phase of a mission, females will be added to the mission if there is the potential that females will be present in the area."
The accusations of hand-tying came up again after the July 1 raid on Karakak. According to the New York Times, Pir Jan, a villager who was helping to gather up the dead, said "They [US Special Forces] were very serious, and they were searching the houses and tying the hands even of the women." (NYT, July 3) Another survivor was Mohammed Anwar, brother of village leader Sharif, father of the groom at the wedding party--both of whom were killed in the raid. Anwar recounted: "First they bombed the womenfolk, killing them like animals. Then they stormed into the houses and tied the hands of men and women." (AFP, July 7)
CENTCOM denied this. When asked how to explain the allegations by local Afghans, Merriman replied, "First of all, please be aware that not everyone in Afghanistan tells the truth. Certainly, those sympathetic to the Taliban/al -Qaeda are more than willing to distort the facts to suit their own objectives." Merriman added, "We also have to contend with the problem you find in any population to report as fact hearsay rumors. It's not always easy to separate fact from fiction but we continue to try so we can report the 'ground truth' to the public."
However, Sharif was an anti-Taliban Pashtun who according to AFP "risked the wrath of the Taliban to keep Afghan President Hamid Karzai alive during his daring mission into then-Taliban-ruled central Afghanistan last October." And Anwar is a Karzai-appointed local military commander. (AFP, July 7) When asked if Anwar was spreading a rumour, Merriman said he could not comment until the US investigation is concluded. (David Bloom)
3. AFGHANS CLAIM CASUALTIES IN U.S. STRIKE
Afghan officials said Aug. 2 that a US helicopter attacked the village of Khomi Baghicha, 75 miles from Kabul, killing one civilian and wounding two others.Abdul Matin Husainkhil, commander of Afghan forces in nearby Zormat, said "I don't know whether it was a bomb or a rocket, but last night about 9 o'clock an American helicopter fired on the village." US spokeswoman Capt. Christa D'Andrea denied the attack took place. "There was no bombing, there have been none injured or killed," she said. "The information is incorrect." Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Dave Lapan claims there were no helicopters in the air at the time the attack reportedly occurred. Local Afghans in Paktia province insist the attack, at the scene of a major US operation against Taliban/al-Qaeda in March, took place. Faiz Mohammad, secretary to Raz Mohammad Dalili, governor of Paktia province, claimed the attack occurred because of "a wrong report to the Americans." He said someone in a local feud fed false information to the US about Taliban/al-Qaeda being in the area in order to impel the US to fire on his enemies. He also said the Paktia provincial council had been told in the past they would be informed before any US actions. "I don't know why they didn't say anything ... before doing this," Mohammed complained. (AP, Aug. 1)
Five hundred people marched on Paktia's provincial capital Gardez from Zormat in protest of the attack. They were also protesting the US detention of five men from Khomi Baghicha. While the US denies the attack took place, it does confirm the men were detained. (AP, Aug 4) (David Bloom)
4. US CENTCOM DENIES PRISON ABUSE
The US denies accusations from a freed ex-Taliban war captive that Afghan guards at a US-run prison have been abusing inmates. The prisoner, former Taliban commandeer Mullah Fazal Mohammed, said torture, sexual abuse and stark conditions prevail at the jail, near the US airbase outside Khandahar. (see WW3 REPORT #44) (Hindustan Times, July 28) But US military spokesman Cmdr. Frank Merriman told WW3 REPORT Mohammed's allegations were unfounded. "There are less than 100 detainees under US control in Afghanistan," Merriman said. "All detainees are treated humanely at all times. There are very strict rules against abuses of any kind, and the detainees' physical condition is continuously monitored. Medical personnel are available to address any medical problems that may occur."
No major US newspapers covered allegations of complicity in war crimes against Taliban and al-Qaeda prisoners at Sheberghan prison in the north of Afghanistan at the end of last year. After the fall of Kunduz, 7,500 prisoners were held in crowded conditions in the prison. A British documentary, shown in Germany's Reichstag and at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, alleges that the US used torture on al-Qaeda suspects at Sheberghan. "I was a witness when an American soldier broke one prisoner's neck and poured acid on others," one Afghan told the film's interviewer. This was denied by Pentagon spokesman Marine Lt. Col. Dave Lapan. "Our service members don't participate in torture of any type," Lapan said. He added that US soldiers are "professional and trained in the laws of war and proper conduct."(UPI, June 14) (see WW3 REPORT #38) (David Bloom)
5. U.S. TROOP CHARGED WITH ASSAULTING AFGHAN DETAINEE
A US soldier has been charged with assault for striking an Afghan detainee with his rifle butt, according to a US military spokesman. A private first class (PFC) was seen hitting the detainee in the back of his head with the butt end of his M-4 carbine. The assailant is from 82 Airborne Division, based in Fort Bragg, NC. (See WW3 REPORT #44) ''Another soldier observed him doing this and reported it,'' said army spokesman Colonel Roger King at US base at Bagram. ''This is treated as a serious incident, in that assault can be a serious crime,'' King said. ''As far as I know it's the first charge of this nature in this theater.'' The soldier faces possible reduction in rank, loss of one month's pay, extra duties, and up to 45 days of restrictions. (AP, Aug. 4) (David Bloom)
6. U.S. PILOTS ROUTINELY SWALLOW SPEED, DOWNERS
US pilots often take stimulants for alertness while flying combat missions, according to a report in the Toronto Star. Pilots frequently take sedatives as well, to help them sleep in between missions, the paper says. The stimulant, Dexedrine, known generically as dextroamphetatmine, is given to pilots to combat fatigue. The sedatives they are given upon returning from their missions are Ambien (zolpidem) and Restoril (temazepam). Pilots refer to the Dexedrine "go pills," and the sedatives are known as "no-go pills." According to Betty-Anne Mauger, spokesperson for US Air Force Surgeon-General's Office in Washington: "When fatigue could be expected to degrade air crew performance, they are given Dexedrine in 10 mg doses." Mauger said pilots routinely take them if their missions last longer than eight hours or if they get less than twelve hour's rest in between missions.
US pilots have been responsible for ten fatal friendly-fire accidents in the Afghan war. In June, Illinois Air National Guard Maj. Harry Schmidt, known by his handle "Psycho," was found responsible for a judgment error that involved dropping a 500-lb. laser-guided bomb on four Canadian servicemen conducting a live-fire exercise in Afghanistan. It is unknown if Schmidt took Dexedrine during that mission, but his fighter group, which had recently bombed in Iraq before being sent to Afghanistan, complained to their commanding officers they were not getting enough time between missions. Schmidt and his colleagues was advised to obtain "no-go" and "go pills" from a Navy doctor. Schmidt, a graduate of the Navy's Top Gun school, who thought he was being fired upon, was told by controllers to "hold fire," but disregarded the order, announced he was "rolling in," and dropped the bomb. (see WW3 REPORT #39)
A study from the Top Gun school, "Performance Maintenance During Continuous Flight Operations," said that up to 60% of pilots took Dexedrine during the Gulf War, and 96% took it in combat situations. However, those were 5 mg. pills; those administered to pilots flying in Afghanistan are 10 mg. Dexedrine is considered a highly addicitive substance. In high doses it can cause hallucinations and psychosis. One Desert Storm squadron commander said of his pilots in the Top Gun study: "You must give them guidelines and then let them self-regulate. If you can't trust them with the medication then you can't trust them with a 50 million dollar airplane to try and go kill someone."
Air Force pilots are required to sign a form called "Informed Consent For Operational Use of Dexedrine." The form begins: "It has been explained to me and I understand that the US Food and Drug Administration has not approved the use of Dexedrine to manage fatigue...[and] I further understand that the decision to take this medication is mine alone." But sources in the Air Force indicate that pilots really haven't got a choice in taking the drug. The form says: "should I choose not to take it under circumstances where its use appears indicated...my commander, upon advice of the flight surgeon, may determine whether or not I should be considered unfit to fly a given mission." (Toronto Star, Aug. 2) (David Bloom)
7. FRUSTRATED RUMSFELD TO DEPLOY MORE ELITE UNITS
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, frustrated by the slow pace of operations against Taliban/al-Qaeda, plans to employ more elite special forces units for more aggressive missions in Afghanistan. US Navy SEALS, Delta Force, and CIA paramilitaries from the agency's Special Activities Division are likely candidates for these missions. The Pentagon says only twelve al-Qaeda leaders have been captured or killed since last October. A source familiar with a closed meeting between the Senate armed services committee and Rumsfeld said, "Rumsfeld's point was that the whole planning process has been too rigid and stale." (UK Guardian, Aug. 3) (David Bloom)
8. SUICIDE BOMBING ATTACK IN KABUL REPORTED FOILED
A car laden with enough explosives to cause a blast "beyond comprehension" was 300 yards from the US embassy in Kabul when it was involved in an accident, tried to flee the scene and was chased down by Afghan police. The police had followed the car for a while on a tip from ISAF peacekeepers and foreign intelligence services. The car was finally stopped at a checkpoint, where the driver, reportedly an al-Qaeda operative of foreign origin, and one Afghan accomplice were arrested. A second Afghan jumped out of the car during the chase. Afghan intelligence officers say the car was full of a half-ton of C-4 plastic explosives, wired to a button on the gearshift for detonation. Interrogation of the suspects revealed the plotters' first choice was Afghan leader Hamid Karzai, with ISAF troops a secondary target. "He says he wanted to go to heaven by killing himself and also killing infidels and supporters of infidels in Afghanistan,'' said Afghan intelligence official Amrullah Saleh. The accident occurred with a short distance of the US embassy, the office of the International Security Assistance Force, and the office of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.. (AP, July 31; July 31) (David Bloom)
9. OVER FIFTY DEAD IN ETHNIC CLASH
At least 50 soldiers and civilians were killed in a battle between ethnic Tajiks and Pashtuns in western Afghanistan, the Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reported Aug. 2. Tajik-dominated forces of Herat governor Ismail Khan and forces loyal to Pashtun warlord Mohammad Kareem Khan fought near Ghurian, 65 km west of Herat city. A spokesman for Kareem Khan said the Tajik forces attacked Pashtun positions, backed by tanks. He also accused Ismail Khan's troops of setting fire to Pashtun houses, burning many of their occupants alive. A spokesman for Ismail Khan called the attack a police action against "drug smugglers." Kareem Khan's spokesman demanded that Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the UN send a delegation to monitor the situation. (CNN, Aug. 2) (David Bloom)
10. ZADRAN'S THUGS IN ANTI-KARZAI PROTEST
Thousands of supporters of renegade Afghan warlord Bacha Khan Zadran have been staging a protest since July 30 in Khost. The demonstrators are demanding the government apprehend the assassins of Vice-President Abdul Qadir, who was also the governor of Nangarhar province. The protesters are also demanding that any governors in southern Afghanistan be appointed only with Zadran's approval. Zadran and his fighters attacked Gardez, capital of Paktia province, in a bid to install him as governor in January. (BBC, Aug. 2) According to the New York Times, Zadran is also responsible for the deaths of dozens of Afghans at the hands of US air-strikes he called in to eradicate his enemies. (NY Times, July 21) Zadran's gunmen are manning checkpoints on the roads and extorting money from travelers. Hamid Karzai's government warned Aug 5 that it would take action against Zadran unless he submitted to central authority. Zadran said Aug. 4: "If he [Karzai] wants to attack, I'm ready to defend." (AP, Aug. 5) Former king Zahir Shah criticized Zadran, who is a royalist. "No one who disturbs the peace of the nation will have his support," he said. (ABC.net.au. Aug. 5) (David Bloom)
1. ASTEROID NOT TO DESTROY EARTH; NUKE HAWKS DISAPPOINTED
After a flurry of media sensationalism about an asteroid on track to hit Earth in 2019, experts were forced to concede that the errant space-rock, known as 2002 NT7, will pass by harmlessly, and may not pose another threat to the planet until 2060. "While we cannot yet completely rule out an impact possibility on Feb. 1, 2060, it seems very likely that this possibility will be soon ruled out as well, as additional positional observations are processed," said a statement from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. (Bloomberg News Services, July 30) Several media commentators invoked US contingency plans for an Earth-threatening asteroid to be blown off course by a nuclear weapon. (BBC, July 24) This was a favorite scenario of nuclear hawks who were desperately afraid that their mega-destructive toys had become obsolete in the aftermath of the Cold War. The option of developing a special nuclear missile force to blast errant asteroids out of the heavens was put forth at a high-level closed-doors meeting at Los Alamos National Laboratory in January 1992 overseen by the legendary father of the H-bomb, Edward Teller. The meeting was held on Teller's 84th birthday. According to one account, as calls for more and bigger bombs continued, Lowell Wood, Teller's protege at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, could not contain his excitement, and shouted from the back of the auditorium, "Nukes forever!" (The Oregonian, March 29, 1992)
2. ERRANT ASTEROID COULD SPARK NUKE WAR
Experts also warned that a small asteroid could accidentally trigger a nuclear war if mistaken for a missile strike. Last month, an Israeli pilot flying an airliner over Ukraine reported seeing a blue flash in the sky similar to the type caused by a surface-to-air missile. But Ukrainian authorities said no missile had been fired, and it is believed the pilot saw an explosion from an asteroid entering the Earth's atmosphere at high speed. In mid-July experts met in Washington DC to discuss what might have happened had such an explosion occurred over a volatile area such as the India-Pakistan region.
"Neither of those nations has the sophisticated sensors we do that can determine the difference between a natural NEO [near-Earth object] impact and a nuclear detonation," Air Force Brigadier General Simon Worden from the US Space Command told the Aerospace Daily newspaper. "The resulting panic in the nuclear-armed and hair-trigger militaries there could have been the spark for a nuclear war."
The incident over Ukraine was also politically sensitive. Last year, 78 people were killed when a Russian airliner flying from Israel was hit over Ukraine by a stray missile apparently fired in a military exercise.
While the US has its own sophisticated military satellites which can detect missile launches and asteroid explosions, Gen. Worden called for a new warning center which would gather information on asteroid explosions and make it available to all governments. A study exploring at the possibility is now reportedly underway at the Pentagon. (BBC, July 15)
3. FEMA PREPARING FOR MASS EVACUATION OF CITIES
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is in a crash effort to prepare for multiple mass destruction attacks on US cities--including plans for sprawling temporary cities to handle millions of displaced persons. The agency has notified contractors and consultants to be prepared to handle the logistics of aiding millions of displaced urbanites evacuated from cities under attack. FEMA has reportedly established a deadline of January 2003 for having the cities ready to go, and placed massive orders for tents and trailers to house evacuees. (Newsmax.com, July 15)
4. U.S. SPOOKED BY RUSSIA-IRAN NUCLEAR COOPERATION
Despite opposition from the US, Russia is seeking to increase nuclear cooperation with Iran, releasing plans to build a new power plant in the western part of the country. A draft of a 10-year cooperation program with Iran, recently approved by the Russian government, called for Moscow to help build a nuclear plant in Ahvaz in addition to completing a station under construction in Bushehr. The Russians also intend to build a second nuclear plant in Bushehr, a southern Iranian city about 240 miles southeast of Ahvaz. The plan calls for the Russians to supply six nuclear reactors--four in Bushehr and two in Ahvaz. The draft also spells out cooperation in the fields of energy, industry, science, technology and trade--including plans for Caspian Sea exploration, a gas pipeline from Iran to India and an aviation joint venture making Russian-model passenger jets. (LAT, July 27)
Defense analysts say the Pentagon is considering "pre-emptive" strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities. "There is some support for pre-emption within the administration," said Anthony Cordesman, a Middle East expert. (Sydney Morning Herald, July 29)
5. MISSILE DEFENSE AGENCY FREED FROM PUBLIC OVERSIGHT
Critics of the multibillion-dollar missile defense program say the Bush administration's plan to reorganize the effort will undercut public oversight. "Now we have no way of knowing whether the program measures up or not," said Rep. John Tierney (D-MA). "The possibility for the taxpayers to be cheated is pretty serious," said Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). "What the Defense Department is trying to do is eliminate Congress' oversight role." Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, head of the Pentagon's http://www.acq.osd.mil/bmdo/bmdolink/html/bmdolink.html Missile Defense Agency, responded that the project must be freed from rigid guidelines. "I'm not asking for a blank check," he said at a House Government Reform subcommittee hearing. The reorganization folds several missile defense or "Star Wars" programs into the Missile Defense Agency and frees the agency from previous requirements to provide budget projections, performance objectives and development deadlines. (AP, July 16)
6. U.S. NAVY: FUCK THE WHALES
The Bush administration has given the Navy permission to "harass" and potentially injure whales in testing a powerful new sonar to track down stealth submarines. The Navy asserts no whales will be killed by the intense underwater noise, but scientists and environmentalists worry that marine mammals--especially those that slip into the safety zone around the sonar equipment--could suffer life-threatening injuries. Navy officials say the sonar system is needed to protect US warships and aircraft carriers from a new breed of diesel submarines. Advances in stealth technology by German, French, Swedish and Russian manufacturers have led to submarines that can barely be heard, officials say. In granting the go-ahead, the National Marine Fisheries Service agreed to exempt the low-frequency sonar system from the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The decision came after years of internal debate--and a study that blamed another Navy sonar system for inner-ear bleeding and disorientation that drove 16 whales to beach themselves in the Bahamas. The decision does call for limited measures to protect whales, such as keeping the sonar away from known whale feeding and breeding areas around Antarctica, Hawaii and Costa Rica.
The Navy issued a statement that it was "pleased" with the ruling. "The technological advantage that we had in the Cold War has diminished," said Jim Kadane, program director for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego. He said that developing countries, unable to afford aircraft carriers and fighter planes, are buying submarines capable of sinking US ships. "The submarine, more and more, is the weapon of choice" for the Third World, Kadane said. The sonar system, called the Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System, consists of 18 speakers pulled behind a Navy ship on cables hundreds feet long. The speakers emit low-frequency waves up to 230 decibels--the rough equivalent of a jumbo jet at takeoff. The Navy reportedly has one ship equipped with the low-frequency array, and plans to resume exercises this fall in the Pacific "thousands of miles from California," said Joe Johnson, program manager for the Navy's environmental review. (LAT, July 16)
It is uncertain whether the Surveillance Towed Array Sensor System was being used last week when dozens of pilot whales died after getting beached in Cape Cod, MA. (Boston Globe, Aug. 3)
THE WAR AT HOME
1. MOUSSAOUI FLIPS--AGAIN
Days after declaring before US District Judge Leonie Brinkema that he was guilty of conspiring with the Sept. 11 hijackers (see WW3 REPORT #43), Zacarias Moussaoui abruptly withdrew his guilty plea July 25--just minutes after re-affirming it. Brinkema questioned Moussaoui about his guilty plea, explicitly asking if he had conspired to kill US citizens. Moussaoui responded, "Yes, I provided a guest house, but I do not know about Sept. 11." Brinkema replied: "It doesn't work that way... You're not fully prepared to admit to the essense of the conspiracy." Moussaoui asked for a ten-minute recess. When he returned he told Brinkema: "I want to plead guilty, and you want to tie me to certain facts that will guarantee death. And Islam forbids it... Dictated by my obligation to my creator, Allah, to preserve my life...I have to withdraw my guilty plea." Newsday's front-page headline read: PLEA CIRCUS. (Newsday, July 26)
The case looks increasingly farcical. As the New York Times put it: "...Mr. Moussaoui's erratic recent performances in court proceedings have upset the Justice Department's effort to bring him to trial in an orderly legal process. Instead, Mr. Moussaoui has managed to raise even more doubts, not only about his emotional and mental competence to stand trial and act as his own lawyer, but also about whether someone with his apparent instabilities could provide a credible account of his own activities."
But government sloppiness may prove as much an obstacle to conviction as Moussaoui's own semi-coherent state. The government has yet to produce a witness against Moussaoui. All they have been able to prove is that he received a wire transfer from Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a Yemeni who, according to the indictment, acted as a financial conduit in the 9-11 plot. The Times admits it "remains little more than a suspicion" that Moussaoui was intended as the "fifth hijacker" on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania with four hijackers on board. The other planes in the 9-11 attacks were all comandeered by five hijackers. (NYT, July 20)
2. NON-CITIZENS MUST REPORT ADDRESS CHANGES
The Justice Department announced July 22 that it will require all non-citizens to report changes of address to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) within 10 days of moving or risk financial penalties, jail and deportation. The plan is based on a previously un-enforced 50-year-old law, and would apply to foreign nationals 15 and older who are living in the US, legally or illegally. The Justice Department said the current lack of compliance with the law requiring updated address information "impairs the INS' ability" to conduct deportation proceedings. "The government is carefully reading the fine print, and the fine print gives them more enforcement power, more pretext to take people into custody and deport them," said David Leopold, an immigration lawyer in Cleveland. (NYT, July 23)
3. JUDGE ORDERS U.S. TO RELEASE NAMES OF POST-9-11 DETAINEES
Judge Gladys Kessler of Federal District Court in Washington DC ruled Aug. 2 that the government has no right to conceal the identities of hundreds of people arrested after the 9-11 attacks, and ordered most of their names to be released within 15 days. Kessler wrote that: "Unquestionably, the public's interest in learning the identity of those arrested and detained is essential to verifying whether the government is operating within the bounds of law." Assistant Attorney General Robert McCallum countered that the ruling "impedes one of the most important law enforcement investigations in history, harms our efforts to bring to justice those responsible for the heinous attacks of Sept. 11, and increases the risk of future terrorist threats to our nation." Kessler's opinion noted that the government said Nov. 5 that it had detained 1,182 in connection with the 9-11 investigation. But she suggested the numbers were confusing and that the Justice Department had never given a full accounting of all detainees. "As of this moment, the public does not know how many persons the government has arrested and detained as part of its Sept. 11 investigation," Kessler protested. As of June 13, the government said only 74 of 751 held on immigration violations remained in custody. Kessler's order most directly affects these 751--including those who have been deported. 129 are also being held on federal criminal charges, and their names have been released. (NYT, Aug. 3)
4. CIVIL RIGHTS COMMISSIONER WARNS OF MASS INTERNMENTS
A member of the US Civil Rights Commission told a hearing in Detroit July 19 he could foresee a scenario in which the public would demand internment camps for Arab Americans. Commission member Peter Kirsanow said that if there's a new terrorist attack in the US "and they come from the same ethnic group that attacked the World Trade Center, you can forget about civil rights... The public would be less concerned about any perceived erosion of civil liberties than they are about protecting their own lives."
"Not too many people will be crying in their beer if there are more detentions, more stops, more profiling," Kirsanow said. "There will be a groundswell of public opinion to banish civil rights. So the best thing we can do to preserve them is by keeping the country safe."
Kirsanow, who was appointed to the commission last year by President George Bush, said after the session that he personally doesn't support internment camps. The seven-member commission was at Detroit's Omni Hotel to hear testimony from Arab American leaders who said the government abused civil rights following 9-11.
"It's becoming really ugly," said Imad Hamad, regional director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, during his testimony. Hamad and others expressed concern about mass interviews of Arab men, secret immigration hearings and profiling of drivers and airplane passengers. Kirsanow argued that Arab and Muslim Americans should accept the country's new antiterrorism laws and complain less about infringements to their civil rights. He made his coments about detainment camps after Lansing attorney Roland Hwang recalled how Japanese-Americans were interned during World War II and said the country needs to prevent that from happening again. (Detroit Free Press, July 20)
5. "RETURN TO KOREMATSU"?
US Civil Rights Commissioner Peter Kirsanow said at the controversial July 19 meeting that in the event of another terrorist attack on US soil, "I think we will have a return to Korematsu." The name refers to Fred Korematsu, one of three Japanese-American men who stood up to government orders and refused to enter internment camps in the 1940s. Korematsu challenged the US in a lawsuit that went straight to the Supreme Court--which upheld the government's decision to detain 120,000 Japanese Americans. But San Francisco lawyer Dale Minami is incensed that Kirsanow failed to recognize what he calls "Korematsu II." "Korematsu should not be cited as a precedent to justify minority groups being taken away en masse," Minami told San Francisco Chronicle columnist Emil Guillermo. "The second case, 40 years later, discredited the Supreme Court's decision and showed that it was a decision based on misinformation, fraud and the deliberate suppression, alteration and destruction of evidence." Minami was one of the attorneys in the second case, which successfully overturned the first Korematsu ruling in 1983. His team found a wartime report from the Office of Naval Intelligence concluding that Japanese Americans were a loyal population that posed no threat to the nation. The government deliberately suppressed that report and kept it from the
judiciary. Another report came from the FCC, which debunked a theory by Lt. Gen. John L. De Witt, head of US Army forces in the western US, that Tokyo was signaling sabotage instructions to Japanese Americans on the West Coast. The FCC report never made it to the high court either. With the new evidence, a federal District Court in Northern California found that the US government intentionally misled the Supreme Court and that there was no evidence of "military necessity" to imprison Japanese Americans. The conviction of Gordon Hirabayashi, who was charged with resisting interment in 1943, was overturned as well.
Kirsanow's reference to the Korematsu case without mentioning the second case so incensed the Korematsu II legal team that they sent a letter of protest to President Bush. "Mr. Kirsanow's inflammatory rhetoric, from a position of authority, is the type of agitation which caused the immense civil rights deprivations Japanese Americans suffered during World War II and now threatens to victimize Arab Americans," reads the letter. "As a member of the US Civil Rights Commission, Mr. Kirsanow should be an advocate for our civil rights. But his hostility to the protection of the civil rights of Arab Americans disqualifies him from membership on the Commission."
6. CIA MAN CALLS FOR SWAT RAIDS ON JOURNALISTS
"We've got to do whatever it takes--if it takes sending SWAT teams into journalists' homes - to stop these leaks," admonished James B. Bruce, vice chairman of the CIA's Foreign Denial and Deception Committee, in response to leaks of classified information to the press. Bruce, who has also served the CIA as deputy national intelligence officer for science and technology in the National Intelligence Council, told an audience at Washington's Institute of World Politics: "I hope we get a test case, soon, that will pit the government's need to prosecute those who leak its classified documents against the guarantees of free speech. I'm betting the government will win." Bruce had this advice for journalists who are leaked information about FBI terrorist investigations or Pentagon war plans: "What the media person should do is return the classified materials to the source with the proviso: 'I have no right to this material.'" (NewsMax.com, July 27)
7. MIDDLESEX DETAINEES FACE ABUSE, HARASSMENT
Over 100 protestors rallied behind the banners of the Stop the Disappearances Campaign at Middlesex County Jail in New Jersey July 13, demanding an end to inhuman conditions for post-9-11 INS detainees--including verbal and physical abuses, lack of adequate medical care, lack of halal food and proper prayer services for Muslims, terrible phone systems and interference with visits. In the weeks following the demonstration, organizations involved in the Stop the Disappearances Campaign--Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants (CHRI) and Prison Moratorium Project (PMP)--have reported a series of reprisals by jail officials against detainees.
On July 15, FBI and INS officials interrogated detainees who had spoken out against their imprisonment on minor immigration violations, as well as harsh conditions at the jail. In the following days, the INS transferred several detainees to jails at unknown locations without providing notice to their lawyers or families.
On July 16, representatives of Stop the Disappearances spoke with a detainee at Middlesex over the phone, who they have identified as "Ahmed". Ahmed, who is housed in "H-Pat", the unit of the jail where INS detainees are held, said that the temperature there was being kept below freezing. "I am shivering as I talk to you on the phone," stated Ahmed. He also testified that at 5 AM that morning, the jail officials ordered detainees to leave the unit and searched through each detainees' belongings.
July 18, the Stop the Disappearances campaign sent a letter to Warden Michael T. Abode of Middlesex County Jail and Andrea Quarantillo, INS director for New Jersey, demanding a halt to all retaliatory actions against detainees, and that a team of human rights observers and advocates be allowed into the jail to monitor conditions. The letter, which demanded a response by July 24, is yet to receive a reply.
Marc Krupanski of the Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants (CHRI) told WW3 REPORT: "The concentration of abuse, harassment, and backlash appears to have been directed towards Muslim detainees.... Nonetheless, all INS detainees that we have spoken with had their belongings searched, were all subject to increased harassment, and all had to face the reported 26 degree temperature levels."
Krupanski said Muslims detainees were often called "terrorists" and other epithets by the guards, and were even served pork, which is strictly forbidden in Islam. Since they were served nothing else, "the option [they were left with was,] 'Eat pork or don't eat at all.' At times, pork was mixed into foods without any notification [to the detainees.] The food has been described as being 'worse than dog food.'"
While locations of transferred detainees remain unknown, Krupanski conjectured that they were being moved to southern parts of New Jersey. "It is clearly an attempt to further isolate and intimidate detained immigrants. It helps to further impose a culture of fear and powerlessness thereby isolating detainees from their loved ones outside. Also it isolates those who have been moved from the people they built relationships within the jails. Many times people build relationships of trust when they are put into a vulnerable position like imprisonment-especially at times when people can relate with only certain people via language. The move then breaks this." (Subuhi Jiwani)
SUPPORT WORLD WAR 3 REPORT!!!
EXIT POLL: Saddam Hussein: Buffoonish war criminal, or savior of the Arab nation?
EXTRA CREDIT: The Hiroshima bombing: moral necessity to save American lives, or indefensible act of genocide?
TOP OF THE CLASS: Who is the greater war criminal, Harry Truman or Saddam Hussein?
SPECIAL WARLORD QUESTION: Who is the worst warlord?
1. Muhammed Qasim Fahim
2. Bacha Khan Zadran
3. Gen. Abdul Malik Dostum
4. Gulbuddin Hekmatyar
5. George Bush
ONGEPATSHKET OF THE WEEK: Did Mrs. Rantissi go ongepatshket?
ongepatshket: ...disordered, scribbled, sloppy, littered, confusing, muddled; overly-done... (A Dictionary of Yiddish Slang & Idioms by Fred Koggs, Citadel Press 1966)
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