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ISSUE: #. 64. Dec. 16, 2002








Hail and farewell:

"Nuclear weapons are the scourge of the earth; to mine for them, manufacture them, deploy them, use them, is a curse against God, the human family, and the earth itself."

Philip Berrigan, 1923-2002

"For most of the Cold War, atomic bombs were commonly considered as weapons. People like myself were little understood in our arguments that such bombs were literally unspeakable; that, epistemically, they are not within the realm of speech because they are not weapons, but acts of self-annihilation. It is no longer tolerable to the common sense to think of nuclear bombs as weapons, or of pollution as the price of development. The disintegrating ozone layer and warming atmosphere are making it intolerable to think of more development and industrial growth as progress, but rather as aggression against the human condition. It is now imaginable to the common mind that, as Samuel Beckett once said, 'this earth could be uninhabited.'"

Ivan Illich, 1926-2002

By Bill Weinberg
with David Bloom, Special Correspondent

1. Gaza: More Demolitions, "Indiscriminate" Fire
2. West Bank: Camp Raids, Curfew Claim More Lives
3. Israeli Troops in for Long Stay, Training for Urban Warfare
4. Israel Using Phosphorus as a Weapon?
5. Bush: Israel Needs Special US Aid
6. IMF: Israel Doesn't Need Special US Aid
7. Pro-"Transfer" Professor Joins Far-Right Party
8. Far-Right Lieberman Blasted by Ultra-Right Herut
9. Meretz: Ditch the Chief Rabbinate
10. Ben Eliezer Rushed out of Arab Village
11. ICC Will Not Consider Israeli War Crimes Charges
12. Palestinian Film Denied Oscars Consideration
13. Queer Settlers Colonize Starbucks

1. Bush: We'll Nuke You
2. US Covering Up Complicity in Saddam Chemical Warfare?
3. Does Iraq Arms Dossier Name US Firms?
4. CIA "Buying" Iraqi Tribal Militias?

1. Anti-War Protest Suppressed in Tunisia

1. Venezuela Back to the Brink
2. Texaco Back in Ecuador; Indians Take Protest to California
3. IDB Approves Loan for Enron's Bolivia Pipeline

1. FARC Plot to Kidnap Giuliani in Mexico City?
2. Chiapas Teachers Protest Repression
3. "Ecotourism" Militarizes Chiapas Rainforest?
4. Government Peace Pointman: Marcos "Left Behind"
5. ERPI Rebels Pledge to Revive Guerilla Movement
6. Guerillas in Nayarit?
7. Convictions in Banamex Bomber Case
8. Mexico to Ask US to Declassify "Dirty War" Documents
9. Army Cover-Up in "Dirty War" Mass Murder Case
10. EPR Rebels Demand "Genocide" Charges Against Generals
11. Farmers Protest NAFTA
12. Victory in Oaxaca Anti-McDonalds Struggle
13. Cuernavaca Tree Defenders Face Charges

1. Chretien Waffles on "Star Wars" Participation...
2. ...As Military Integration Advances
3. Al-Qaeda to Open Canadian Front?
4. Jew-Hatred in Saskatchewan

1. Gen. Eberhart Warns of "McCarthyism"
2. Drones to Patrol Eastern Seaboard
3. Photographer Arrested for Taking Pictures of VP's Hotel
4. INS Expands "Registration"--Again
5. Judge Stays Somali Deportations

1. Bush Gives CIA License to Kill
2. Carlyle Gets Piece of QinetiQ
3. Cheney Wins a Round

1. Kissinger Out


On. Dec. 9, Israeli troops opened fire on a United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) bus in the southern Gaza Strip. The bus was carrying Palestinian students studying at the one of the UNRWA polytechnic institutions. One of the students was shot and wounded as gunfire emanated from an Israeli checkpoint by the settlement of Gush Katif. (Xinhua, Dec. 10)

An statement from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said the army killed a Hamas militant on Dec. 10 in southern Gaza. "Yassin al-Aghah , a wanted Hamas militant, was killed by shots fired by soldiers and a special unit of border guards operating near Khan Yunis after he resisted arrest" the statement said. It also claimed that al-Agha had climbed on his home's rooftop and "started throwing bricks and stones at soldiers... the soldiers fired warning shots... the wanted terrorist started to flee and then was hit by the army." The statement said the man "was given first aid on the spot but died of his wounds... A bag was found next to him containing several explosive devices including pipe bombs, an AK47 and several magazines of ammunition." Palestinian security sources and al-Aghah's family said he was killed after being arrested by the IDF. (AFP, Dec. 10) The Israeli military says a missile was fired by Palestinian militants at a greenhouse in Morag later that night. (EFE, Dec. 10)

The Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claimed on their website Dec. 12 to have mounted a "daring and quality" attack on the settlement of Netzer Hazani in the Gush Katif settlement bloc in the Gaza Strip. "In the course of a bloody clash with the occupation troops that lasted more than 15 minutes and in which many enemy personnel were killed or wounded, as attested to by the surviving group members who returned safely to base, the heroic comrade Nail Muhammad Zuhayr Abu-Libdah was martyred," the statement says. (BBC Monitoring: PFLP web site, Dec. 12) Voice of Palestine radio reported Dec. 12 that an Israeli soldier was wounded near Morag settlement in Rafah "when an explosive charge went off in a military vehicle." (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Palestine, Dec. 12)

On Dec. 13, three Islamic Jihad militants were wounded by the premature explosion of a bomb under construction, according to Palestinian security sources. (Ha'aretz, Dec. 15; AFP, Dec. 13)

Five members of the al-Astal clan of Khan Younis were shot and killed as they approached the fence dividing Gaza and Israel on Dec. 13. The men were desperate for work, and having tried to find it Gaza, decided to risk crossing illegally into Israel. The men were unarmed. This brings to 19 the number of members of the extended al-Astal family, including five children, that have been killed in the current Intifada. (AFP, Dec. 13) About 70% of Gazans are unemployed and live on less than $2 a day. (AP, Dec. 13) Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Jonathan Peled called the killings a "tragic event," but said "they were five suspicious persons in a prohibited area". (Reuters, Dec. 13)

On Dec. 15, IDF bulldozers demolished two houses, home to 16 Palestinians, near the Jewish settlement of Netzarim in the Gaza Strip ( Ha'aretz, Dec. 15) Two Palestinian sisters, 12 and 13, were seriously wounded by Israeli army gunfire during a Dec. 15 incursion into the southern Gaza town of Rafah on a mission to destroy seven houses near the settlement bloc of Morag. Officials said the residents had been warned their houses were to be destroyed. (AFP, Dec. 15) The official Palestinian news agency Wafa contradicted that account: "Eyewitnesses and residents of the area said that convoys of tanks and military vehicles, accompanied by a number of bulldozers, set out from the settlement of Morag and advanced some 200 m. into the area and started demolishing houses and razing farms without prior notice. The eyewitnesses noted that the occupation forces have so far destroyed five houses and three greenhouses and razed hundreds of donums planted with vegetables and olive trees. The houses and lands that were razed belong to Abd-al-Al family. During their incursion, the occupation forces opened fire indiscriminately on scores of citizens who tried to confront the Israeli occupation forces which started demolishing houses savagely and mercilessly." Wafa also reported five Palestinians were wounded in the incursion, and that the IDF shot at journalists who rushed to cover the scene. (BBC Monitoring:Wafa, Dec. 15) (David Bloom) [top]

One woman was killed and her husband and mother were injured when Israeli forces in Nablus opened fire on the car they were traveling in Dec. 10. They were driving on a dark road in defiance of a dust-to-dawn Israeli-imposed curfew. (BBC Monitoring: Voice of Palestine radio, Dec. 10; AP, Dec. 10) Israeli troops shot and killed a mentally disabled Palestinian at a military checkpoint near Tul Karm on Dec. 10. The army said soldiers opened fire when the man refused an order to stop and started running. (AP, Dec. 10)

Osama Basra, a member of the PFLP, was shot and killed by the IDF while fleeing arrest in Nablus' Balata refugee camp on Dec. 11. (EFE, Dec. 11) Three stone-throwing Palestinian youths were wounded by Israeli heavy machine-gun fire from an Israeli tank inside Nablus' Balata refugee camp on Dec. 11. (AFP, Dec. 11)

On Dec. 13, Israeli troops killed Tareq Abed Rabbo, a local Hamas military leader in the Nur ash-Shams refugee camp in Tul Karm. "An undercover unit of the Border Police found him in a closet and he was killed after he refused to surrender," Ha'aretz wrote. (Ha'aretz, Dec. 15) Another four Palestinians were wounded as fierce clashes broke out in response to the Israeli raid on the camp, which deployed a dozen armored vehicles and four helicopter gunships. (AFP, Dec. 13)

Also on Dec. 13: Two Hamas members were shot and killed in separate firefights near Tul Karm and Bethlehem Dec. 13. (Ha'aretz, Dec. 15) Israeli troops clashed with Palestinian students at Al-Najah University protesting its closure. Three students were injured in the clashes. (Ha'aretz, Dec. 15) Senior Hamas activist Abed al-Yusef Abu-Moussa was shot and killed in a village south of Bethlehem. The IDF said he died in a gunbattle while fleeing arrest. (Ha'aretz, Dec. 15) Israeli troops said they shot and killed an armed Palestinian militant in the village of Thabra south of Bethlehem in attempt to evade capture. Palestinian witnesses say the IDF surrounded the house where Jadallah Shoka, 32, an Islamic Jihad member, was hiding and killed him in a barrage of gunfire before arresting three others inside. They say the Israeli troops were not fired on. (Reuters, Dec. 13)

Palestine radio reported Dec. 15 that 10 Palestinians were wounded by rubber-coated and metal bullets fired at them indiscriminately while Israeli forces were trying to impose curfew by force in Nablus. (Voice of Palestine radio, Dec. 15) Also that day, two Jewish settlers were wounded by gunfire from Palestinian snipers near the settlement of Shilo, north of Ramallah . (Ha'aretz, Dec. 15) (David Bloom) [top]

lengthy stay in West Bank cities and villages. The plan calls for units to remain in place long enough for reserves to replace them for usual training, indicating a stay of at least one year. Infantry units will be deployed in and around Palestinian towns, and artillery units and armored corps will patrol the Green Line separating the West Bank from Israel, where a security fence is being built. The infantry units will receive additional training in urban warfare, and units patrolling the Green Line will learn how to use sophisticated electronic surveillance equipment to detect infiltrators. (AP, Dec. 13)(David Bloom) [top]

A Reuters photo on the Ha'aretz web site on Dec. 15 carried the caption: "A Palestinian runs for cover as tanks fire phosphorous during clashes in Nablus on Sunday." The picture shows the Palestinian man running while a hail of white phosphorus scatters around him, burning bright white and leaving thick smoke . Phosphorus is used in tracer fire, which illuminates a battle scene. However, the photo was taken in daylight. The Israeli army has been blamed in the past for use of phosphorus as a weapon in Lebanon. Gideon Levy wrote in Ha'aretz on Jan. 9, 2000: "The laws of war also prohibit the use of phosphorus against civilians. But according to the report, at least two children and a number of adults have been killed or injured by phosphorus bombs sent by Israel." (Reuters, Dec. 15; Ha'aretz, Jan. 9, 2000) (David Bloom) [top]

President George Bush favors bestowing special US aid to Israel to help the country cope with its current economic problems. In a discussion with Jewish leaders last week, Bush did not go into details about Israel's recent assistance request, but those present at the conversation say there is little doubt he is committed to granting the aid. A delegation of senior Israeli officials is due to leave for Washington soon to discuss the request with US officials. Israel has requested $4 billion in a special defense grant, as well as US agreement to grant between $8 and $10 billion in loan guarantees. This special assistance is in addition to $2.16 billion in defense assistance and $480 million for economic/civilian spheres already granted to Israel in the annual US aid package. (Ha'aretz, Dec. 15) (David Bloom) [top]

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says in its annual report that Israel can survive its worst recession in fifty years without US aid. "It is clear that the US aid will help, particularly in containing the fiscal deficit and stabilizing the economy," IMF European Assistant Director Masahiko Takeda said. "But the Finance Ministry is ready to cope with the situation without counting on US aid." (BBC, Dec. 11) (David Bloom) [top]

A plastic surgeon and leading advocate of "transfer," Prof. Aryeh Eldad, has joined National Union, the newly combined far-right agglomeration of the Yisrael Beitanu, Moledet and Tekuma parties. The party, led by MKs Avigdor Lieberman and Benny Elon, is projected to win 12 seats in the next Knesset, doubling in size. The son of a Lehi (Stern Gang) pamphleteer who wrote "Deal with foreigners via population exchanges" as one of Lehi's 18 principles, Eldad says: "I learned from my father that's the solution on which to base a permanent resolution of the conflict in Eretz Yisrael. I have no ethical problem with it." Eldad also grew up next door to transfer evangelist Elon (See WW3 REPORT# 56)

Eldad, also a member of "Professors for a Strong Israel," says he has occasional compunctions about his support of transfer, but then "usually there's another terrorist bombing, and we're treating the Jewish and Arab victims, and I feel like the moral delegitimization of transfer has disappeared. I'm not hearing any more ethical arguments--at most, practical comments about its being impractical."

The first map Eldad ever saw of Israel was printed in the Lehi movement's organ, "Sulam," which showed a map of Israel extending to the Tirgris and Euphrates. Eldad regards that as "Eretz Yisrael," the land of Israel, and rightfully belonging to the Jewish people. As such, he regards setting aside Jordan as a Palestinian state to be a compromise: "The criticism is that we have no right to give up the land that was promised to us. I don't think we're compromising on the moral level, only in terms of realpolitik. There's a state in Jordan now of which 70 percent of the citizens are Palestinians. The only justification for the existence of the Hashemite king is a colonialist decision made 90 years ago. So when we say that Jordan is Palestine, it's not a concession, it's coming to terms with an existing political fact. In our opinion, this fact can be changed so that the Palestinians would rule there, and not the Hashemite Bedouin... A Palestinian state in Jordan would offer a political solution to the matter of Palestinian identity." As to what he intends to accomplish in the Knesset, Dr. Eldad replies, "preventive medicine"--echoing the sentiments of IDF Chief of staff Gen. Moshe Ya'alon, who said he would deal with the "Palestinian threat" as "like a cancer--there are all sorts of solutions to cancerous manifestations. For the time being, I am applying chemotherapy." (Ha'aretz, Dec. 17; Ha'aretz, Dec. 12; UK Independent, Oct. 21) (David Bloom) [top]

Herut, a far-right faction consisting only of MK Michael Kleiner, took out full-page newspaper ads in Israel recently blasting far-right National Union chief Avigdor Leibeman for having reconciled himself to the "existing reality of a Palestinian state." On his party's web site about a year ago, Lieberman wrote: "On the ideological plane I believe in the vision of Greater Israel, but on the practical level, I seek to stand with two feet on the ground of reality, and whether we wish it or not, the reality is that a Palestinian state is an existing reality, which it is impossible to ignore. It is recognized in the world as a state and has all the markings of sovereignty. Therefore, a diplomatic accord with the Palestinians, if achieved, will have to be based on that reality of a Palestinian state." The site also said: "It is possible that in historical hindsight we should cry over spilled milk, because the creation of a Palestinian state was not a historical necessity." (Ha'aretz, Dec. 10)

Kleiner has recently granted the number-two spot on Herut's list to Baruch Marzel, a former leader of the racist Kach movement of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, which was banned in 1988 from participating in the Knesset. Ha'aretz commentater Akiva Eldar noted recently, "Kahane symbolized something of a more violent nature, 'non-voluntary' transfer, and something that was racist to the Nth degree." Polls show Herut may not win any seats, which Eldar sees as dangerous: "It's preferable to let these people into the establishment. Then they tend to become somewhat more moderate, their views change, rather than staying underground. It is important, also, that this allows their true face to be made known to the public." Eldar concludes that Kahane's type of rabid anti-Arabism doesn't resonate with Israeli society today, despite the current conflict. "It exists, perhaps, in the form of a vague dream that the Arabs will somehow disappear, but people understand that this will not work, that this will not happen." Meanwhile, pro-Kahane activists, who have spray painted hundreds of highway signs with "Expel the Arab Enemy" and "No Arabs, No Terrorism," have lately been plastering Jerusalem city walls with "Kleiner, the People are Behind You." (Ha'aretz, Dec. 12) (David Bloom) [top]

The left-wing Meretz party has added new secularizing provisions to its platform. Under one provision, a person can be recognized as part of the Jewish people and be eligible for Israeli citizenship without having to undergo a religious ceremony. The platform also calls for abolishing the Chief Rabbinate, guaranteed abortion rights, and public transportation on the Sabbath and Jewish holidays. The platform also calls for allocating a "reasonable" number of several hundred draft exemptions a year for outstanding Torah scholars instead of the current system of wholesale exemptions. Those receiving exemptions would also be allowed to work, making them less dependent on the ultra-orthodox establishment. (Ha'aretz, Dec. 16)(David Bloom) [top]

Labor hawk MKs Benjamin Ben Eliezer and Sofa Landver had to be rushed out of Sha'ab village in the western Galilee during a Dec. 6 visit to mark the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr and the Labor party primaries, because security officials feared they would be attacked by demonstrators. The parliamentarians had come for a dinner but were greeted at the towns entrance by dozens of demonstrators, most of them not from Sha'ab. Police denied that the MKs' car tires had been punctured, saying rather they had blown out while they drove out of the village on a dirt road . (Ha'aretz, Dec. 8) (David Bloom) [top]

In response to a question from a WW3 REPORT source, the International Criminal Court in the Hague says that since Israel is not a party to the treaty creating the ICC, it has no jurisdiction over possible Israeli war crimes committed in the Palestinian territories. In response to the source's inquiry, Claudia Perdomo, press officer for the court, replied: "[P]lease know that in accordance with Article 12 of the Statute, the ICC only has jurisdiction if a crime is committed in the territory of a State Party or if the person/s accused are nationals of a State Party. Since both Israel and US are not parties to the ICC Statute, the Court can not investigate alleged crimes by Israel or US unless they sign a declaration accepting the jurisdiction of the Court or the Security Council refers the matter to the Court under Chapter VII of the Charter of the UN." (David Bloom) [top]

Despite favorable reviews at several film festivals this year, the Palestinian film "Divine Intervention" will not be considered among the 54 candidates for next year's Best Foreign Language Film category by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The reason the academy cited is the film does not originate from a country that is formally recognized by the UN. Despite this rule, the Academy has in the past considered movies from Puerto Rico, Taiwan and Hong Kong. "Obviously we are disappointed," said Feda Abdelhadi Nasser of the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the UN. "What it comes down to is that the Palestinian people, in addition to the denial of other rights...are now being denied the ability to compete in a competition that judges artistic and cultural expression."

Hussein Ibish of the Anti-Arab Discrimination Commitee in Washington thinks the Academy should review its entry rules. "I think it is unfortunate that such an acclaimed film is not being allowed to compete," he said. "This is a surprising move on the part of the Academy, given that events in Israel and Palestine are so sensitive. A nomination for Divine Intervention would have sent out a message of good intent." Divine Intervention, directed by Elia Suleiman, is a comedy that tells the story of a love affair between two people on opposite sides of an Israeli military checkpoint.

NYC Editors Guild Local 700 member Brian Kates wrote the following letter of protest to the Academy:

"I am writing because I am saddened that the Academy has refused submission of Elia Solaiman's 'Divine Intervention' to represent Palestine for the foreign-language film category of the Oscars. I am curious to know by what criteria the Academy recognizes a 'nation,' for although there is not a Palestinian state, Palestinian 'nationhood'--spiritually, culturally, historically--is undeniable except in the most closed-minded and reactionary of circles. Hollywood's denial of this internationally acclaimed film will set a precedent that that films made by Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza have little chance of finding they American audience they deserve. Hollywood has often defined itself in terms of its liberal values, fostered in no small part by its founding history by first-generation American Jews seeking better lives than the ones they endured in Europe in the early part of the century. Throughout Hollywood's history, people in the film history have championed causes that some have considered unpopular, and have justified their actions in the spirit of this particular legacy. It is in the same spirit that I hope the Academy will reconsider its decision to refuse 'Divine Intervention.' As an American Jew, a Guild member, and a film industry professional I would like the Academy to envision a Hollywood which holds to a vision of ethical integrity rather than taking the easy way out. A recognition of the Palestinian film industry through the film 'Divine Intervention' would be one step."

You may write/contact the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at:

Academy Foundation
8949 Wilshire Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Phone: 310-247-3000
Fax: 310-859-9351

Divine Intervention will be screened Tues. Dec.17 at 6:30pm at The New School's Tishman Auditorium, 66 West 12th St. in NYC

Divine Intervention by Elia Suleiman, France/Palestine, 2002, 35mm, 92 min. Arabic with English subtitles, FREE to the public

Subway: A,C,E to West 4th Street 1,2,3,9,L to 14th Street-6th Avenue 4,5,6,N,R to 14th Street-Union Square

See location A (David Bloom) [top]

Activists from Queer Resistance for Palestine (QRFP) made a brief incursion into an upper west side Starbucks in Manhattan on Dec. 12. According to settler Emmaia Gelman of Jews Against the Occupation (JATO), fifteen queer activists took over the coffee shop during lunchtime rush, claiming it as settled land. Hanging flags and banners announcing the takeover, the settlers ejected patrons from their chairs, informing them, "This is our coffee shop now." Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz recently answered the call to help boost an Israeli economy drained by military expenditure by pledging to open 20 new stores in Israel. "Since the CEO of this company clearly believes it's okay for one group of people to grab another people's land and claim a right to it, we're pretty sure he won't mind if we just settle down right here in his store," said the settlers.

The queer colonists called for the immediate dismantling of settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, and for an end to the occupation of Palestine by the Israeli army. They asserted the right of Palestinians to resist injustices committed against them by the Israeli government and military. Human rights and democracy groups worldwide have called for a boycott of Starbucks and have occupied Starbucks shops from California to London to Beirut. (QRFP press release, Dec. 12)

More on Shultz's views

On Aug. 17, "settlers" from Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT!) occupied a Starbucks in Berkeley, CA, proclaiming it "a city without people for people without a city." They put up a banner that read, "Queerkeley--A Prophecy Fulfilled." The "settlers" erected plastic palm trees in order to "make the concrete bloom," and passed out the following tract, entitled "Land of Fruits and Nuts":

"And the Lord saw that the queer people were harried in this land. And the Lord spake onto the prophet Harvey, 'You will lead your people across the wide waters unto a new land.' Harvey was fearful, and he cried to the Lord, 'How will we cross the wide waters? For they are cold, and they are filled with all manner of hazardous substances and raw sewage and other pollutants.' And the Lord responded, 'Fear not, Harvey, for a great bridge will be built, and the people will cross into this land. And this land will be called Berkeley. I say, Lo, I have promised the land of Berkeley to the lesbians and to the gays, and to the bisexuals, and to the transgenders and to the intersexed, and to all of the gender variant peoples. And this land shall be blessed with fruits and nuts, unto 50 generations.'" -Book of Reclamations and Realty, 4.0

(SF Indymedia, Aug. 18 ) (David Bloom) [top]


In a six-page White House strategy document released Dec. 10, President Bush warned that the US "reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force" to any use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) against the US forces or allies. The paper makes clear the US maintains the right to respond in kind to a WMD attack--including with nuclear weapons. "In addition to our conventional and nuclear response and defense capabilities, our overall deterrent posture against WMD threats is reinforced by effective intelligence, surveillance, interdiction and domestic law enforcement capabilities." The document, "National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction" is clearly tied to possible military action against Iraq, and recalls a warning from Bush's dad to Saddam in January 1991, on the eve of the Operation Desert Storm--when a White House letter said Iraq would pay a "terrible price" if it used chemical or biological weapons. The New York Post splashed the new warning on its front page Dec. 11, under the banner: "U.S. WARNS IRAQ: WE'LL NUKE YOU." [top]

Writing in the Dec. 13 UK Independent, Robert Fisk sees a glaring omission in all the propaganda being aimed at Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein: "Why didn't Tony Blair and George Bush mention Saddam Hussein's most terrible war crime? Why, in all their 'dossiers', did they not refer to the 5,000 young men and women who were held at detention centres when their families--of Iranian origin--were hurled over the border to Iran just before President Saddam invaded Iran in 1980? Could it be because these 5,000 young men and women were used for experiments in gas and biological warfare agents whose ingredients were originally supplied by the United States? Just months before his September 1980 invasion of Iran--in which tens of thousands of Iranian soldiers died an appalling death by gas burns and blisters--Saddam's Interior Ministry issued directive No 2884, dated 10 April 1980, stating that 'all youths aged between 18 and 28Émust be held at detention centres until further notice.' Most, though not all, of the young men and women affected by this order were Kurds. None of their families ever saw their loved ones again, but they have since been told that the detainees were killed during experiments in gas and chemical warfare centres in IraqÉ Just before the September 1980 invasion of Iran, the detentions began. At least 5,000 'Kurdish youths,' according to one Iraqi refugee interviewed by The Independent, 'vanished into thin air.' According to one Iraqi dissidentÉa large if unknown number of young detainees may have perished as a result of being used as guinea pigs for Saddam Hussein's research programmes at various chemical, biological and nuclear warfare laboratoriesÉ"

One Iraqi Kurdish refugee in Lebanon--who Fisk makes clear does not support the official US-supported Iraqi opposition--said that Western intelligence has long known the fate of the 5,000 disappeared. "It is now clear," he told Fisk, "that during the war with Iran many of the young detainees were taken to secret laboratories in different locations in Iraq and were exposed to intense doses of chemical and biological substances in a myriad of conditions and situations. With every military setback at the front causing panic in Baghdad, these experiments had to be speeded up - which meant more detainees were needed to be sent to the laboratories, which had to test VX nerve gas, mustard gas, sarin, tabun, aflatoxin, gas gangrene and anthrax."

Fisk recalls that under the first President Bush, the US Department of Agriculture sent Iraq samples of chemicals that could be used to produce pesticide--or chemical warfare agents. The chemicals were sent "despite repeated warnings from American officials" that they "could be of use against human beings." Fisk speculates on the current silence about the matter: "This could, of course, reflect the West's embarrassment at its support for Iraq during that war. Or it could be an attempt to avoid any inquiry into how President Saddam obtained the means to wage chemical warfare against his opponents." [top]

Iraq's 12,000-page declaration of its weapons programs lists US companies that provided materials used to develop chemical and biological weapons in the 1980s, Newsday reported Dec, 13, citing "a senior Iraqi official." The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, did not name the companies or discuss how much detail the dossier provides about them. He said the US firms are named along with other foreign companies that provided Iraq with arms and ingredients for making chemical and biological weapons. The dossier is now only available to the governments of the five permanent UN Security Council members. Notes Newsday: "The public release of such a list could prove embarrassing for the United States and highlight the extent to which the Reagan and first Bush administrations supported Iraq in its eight-year war with neighboring Iran in the 1980s. US military and financial assistance to Iraq continued until Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990."

The newspaper recalled a 1994 report by the US Senate Banking Committee concluding that "the United States provided the government of Iraq with 'dual-use' licensed materials which assisted in the development of Iraqi chemical, biological and missile-system programs." This assistance, according to the report, included "chemical warfare-agent precursors; chemical warfare-agent production facility plans and technical drawings; chemical warfare filling equipment; biological warfare-related materials; missile fabrication equipment and missile system guidance equipment."

The Senate report found that the US had licensed dozens of companies to export various materials that helped Iraq make mustard gas, VX nerve agent, anthrax and other biological and chemical weapons. The report also said "the same micro-organisms exported by the United States were identical to those the United Nations inspectors found and recovered from the Iraqi biological warfare program." Shipments to Iraq continued even after the US learned Hussein had used chemical weapons against Iranian troops and Kurdish villagers in northern Iraq in 1988, according to Senate investigators.

The US-Iraqi cooperation began in February 1986, when then-Vice President George Bush met with Iraq's ambassador to Washington, Nizar Hamdoon, and assured him that Baghdad would be permitted to receive more sophisticated US technology. Over the next four years, the Reagan and Bush administrations approved licenses for the export of more than $600 million worth of advanced technology to Iraq, according to congressional reports.

Susan Wright, a scientist at the University of Michigan and co-author of the book "Biological Warfare and Disarmament," believes that all five governments with access to the dossier-the US, UK, France, Russia and China--have a common interest in suppressing the list. "All the permanent five members are probably on the Iraqi supplier list," she said. "They all have advanced chemical and biological industries."

Wright said the release of a supplier list "would bring people's attention to something that the Bush administration would rather forget about: that the United States was a supplier state to Saddam Hussein, even after it became clear that he was producing and using chemical weapons." [top]

Dozens of teams of elite US forces and intelligence operatives have been sent into Iraq with millions of dollars in cash to woo key tribal leaders away from Saddam Hussein. The secret campaign, based on tactics used successfully in Afghanistan last year, aims to buy the support of tribal leaders who command the allegiance of millions of Iraqis. US and British strategists hope these leaders will be persuaded to revolt or to stop co-operating with Saddam, fatally weakening his regime. The special teams are said to be concentrating on the rural areas of central Iraq around Baghdad, where Sunni Muslim tribal leaders are strongest. The CIA has been given $200 million for covert actions in Iraq, and there are already reports of clashes between tribal militias and security forces. Last year members of the Bani Hasan tribe clashed with troops in the south of Iraq. In 1999 members of the al Dulaimi tribe staged a rebellion in the north-west. "Tribal leaders have acted as a parallel authority in Iraq for many years," said Daniel Neep of the UK's Royal United Services Institute. "Prising them away from Saddam certainly has the potential seriously to weaken him." (UK Observer, Dec. 15) [top]


Tunisia's government barred 11 opposition parties and civil groups from demonstrating in central Tunis against the pending attack on Iraq Dec. 13. Hundreds of riot and plainclothes police were deployed in downtown Tunis to enforce the ban. "The Interior Ministry informed the leaders of the political parties that the march planned for Friday was banned for security reasons," the 11 groups said in a joint statement. "The ban constitutes a denial of the right to protest as enshrined by the country's constitution." (Reuters, Dec. 13) [top]


On Dec. 13, the Bush administration called on President Hugo Chavez to hold early elections to resolve Venezuela's political standoff as the national strike paralyzing the country entered its 12th day. In concert with the official White House statement, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Tom Shannon arrived in Caracas for meetings with government and opposition leaders to find what Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer called "a peaceful, democratic, constitutional and politically viable electoral solution." But Fleischer reiterated: "The United States is convinced that the only peaceful and politically viable path out of the crisis is through the holding of early elections."

The Washington Post noted an irony in the Bush administration stance: "Venezuela's constitution, however, does not allow for early presidential elections, leaving the White House in the contradictory position of calling at once for a 'constitutional' solution and early elections." Opponents of Chavez are calling for a constitutional amendment that would allow elections, scheduled for 2006, to be moved up. But no agreement has been reached in the negotiations mediated by Cesar Gaviria, secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS). Any constitutional change would have to be approved by a referendum that could take months to arrange. Chavez is resisting calls from strike leaders for his immediate resignation. (WP, Dec. 14)

The class conflict behind the Venezuela crisis is made clear in the case of the Pilin Leon, an oil tanker named for the former Miss Venezuela, whose captain mutinied in support of the strike by dropping anchor in Lake Maracaibo, principal source of Venezuela's oil. But the tanker's crew was opposed the strike, and when Venezuelan marines boarded the ship on the orders of Chavez, only the captain needed to be replaced. (UK Guardian, Dec. 10)

Another rebellious tanker in Lake Maracaibo was also seized by Chavez's marines. In a TV and radio address, Chavez told employees and managers at the state oil company PDVSA that "abandoning one's functions is ground for dismissal. The time has come to apply the law." He added: "I will not leave under pressure from a group of managers, a group of coup-plotters, a group of fascists, a group of entrepreneurs or mass media." (BBC, Dec. 16)

In the July/August issue of "Report on the Americas," Steve Ellner and Fred Rosen reported that independent forces which support neither Chevez or the official opposition persist in Venezuela despite the polarization. The opposition is led by an unlikely alliance of the country's largest trade union, the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV) and the national Chamber of Commerce (Fedecamaras). The working-class movement in support of Chavez is organized around neighborhood committees called "Bolivarian Circles." But the unions representing oil, steel and public employees have criticized CTV's alliance with Fedecamaras, while remaining distant from Chavez. Steel workers president Ramon Machuca entered into his own dialogue with the government--from which the CTV was barred--months before the strike wave brought both sides to the OAS-brokered talks. Wrote Ellner and Rosen: "This middle ground between the pro and anti-Chavistas may be where at least half the population is situated. Many of those in this bloc are as critical of Chavez as are the anti-Chavistas, but oppose any attempt to overthrow him. When asked who they would vote for if elections were held tomorrow, they say 'Chavez.'" (NACLA Report, NYC, July/August 2002) [top]

As ChevronTexaco contemplates renewed operations in the Ecuadorian Amazon, local indigenous leaders traveled to San Francisco, CA, Dec. 9 to tell the company: "CLEAN UP, PAY UP, AND NEVER COME BACK!" ChevronTexaco's current seismic exploration in the remote region of Sarayacu ("Block 23") comes more than three decades after Texaco first entered the country to extract 1.5 billion barrels of oil from the Amazon region known as Oriente. In order to save millions of dollars--an estimated $3 per barrel--the company simply dumped the toxic wastes from its operations into the rivers, forest streams and wetlands, ignoring industry standards. The Cofan people, which numbered 15,000 when Texaco's first well was built on their territory, now number less than 300. 2.5 million acres of rainforest have been lost, and 20 billion gallons of highly toxic wastewater dumped into local waterways. Some 350 poisonous open pools still remain in the region, filled with benzene, toluene, arsenic lead, mercury and cadmium. Studies by a Harvard medical team, British researchers and Ecuadorian health authorities have found eight different types of cancer in communities affected by Texaco's operations: bile duct, stomach, larynx, liver, melanoma, leukemia, lymphoma, and cervical. In some villages near polluted water sources, the rate of cancer is 1,000 times higher than the historical norm. ChevronTexaco has thus far contributed just $40 million towards an environmental cleanup cost widely valued in excess of $1 billion. The company made approximately $6 billion in profits from its two decades of Ecuadorian operations.

In 1993, Ecuadorian plaintiffs representing 30,000 indigenous people and campesinos filed a class-action suit against Texaco in US court--the first environmental lawsuit ever filed in the US by foreign plaintiffs against a US corporation. ChevronTexaco sought to have the case dismissed, claiming that Ecuador--not the US--was the appropriate jurisdiction. On Aug. 16, 2002, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled that ChevronTexaco must agree to stand trial in the Ecuadoran courts, where the case is to be reinstated, or else face a new trial in the US courts. The ruling also held that parent company ChevronTexaco was liable even though the damages were caused by Texaco before the 2001 merger.

At a press briefing held at San Francisco's World Affairs Council, the indigenous leaders called on ChevronTexaco to accept responsibility for the destruction of their homeland. "ChevronTexaco came to our home in Ecuador more than thirty years ago promising hope but ended up giving us nothing but misery," said Cofan leader Toribio Aguinda. "Today we come to ChevronTexaco's home in the United States to seek justice for our people." Vowed Luis Ahua, a leader of the Huarani people: "We will not roll over and let this corporate killer bury our families. We will achieve justice and we will muster every available tool and tactic--modern or traditional--to prevent ChevronTexaco from returning to Ecuador."

Atossa Soltani, executive director of Amazon Watch, said, "Not even today's most disgraced CEOs and captains of corruption can lay claim to the devastation that ChevronTexaco leaders wreaked in the Ecuadorian Amazon. We will engage a dialogue with ChevronTexaco CEO David O'Reilly and remind consumers that ChevronTexaco's gasoline boasts more Amazon destruction per gallon."

(Amazon Watch press release, Dec. 9)


On Dec. 11, the board of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) approved a $132 million loan for expansion of the Yacuiba-Rio Grande (Yabog) gas pipeline project in Bolivia. The IDB's official statement announcing the loan conveniently omitted any mention of the leading role in the project of the disgraced Texas energy giant Enron. Environmental groups including Friends of the Earth and Amazon Watch pointed out that the IDB is allocating more US tax dollars to Enron and its partner Shell despite their egregious social and environmental track records in Bolivia--and the ongoing investigations of Enron's shady practices in the US and abroad. The US Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission are currently investigating Enron for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. "US tax dollars should not be used for the destruction of pristine tropical forests," said Atossa Soltani, executive director of Amazon Watch.

Despite its bankruptcy, Enron continues to operate Bolivia's network of oil and gas pipelines in partnership with Shell through the recently-privatized Bolivian company Transredes. The IDB--funded by the US and other OAS members--approved the loan for the project after Bolivian President Sanchez de Lozada met with IDB officials in Washington in an attempt to secure financing for various projects in his country. Coincidentally, the president himself is owner of a gold mine recently reopened in the middle of the Chiquitano forest--which has been severely degraded by an Enron-Shell/Transredes pipeline (itself insured by the US agency OPIC). "Prior to construction of the Cuiaba pipeline three years ago, OPIC, Enron and Shell pledged that valves to tap into the pipeline would not be built in the Chiquitano forest," said Jon Sohn, policy analyst with Friends of the Earth. "We warned that new extensions of the pipeline through the forest would be disastrous as they would allow a number of industrial projects to pop up in a sensitive ecological area. Now, that is exactly what has happened." (Amazon Watch press release, Dec. 11)


See also WW3 REPORT #62 [top]


Rudolph Giuliani responded to reporter's questions about rumors that Colombian guerillas are plotting to kidnap him in Mexico City, where he has been hired to help oversee a new anti-crime campaign. "This isn't going to interfere with doing our work in any way. It played no role in anything we've done so far, and it's not going to play a role in anything we do in the future," Giuliani said. He added: "I don't ever comment on security issues." (Despite having just commented.) The rumors were first reported in the New York Post, which said a private US security firm had discovered the plot by the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) and tipped off Giuliani's team. The Post also claimed that FBI agents in Miami heard about the plot in a wiretapped conversation. The plot was revealed just days after NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said there were "security concerns" regarding Giuliani that justified a taxpayer-funded NYPD security detail for the ex-mayor in Mexico City. (NYP, Dec. 8)

Giuliani's Mexico City team includes former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik and the city's former fire commissioner, Thomas Von Essen. They will work with Mexico City Police Chief Marcelo Ebrard, a former congressman known for his fight against corruption. (BBC, Oct. 10) Private money donated by a group of business leaders will be used to pay for Giuliani's services, but Mexico City authorities did not release the amount. (AP, Oct. 11) Giuliani's arrival in Mexico City coincided with the launching of a new elite police anti-crime unit which wears full body armor and helmets with black visors, and carries heavy weaponry. Known officially as the High Security Force, city residents have dubbed them the Robocops. (San Diego Union-Tribune, Nov. 5)

Rudolph Giuliani, the former tough-guy mayor of New York who was Time magazine's 2001 Person of the Year for his handling of the 9-11 disaster, boasts that he asked US President George W Bush if he could personally execute Osama bin Laden. In a new book entitled "Leadership," Giuliani says he made the request three days after the WTC attacks. "I told him, 'If you catch this guy Bin Laden, I would like to be the one to execute him' ...I am sure he thought I was just being rhetorical, but I was serious." (BBC, Sept. 30) [top]

Over 25,000 teachers marched through Tuxtla Gutierrez, state capital of Chiapas, Dec. 9 to demand the resignation of governor Pablo Salazar and blaming him for police violence during a teacher's protest the previous week. On the same day, Salazar gave a report on his second year in office, as protestors gathered in front of the government palace with placards reading, "Come and visit Chiapas and enjoy the repression." The teachers accused state police of using violence to break up a protest road block in which five teachers were arrested and one pregnant woman lost her unborn baby. The teachers were demanding more money for school infrastructure and equipment. (The News, Mexico City, Dec. 10) [top]

After members of the ARIC campesino group reported seeing a convoy of jeep-type vehicles full of foreigners in black military-style uniforms heading into the Lacandon jungle, Chiapas state Government Secretary Emilio Zebadua explained that they were part of a team hired by entrepreneurs seeking to build an "eco-tourism" project. The campesinos reported that the men had established a camp at El Sabinal near the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve. (Proceso, Dec. 12)

The Lacandon rainforest is the stronghold of the Zapatista guerillas, and the Mexican federal government has been threatening to use the army to evict peasant "squatters" from the Biosphere Reserve. See WW3 REPORT #60 [top]

President Vicente Fox's special peace envoy in charge of negotiating an end to the conflict in southern Chiapas state said Dec. 9 that Zapatista rebel commanders have lost the trust of many of their supporters. Most Zapatista sympathizers are tired of rebelling against the government and want to become eligible for state-sponsored social programs again, Luis Alvarez told reporters in the Chiapas capital of Tuxtla Gutierrez. Alvarez singled out Zapatista spokesman Subcommander Marcos, saying he and other rebel commanders have turned their backs on their supporters. "I think Marcos has been left behind," Alvarez said. While saying he still respected Marcos because he "had the virtue to put his finger on the most important problem in our country"--the marginalization of Mexico's Indians--Alvarez dangled the carrot of government development funds and blamed the rebels for holding them up. "The resources we have available are very great, but they are resources that can only be distributed if there is dialogue with the Zapatista commanders or with the communities themselves," Alvarez said. He again called on Zapatista leaders to return to the negotiating table, saying Fox's government "remains committed" to resolving the Chiapas conflict. The rebels broke off talks with the government when their peace plan--calling for local autonomy for indigenous communities--was gutted by Congress last year. (AP, Dec. 10)

See also WW3 REPORT #60 [top]

A southern Mexican guerilla group thought to be in decline since the arrest of its leaders has announced new plans to coordinate efforts with other rebel organizations, the newspaper Reforma reported Dec. 3. Speaking the previous day in Pascua, 125 miles southeast of Mexico City, Commander Emiliano said the Revolutionary Army of the Insurgent People (ERPI) planned to centralize the operations of Mexico's various rebel factions. Commander Emiliano said the group has no plans to disarm or start talks with the government. "We are here. This is a reality. And we are ready to defend ourselves in response to aggressions from the government," the paper quoted Emiliano as saying. The ERPI formed as a splinter group of the People's Revolutionary Army (EPR), which first emerged in 1996 in the southern state of Guerrero and launched several attacks on military and police targets. Officials are unclear how many members the ERPI has, or which other groups it plans to coordinate with. Commander Emiliano said ERPI had no official relations with the Zapatista rebels in Chiapas. (AP, Dec. 4)

See also WW3 REPORT #s 42 and 9

Gobernacion Secretary Santiago Creel responded to the ERPI's re-emergence by insisting that Mexico is at peace, and that the government is open to dialogue with the rebels. He said it isn't necessary for disaffected groups to "go to the mountains" to get the changes they want. It was also reported that the ERPI, thought to be isolated in the mountains of Guerrero and Oaxaca, left propaganda posters in telephone booths in the central city of Cuernavaca to commemorate the Dec. 2, 1974 death of '70s guerilla leader Lucio Cabanas. (Milenio, Dec. 6) [top]

On Nov. 21, Antonio Echevarria, governor of west-central Nayarit state, confirmed that the federal Attorney General's Office is investigating the possibility that guerilla groups are carrying out attacks in the state's mountain range, including a recent raid in which two officials in La Yesca municipality were wounded. (La Jornada, Nov. 22)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 24) [top]

On Dec. 11 a Mexican federal judge convicted four men on weapons and terrorism charges in relation to a series of explosions outside Mexico City banks last year. Judge Jose Gomez sentenced three brothers--Hector, Alejandro and Antonio Cereso--to 13 years each. The judge also handed down 10 years to Pablo Alvarado, who studied with the Cereso brothers at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). A fifth man, Sergio Galicia, was found innocent of weapons charges. Federal agents raided the men's homes and arrested them a few days after three small explosions rattled local Banamex branches on Aug. 8, 2001. The agents reportedly found guns, munitions and "subversive videos" in the homes of the four convicted men. An urban guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the People (FARP), claimed responsibility for the explosions, though it said the five men were not members of their organization. The explosions broke a few windows, but caused no casualties. The defendants all claimed innocence, and student groups argued that the government pinned the bank explosions on them to discredit leftist protesters at UNAM. Attorney General Rafael Macedo was criticized for calling the UNAM a "guerrilla hotbed" after the students were arrested. National Human Rights Commissioner Jose Luis Soberanes said the men had likely been tortured after their arrests. (The News, Mexico City, Dec. 12)

See also WW3 REPORT #9 [top]

Mexican law enforcement officials announced they will ask the US to declassify documents that could shed light on crimes committed during Mexico's "dirty war" against leftists and guerillas in the 1960s and '70s. Ignacio Carrillo, special prosecutor assigned to investigating the "dirty war," said he will ask the Mexican government to send the request to Washington. The objective is "to declassify the greatest number of documents from the varied US archives relating to the social and political movements of the past," Carrillo told reporters after participating in a ceremony with relatives of dirty-war victims in Guadalajara. Carrillo is the head of the Special Prosecutor's Office for Political and Social Movements of the Past, created by order of President Vicente Fox. According to a report by the government's National Human Rights Commission, at least 500 activists disappeared between the late '60s and 1980. Some rights groups say the number may actually approach 3,000. (EFE, Dec. 3)

See also WW3 REPORTS # 60 [top]

With a secretive military trial underway against two Army generals accused of killing scores of leftist activists in the 1970s, human rights groups held a press conference to insist that only civilian courts should be allowed to hear the case. "The military wants to appear as is if it is investigating," said Mario Patron, a lawyer at the Miguel Agustin Pro-Juarez Human Rights Center. "But, like in past cases, this will likely end as a cover up." The Army announced in October military courts would prosecute generals Francisco Quiros and Arturo Acosta--both already convicted of drug trafficking--for the murders of 143 leftists between 1975 and 1979. Rights activists are concerned military courts will purposely botch the cases, allowing double jeopardy laws to shield the two from further prosecution. Though the military charges Quiros and Acosta ordered Army pilots to dump victims' bodies off the Oaxacan coast, one of the pilots called to testify reportedly said he only heard the story from others. At least one other witness failed to appear for his testimony. The rights groups claim Mexico's constitution orders cases involving both soldiers and civilians to be heard before a civilian court. The Army counters that military court jurisdiction can be claimed around any military activity. (The News, Mexico City, Dec. 5)

See also WW3 REPORT #59 [top]

The Revolutionary Popular Army (EPR), a small guerilla group based in Mexico's southern states of Guerrero and Oaxaca, urged the Mexican people to not allow an investigation into disappearances during Mexico's so-called "dirty war" to be thwarted. The new communique said similar investigations in Chile and Argentina were "grotesque farces" and such a result must be prevented in Mexico. The EPR said Gen. Arturo Acosta and Gen. Francisco Quiroz, under investigation by military prosecutors for the disappearances of 143 dissidents in the 1970s, should be charged with genocide and tried in a civilian court. The communique was issued on the eve of the second burial of the remains of the legendary '70s guerrilla leader Lucio Cabanas. Cabanas was killed in a shoot-out with the Army in 1974 and was buried in an unmarked grave in Atoyac, in the mountains of Guerrero, until his exhumation by investigators last December. He is to be reburied in the plaza of Atoyac, his native town. (EFE, Dec. 3) [top]

Mexican farmers blocked the entrances to the Senate building in Mexico City with sacks of grain for three hours on Nov. 21 to demand renegotiation of the sections of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that affect agriculture. The protesters, from the National Movement of Agricultural Workers, El Barzon Movement and the Coalition of Democratic Urban and Campesinos Organizations, opposed NAFTA's scheduled elimination of several tariffs on agricultural products on Jan. 1. The protesters said that trade between Mexico and the other two NAFTA partners is "severely distorted" by the subsidies the US and Canadian governments give their farmers. In Washington, Assistant Secretary of Agriculture JB Penn announced that the US rejects "any opening or renegotiation of NAFTA." Ironically, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which imposed NAFTA at a time when it virtually monopolized government power in Mexico, is now attempting to exploit the anti-NAFTA backlash, with PRI legislators proposing a national front to demand renegotiation. PRI Federal Deputy and party coordinator for Morelos state, was a leader of a 30-hour blockade of the Mexico City-Cuernavaca highway starting at noon on Nov. 20 demanding relief for drought-stricken farmers. (La Jornada, Nov. 22)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 24) [top]

City authorities in Oaxaca announced that they had reached a decision not to approve a McDonalds outlet for the town's central plaza. The decision came after months of local protests. Municipal president Gabino Cue Monteagudo admitted the decision was made to "safeguard the intangible patrimony" of the city. (Reforma, Dec. 10)

See also WW3 REPORT #49 [top]

The campaign continues in Cuernavaca to halt construction of a Costco retail outlet on the historic site of the Hotel Casino de la Selva, one of the city's last remaining green areas. The Civic Front for the Defense of Casino de la Selva is also organizing to support members arrested blocking the road to the site in August. 34 protesters were arrested, with many suffering physical injury. Though most of the charges were thrown out, two counts of obstructing a public thoroughfare still remain. Those facing charges must report weekly to Cuernavaca's jail as a form of probation. (Global Exchange press release, Dec. 13)

Civic Front for the Defense of Casino de la Selva

See also WW3 REPORT #49 [top]


Prime Minister Jean Chretien said Dec. 11 that his government has no plans to take part in the US missile defense shield plan--a few days after his foreign minister said Canada was prepared to examine the plan. Chretien said his government is not interested in participating in a North American shield against missile attacks. "The project of the Americans on the so-called Star Wars, we're not participating in that, we have not been asked to participate," he told New Democratic Party leaders. Earlier that week, Chretein's own Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said he was "quite prepared" to discuss the proposal with the US. (Toronto Globe & Mail, Dec. 11)

The equivocation on the missile program comes at a time of dissension over a proposed joint US-Canadian "Americas Command," being pushed by the Pentagon. See WW3 REPORT #63 [top]

US forces will be allowed to cross the border into Canada in an emergency under a new international accord. The accord creates a new bi-national planning group to coordinate joint military operations and emergency services in the event of a terrorist attack or other disaster. The planning group is to be headed by Canadian Lt. Gen. Ken Pennie, the deputy commander of North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD), based at Colorado's Cheyenne Mountain. Pennie will report to Canada's chief of defense staff and the US general who commands NORAD and the Pentagon's new Northern Command. (Toronto Star, Dec. 9) [top]

Canadian intelligence reportedly believes Mohamed Harkat, an Algerian immigrant recently arrested in Ottawa is connected with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network, reports say. The Canadian Security and Intelligence Service (CSIS) says Harkat is associated with top bin Laden lieutenant Abu Zubaydah, who was arrested in Pakistan in March and is being questioned by US intelligence agents. A CSIS file quoted by Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper Dec. 17 describes Harkat as "a member of the Bin Laden network" who used his jobs at a car service station and pizza outlet as cover. The CSIS file says an al-Qaeda sleeper cell is believed to be operating in Canada, with "the capability and conviction to provide support for terrorist activities in North America". Surveillance of Harkat reportedly began after he and a companion were spotted taking pictures of the Canadian parliament buildings and supreme court. According to the Globe and Mail, the CSIS believes Harkat trained in the same camp in Afghanistan as Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian accused of plotting a terrorist attack during the US Millennium celebrations. Ressam was arrested in December 1999 while trying to enter the US from Canada with a carload of explosives. The CSIS files reportedly say Harkat arrived in Canada in 1995 from Malaysia with two passports--one issued by Algeria in his own name and the other a fake Saudi one bearing the name Mohamed S Mohamed. Harkat was granted refugee status in 1997 after claiming that he faced persecution at the hands of the Algerian government. The CSIS says Harkat earlier had links with the militant Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA). "The Service believes that Harkat has assisted some Islamic extremists who have come to Canada," the CSIS file says. His lawyer, Bruce Engel, refuted the charges. "He categorically and unequivocally denies any involvement, association--direct or indirect--with any terrorist organization," he said after visiting Harkat in detention. (BBC, Dec. 17) [top]

Respected Saskatchewan native leader David Ahenakew, former chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) and the Assembly of First Nations, was quoted in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix saying Hitler was trying to clean up Europe when he "fried six million" Jews. The quotes reportedly came following a speech at a Federation conference in which he said that Israel and the US were going to start the next world war. When asked to clarify, Ahenakew said that while serving in the army after World War II, Germans told him Jews had started it. "The Jews damn near owned all of Germany prior to the war," Ahenakew said. "That's how Hitler came in. He was going to make damn sure that the Jews didn't take over Germany or Europe. That's why he fried six million of those guys, you know. Jews would have owned the goddamned world. And look what they're doing. They're killing people in Arab countries." Asked how he could justify the Holocaust, he reportedly answered: "How do you get rid of a disease like that, that's going to take over, that's going to dominate?" In the same interview Ahenakew called whites and Indo-Canadians "goddamned immigrants."

Current FSIN chief Perry Bellegarde distanced himself from Ahenakew's statements. "He's expressing his view point and there's no way the FSIN has adopted any position like that, and I have to be very clear on that our mission statement is peaceful coexistence to respect other people and other nations," he said. But members of the Jewish community expressed dismay. "Because the First Nations people know what it's like to be persecuted or to be treated unfairly, and so you don't do to others what others have done to you," said Susanne Kaplan of the Agudas Israel Congregation. (CTV News, Dec. 14)

Ironically, Hitler explicitly saw his inspiration for the conquest of eastern Europe and the genocide of its "inferior" peoples in the white conquest of America and genocide of the Indians, writing: "Neither Spain nor Britain should be the models of German expansion, but the Nordics of North America, who had ruthlessly pushed aside an inferior race to win for themselves soil and territory for the future." See "Struggle for the Land" by Ward Churchill, Common Courage Press, 1993, p. 73. [top]


Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart, head of the Pentagon's newly-created Northern Command for domestic operations, told the New York Times, "I am not aware of a significant threat to this nation" from so-called sleeper cells. But he added: "To say that we're not aware of it, is not the same to say that it doesn't exist." In an interview at his headquarters in Colorado Springs, Gen. Eberhart said his command had established a strong working relationship with law enforcement agencies, noting that the FBI has a permanent representative on his staff. He warned that the need to combat terrorism had to be balanced against the need to guard against abridgement of civil liberties--"some of the things we did in the 50's with McCarthyism, which I think was a very sad chapter in our history." Fourteen military, law enforcement, intelligence and other agencies have representatives at Northern Command headquarters who meet daily with Gen. Eberhart. The new arrangement has raised fears of erosion of the Posse Comitatus Act, which bars the military from domestic law enforcement. "Our basic freedoms must be protected," Gen. Eberhart said, but acknowledged that "those who attack us usually leverage those freedoms to do things that they couldn't do in other countries." (NYT, Dec. 13)

See also WW3 REPORT # 44 [top]

The US Coast Guard is to start deploying "drones," remote-controlled low-flying surveillance aircraft of the type used by the US Air Force in Iraq and Afghanistan, along the Atlantic Coast. The Coast Guard, now part of the new Homeland Security Department, says the unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, will enable more efficient monitoring of US coastal waters. The acquisition of up to 76 drones nationwide is part of Deepwater, the Coast Guard's $17 billion program to replace aging equipment and respond to new security challenges. The program also includes the purchase of up to 91 ships, 35 planes and 34 helicopters, as well as upgrades of up to 49 cutters and 93 helicopters currently in use. (Hartford Courant, Dec. 13) [top]

Amateur photographer Mike Maginnis was arrested on Dec. 3 in his home city of Denver for taking pictures of buildings in an area where Vice President Dick Cheney was staying. Maginnis told his story on the Dec. 4 edition of "Off The Hook," on New York City's WBAI Radio. Maginnis's morning commute took him past Denver's Adams Mark Hotel. Maginnis, who says he always carried his camera, snapped about 30 pictures of the hotel and the surrounding area--including shots of Denver police, army troops, and rooftop snipers. Maginnis, who works in information technology, frequently photographs such subjects as corporate buildings and communications equipment. As he was putting his camera away, Maginnis was confronted by a Denver police officer who demanded that he hand the camera ove. When he refused to give up his Nikon F2, the officer pushed him to the ground and arrested him. At a police precinct, Maginnis says he was interrogated by a Secret Service agent who threatened to have him charged as a terrorist under the USA PATRIOT act and badgered him to admit that he was taking the photographs to analyze weaknesses in Cheney's security entourage. When Maginnis refused to admit to being any sort of terrorist, the Secret Service agent reportedly called him a "raghead collaborator" and a "dirty pinko faggot." After approximately an hour of interrogation, Maginnis was allowed to make a telephone call. Rather than contacting a lawyer, he called the Denver Post and asked for the news desk. This was immediately overheard by the desk sergeant, who hung up the phone and placed Maginnis in a holding cell. Three hours later, Maginnis was released--but he received no copy of an arrest report, and no receipt for his confiscated possessions. He was told that he would probably not get his camera back, as it was being held as evidence. Maginnis's lawyer contacted the Denver Police Department for an explanation of the day's events, but the police denied ever having Maginnis in custody. The Denver PD's Press Information Office did not return telephone messages left by "Off the Hook" producers.

In related news, at a Dec. 6 vigil outside the New York City Federal Building for detained Palestinian immigrant Farouk Abdel-Muhti, one protester was himself detained by security guards after taking photos. The protester, Ivo Skoric, was held in the Federal Building for over an hour, and interrogated by the FBI. He was released without charges after he voluntarily destroyed the digital film he had taken of the building. Skoric told WW3 REPORT the first question the FBI agents asked him was whether he is Muslim. Ironically, Skoric is an exile from Croatia, and has asylum status for having been persecuted as an opposition activist under the Communist Yugoslav regime. (Bill Weinberg on the scene at New York's Federal Plaza)

For more on Farouk Abdel-Muhti, see WW3 REPORT # 62 [top]

In a Dec. 12 notice signed by Attorney General John Ashcroft, the INS announced that male visitors age 16 or older from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Armenia who entered the US on or before Sept. 30, 2002, must appear for "special registration" under the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS), between Jan. 13 and Feb. 21, 2003. Nationals of 18 other countries were already required to register. ( Immigration News Briefs, Dec. 13)

See also WW3 REPORT #62 [top]

On Dec. 9, US District Judge Marsha Pechman issued a temporary restraining order staying all deportations of Somalis pending a Jan. 10 hearing on a lawsuit seeking a permanent ban. Pechman's decision halts the imminent deportation of at least 39 Somalis currently held in INS detention around the country, said Karol Brown, an attorney for the plaintiffs. (Seattle Times; Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Dec. 10)

(From Immigration News Briefs, Dec. 13)

See also WW3 REPORT #63 [top]


Although the White House would not comment, anonymous military and intelligence officials told the New York Times that the Bush administration has prepared a "high-value target list" of around two dozen terrorist leaders that the CIA is authorized to kill if capture is impractical and civilian casualties can be minimized. (NYT, Dec. 15) [top]

Britain's Ministry of Defense announced Dec. 5 that the private investment firm Carlyle Group has bought a 33.8% stake in its research organization QinetiQ. The ministry said it would sell its remaining stake within three to five years, but "will retain a special share in the business to ensure that the nation's defense and security interests continue to be protected," Defense Minister Lewis Moonie said in a statement. QinetiQ, which has 9,000 employee, was set up last year in the semi-privatization of the ministry's former Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. (Reuters, Dec. 5)

See also WW3 REPORT #53 [top]

Bush-appointed US District Judge John D. Bates ruled that Vice President Dick Cheney is not required to hand over the records of the White House energy task force to the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress. Judge Bates noted that no court has ever asked the White House to produce information for Congress, but ruled on the grounds that the GAO chief, Comptroller General David M. Walker, lacked standing to sue because he had suffered no "personal, concrete and particular injury." The GAO demanded the records at the prompting of Democratic Representatives John D. Dingell of Michigan and Henry A. Waxman of California, who said, "it is regrettable, but not surprising, that a newly appointed federal judge chose to look the other way. Vice President Dick Cheney's cover-up will apparently continue into the foreseeable future, unless the Republican Congress demands appropriate disclosure. I'm not holding my breath." (NYT, Dec. 10)

See also WW3 REPORT #19 [top]


Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger abruptly stepped down Dec. 13 as head of the panel charged with investigating the 9-11 attacks after refusing demands to disclose his business clients. President Bush, who appointed Kissinger Nov. 27, accepted the resignation "with regret" and vowed to "work quickly" to select a replacement. "It's very disturbing that... apparently some people think their clients are more important than the security of this nation," said Stephen Push of Families of Sept. 11, a survivors' group. Kristen Breitweiser of Sept. 11 Advocates, another families' group, called Kissinger's resignation "admirable," adding, "This commission needs to be beyond reproach." Kissinger had promised to give the White House counsel--but not the Senate ethics committee-"all relevant financial information" to check on possible conflicts of interest. But he wrote in his resignation letter that "although specific potential conflicts can be resolved in this manner, the controversy would quickly move to the consulting firm I have built and own." Republican Congressional leaders still must name three of their four members, having appointed only former Sen. Slade Gorton. The Democrats must replace former Senate majority leader George Mitchell, who also stepped down. (Newsday, Dec. 15)

In a recent column in the on-line Salon magazine, Joe Conason points out that chapter 12 of the book "Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil & Fundamentalism in Central Asia" by Ahmed Rashid (Yale, 2000) details that Kissinger was one of the luminaries on hand for an Oct. 21, 1995 ceremony in New York where the oil company Unocal and Turkmenistan's dictator Saparmurad ("Turkmenbashi") Niyazov signed an agreement to cooperate on a pipeline linking Turkmenistan's oil fields to Pakistan's coast via Afghanistan. "Which makes me wonder," writes Conason, "whether Kissinger should be asking questions--or answering them."

See also WW3 REPORT #62 [top]


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