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ISSUE: #. 79. March 31, 2003







By Bill Weinberg
with David Bloom, Special Correspondent

1. Bloody Road to Baghdad
2. Did U.S. Missile Hit Kuwait City?
3. Did U.S. Missile Hit Turkish Village?
4. Iraq Promises More Suicide Attacks
5. Dolphin Goes AWOL
6. Don't Give Bush Any Ideas, Thank You!
7. Whither Al-Qaeda?
8. Saddam Preparing Syrian Exile?
9. Syria, Iran Next?
10. U.S. Troops Detain, Beat Israeli, Portuguese Journalists
11. Al-Jazeera TV Protests Censorship
12. Bombing: The Extreme Form of Censorship
13. Civilian Casualties: Who's Counting?
14. Desert Storm Victims Sue Bush Pere, Cheney, Powell
15. WMD Mirage Evaporating?
16. Halliburton Cedes Top Iraq Reconstruction Contract--
But Scores Other Lucrative Deals

17. Union-Busters Contracted to Run Seized Iraqi Port
18. Global Protests Keep on Coming
19. Slovenia: Keep Us Out of It!

1. Fifth Avenue Die-In Protests Israeli War Crimes
2. Message From Jayyous: Rachel Corrie--A Name in Our Hearts
3. Contact Your Congressman: Investigate Corrie's Death

1. U.S. Troops Killed in Afghan Ambush
2. Prisoners Beaten to Death at U.S. Military Camp?
3. Attack on RAWA Volunteer in Pakistan
4. RAWA: Afghan Lessons Forgotten in Iraq

1. Three U.S. Contract Personnel Killed in Colombia
2. U.S. Contract Pilots Implicated in Deadly Bomb Raid
3. Venezuelan Troops vs. Colombian Paras
4. U.S. Militarizes Darien Gap

2. U.S. Marines in Chiapas
2. Municipal Revolt in Chiapas

1. "Prince Of Darkness" Perle Resigns
2. Hudson Institute Confab: Syria Next?

1. "Deadly Force" Threat at Vandenberg AFB
2. Oregon Pol: Protesters are Terrorists
3. NYPD Interrogates Arrested Protesters
4. Black Helicopters Over New York City
5. U.S. Claims: Iraqi Agents Plot Terror
6. David Duke Supports A.N.S.W.E.R.


Stalled 50 miles south of Baghdad in their advance north from Kuwait, US forces are meeting greater resistance than apparently anticipated--from both Iraqi regular troops and the Fedayeen militia run by Saddam Hussein's son Odai. "The enemy we're fighting is different from the one we'd war-gamed against," Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, senior commander of Army ground forces in Iraq, was quoted by the Washington Post March 27 during a visit to the 101st Airborne Division headquarters in central Iraq. The road to Baghdad has become known as "Ambush Alley," with Iraqi forces repeatedly attacking the supply lines connecting the advancing forces of the 101st Airborne and 1st, 5th and 7th Marine regiments with the rearguard in Kuwait. Saddam's elite Republican Guard units are clustered around Baghdad, poised to repulse an attack. The Pentagon is preparing to double troop strength in Iraq to 200,000 over the next month, sending in more troops now stationed in Kuwait, as well as soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division in Texas, the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Colorado and 1st Armored Division in Germany. On March 25, Bush asked Congress to pass a $74.7 billion war bill with no amendments or conditions.

The US has also escalated air strikes. Baghdad is shrouded in smoke from oil-filled trenches set alight by the regime to block US remote guidance systems and obscure targets. On Tuesday March 25, US and allied bombers flew over 1,400 missions across Iraq, with several air-strikes on Baghdad, including on the TV station, as well as raids on Republican Guard positions outside city. The 25th also saw a battle in a sandstorm 100 miles south of capital, near Najaf, when US troops came under fire from Iraqi Fedayeen and regulars. The battle reportedly left up to 450 Iraqis dead, and no Americans. Fedayeen attacks prompted British forces to take Basra, instead of merely surrounding it and proceeding north as planned. Britain's "Desert Rat" units are still engaged in a battle for Basra, which has no electricity and little water following air strikes that hit power lines and water mains. The port of Umm Qasr to the south is also low on food and water, and refugees are beginning to flee the cities.

On Wednesday March 26, an attack on US forces at Nasiriya on the Euphrates River left several vehicles destroyed, despite US claims to have the city under control. At Nasiriya's military HQ, US troops discovered a mural depicting jetliners crashing into twin skyscrapers, which the New York Post dutifully splashed on the front page of the next days' edition. A seized Iraqi air base at Tallil, four miles from Nasiriyah, has been informally renamed "Bush International Airport" by US forces. Newsday reported that military traffic jams have slowed the advance north to a crawl, making Iraq's major highways look like "the Long Island Expressway at rush hour." In an attempt to open a northern front, 1,000 army paratroopers of 173rd Airbone, based in Vicenza, Italy, parachuted into Kurdish territory on the 26th

On Thursday March 27, US Ambassador John Negroponte "stormed" out of the UN Security Council after Iraq's UN envoy Mohamed al-Douri accused the US of "aggressive, criminal military actions," according to the next day's NY Sun. Air raids again escalated, with 1,500 missile strikes throughout the day. Also that day, Kurdish peshmerga militia fighters--presumably with the help of 173rd Airbone paratroopers--surged into government-controlled Iraq, taking the town of Chamchamal and extending Kurdish control to within 150 miles of Kirkuk.

Friday March 28 saw further airstrikes on Baghdad, including a super-powerful "bunker buster" dropped on the information ministry from a B2 stealth bomber. 58 civilians were killed when a missile exploded in crowded market. Iraq blamed the US; Pentagon Central Command said it is investigating, while raising the possibility that Iraq's own government was responsible as a propaganda tactic. Claiming that US POWs are being "brutalized and executed" by Iraqi forces, President George Bush announced: "Every Iraqi atrocity has confirmed the justice and urgency of our cause." Also Friday, the long-deadlocked UN Security Council ruled unanimously to approve a massive humanitarian aid package for Iraq. The British ship Sir Galahad docked at Umm Qasr with water and other relief supplies--but allied authorities admit that getting supplies to the needy will be a challenge.

After a one-day hiatus, massive aerial bombardment, focused on Republican Guard positions near Baghdad, continued on Sunday March 30. A Baghdad shopping mall was reported in flames.

At a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Washington March 27, Bush responded to a reporter's question about the war's duration: "However long it takes to win. That's the answer to your question, and that's what you've got to know. It isn't a matter of a timetable, its a matter of victory."

As of Friday, the casualty count stands at 18 US soldiers dead in combat, and two allied troops; 20 US soldiers dead in accidents and "friendly fire" incidents, and 7 allied troops. 18 US soldiers are missing, and two allied troops; and 7 US soldiers are POWs, and two allied troops. The US media has not been keeping track of Iraqi civilian or military casualties. (See related story, this issue.)

(From combined sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Newsday, New York Post, New York Sun, wire services) [top]

A missile exploded near a popular Kuwait City shopping mall March 29, shattering windows and causing other property damage before falling into the sea. Although initially reported as an Iraqi Silkworm missile, the New York Times quotes unidentified Kuwaiti officials as saying that both the behavior of the missile and its markings lead them to believe it was a US missile that somehow went off course. "It was an American cruise missile, we know from the markings and writing on it," an unidentified Kuwaiti police colonel told the Times. "It doesn't go up, it comes in low from the sea, and that's why there was no alert." Chief Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke told the Times that it is too early to tell what happened or whose missile it was. (NYT, March 29) [top]

The US stopped firing missiles at Iraq through Turkish airspace March 28 after a missile fell in southeastern Turkey, a Turkish official said. No one was reported injured. Turkish airspace was not closed to US and British aircraft, the official said, speaking anonymously. The missile broke into several pieces and fell outside Dagyani, a village in Sanliurfa province, 180 miles west of the Iraqi border. A cylinder-shaped, metallic object resembling a missile could be seen lying in a field. U.S. military officers are headed to the region to investigate, Pentagon spokesman Maj. Bob Thompson said. On March 23, two Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from a ship in the eastern Mediterranean also landed in an unpopulated area of Sanliurfa without exploding. Pentagon officials said they may have malfunctioned in flight. Turkey has opened its airspace to U.S. and British warplanes heading toward Iraq despite fierce opposition by Turkey's public, but refused requests to base 62,000 US troops in the country. Some 2,000 demonstrators gathered after Friday prayers in Istanbul to shout slogans against the war. They also burned U.S. and Israeli flags. "We stand by Baghdad," the protesters shouted. (AP, March 28) [top]

Four US soldiers with the Army's 3rd Infantry Division were killed March 29 in a suicide attack at a military checkpoint in the central Iraqi town of Najaf. At a news conference, Iraq's Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan identified the bomber as Ali Jaafar al-Noamani, a father of several children. He also warned that more such attacks would follow. "This is just the beginning. You'll hear more pleasant news later,'' Ramadan said. "It will be routine military policy. We will use any means to kill our enemy in our land and we will follow the enemy into its land.'' (AP, March 29) [top]

Takoma, an Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphin employed by the US military to clear mines for ships entering the seized Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, has been missing for 48 hours as of March 29. His handlers consider 24 hours normal. Wrote the London Times: "Takoma has now been missing for 48 hours and the solitary figure of Petty Officer [Taylor] Whitaker could be seen yesterday patting the water, calling his name and offering his favourite fish, but there was no response."

See also WW3 REPORT #71 [top]

Karl Esser, the German architect who helped design one of Saddam Hussein's main bunkers in Baghdad, told the BBC March 30 the Iraqi leader can survive anything short of a direct hit with a nuclear bomb if he stays within its four-feet-thick walls.

See also WW3 REPORT #66 [top]

Australia's Sydney Morning Herald reported March 28 that British military interrogators claim captured Iraqi troops have told them that al-Qaeda terrorists are fighting on the side of Saddam Hussein's forces against allied troops near Basra, especially in the suburb of Az Zubayr. British forces are still besieging Basra and skirmishing in the suburbs, but have delayed entry into the city, fearing what the paper called a "Stalingrad-style street battle." US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the coalition had solid evidence that senior al-Qaeda operatives have visited Baghdad in the past, and that Saddam has an "evolving" relationship with the terror network.

On March 30, BBC reported that an al-Qaeda camp in northern Iraq was taken by US and Kurdish forces after being bombed by US warplanes. Tunnels and compounds in the camp are still being explored. A supposedly al-Qaeda-linked group, Ansar al-Islam, had seized a piece of ground in northern Iraq in recent months. Both Saddam and Bush accuse each other of secretly controlling the group. The US claimed nerve gas antidotes were found in the camp, pointing to this as evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction--despite the fact that the camp lies well outside territory controlled by the Baghdad government.

See WW3 REPORT #72 [top]

Saddam Hussein has made extensive preparations to flee Iraq, and he and several of his most senior aides--including Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz--have already smuggled their families out to Syria, the UK's Daily Telegraph reported March 27. The paper claimed that Saddam has been selling off property to raise millions for his exile and has an aircraft waiting on 24-hour-a-day standby to fly him out of the country. The report also claims Saddam's first wife Sajida fled to Damascus days before the Baghdad attack began, along with three truckloads of possessions and 60 bodyguards, the paper reported. She is reportedly staying with Iraq's ambassador to Syria.

Syria is also said to be granting free passage across its border with Iraq to volunteers seeking to join the fight against the US and British forces. Thus far, dozens of volunteers, primarily Palestinians from the refugee camps in Lebanon, have crossed over into Iraq through Syrian-controlled border posts. Syrian military analyst Hitham al-Kilani, said in a March 24 interview on al-Jazeera TV that "the Syrian border was opened to Syrian, Arab and Muslim volunteers wishing to reach Iraq and participate in the fighting against the American invasion ." (Haaretz, March 28) [top]

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld accused Syria of failing to stop cross-border sales of military equipment, including night-vision goggles, to the Iraqi armed forces, calling the shipments "hostile acts" and threatening to "hold the Syrian government accountable." He refused to say if he meant military action. He also harshly condemned Iran for letting state-sponsored anti-Saddam militants flood into Iraq, interfering in allied war plans. (UK Guardian, March 29)

US Secretary of State Colin Powell became the second cabinet official in three days to issue a warning to Syria when he told an audience at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) on March 30, "Syria can continue direct support for terrorist groups and the dying regime of Saddam Hussein, or it can embark on a different and more hopeful course," Powell said. "Either way, Syria bears responsibility for its choices and for the consequences." (Washington Post, March 31)

For his part, Syrian President Bashar Assad told Lebanese Daily A-Safir, "We will not wait until we become the next target." (Ha'aretz, March 27) Syria is the only Arab country that has not closed its border with Iraq, and has refused to kick Iraqi diplomats out of Damascus, or freeze Iraqi assets in Syria. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) says that Al-Jazeera TV has broadcast video of Syrian fighters in Mosul, who recently arrived to fight against the US-led coalition. It showed them holding weapons and portraits of Saddam Hussein. Palestinian Islamic Jihad also claims it has also sent fighters to Iraq. (ABC, March 30) Meanwhile, top Syrian cleric Sheikh Ahmed Kaftaro, called on Muslims March 27 to resort to "martyrdom operations" against coalition forces waging war on Iraq. (UPI, March 27)

(Bill Weinberg and David Bloom) [top]

US troops in Iraq detained two Israeli journalists and a Portuguese colleague on suspicion of espionage March 26 and beat one of them, their relatives claimed. They were released after 48 hours. The journalists, Dan Scemama, of Israel's Channel One TV and Boaz Bismuth of the Yedioth Aharonoth newspaper entered Iraq without proper accreditation. Scemama said earlier in the week that he had been denied accreditation because he represented Israeli television.

The two teamed up with the Portuguese TV reporter, rented a jeep, and entered Iraq on their own, driving alongside US convoys, before they were arrested by US troops. Speaking to Channel One news from Kuwait, Dan Scemama said March 28 that the Americans treated them as spies and terrorists for the 48 hours of their detention. "We were humiliated for many hours. They did not let us eat and they took all the means of communication we had on our persons." The Portuguese journalist was reportedly beaten after he asked to phone home and suffered broken ribs. He is now said to be hospitalized . (Haaretz, March 28) [top]

Qatar's worldwide Al-Jazeera TV network, which angered Washington by showing footage of dead and captured US soldiers, voiced concern after two of its reporters were banned from the New York Stock Exchange and its Web sites were hacked. The stock exchange stopped al-Jazeera broadcasts, saying credentials were only for networks that provided "responsible" coverage. Al-Jazeera was also denied a request to broadcast live from New York's Nasdaq exchange. "There has to be a national effort to protect the freedom of the press even more," al-Jazeera spokesman Jihad Ballout said. "We appeal to authorities to pay attention to this." "Clearly, it is a violation of press freedom," agreed Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, a media watchdog group in Washington, DC. But US Secretary of State Colin Powell responded to National Public Radio: "Al-Jazeera has an editorial line and a way of presenting news that appeals to the Arab public. They watch it and they magnify the minor successes of the [Iraqi] regime. They tend to portray our efforts in a negative light."

Al-Jazeera's new English-language Web site and its Arabic-language site were both downed by a hacker attack this week. (Reuters, March 28) [top]

Writes the media watchdog group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting in a March 27 press release:

When Iraqi TV offices in Baghdad were hit by a US missile strike on March 25, the targeting of media was strongly criticized by press and human rights groups. The general secretary of the International Federation of Journalists, Aidan White, suggested that "there should be a clear international investigation into whether or not this bombing violates the Geneva Conventions." White told Reuters, "Once again, we see military and political commanders from the democratic world targeting a television network simply because they don't like the message it gives out."

The Geneva Conventions forbid the targeting of civilian installations-- whether state-owned or not-- unless they are being used for military purposes. Amnesty International warned that the attack may have been a "war crime" and emphasized that bombing a television station "simply because it is being used for the purposes of propaganda" is illegal under international humanitarian law. "The onus," said Amnesty, is on "coalition forces" to prove "the military use of the TV station and, if that is indeed the case, to show that the attack took into account the risk to civilian lives."

Likewise, Human Rights Watch affirmed that it would be illegal to target Iraqi TV based on its propaganda value. "Although stopping enemy propaganda may serve to demoralize the Iraqi population and to undermine the government's political support," said HRW, "neither purpose offers the 'concrete and direct' military advantage necessary under international law to make civilian broadcast facilities a legitimate military target."

Some U.S. journalists, however, have not shown much concern about the targeting of Iraqi journalists. Prior to the bombing, some even seemed anxious to know why the broadcast facilities hadn't been attacked yet. Fox News Channel's John Gibson wondered (March 24): "Should we take Iraqi TV off the air? Should we put one down the stove pipe there?" Fox's Bill O'Reilly (March 24) agreed: "I think they should have taken out the television, the Iraqi television.... Why haven't they taken out the Iraqi television towers?" MSNBC correspondent David Shuster offered: "A lot of questions about why state-run television is allowed to continue broadcasting. After all, the coalition forces know where those broadcast towers are located." On CNBC, Forrest Sawyer offered tactical alternatives to bombing (March 24): "There are operatives in there. You could go in with sabotage, take out the building, you could take out the tower."

On NBC Nightly News (March 24), Andrea Mitchell noted that "to the surprise of many, the U.S. has not taken out Iraq's TV headquarters." Mitchell's report cautioned that "U.S. officials say the television headquarters is in a civilian area. Bombing it would further infuriate the Arab world, and the U.S. would need the TV station to get out its message once coalition forces reach Baghdad. Still, allowing Iraqi TV to stay on the air gives Saddam a strong tool to help keep his regime intact." She did not offer the Geneva Conventions as a reason to avoid bombing a media outlet.

After the facility was struck, some reporters expressed satisfaction. CNN's Aaron Brown (March 25) recalled that "a lot of people wondered why Iraqi TV had been allowed to stay on the air, why the coalition allowed Iraqi TV to stay on the air as long as it did." CNN correspondent Nic Robertson seemed to defend the attack, saying that bombing the TV station "will take away a very important tool from the Iraqi leadership--that of showing their face, getting their message out to the Iraqi people, and really telling them that they are still in control." It's worth noting that CNN, like other US news outlets, provides all these functions for the US government.

New York Times reporter Michael Gordon appeared on CNN (March 25) to endorse the attack: "And personally, I think the television, based on what I've seen of Iraqi television, with Saddam Hussein presenting propaganda to his people and showing off the Apache helicopter and claiming a farmer shot it down and trying to persuade his own public that he was really in charge, when we're trying to send the exact opposite message, I think, was an appropriate target."

According to the New York Times (March 26), Fox's Gibson seemed to go so far as to take credit for the bombing of Iraqi TV, suggesting that Fox's "criticism about allowing Saddam Hussein to talk to his citizens and lie to them has had an effect." Fox reporter Major Garrett declared (March 25), "It has been a persistent question here, why [Iraqi TV] remains on the air."

Given such attitudes, perhaps it's not surprising that discussions of the legality of attacking Iraqi TV have been rare in US mainstream media. Yet when the White House accused Iraq of violating the Geneva Conventions by airing footage of American POWs, media were eager to engage the subject of international law. It's a shame US media haven't held the US government to the same standards. [top]

While civilian casualties of the bombardment of Iraq are conveniently invisible to stateside TV viewers, the web site Iraq Body Count is monitoring world press reports to arrive at a daily update of the dead so far. Each incident is listed separately, noting the location, number dead, weaponry used and media source. At press time, the minimum estimate stands at 433 and the maximum at 541.

By most estimates, 1991's Operation Desert Storm resulted in 100,000 civilian dead. See WW3 REPORT #67

Cathy Breen, a registered nurse from New York City now on the scene in Baghdad with the Iraq Peace Team, offers daily e-mail posts on the civilian impacts of the bombing in her series of on-line Baghdad Diaries. Her March 26 dispatch reads:

"Let me tell you about Amar, a 7 year old boy whom I saw in the hospital this morning. He has an emergency chest tube to drain blood as he suffered multiple shell injuries. His mother, Hannah, died in the direct hit to their house this morning. He is from a farming village on the outskirts of Baghdad. Then there is Mueen, 8 years old also the son of a farmer, but from another area. He is in the bed alongside Amar and also has a drainage tube. But his is from the abdomen. The doctor showed us a plastic bag holding parts of his small intestine which had to be removed during surgery in order to try and get to all of the shrapnel. His father died in that bombing, and his 6 year old brother Ali was wounded in the head. Shall I go on? Ten year old Rusel was wounded in an explosion outside her door. We saw the shrapnel in her chest on the X-ray and she too has a chest tube. Her right hand is fractured. I had seen her yesterday and to my surprise she remembered me... I told her that I was going to tell other children what a brave little girl she is. Her father said 'Bush said he'd bring democracy to Iraq. This is not democracy. This is terrorism!' Nada Adnan is a 14 year old high school student who came in with a deep gash and fracture to her right forehead. She also has a hunk of shrapnel in her upper thigh..."

US peace observers also reported that a children's hospital in Rutbah was bombed March 26, leaving several dead and injured. The report confirmed that by Iraqi authorities. The peace observers said they saw no significant Iraqi military presence near the hospital or elsewhere in Rutbah. US Central Command said Sunday it had no knowledge of a hospital bombing in Rutbah. (AP, March 30)

Meanwhile, the US press features front-page stories such as "DEADLY DILEMMA: In Trying to Spare Civilians, US Troops Put Themselves at Even Greater Risk" (Newsday, March 28), claiming troops are restrained from using heavy artillery in populated areas. [top]

Several Iraqi families have announced they are suing former US President George Bush and other US politicians for human rights violations in a Belgian court, sparking protests from Washington. Families of those who died in the US attack on the Amiriyah air raid shelter in Baghdad during 1991's Operation Desert Storm, are to file suit against the former president under a law enabling Belgian courts to hear human rights cases. Belgium's "universal competence" legislation allows proceedings against people accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide, regardless of their nationality or location.

"We have cautioned our Belgian colleagues that they need to be very careful about this kind of effort, this kind of legislation, because it makes it hard for us to go places that put you at such easy risk," said US Secretary of State Colin Powell. "If you show up, next thing you know you're being... Who knows?" Powell (head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1991) is among the accused in case, along with Vice President Dick Cheney (then Secretary of Defense), and former US army commander Norman Schwarzkopf. Over 400 people died in the Amiriyah attack, when US planes attacked the shelter. The US maintains it was a military command center, and that it did not know it was being used to shelter civilians.

Powell protested that another case is already being prepared in relation to the current Iraq war against President Bush and his Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld "even before anything has happened." (BBC, March 19)

See also WW3 REPORT #s 74 & 61 [top]

The New York Times reported March 28 that "Statements from Iraqi prisoners of war and electronic eavesdropping on Iraqi government communications indicate that Saddam Hussein has moved chemical weapons to the Medina Division," an elite force south of Baghdad, and is preparing to "use the weapons as allied troops moved toward Baghdad to oust him and his government." Officials with the Army's V Corps said intelligence information pointed to Saddam deploying 155-millimeter artillery weapons with shells carrying mustard gas as well as sarin, or nerve agents.

Meanwhile, the US case that Saddam is seeking nuclear capabilities is rapidly unraveling. Iraq's supposed deal to purchase uranium from Niger was cited by Bush in his January State of Union Address, when he said, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa... Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide." But on March 27, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed El-Baradei, the top nuclear inspector in Iraq, announced that the documents involving the supposed uranium deal were forged. "The IAEA has concluded, with the concurrence of outside experts, that these documents...are in fact not authentic," he said. One IAEA official told Seymour Hersh, writing in The New Yorker magazine: "Somebody got old letterheads and signatures and cut and pasted." (The New Yorker, March 31)

On the quest for Saddam's supposed weapons of mass destruction (WMD), Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of the so-called "Operation Iraqi Freedom," told an interviewer from Infinity Radio March 27: "We have not found any yet--excuse me-- but then again, we have not been to the places where we believe these weapons may be located. Each place that--each place we liberate where we think there's a possibility, then we exploit the sites, we exploit the documents. There is a great deal of information that's under study right now, but I can't sit here and tell you that we have uncovered the smoking gun, so to speak. We're not in that particular point of this war fight yet. It'll come."

A commentator on New York's "all-news" radio station, WINS, paraphrased the general's remarks after the interview was broadcast by saying US forces are "hot on the trail" of weapons of mass destruction. (WINS, March 27)

See also WW3 REPORT #78 [top]

Energy and construction giant Halliburton--formerly managed by Vice President Dick Cheney--is ceding a $600 million rebuilding contract in postwar Iraq, Newsweek reported. Timothy Beans, chief acquisition officer for the US Agency for International Development, told the weekly that Halliburton is not one of the two finalists to be prime contractor for the reconstruction of Iraq, though the Houston-based firm could take part as a subcontractor. The contract is to be awarded next week.

Halliburton was one of five companies that the Bush administration asked in mid-February to bid on the 21-month contract. On March 24, the US Army announced it had awarded a contract to extinguish oil fires and restore oil infrastructure in Iraq to Halliburton's Kellogg, Brown & Root engineering and construction division. Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, later sent a letter to Lt. Gen. Robert Flowers, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers, questioning why other oil-service companies had not been allowed to bid.

Wendy Hall, a Halliburton spokesperson, referred questions on the contract to US AID. But a UN official who follows the issue told Newsweek that the Iraq reconstruction contract probably wasn't worth the bad publicity for Halliburton, which depends on maintaining a favorable image both in Washington and the Arab world. "This kind of political controversy was not in their corporate interests," the official said. Halliburton may prefer to quietly work as a subcontractor rather than be in the spotlight as prime contractor, the official predicted.

The other companies asked to bid include California engineering giants Bechtel and Parsons. The contract remains mired in controversy even now that Halliburton has stepped down, because only US firms were asked to bid. (MSNBC, March 29)

In related news, Halliburton has agreed to look into its operations in Iran to make sure it isn't indirectly supporting terrorism. Company spokesperson Wendy Hall said Halliburton will designate a committee to look into concerns raised by New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. on behalf of the Police and Fire Pension Funds. The request by the funds came last fall amid concern that corporations might be indirectly supporting terrorist activity. The funds, which have over $18 million in holdings in Halliburton, passed a resolution demanding the investigation, which the company would have had to put before its shareholders at its May 21 meeting. Halliburton said it would review its operations in Iran days after the US Securities and Exchange Commission said it would not rule out taking action against the oilfield services company if it omitted the pension fund proposal from its 2003 proxy materials. (AP, March 21)

See also WW3 REPORT #s 53 & 43 [top]

The Bush Administration is rushing forward with plans to reopen Iraq's key Persian Gulf port of Umm Qasr. On March 24, the US Agency for International Development announced that Stevedoring Services of America (SSA) has been awarded a $4.8 million contract to manage the port. SSA has never worked in a war zone, but has been in the midst of another kind of struggle--that between labor and management in the West Coast ports of the USA. Seattle-based SSA--the largest marine terminal operator in the US--was considered the main corporate culprit in the lockout of dockworkers last fall. The International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) accused the company of union-busting. "While most employers want to work with us to implement new technologies," ILWU President James Spinosa said last September, "SSA is undermining negotiations because their primary interest is breaking the union." ILWU spokesman Steve Stallone was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle as saying, "It's ideological with these people. They are ideologically anti-union and anti-ILWU." In February, SSA was one of four companies cited by Washington state authorities for requiring longshore workers to remain on the job as much as 17 hours straight without adequate rest time.

SSA has also been at the center of controversy in Bangladesh, where it wants to build a $500 million containerized terminal in the port of Chittagong. The project faces opposition from trade unions, who fear that the new terminal will result in large job losses, and have staged hunger strikes, work stoppages and other actions in protest. Last year, the US Ambassador to Bangladesh, Mary Ann Peters, spoke out publicly in support of the SSA, implying that the country would pay a price if the project did not go forward. She told Agence France Presse: "Future investments in Bangladesh by American companies might be threatened if the plan for the SSA port is not approved by the Bangladesh government." In November, the High Court of Bangladesh ruled that the project was illegal because of inadequate feasibility studies, but the company can appeal that ruling to the country's supreme court.

SSA, a privately-held company with annual revenues of about $1 billion, is headed by Jon Hemingway, a member of one of the two families that have controlled the firm since 1949. SSA now has operations in Chile, India, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, South Africa and Vietnam. The company has received dozens of contracts from the Pentagon for cargo handling at US ports.

(See also: Corporate Research Project, March 25. See also Corporate Research Project's "Privatizing the Spoils of War") [top]

On March 29, Rome's historic bridges were draped in black by anti-war protesters. Hundreds of thousands rallied against the war in cities throughout France, Italy and Germany that day. In a symbolic action, around 30,000 Germans formed a human chain between the northern cities of Munster and Osnabrueck, a 35-mile route taken in 1648 by negotiators who ended Europe's Thirty Years War. In Stuttgart, some 6,000 protesters encircled the US military's European Command, releasing blue balloons adorned with white doves as they joined hands to form a chain. Further north, police detained 100 demonstrators as they ended a sit-down protest outside the main gate of the Rhine-Main air base near Frankfurt, a key transit point for US military traffic to the Persian Gulf. On March 26, tens of thousands again marched in Barcelona.

Poland, which has committed up to 200 troops to the war, saw its largest demonstration yet March 29, as 2,000 mostly young protesters marched to the US Embassy in Warsaw, banging drums and chanting "No Blood for Oil." In Hungary, another nation that has supported the war, about 2,000 people whistled and jeered as they marched past the U.S. and British embassies in Budapest on their way to parliament. Some 6,000 people demonstrated in front of the US Embassy in Moscow.

Police in Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia, used tear gas to break up hundreds of demonstrators outside the Australian Embassy March 29, while authorities in Bangladesh rolled out barbed wire to keep marchers from the US embassy. Students in the South Korean capital, Seoul, scuffled with riot police that day as thousands marched down four lanes of an eight-lane boulevard, chanting "Stop the bombing! Stop the killing!" Thousands marched earlier that week in Santiago, Chile. The Mexican daily La Jornada reported that 25,000 marched in Puebla March 26.

Hundreds of women, some carrying placards declaring that "the United States and Britain are the axis of evil," protested in the streets of Sana, Yemen, March 29. On March 25, protesters in Amman, Jordan, waved pro-Saddam placards and chanted "Iraq! Saddam! We will spend our blood for you!" In Saudi Arabia, protests are officially banned, but invocations to Allah to ''strike the Americans,'' ''bring down their planes'' and ''burn them with their own fire'' are now heard at Saudi mosques following daily prayers.

(Combined wire reports. For overview, see Reuters, March 29)

New York's Fifth Ave. was blocked by protesters for two consecutive days. On the 26th, 18 protesters locked arms across the avenue near the entrance to the city headquarters of Israel's Bank Leumi, blocking traffic for over an hour before they were arrested. (See story, this issue.) On the 27th, over 200 were arrested blocking traffic on the avenue near Rockefeller Center. (Newsday, March 28)

On March 24 in Hartford, CT, 11 were arrested in an anti-war protest targeting Sikorsky, makers of the Blackhawk attack helicopters now being used in both Iraq and Colombia. Held on charges of criminal trespass and disorderly conduct, their bail was initially set at $5,000, but the following day a deal was struck in which they were released on a pledge to perfom one day of community service. (ASEJ press release, March 24, update March 25)

A boycott of US products is also taking off in several European cities. Waiters in many bars and restaurants throughout Germany are telling patrons, "Sorry, Coca-Cola is not available any more due to the current political situation." One web site,, calls for boycotts of 27 top US firms from Microsoft to Kodak while another,, urges the "millions of people against the war" to "Boycott Brand America." (Reuters, March 25) [top]

The US mistakenly named Slovenia as a partner in its war against Iraq and even offered it a $4.5 million share of the money budgeted for the conflict, the tiny Alpine nation announced March 27. A day after hundreds of Slovenes hit the streets to protest the inclusion of their nation in Bush's proposed war budget, Prime Minister Anton Rop said Washington made an error. "When we asked for an explanation, the State Department told us we were named in the document by mistake as we are not a member of the coalition against Iraq," Rop told a hastily arranged news conference. "We are a part of no such coalition. We are a part of a coalition for peace." (Reuters, March 28) [top]


New York's Fifth Avenue was shut down for an hour at a busy midtown intersection by 19 Palestine solidarity activists on March 26. The demonstrators, predominately Jewish, but also Palestinian and queer, chained themselves together and lay down across the street. They were covered in fake blood, and wore signs saying, "Witness to Israeli war crimes," referring to the murder of US peace activist Rachel Corrie by the Israeli army in Gaza on March 16. A cardboard mock Caterpillar bulldozer with an Israeli flag stood in the middle of the street. Chanting, "Occupation is a Crime, from Iraq to Palestine," the protestors were roughly removed by police. The protest occurred outside the offices of Israel's Bank Leumi. The bank was shut for the rest of the day, citing a risk of terror.

"Bank Leumi is a pillar of Israeli finance, with $51 billion in assets. The illegal occupation of Palestinian towns and the killing of civilians are supported by Bank Leumi's investments in the Israeli military economy," said protester Rachel Fineberg, a Jewish human rights activist. "Enough is enough we're shutting this war machine down."

"This war is realizing the worst fears of Palestinians," said protester Mark Field, a New York activist. "While the world's attention is focused on Iraq and Arabs are cast as the enemy, Israel has stepped up its assaults on Palestinian towns. Under cover of war, Israel is freer than ever to label every Palestinian a terrorist, to detain civilians indefinitely, to demolish civilian homes and seize additional Palestinian lands."

The site of the protest, 47th and Fifth Avenue, is near New York's diamond district. Many of the onlookers that gathered and watched were orthodox Jews and Chasidim. Some were quite angered by what they saw, spitting on the protestors, and tossing hot coffee on them. A man wearing a skull cap destroyed the protestor's plywood Israeli bulldozer, apparently not grasping the irony of his actions.

Jewish anti-occupation activists were angered at the labeling of the protest as "anti-Jewish" by police chief Ray Kelly. A Jewish activist had this response to Kelly's remark: "The protest raised concerns about the behavior of a state, not a people. While Israel identifies itself as a Jewish state and many Jews feel strongly about the State of Israel, criticism of Israel's government is not anti-Semitic or anti-Jewish any more than criticism of Iraq's government is anti-Muslim."

The protest garnered much media attention. Stories about it appeared on CNN, BBC America, National Public Radio, Fox, CBC, and in The New York Sun, Ha'aretz, AP, and Newsday, among others. (Protest press release, March 26; WW3 Report sources; AP, March 26; New York Sun, March 27) (David Bloom)

See NYC Indymedia for still pictures

For more on Rachel Corrie, see WW3 REPORT #77 [top]

WW3 REPORT received the following thoughts on Rachel Corrie from Adwan, a farmer in Jayyous, Palestine.

"This name will remain ever lasting in every Palestinian's heart. This young American lady who came from Washington [state] to witness what is happening in Palestine because of the Americans' illegal policy in Palestine. Since she has arrived to Palestine she was active in front of all the demonstrations against the Israeli aggressive occupation. This young lady has proved that...humanity is the strongest thing in our life. Also she has proved that dialogue and solidarity among nations are the only guarantee to establish the world peace everywhere... Rachel has sacrificed in her body and soul to prevent devastating a Palestinian family. But the Israeli bulldozer has changed her from eyewitness to martyr... At last I like to say that I and all the peace supporters all over the world will appreciate this courageous martyr of peace and justice in the world." (Adwan in Jayyous, Palestine, March 25) (David Bloom)

For more on Jayyous and Adwan [top]

Congressman Brian Baird (D-WA) has called for an independent investigation into the death of Rachel Corrie. He will introduce a resolution, co-sponsored by the six Democratic congressman of Washington state. Amnesty International and the US Green Party have also called for an independent investigation. The US says it will rely on Israel's investigation. On March 16, US peace activist Rachel Corrie was killed by an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) bulldozer while engaging in an act of non-violent civil disobedience. (US Campaign to End the Occupation, March 26) (See WW3 REPORT #77) (David Bloom)

The US Campaign to End the Occupation urges calls on concerned citizens to urge Members of Congress to support this resolution. Background information can be found at:

You can find contact information for your Members of Congress by going to and entering your zip code into the icon.

Alternatively, call the toll-free Capitol Switchboard at 1-800-839-5276 and asked to be transferred to your Member of Congress.

(David Bloom) [top]


An ambush that killed two US soldiers and wounded a third is a sign rebel activity is increasing in Afghanistan following the start of the war in Iraq, said Army spokesman Col. Roger King. "This helps paint the picture for future operations," King told reporters. The March 29 ambush attack on a four-vehicle Special Forces convoy in the southern province of Helmand was the first fatal combat encounter for US forces in Afghanistan since December. US B-52 bombers and helicopter gunships later pounded the area. The following day, a rocket hit the headquarters of the international peacekeeping force that patrols Kabul, the Afghan capital. No injuries were reported. Afghan authorities say remnant Taliban/al-Qaeda forces are behind the attacks. (AP, March 30) [top]

Two prisoners who died while being held for interrogation at the US military base in Afghanistan had apparently been beaten, according to a military pathologist's report. The two men, both Afghans, died last December at the US base at Bagram, where prisoners have been held for questioning. The autopsies found they had suffered "blunt force injuries" and classified both deaths as homicides. One of the dead prisoners, known only as Dilawar, died as a result of "blunt force injuries to lower extremities complicating coronary artery disease", according to the death certificate signed by Major Elizabeth Rouse, a pathologist with the Washington-based Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. The dead man was aged 22 and was a farmer and part-time taxi-driver. He was said to have had an advanced heart condition and blocked arteries. The other death being investigated is that of Mullah Habibullah, the brother of a former Taliban commander. His death certificate indicates that he died of a pulmonary embolism, or a blood clot in the lung. (UK Guardian, March 7) [top]

The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) has condemned an attempt on the life of one of its employees working in a charity hospital for Afghan refugee women and children in Khayaban-i-Sir-i-Syed, Pakistan. A RAWA volunteer was shot and injured on March 18 by three assailants as he was leaving the Malalai Hospital. A RAWA spokesperson said the motive of the attack was to discourage the group from continuing its campaign to win the rights of Afghan women. "We know such attacks are planned with the notion of making RAWA stop its activities. But, if the martyrdom of our leader could not discourage in carrying forward our goal then such attacks can in no way weaken our resolve and determination," the spokesperson said . (Dawn, Pakistan, March 19)

See also WW3 REPORT #72 [top]

The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) termed the Hamid Karzai government a total failure as far as women's rights are concerned, and demanded the establishment of a truly representative government in Afghanistan. Addressing a seminar entitled "Women Rights in Afghanistan" at a hotel in Peshawar, Pakistan, on March 17, RAWA representatives urged the international community to fulfil its pledges to bring democracy to Afghanistan. Said a RAWA statement: "We demand that all the Afghan warlords, included in the Hamid Karzai government and outside, should be presented before an international tribunal and put on trial for their long history of intrigues and bloodshed on the Afghan soil. We don't think that the present government is acceptable to all the Afghan people. If the international community and neighboring countries really want to see stability and peace in the region, the Afghan people should be allowed to elect their representatives in a free and fair manner."

The RAWA statement also took a strong stance against the US invasion of Iraq: "The US has no right to bring a regime change in Iraq. It is the right of the Iraqi people to either accept or reject Saddam Hussain's government. On the one hand, the US has adopted criminal silence over the killing of the innocent people at the hands of the Israeli forces in Palestine and, on the other, it has become the champion of democracy and human rights. This double standard will lead the country to a new holocaust."

(The Statesman, India, March 18)

See also WW3 REPORT #72 [top]


Three unnamed US citizens, apparently employees of a private company contracted by the US for military-related missions in Colombia, were killed when their Cessna crashed in Caqueta department after taking off from Larandia air base March 24. They were on a mission related to the search for three other US citizens taken prisoner by FARC guerillas in February. The captured men were identified as employees of California Microwave Systems, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman working under contract to the Pentagon. Colombian military sources said the men were on an espionage mission. The US has offered a $300,000 reward and a new life in the US for information leading to the release of the captives. (NYT, March 27)

See WW3 REPORT #74 [top]

Two US contract pilots helped direct a bombing attack that killed 18 civilians, including seven children, in a Colombian village, according to court records and a recently discovered videotape. The two men, identified as Joe Orta and Charles Denny, were flying in a surveillance plane owned by AirScan Inc., of Florida, with a third crewman, Maj. Cesar Gomez of the Colombian air force. The men were helping direct an attack against suspected guerrilla positions near the village of Santo Domingo on Dec. 13, 1998. The three men, who were videotaping the operation from the air, can be heard discussing the best place for a Huey helicopter to drop a US-made cluster bomb, providing air cover for ground troops. The videotape recently surfaced in court proceedings.

Last fall, Colombia's inspector general sanctioned two air force crew members in the Huey, Capt. Cesar Romero and technician Hector Mario Hernandez, concluding that they intentionally dropped the bomb on the town. In February, Colombia's Supreme Court ordered the case transferred from a military tribunal to a civilian court.

In court testimony, Romero asserted he dropped the bomb in the jungle between the town and nearby bridge, saying he believed that distance to be between 1,000 and 1,500 yards from the town. But the bridge lies only 600 yards from the town. In the tape, Gomez tells other pilots firing in the jungle between the bridge and the town to aim for a site about 300 meters, or 325 yards, north of the town. If Romero intended to drop his bomb 325 yards away, the town would have fallen well within range of the device, which would have traveled about 550 yards horizontally from the point of launch.

Santo Domingo lies about 30 miles south of a petroleum complex operated by California-based Occidental Petroleum. The army and air force used Occidental's facility as a base to plan a rescue operation for army units trapped near a bridge by guerrilla forces, according to testimony . (AP, March 16)

See also WW3 REPORT #71 [top]

Venezuela's military exchanged gunfire with Colombian paramilitaries and bombed a zone close to the border as a warning to the fighters, President Hugo Chavez announced March 30. In his weekly TV broadcast, Chavez said Colombian paramilitaries recently "invaded Venezuelan territory" and fired on an army patrol in the border area, hitting their helicopter. A 90-minute gun battle ensued and the assailants retreated to Colombian territory. Chavez also said armed forces recently dropped bombs near where Colombian paramilitaries were hiding. "I said to bomb the area, not on direct targets but over the adjacentarea so as to warn them and establish a security cordon," Chavez said. "We did it, it was effective, and they withdrew toward Colombian territory." (AP, March 30) [top]

Gen. James Hill, head of the Southern Command, said March 10 that Panama could experience a possible "invasion of narco-terrorists" in the Darien Gap jungle region along the Colombian border, and affirmed that Panama and the US are exploring new mechanisms of support for the protection of the Colombian border. One move being contemplated is to initiate a second phase of "New Horizons," a military maneuver program involving US National Guard troops--this time for the Darien region. The first phase earlier this year was in the Chiriqui region. Hill also broached training Panamanian security forces to patrol the Gap: "We are discussing with them [Panamanian authorities] training and helping the National Police of Panama so that they'll be better equipped to work on the border, especially in the Darien. Because there is a problem there and there is a growing understanding that something needs to be done accordingly." Hill predicted that with the "hard hand" of President Alvaro Uribe in Colombia, "narco-terrorists" would cross the border into Panama and other neighboring countries. (La Prensa, Panama City, March 11. Trans.: Brendan O'Neill of ACERCA)

See also WW3 REPORT #72 [top]


On March 20, four US military officials and a group of US Marines participated in Mexican military exercises on the Mexico-Guatemala border dubbed "Strengthening Security and Vigilance," according to La Jornada reporter Hermann Bellinghausen. The "good faith visit" by the Marines coincided with the first day of military action in Iraq. (La Jornada, March 24)

See also WW3 REPORT #78 [top]

An ongoing occupation of the entrance to the municipal building in the Chiapas village of Teopisca ended after three days when town authorities, adherents of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) political machine, agreed to enter into dialogue with the protesters, representing the left-opposition Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) and indigenous groups demanding the town be run by a traditional Indian council. (Cuarto Poder, Chiapas, via Melel Xojobal Press Synthesis, March 27) [top]


Former Pentagon official Richard Perle resigned March 27 as chairman of the Defense Policy Board, a group that advises Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on policy issues. Perle said he was stepping aside voluntarily to avoid a controversy over his business dealings. ''I have seen controversies like that before and I know that this one will inevitably distract from the urgent challenge in which you are now engaged,'' Perle wrote in a resignation letter. The controversy centers on Perle's deal with bankrupt Global Crossing Ltd. to win government approval of its purchase by a joint venture of two Asian firms. Perle would receive $725,000 for his work, including $600,000 if the government approves the deal, according to lawyers and others involved in the bankruptcy case. The deal is under review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a government group that includes representatives from the Defense Department. The merger was stalled after the FBI raised concerns about its impact on national security.

Perle became involved in another controversy stemming from an article in The New Yorker magazine that said he had lunch in January with Saudi-born businessman Adnan Khashoggi and a Saudi industrialist. The industrialist, Harb Saleh Zuhair, was interested in investing in a venture capital firm, Trireme Partners, of which Perle is a managing partner. Nothing ever came of the lunch in Marseilles. But the New Yorker story, written by Seymour M. Hersh, suggested that Perle, a longtime critic of the Saudi regime, was inappropriately mixing business and politics. Perle called the report preposterous and ''monstrous.''

The Defense Policy Board is a bipartisan group that advises the secretary of defense on a wide range of policy issues. Its 30 members are a mix of former military and government officials. They include former CIA Director James Woolsey, former Vice President Dan Quayle, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former Air Force Chief of Staff Ronald Fogleman.

Perle, 61, was so strongly opposed to nuclear arms control agreements with the USSR during his days in the Reagan administration that he became known as ''the Prince of Darkness.'' (AP, March 27; NYT, March 28)

Perle had become increasingly identified with a maximalist agenda to go beyond mere "regime change" in Iraq to topple regimes and even redraw borders throughout the Arab world. Last Oct. 1, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported on a recent meeting in which Perle told Pentagon officials that Iraq was just a tactical goal, while Saudi Arabia was the strategic goal and Egypt was the great prize. Another idea he reportedly put forth was permanent Israeli annexation of the Palestinian territories, a Palestinian state in Jordan, and a Hashemite monarchy in Iraq. Opined Egypt's Al-Ahram weekly Feb. 11: "What all this makes clear is that the future map of the region is a subject of discussion in Washington and dialogue with Israel. The Arab countries are not party to the talks. The scene brings to mind the events of the World War I and how the victorious countries reshaped the region after the Ottoman Empire's defeat, divvying it up among themselves in a secret deal by the name of Sykes-Picot in 1916." (World Press Review, April 2003)

See also WW3 REPORT #63 [top]

A March 7 event on the future of democracy in Lebanon at the Washington DC offices of the Hudson Institute, co-sponsored by the institute and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, brought out Lebanon's most bitter opponents of the Syrian military presence in their country--at a time when Pentagon hardliners insinuate that Syria could be next for attack. The conference was one among six planned events at the institute on the future of Middle East democracy. The other countries in the series are Iraq, the Palestine Authority, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey. WW3 REPORT attended the Lebanon confab.

Many of the Lebanese who attended the event were Maronite Christians, while one identified himself as Druze. No Muslims identified themselves. A representative of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) was there; also seen were lapel pins identifying members of JINSA, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.

Two panels were presented, both moderated by the Hudson Institute's Meyrav Wurmser, director of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). Introductions were made by Nir Boms, vice-president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy, and who spoke with an Israeli accent. WW3 REPORT sat in the first row, directly in front of Boms and Wurmsor, and heard the two whispering in Hebrew throughout the event.

The first panel consisted of Dr. Josepsh Gebily, representing the Lebanese Forces, a Maronite Christian militia headed by Samir Geagea, and Ziad Abdelnour, a Lebanese-American businessman and Maronite activist. Both men expressed the need to end the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, by force if necessary. Abdelnour added that Hezbollah must be dealt with as well.

WW3 REPORT was invited to the event by partisans of Gen. Michel Aoun, Lebanon's former prime minister and armed forces chief. Aoun's backers at the event told WW3 REPORT they felt the general was the best hope for a non-sectarian future in Lebanon. They didn't like what they heard from the first panelists, saying they represented the old, sectarian order that unraveled into civil war in Lebanon. Dr. Joseph Hitti, president of New England Americans for Lebanon, claimed that Aoun, coming from a lower-middle class Maronite background, was a Lebanese patriot, and not a sectarian partisan.

The second panel consisted of Gen. Aoun, US Rep. Elliot Engel (D-NY), and Frank Gaffney, former Assistant Secretary of Defense under Ronald Reagan and a neo-conservative on the board of several Washington think-tanks such as the Center for Security Policy (CSP). Engel, the author of the Syria Accountability Act, expressed qualified support for the coming war with Iraq, but worried the ensuing US occupation of that country would keep America from being able to take on what he feels should be the real focus of US counter-terrorism efforts in the Middle East--Syria. He expressed dismay that the State Department refused to meet with Gen. Aoun, claiming that "Gen. Aoun has been a continued friend of the United States and freedom and democracy."

However, according to Sandra Mackay, author of "Lebanon: Death of a Nation" (Doubleday, 1991), the US and Aoun have not always seen eye-to-eye. In the summer of 1989, during the Aoun-led revolt against the Syrian occupation, the general, Lebanese Prime Minister at the time, appealed to the West to "Save the Christians." Aoun was "stunned," Mackay wrote, when George Bush senior ignored the plea. "Picking up the sword of intimidation, Aoun weilded an ugly anti-American propaganda campaign. At the same time, his gunners harassed US helicopters flying in supplies to the American mission in Beirut. And on two occasions, Aoun's supporters created a human blockade around the American ambassador's residence while chanting that nothing would go in or out until Aoun's demands for greater American involvement in solving Lebanon's crisis were met. On Sept. 2, Aoun, caught up in his own propaganda, told the French newspaper Figaro that perhaps he should settle Lebanon's problems through 'Christian terrorism' by taking 'twenty American hostages.' It was the final straw. On Sept. 5, three United States Military helicopters landed at the American compound in the hills overlooking East Beirut and plucked Ambassador John McCarthy and the thirty other staff members from the embassy. There was a chilling paradox in the event. After pro-Iranian Muslims bent on forcing the United States out of Lebanese territory had twice bombed the American embassy, killed 241 Marines, and held American citizens hostage for years, it was the pro-Western Christians who finally drove Uncle Sam out of Lebanon."

WW3 REPORT noted the irony that much of the anti-occupation rhetoric employed by Gaffney, Engel and others against Syria was very similar to that used by activists against the Israeli occupation and colonization of Palestinian territories. Pro-Israel hawk Gaffney opened his remarks by saying: "It is certainly true that we are dealing at the moment with one of the last colonial outrages of the residue of the twentieth century. The colonial power, of course, being Syria. The colony, unwilling, as is usually the case, Lebanon."

Gaffney attacked the Clinton administration for promoting a peace settlement between Syria and Israel. "It even at some points envisioned the placement of American troops on the Golan Heights as a lubricant for returning those heights to Syrian control," said Gaffney. "An initiative that I believe would have been an absolute disaster, emboldening Syria into the belief that the [vision of a] greater Syria that causes it to be in Lebanon was going to continue to make progress." Gaffney said that current events "made possible a great new opportunity for peace in the region, a goal that will be greatly enhanced, if not openly assured, by freeing, in due course, the Syrian people as well."

Rep. Engel said, "I believe that after Sept. 11, the main thrust of United States policy, certainly foreign policy, but domestic as well, should be in fighting the war against terror. And therefore I think, that if we are going to make decisions to have military incursions, we ought to look at which states are aiding and supporting terrorism. I think Syria, and I said this before, has a worse record than Iraq when it comes to terrorism, support for terrorism. I believe Iran has a worse record than Iraq when it comes to support for terrorism."

Gaffney echoed remarks made previously by President Bush that regime change in Iraq would lead to comprehensive Middle East peace, because Saddam Hussein would no longer be giving money to the families of suicide bombers. He scooted out of the room before questions could be asked, so WW3 REPORT put the following question to Meyrav Wurmser. "President Bush identified Iraqi and Syrian support for suicide bombers as being a cause for such attacks. Do you think the continuing Israeli repression of Palestinians, the active colonization and theft of their occupied lands may also be driving these desperate people to desperate acts?" Wurmser appeared agitated. "I'm declining to answer the question, I'm not going to answer the question. No comment," she replied. (David Bloom on the scene)

See also WW3 REPORT #58 [top]


Security forces at Vandenberg Air Force Base may use "deadly force'' against protesters if they enter the military complex. They asserted that anti-war activists plan to trespass onto base grounds in hopes of disturbing Vandenberg's mission and vandalize sensitive equipment that helps guide the war effort. "This is not fun and games anymore,'' said Maj. Stacee Bako. "We're living in post 9-11. We don't know what's going to happen with the war effort in Iraq. These folks have got to realize their actions... They're illegal intruders.''

The deadly force policy will not deter protesters, said Peter Lumsdaine of the Vandenberg Action Coalition, one of the organizers of the planned trespassing. "I think it does underline that people in the nonviolent resistance movement are willing to take some risks,'' Lumsdaine said. On March 14, one activist jumped onto the base's entrance sign and sprayed it with 4 ounces of his own blood. Dennis Apel, 52, later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of trespassing and vandalism. (AP, March 17) [top]

Days after critics called Portland anti-war protesters "terrorists," Oregon state senator John Minnis introduced a bill to "create the crime of terrorism" and apply it to people who intentionally cause injury while disrupting commerce or traffic. If convicted, they would face imprisonment for life . (The Oregonian, March 24) [top]

Sarah Ferguson reports for the Village Voice that many of the over 200 protesters arrested for blocking traffic in midtown Manhattan March 27 were grilled by police about their political affiliations while being held. "They asked me whether I'd been to other demonstrations and what groups I belonged to and said that if I didn't answer those questions, I'd be there all night," said Stephen Durham, 55, an organizer for the Freedom Socialist Party who was finally sprung at 1:30 a.m. Friday, nearly 17 hours after his arrest on Thursday. [top]

Federal Homeland Security Department Black Hawk helicopters are patrolling the skies over New York City to enforce the Air Defense Zones which now restrict air traffic in a 30 mile radius from each of the metropolitan area's three airports. (Newsday, March 27) [top]

Iraqi intelligence agents posing as diplomats have been arrested in a suspected plot to carry out terrorist attacks against US targets in two foreign countries, the State Department told the Washington Times March 29. The unidentified agents, members of the Iraqi Intelligence Service (IIS), also known as the Mukhabarat, were detained and "terrorist material was confiscated," mainly explosives, the department said. Specific information on where they were apprehended or what targets had been selected was not released. Earlier this month, federal authorities said they were looking for Iraqi "sleeper cells" that might have targeted for attack the Palo Verde nuclear power plant 50 miles west of Phoenix. The threat prompted the deployment of National Guard troops to the facility. [top]

David Duke's European-American Unity and Rights Organization announced that it was supporting International ANSWER's anti-war rally in Washington March 15. Read the white supremacist organization's March 8 press release: "The European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO) today officially announced that it plans to join efforts with and support a rally in Washington DC on March 15 against the planned Iraqi War. EURO is calling on all activists and supporters to support and attend the planned rally in Washington DC and is planning a series of smaller protests in conjunction with around the country."

See also WW3 REPORT #53 [top]


Does Richard Perle's resignation signal a shift away from his maximalist agenda of redrawing the map of the Middle East to the more modest aim of mere "regime change" in Iraq?

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