IRAQ MEETS THE NEW BOSS
by Bill Weinberg
Hussein and his fellow abusers
Have been caught and must face their accusers
Because after the war
What the trial is for
Is to punish all crimes--of the losers
Limerick Times, Vol. 1, #19-July 1, 2004
Jonathan J Dobkin, Editor
On June 28, the US transferred sovereignty to Iraq's interim government two
days ahead of schedule, as the New York Times announced to a banner
headline spreading across all five columns of the front page. By a vote of
the US-appointed (and now-disbanded) Governing Council, Iyad Allawi, leader
of the CIA-backed Iraqi National Accord, became Iraq's new interim prime
minister. Sheikh Ghazi al-Yawar, a traditional Sunni tribal leader and a
figure far less conciliatory towards the US, filled the far less powerful
post of interim president. But it remains doubtful whether the new regime
will have either stability or any real sovereignty in an Iraq still facing
armed insurgency and under occupation by some 150,000 US troops.
SADDAM IN THE DOCK--BUT WHO'S?
On June 30, the US officially transferred custody of Saddam Hussein to the
new regime. On July 1, the world was treated to the spectacle of a defiant
Saddam appearing at his first court hearing, where he refused to recognize
the authority of either the court or the new government, insisting he
remains the legitimate leader of Iraq. Eleven other old regime members were
also arraigned, including Saddam's deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz, and
"Chemical Ali" Hassan al-Majid. Unlike Saddam, the other regime members
signed court papers and requested legal counsel. (Al-Jazeera, July 2)
The fact that the 12 are still being held at a secret location by US forces
even as they are ostensibly under the custody of a sovereign Iraq reveals
much about the true nature of power in the country. The US is said to be
planning a large role in Saddam's prosecution through Regime Crimes Liaison
Office. (LAT, June 30) The office was created by the Coalition Provisional
Authority to loan US federal prosecutors to the Iraqi regime for the case.
(AP, July 5)
WAR CONTINUES AS USUAL
On June 8, the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution
supporting the coalition security force in Iraq and US-managed transfer to
"sovereignty." But the grisly dialectic of insurgent and counter-insurgent
terror showed no signs of abating--indeed, there are signs that the entire
region is being drawn into the Iraqi maelstrom.
At least 64 were killed in car bombs throughout Iraq in the first two weeks
of June. On June 15 two pipeline blasts near a Persian Gulf terminal again
shut down oil exports. On June 17, the central Baghdad base of the New
Iraqi Army was hit by suicide bombers, killing at least 35, mostly new
recruits. (NYT, June 15, 16, 18)
On June 18, Saudi militants beheaded Paul M. Johnson Jr., an abducted US
Lockheed Martin engineer working on Apache helicopters. The New York Times
quoted a statement from an un-named web site: "He tasted what thousands of
Muslims taste every day because of the fire from the American Apache, its
rockets and its flames that tortured Muslims." Pictures of the beheaded
corpse were also posted on the web. The beheading was followed by
skirmishes between militants and Saudi security forces, but the presumed
leader Abdelazis al-Muqrin is still said to be at large . (NYT, June 19)
On June 24, coordinated bomb attacks and ambushes in Mosul, Fallujah,
Muhawil, Baqouba and Baghdad left 100 dead, including three US troops.
The US blamed resistance leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi for the attacks. The
Jordan-born al-Zarqawi is said to have operated his own training camps
under Taliban protection in Afghanistan, but to have a rivalry with Osama
bin Laden's al-Qaeda network. He was formerly imprisoned in Jordan on
charges of conspiring to overthrow the monarchy and establish an Islamic
caliphate. Having lost a leg in a US airstrike on his Afghan camp in Herat,
he entered Iraq after the fall of Saddam, and may be drawing on followers
from his native Beni Hassan clan, which straddles the Iraq-Jordan border.
In 2003, he was named as the brains behind a series of lethal bombings from
Casablanca to Istanbul. (Sofia News Agency, July 10)
On June 25, the US attacked supposed insurgent strongholds in Falluja with
airstrikes, indicating that little was gained by the strategic US pull-out
from the restive city in May--except possibly a propaganda victory for the
resistance. As the AP reported July 17: "Through Web sites, headlines and
graffiti, the Arab world is celebrating the people of Fallujah as victors
over a superpower. This embrace of the Iraqi city has raised fears that it
will become a magnet for recruits to al-Qaeda's anti-Western campaign."
The radical Shiite militia of Moktada al-Sadr still controls Najaf's Imam
Ali shrine, the New York Times reported July 10, and the new authorities
are reluctant to move against them, fearing a resurgence of armed conflict.
The Times reported June 26 that the US used extensive bribes to get Sadr
militia fighters to lay down arms in the April fighting--but the movement
clearly remains a potential threat to the new order in Iraq. The Christian
Science Monitor reported claims by US and Iraqi authorities July 15 that
Iran has some 80 agents in Iraq secretly arming and training the Sadr
forces. Michael al-Zurufi, security chief for Najaf province, told CSM:
"The Iranian people are trying to reorganize Sadr's militia so they can
This constitutes the first attributed claim that Iran, officially patron of
the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), a rival Shiite
faction cooperating with the new regime, is backing the Sadr forces, who
have heretofore been suspicious of Tehran. On July 13, the Tehran Times ran
declarations by SCIRI head Abdelaziz Hakim denying accusations that Iran is
meddling in Iraq's internal affairs--while not specifically mentioning
The chaos caused by ongoing violence in Iraq is compounded by that of
ongoing infrastructure problems. The New York Times reported June 14 that
the US had missed its electricity restoration goal by 30% for the start of
summer, and blackouts remain frequent in Baghdad.
The chaos is not, however, interfering with Iraq's march towards a market
economy. BBC reported July 16 that on the advice of the US Treasury, Iraqi
interim Finance Minister Adel Mahdi has launched a bond market. The new
Iraq Stock Exchange, with a fully automated trading floor, opened on June
24. The nascent Iraq Stock Exchange, listing 27 companies held over from
the Saddam era, had more than 500 million shares traded on its opening
day--more then the former Baghdad Stock Exchange ever did.
NEW REGIME BORN WITH EMERGENCY POWERS
Days after taking power, Allawi announced emergency legislation granting
him sweeping powers in a bid to put down the insurgency. The US was said to
object to Allawi's grab for emergency powers--but he is more likely to get
in trouble with Washington over his proposed amnesty for resistance
fighters who have not killed or raped Iraqis. Insurgents who have killed US
troops are implicitly included in the amnesty. Allawi also warned that
measures against the insurgency could include postponing Iraq's first
post-Saddam elections, now slated for January 2005. He denied that the
emergency powers constitute martial law, but said martial law could be
declared in certain provinces . (Al-Jazeera, June 27)
On July 8, US troops battled masked gunmen in Baghdad as the emergency
legislation was drawn up.
On July 14, following a two-week lull, a suicide blast at a checkpoint
outside the heavily-guarded government zone in Baghdad left 11 dead. The
governor of Nineveh province was also assassinated in an ambush. And a bomb
blast knocked out the crucial northern pipeline that delivers oil from
Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan.
The following day, Allawi announced the creation of a new internal
intelligence agency to "annihilate" the insurgency. He claimed Iraq lost
nearly $1 billion in oil revenues due to pipeline blasts over the past 10
days. ''This is money taken from the pockets of Iraqis," Alawi said.
(Boston Globe, July 16)
On July 17, two days after Allawi's announcement, the convoy of Iraqi
interim Justice Minister Malik Dohan al-Hassan was hit by a suicide car
bomber, killing five of his bodyguards. In a second suicide bombing,
attackers struck the Iraqi National Guard headquarters in Mahmudiya, just
south of Baghdad, killing two and injuring nearly 50.
Allawi's draconian moves against the insurgency were cast in an ironic
light by June 9 claims in the New York Times)
--citing former intelligence
officials--that his CIA-backed Iraqi National Accord used car bombs and
other sabotage in a 1990's campaign to destabilize the Saddam Hussein
regime. Hushed up by both the CIA and Saddam, the Times claims "[n]o public
records of the bombing campaign exist..." But former CIA officer Robert
Baer told the Times that a bombing during that period "blew up a school
bus; schoolchildren were killed." While Baer said he did not recall which
resistance group set off that bomb, other former intelligence officials
said Allawi's organization was the only one involved in bombings and
sabotage at that time.
Adding to the irony, the Times also aired claims that as an official of the
Baath regime in the 1970s, Allawi supervised public hangings and espionage
against Iraqi dissidents living abroad.
COUNTDOWN TO CIVIL WAR?
Allawi could also be asking for trouble with his plan to re-instate units
of Saddam's disbanded army. Ex-CIA officer Reuel Marc Gerecht, now with
American Enterprise Institute, warned in a June 30 New York Times op-ed
that "the prime minister's plans may well capsize Iraq. The primary Shiite
political organizations have tentatively agreed to integrate their
paramilitary organizations into a new Iraqi army. This agreement will
unravel, however, if Mr. Alawi is serious bout recreating old Iraqi units.
The average Shiite detests the uniform and standards of Saddam Hussein's
military... If Shiite paramilitary organizations are not incorporated into
a new army--with freshly minted Shiite officers in commanding positions--it
is unlikely that the new Iraq can survive."
On June 9, the New York Times reported that Kurdish leaders had threatened
to leave the interim government unless the autonomy of their northern zone
was constitutionally guaranteed in perpetuity. The Turkish newspaper Zaman
reported July 17 that Allawi said the northern city of Kirkuk, which the
Kurdish leaders are accused of seeking to annex to their autonomous zone,
might be afforded its own special autonomous status in a bid to head off
further violence in the region. Turkish leaders fear an expansion of
Kurdish power in Iraq as setting a precedent for their own restive Kurdish
region. Zaman said that Allawi also pledged a crackdown on the PKK, the
Kurdish separatist group active in Turkey which has been taking refuge in
Iraq since the fall of Saddam.
In the June 28 New Yorker finding that Seymour Hersh claimed that Israel is secretly
aiding Iraq's Kurds to offset the power of the Arab Sunni and Shiite
militias and parties. Citing anonymous Israeli intelligence sources, Hersh
claimed Israel currently has military advisors on the ground in Iraq's
Kurdish zone. "The former Israeli intelligence official acknowledged that
since late last year Israel has been training Kurdish commando units to
operate in the same manner and with the same effectiveness as Israel's most
secretive commando units, the Mistaravim."
Hersh also cited a November 2003 secret assessment by the CIA station chief
in Baghdad, code-named Aardwolf and leaked to Knight-Ridder, finding that
the security situation in Iraq was nearing collapse. The document stated
that "none of the post-war Iraqi political institutions and leaders have
shown an ability to govern the country" or hold elections.
COALITION FRACTURING--DEATH TOLL MOUNTS
On July 13, Manila announced a pull-out of its 50-troop contingent from
Iraq as militants from a group calling itself the Islamic Army threatened
to kill a Filipino truck-driver held hostage. The news came as a Bulgarian
hostage was executed by his captors. Manila's decision was predictably
blasted by Bush. Spain pulled its troops from Iraq following the March
election of Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Small
contingents from Nicaragua, Honduras and the Dominican Republic, which had
been under Spanish command, also left with them. (Toronto G&M, July 16)
Abducted US Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun, shown in grainy TV footage blindfolded
with a sword above head and initially said to have been killed, later
showed up at the US Embassy in Beirut (where he has family). He is still
being questioned at the Marine base in Quantico, VA. (Reuters, July 16)
The Pentagon says it does not keep track of Iraqi civilian casualties. But
the web site Iraq Body Count continues to monitor world press reports to
arrive at a daily update of the total Iraqi civilian dead from war-related
causes since the US campaign began last March. At press time, the minimum
estimate stands at 11,252 and the maximum at 13,213.However, Iraq Body
Count is now including in its toll those killed by insurgent forces,
considering these to be "civilian deaths resulting from the breakdown in
law and order."
On July 14, Newsday reported that the US continues to offer Iraqi families
$500 for each civilian death, and $250 for an injured relative.
Ongoing violence in Iraq goes largely unreported, and US media are far more
likely to play up insurgent attacks than those by occupation forces.
Comprehensive daily updates on attacks by resistance and occupation forces
alike are provided by the Jihad Unspun website--from a perspective openly
partisan to the resistance. Unlike the more objective Iraq Body Count, it
does not provide sources.
As of July 17, the number of US troops killed in Iraq stood at 892.
CIA: HEADLESS, UNDER FIRE--POISED TO EXPAND?
On June 3, George Tenet resigned as CIA director. Deputy Director John
McLaughlin took over as acting director, but pointedly did not move into
the office of Director of Central Intelligence at the CIA's headquarters in
Langely, VA. James L. Pavitt, Tenet's clandestine services chief, resigned
as well. (NYT, June 4, 5)
The resignation came as charges against the agency are mounting from
official sources. A report of the Senate Intelligence Committee found that
CIA warnings on Saddam's WMD capabilities were unfounded; the committee was
split on whether there was intentional manipulation of data. (NYT, July 10,
11) The New York Times announced in a front-page headline June 17 that the
9-11 Commission found no Saddam tie to al-Qaeda.
The FBI has also opened a probe into claims that Ahmad Chalabi, the former
Pentagon favorite on Iraq's Governing Council, had informed Tehran that the
US had broken the secret code used by Iran's military and intelligence
services. (Newsday, June 3)
The debacle is reminiscent of the "Iraqgate" scandal that shook the White
House after Operation Desert Storm and helped bring down the first Bush
administration. But the CIA's current humiliation may only presage
exponentially greater powers for the intelligence apparatus. The New York
Times reported July 17 that the soon-to-be-released 9-11 Commission report
is calling for creation of a cabinet-level post to oversee the intelligence
agencies. The report also once again faults the CIA and FBI for not sharing
data, the Times says--a complaint that serves the agenda of actually
merging the two agencies. The article suggests the CIA will oppose the move
to create a cabinet position, miffed at having "to cede significant
authority over the government's estimated $40 billion annual intelligence
budget and other policy matters." The trajectory, however, seems to be
towards a single super-agency with both international and domestic powers.
Even if bureaucrats now balk at having their power usurped, the
intelligence apparatus as a whole seems poised for a hypertrophic expansion
unrivalled by anything since the dawn of the Cold War.
HALLIBURTON BACK IN THE NEWS
Dick Cheney's old pals at Halliburton have also got caught up in the new
web of media scrutiny. When Time magazine revealed a newly unearthed
Pentagon e-mail about Halliburton contracts in Iraq, it prompted fresh
calls on Capitol Hill for probes into whether the vice president helped his
old firm get the deals. Sen. Patrick Leahy said the e-mail provided "clear
evidence" of a relationship between Cheney and the lucrative contracts
Halliburton has received in Iraq. "It totally contradicts the vice
president's previous assertions of having no contact," Leahy said. "It
would be irresponsible not to hold hearings."
The March 2003 Pentagon e-mail says action on a no-bid Halliburton contract
to rebuild Iraq's oil industry was "coordinated" with Cheney's office.
Cheney was CEO of the oil industry services giant from 1995 until he joined
the Bush presidential ticket in 2000. US officials estimate the Texas
company's Iraq contracts could total some $18 billion. (Reuters, June 3)
ELITES PONDER "BURDENS OF EMPIRE"
The supposed power turn-over in Iraq occasioned a retrospective on US
policy on the troublesome nation in the July-August issue of Foreign
Affairs, journal of the elite Council on Foreign Relations. The special
issue is entitled "Rethinking Iraq."
In the first in the series of articles, "History and the Hyperpower," Eliot
A. Cohen (Johns Hopkins U policy wonk) explicitly draws an analogy between
the US and Imperial Rome, arguing that by virtue of its unparalleled
military superiority, the US is better poised to maintain "hegemony." Cohen
crows that "the legions of the United States have no match, and the gap
between them and other militaries is only growing." He notes approvingly:
"The United States now accounts for between 40 and 50 percent of global
defense spending, more than double the total spending of its European
allies... In virtually every sphere of warfare, the United States
dominates, an unprecedented phenomenon in military history." While
ironically warning against "hubris" that could alienate US allies, Cohen
(in awkward and redundant prose) finds the potential for "anarchy unleashed
after a disgusted United States recalls its legions in a spurt of
democratic disgust at and indifference to the rest of the planet...too
horrifying to contemplate. The real alternatives, then, are US hegemony
exercised prudently or foolishly..." The cover-line for the piece lamented
"The Burdens of Empire," implicitly invoking the 19th century concept of
"white man's burden."
The next piece, "Saving Iraq From Its Oil," notes the "resource curse"
which frequently results in those developing countries richest in oil and
minerals becoming the most corrupt and dictatorial. The authors, Nancy
Birdsall (Center for Global Development president) and Arvind Subramanian
(IMF division chief), note the allure of easy riches as an inducement to
corruption by local elites and an over-reliance on the resource sector.
Ironically, the same phenomenon was observed through a very different lens
by the Uruguayan leftist historian Eduardo Galeano in his 1973 classic Open
Veins of Latin America: the book's Part One is entitled "Mankind's Poverty
as a Consequence of the Wealth of the Land" and relates numerous instances
of US intervention precisely to impose corrupt and dictatorial regimes
which granted easy access to oil and mineral (and banana) companies.
Birdsall and Subramanian, in contrast, see the US as providing tutelage in
democracy in Iraq--seemingly ignorant of the long US role of propping up or
even installing corrupt and brutal regimes in the country (including the
Baathists). They do, to their credit, admit that oil companies "too often
abet local corruption." Their proposed solution of distributing Iraq's oil
proceeds directly to the people at first seems somewhat progressive--but
ultimately appears designed to guarantee a weak Iraqi state and encourage a
free-market economy. They call for their plan to be imposed on Iraq's
constitution for ten years even if it means a "forfeiture of traditional
sovereignty." They implicitly applaud the US intervention for providing "a
relatively clean slate" for Iraqi oil policy.
The next in the series, "Containing Iraq: Sanctions Worked" by George A.
Lopez (Notre Dame wonk) and David Cortright (Fourth Freedom Forum
president), sees in the apparent absence of WMD in Iraq a vindication of US
policy. Of course, the reverse would have also conveniently been a
vindication of US policy. The authors boast: "Sanctions had left Saddam's
once-vaunted war machine in a state of utter disrepair." Yet they offer
only lukewarm criticism that Washington, blind to its own success,
"discarded an effective system of containment" in favor of "preventative
The final entry, "Berlin to Baghdad: The Pitfalls of Hiring Enemy
Intelligence" by Timothy Naftali (co-author, US Intelligence and the
Nazis), is probably the most prescient. Recalling the CIA's adoption of
Hitler's Eastern Front spy chief Reinhard Gehlen to head West Germany's new
intelligence agency after World War II--leading to the official protection
of Nazi war criminals and enabling the Communists to "sow doubt" in the
democratic order--Naftali warns against "the temptation to rely on tainted
personnel from the former regime" in Iraq. He does not mention that such
"tainted" personnel may include interim Prime Minister Iyad
Allawi--apparently a former Baathist thug-turned-CIA terrorist.
Interestingly, not appearing in the issue is Foreign Affairs senior editor
Jonathan Tepperman, who in a June 10 New York Times op-ed provided a real
insight on how the Iraq adventure could undermine US power. The piece, "An
American in The Hague?", warned that lack of accountability over torture in
Iraq could spell defeat for Bush in November. And "if American officials
are not held legally accountable, the damage abroad could be even more
severe. Part of the terrible legacy of Abu Ghraib may be that the United
States will find it difficult to prosecute foreign war criminals if it
refuses to accept for itself the legal standards it accuses them of
OIL-FOR-FOOD SCANDAL: PROBES IN THE SHADOWS
Despite columnist William Safire's relentless harping in the New York
Times, the corruption scandal around the UN's Saddam-era oil-for-food
program, aimed at alleviating the human toll of the sanctions, has yet to
hit the headlines in a big way.
In a page-six story, the Christian Science Monitor reported July 15 that
former Federal Reserve chair Paul Volcker is heading the UN-approved
independent inquiry into what may be the "biggest financial scandal in
history," involving 270 companies and individuals in 46 countries. Saddam
Hussein is said to have hauled in $5.7 billion from illicit oil sales and
$4.4 billion more in kickbacks. Documents have been subpoenaed from
ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco, among other oil majors. Various other probes
of the scandal have received even less attention. The Iraqi interim
regime's own auditor, Ehsari Karim, was conveniently killed in a July 1 car
bombing in Baghdad. Nina Bang-Jensen, director of DC-based Coalition for
International Justice, which monitors issues of war crimes and
international law, told CSM: "This was a well-intentioned program that went
badly wrong. What disturbs us is that this is becoming a partisan issue,
when there are serious culpability issues that need to be investigated. For
a program that was supposed to aid Iraqis, whom Saddam was starving, to
wind up in his hands is a travesty."
In a June 27 column, the Times' Safire quoted an anonymous UN
whistle-blower: "Everybody--traders, contractors, banks, inspectors--was
milking it. It was supposed to buy food with the money from oil that the UN
allowed Saddam to sell, but less than half went for that. Perfume, limos, a
shipment of 1,500 Ping-Pong tables, for God's sake."
With the exception of cranky old UN-haters like Safire, everybody seems to
have an interest in keeping this scandal off the front pages--certainly,
for reasons too obvious to note, Exxon and Texaco, and the numerous
international banks which have been served subpoenas. But, in a case of the
proverbial strange bedfellows, the usual leftist muckrakers have also left
the story alone--because the notion that Saddam was massively skimming
raises questions about the "sanctions-are-genocide" mantra they have been
bleating for years.
Very few leftist commentators have even grappled with the allegations.
Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies , quoted by Inter-Press
Service April 12, noted the irony that the scandal is being used for
UN-bashing by supporters of US unilateralism: "It's the members of the
Security Council, most significantly the United States and its allies, who
were responsible for approving all contracts in the oil-for-food program.
This is one more in a long series of efforts by Washington to divert
responsibility for its own failures to blame the United Nations instead.''
Longtime sanctions opponent Joy Gordon makes valid points in an April 4 USA
Today opinion piece, but hurts her own credibility by putting the word
"scandal" in quotes and seeking to exculpate both Saddam and the UN:
"Iraq's economy plummeted from $60 billion a year in output to $13 billion.
That's what brought about the terrible impoverishment. Imagine if the US
lost three-quarters of its economy. The results would be disastrous for
every part of society. Had Saddam put each cent from the UN program into
the economy, the situation would not have differed much. It still would
have meant a virtual collapse of agriculture, industry, education and
She is more on target in pointing out the hypocrisy of the scandal-mongers:
"Have we forgotten that massive no-bid contracts were handed out to US
corporations such as Bechtel and Halliburton? Or that Ahmed Chalabi, the
Iraqi Governing Council member leading the investigation into the
oil-for-food charges, fled embezzlement charges in Jordan? The UN is the
better choice for nation-building with integrity and competence."
See also WW3 REPORT #58
SUPREME COURT ON "ENEMY COMBATANTS": AMBIGUOUS VICTORY
The US Supreme Court's June 28 decision granting detained "enemy
combatants" at least a vaguely-defined right to judicial review was hailed
as a victory by civil libertarians. Few seemed to note that the ruling sets
a dangerous precedent by giving a cover of legitimacy to the "enemy
combatant" designation, heretofore a legal fiction created by the Bush
White House. The San Francisco Chronicle offered a typical quote from ACLU
legal director Steven Shapiro. "The court deserves great credit for
recognizing that the rule of law cannot be enforced in the absence of
meaningful judicial review.'' But the Chronicle itself noted that "the
court did not order the release of any prisoner and did little to interfere
with day-to-day military control of the detainees."
The court actually ruled in four related cases. In Rasul v. Bush and
al-Odah v. US, the court found six-to-three that detainees at Guantanamo
Naval Base in Cuba--mostly foreign nationals detained by US troops in
Afghanistan--have the right to have their cases heard before a US judge or
"other neutral decision-maker."
A decision also came down in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld--concerning Yaser Esam
Hamdi, US citizen captured in Afghanistan and held for two years as an
"enemy combatant" at a Naval base in Norfolk, VA. Eight justices--all but
Clarence Thomas--held that Hamdi has the right to have his case heard in US
The fourth case was Rumsfeld v. Padilla, concerning accused would-be "dirty
bomber" Jose Padilla, another US citizen who--despite being arrested in
Chicago--has been designated an "enemy combatant" and held without access
to the courts. The justices dodged this one, finding that his petition for
release should have been filed in a district court in South Carolina, where
he is being held in a naval brig, not in New York. The Padilla case must
now wend its way back through the federal court system to the Supremes.
Whatever the dangerous limitations of these rulings, it is clear that the
hardcore freedom-haters on the court are even more dangerous. Antonin
Scalia, dissenting in the Guantanamo cases (along with Thomas and William
Rehnquist), protested that "the court boldly extends the scope of the
habeas corpus statute to the four corners of the earth." Actually, it only
extends it to a single US naval base in Cuba. And hey Tony, I thought the
whole point of "extending" US power to "the four corners of the earth"
through the War on Terrorism was to expand freedom?
The Pentagon predictably exploited the wiggle-room in the rulings. Two
weeks after the high court ruled, it announced that no "enemy combatants"
would get their day in the civilian courts, but that it was creating its
own Combatant Status Review Tribunal, overseen by military judges.
(NYT July 3, 17)
See also a WW3 REPORT #s:
MEANWHILE IN AFGHANISTAN...
Even if the Iraq debacle has pushed it from the front page, things aren't
looking too good in Afghanistan, Bush's first "victory" in the War on
Terrorism. On June 30, bomb blasts in Jalalabad killed one and wounded 27,
warning of a likely insurgent threat to the upcoming first post-Taliban
elections in September. At least 180 are dead in attacks by presumed
Taliban insurgents so far this year--55 in June alone. (NYT, July 1)
On July 18, a presumed Taliban rocket exploded in the Shashdarak section of
Kabul, mortally wounding a woman. The area is less than a kilometer from
the headquarters of the NATO-led "peacekeeping" force. (VOA, July 18)
Demonstrating the extent to which his government is a fiction even as it
prepares for elections, President Hamid Karzai said July 14 that
"warlordism" was a bigger threat to the country than Taliban insurgents,
and signed a decree imposing criminal penalties against warlords resisting
disarmament. But it remains to be seen if Karzai's still-embryonic national
army has the power to enforce the decree. (Eurasianet, July 14)
Only some 10,000 of Afghanistan's estimated 60,000 militia fighters have
been demobilized so far under a UN-sponsored program. (AP, July 17) The CIA
World Fatcbook entry on Afghanistan reads: "Afghan National Army, currently
being trained by the US with the assistance of the international community,
is 7,000 strong; note--the December 2001 Bonn Agreement called for all
militia forces to come under the authority of the central government, but
regional leaders have continued to retain their militias and the formation
of a national army remains a gradual process; Afghanistan's militia forces
continue to be factionalized, largely along ethnic lines"
And at least some US elements in Afghanistan appear to be fueling the
atmosphere of lawlessness. Three US citizens were arrested in early July by
Afghan authorities on charges of running a private clandestine prison.
Afghan officials say the men and their Afghan crew unlawfully imprisoned
and interrogated people they believed to be "terrorists." Afghan and US
officials have branded the men "vigilantes" who wore fake uniforms. At his
July 18 arraignment, the group's leader, Jonathan Idema, claimed to have
secret contact with the Pentagon, but apparently did not provide evidence
to substantiate his claim. (VOA, July 18)
Finally, the New York Times reported July 1 that the US-led anti-opium
campaign has failed so dramatically that tomatoes selling for more than
opium in the markets of Helmand province. The Times pictured a shot of a
Helmand farmer tending a sprawling poppy field. The article found the only
ironic glimmer of hope in the fact that over-supply has caused the bottom
to drop out of the opium market.
Special to WORLD WAR 3 REPORT, July 18, 2004
Reprinting permissible with attribution