Saturday, September 30, 2006
The idea that all the Arab states should be broken down, by Israel, into small units, occurs again and again in Israeli strategic thinking. For example, Ze'ev Schiff, the military correspondent of Ha'aretz (and probably the most knowledgeable in Israel, on this topic) writes about the "best" that can happen for Israeli interests in Iraq: "The dissolution of Iraq into a Shi'ite state, a Sunni state and the separation of the Kurdish part" (Ha'aretz 6/2/1982). Actually, this aspect of the plan is very old.
Shahak translates Oded Yidon's A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties.
[via robot wisdom weblog.]
Friday, September 29, 2006
Eulogising the "Great Writ":
Written Testimony of Jonathan Hafetz Before the U.S. Senate Committee
on the Judiciary, September 25, 2006
Dear Senator Specter, Senator Leahy, and Members of the
Committee: Thank you for the opportunity to submit this
statement in connection with today's hearing. (``Examining
Proposals to Limit Guantanamo Detainees Access to Habeas
Corpus Review''). My comments focus on the historical
foundations of habeas corpus that are relevant to the
Committee's consideration of the proposed legislation, S.
3930. As the United States Supreme Court has repeatedly made
clear, the Constitution, at a minimum, protects the writ of
habeas corpus as it existed in 1789. Eliminating habeas
corpus for prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay would be
inconsistent with centuries of tradition and would fall below
the review required by the Constitution.
I am currently Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at
New York University School of Law. The Brennan Center is a
nonpartisan institution dedicated to safeguarding access to
justice and the rule of law through scholarship, public
education, and legal action. One of the Brennan Center's
primary goals is to ensure accountability, transparency, and
checks and balances in the formulation and implementation of
national security policy.
During the past decade, I have focused extensively on the
history of habeas corpus. My scholarly articles and amicus
curiae briefs on habeas have been cited by the Supreme Court
and federal courts of appeals. I hold a J.D. from Yale Law
School and a Masters Degree in History from Oxford
My comments are organized as follows. First, I describe the
historical roots of habeas corpus as a check against unlawful
executive detention and how those protections are guaranteed
under the Constitution and laws of the United States. Second,
I explain the writ's broad territorial scope and guarantee of
a searching examination of the factual and legal basis for a
prisoner's detention. Third, I show that habeas corpus
secures another fundamental requirement of the common law and
due process--the right to be free of detention based on
evidence gained by torture. Finally, I explain why appellate
review under the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 of a
Combatant Status Review Tribunal determination does not
provide an adequate and effective substitute for
constitutionally mandated habeas. To the contrary, such
review would foreclose any meaningful inquiry into the
factual and legal basis for a prisoner's detention and
sanction evidence secured by torture and other coercion.
I. Habeas Corpus Provides A Check Against Unlawful Executive Detention
For centuries, the writ of habeas corpus has provided the
most fundamental safeguard against unlawful executive
detention in the Anglo-American legal system. William
Blackstone praised habeas as the ``bulwark'' of individual
liberty, while Alexander Hamilton called it among the
``greate[st] securities to liberty and republicanism.'' The
has since been described as ``the most important human
right in the Constitution.
Today habeas is typically used by convicted prisoners to
collaterally attack their criminal sentences. At its
historical core, however, the writ provides a check against
executive detention without trial, and it is in this context
that its protections have always been strongest. Above all,
habeas guarantees that no individual will be imprisoned
without the most basic requirement of due process--a
meaningful opportunity to demonstrate his innocence before a
Habeas corpus was part of colonial law from the
establishment of the American colonies, and the common law
writ operated in all thirteen British colonies that rebelled
in 1776. The Framers enshrined habeas corpus in the
Suspension Clause of the Constitution, which states that
Congress ``shall not'' suspend the writ of habeas corpus
``unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public
Safety may require it.'' The First Congress codified this
constitutional command in the Judiciary Act of 1789, making
the writ available to any individual held by the United
States who challenges the lawfulness of his detention. For
the Framers of the Constitution, restricting Congress's power
to suspend habeas corpus was never controversial: the only
debate concerned what conditions, if any, could ever justify
suspension of the Great Writ, and the Framers concluded that
Congress could exercise its suspension power only under the
most exceptional circumstances. The constitutional guarantee
of habeas corpus stands apart and perpetually independent
from the other guarantees of the Bill of Rights enacted two
years later in 1791.
Under the influence, if not the command of the Suspension
Clause, Congress has always felt itself obligated to provide
for the writ in the most ample manner. Since the Nation's
founding, the writ has been suspended on only four occasions:
during the middle of the Civil War in the United States;
during an armed rebellion in several southern States after
the Civil War; during an armed rebellion in the Philippines
in the early 1990s; and in Hawaii immediately after the
attack on Pearl Harbor. Each suspension was not only a
response to an ongoing, present emergency, but was limited in
duration to the active rebellion or invasion that
II. Habeas Corpus Extends To Any Territory Within The Government's
Exclusive Jurisdiction And Control And Guarantees A Searching Inquiry
Into The Factual And Legal Basis For A Prisoner's Detention
As the Supreme Court has recognized, the writ of habeas
corpus has an `` `extraordinary territorial ambit.' '' Habeas
has always reached any territory over which the government
exercised sufficient power and control to compel obedience to
the writ's command. As Lord Mansfield wrote in 1759, ``even
if a territory was `no part of the realm [of England],' there
was `no doubt' as to the court's power to issue writs of
habeas corpus if the territory was `under the subjection of
the Crown.' '' At common law, therefore, habeas was
available not only in territories beyond the borders of
England, such as the mainland American colonies and West
Indies, but also in territory over which England exercised
exclusive control and jurisdiction but lacked sovereignty.
The right to habeas corpus has always extended to aliens as
well as citizens. The writ has been available in time of
peace as well as in time of war. Even alleged enemy aliens
have had access to habeas to demonstrate their innocence,
including by submitting evidence to a court. Indeed, in one
case Chief Justice Marshall, on circuit, required an enemy
alien to be produced in court and ordered his release. As the
Supreme Court observed in Rasul v. Bush, detainees at
Guantanamo have the right to habeas review because they are
imprisoned in territory over which the United States has
complete jurisdiction and control and because, unlike the
World War II-era prisoners in Johnson v. Eisentrager, they
have never been convicted of any crime and maintain their
Common law courts did not simply accept the government's
factual response to a prisoner's habeas petition; instead,
they routinely probed that response and examined additional
evidence submitted by both sides to ensure the factual and
legal sufficiency of a person's confinement. The writ's
guarantee of a searching judicial inquiry crystallized in
response to the Crown's efforts to detain individuals
indefinitely without due process. In 1592, English judges
protested that when they ordered the release of individuals
unlawfully imprisoned by the Crown, executive officials
transported them to ``secret [prisons]'' to place them beyond
judicial review. As a result, the judges issued a resolution
affirming their power to release prisoners if a response to
the writ was not made.
The Crown, nevertheless, continued to avoid a judicial
examination into a prisoner's detention by providing a
general response (or return) that did not specify the cause
of commitment. This issue came to a head in the seminal
Darnel's Case. There, the Attorney General asserted that it
was the king's prerogative to detain suspected enemies of
State by his ``special command,'' without a judicial inquiry
into the factual and legal basis for their detention. He
emphasized the Crown's overriding interest in national
security and insisted that judges defer to the king's
When the court upheld the Crown by finding its response
sufficient, it sparked a constitutional crisis that led to
the establishment of habeas corpus as the pre-eminent
safeguard of common law due process and personal liberty.
This was entrenched through the enactment of the Petition of
Right or 1628, the Habeas Corpus Act of 1641, and the
Habeas Corpus Act of 1679. By the late 1600s habeas corpus
had become--and would remain--``the great and efficacious
writ, in all manner of illegal confinement'' and the most
``effective remedy for executive detention.''
At common law, courts consistently engaged in searching
review on habeas corpus to probe the factual and legal basis
for a prisoners commitment, including by conducting hearings
and taking evidence. In the United States, courts have
exercised the same searching review of executive detention.
Indeed, in one its first habeas cases, the Supreme Court
affirmed the writ's historic function at common law; to
determine whether there was an adequate factual and legal
basis for the commitment,'' fully examining and considering
the evidence and finding it insufficient to justify the
prisoners' detention on allegations of treason.
Habeas also has always guaranteed review of the lawfulness
of a newfangled tribunal established to try individuals
before that trial takes place. This review has been exercised
in time of war and in time of peace, and over all categories
of alleged offenders. To deny that review would jeopardize a
longstanding protection of habeas.
By contrast, habeas review has always been more limited in
post-conviction cases--which today make up the bread and
butter of a federal court's habeas docket. But that is
precisely because the prisoner had already been convicted at
a trial that provided fundamental due process, including the
opportunity to see the government's evidence and to confront
and cross-examine its witnesses, a right that Justice Scalia
has said is ``founded on natural justice,'' Absent that
process, a federal judge with jurisdiction over a habeas
corpus petition has the power to examine the factual and
legal basis for the prisoner's detention in the first
instance, including the power to take evidence and conduct a
hearing, where appropriate. At issue in the Guantanamo habeas
cases is executive detention without any judicial process--
precisely the situation that lies at the Great Writ's core
and that mandates a searching examination of the government's
III. Habeas Corpus Serves As An Essential Check On The Use of Evidence
Gained By Torture.
Habeas corpus also vindicates another core guarantee of the
common law--the categorical prohibition on the use of
evidence obtained by torture. During the sixteenth century,
crown officials occasionally issued warrants authorizing the
torture of prisoners. Pain was inflicted by a variety of
ingenious devices, including thumbscrew, pincers, and the
infamous rack. The use of torture dec1ined after an
investigation showed that a suspected traitor had been
``tortured upon the rack'' based upon false allegations.
Shortly thereafter the king asked the common law judges
whether another alleged traitor ``might not be racked'' to
make him identify accomplices, and ``whether there were
any law against it.'' The judges' answer was unanimous:
the prisoner could not be tortured because ``no such
punishment is known or allowed by our law.''
The Framers of the Constitution also abhorred torture,
which they viewed as a mechanism of royal despotism. As the
Supreme Court has repeatedly held, reliance on evidence
obtained by torture is forbidden not merely because it is
inherently unreliable but also because such ``interrogation
techniques [are] offensive to a civilized system of
justice.'' Without the availability of habeas corpus to
provide a searching inquiry into the basis for a prisoner's
detention, and to determine whether, in fact, evidence
justifying that detention has been obtained by torture or
other coercive methods, this fundamental common law
protection would be jeopardized.
IV. The Proposed Legislation Would Violate the Suspension Clause
The proposed legislation would markedly depart from
historical precedent and the Constitution's command that the
writ be made available. This legislation, moreover, would
sweep under the jurisdictional bar only non-citizens, raising
serious questions under the Constitution's guarantee of equal
protection as well.
The Committee may ask whether review by the District of
Columbia Circuit established under the Detainee Treatment Act
of 2005 (``DTA'') obviates any problem under the
Constitution. It does not. Such review falls far short of the
minimum review guaranteed under the Suspension Clause because
it would deny prisoners any meaningful inquiry into the
factual and legal basis for their detention and would
sanction the use of evidence secured by torture and other
coercion. Since others have explained the flaws of this
review scheme in greater detail, I describe them below only
The Guantanamo detainees are all held pursuant to a finding
by the Combatant Status Review Tribunal (``CSRT'') that they
are ``enemy combatants.'' The CSRT was established by the
President only nine days after the Supreme Court's ruling in
Rasul that Guantanamo detainees have the right to challenge
their executive detention in federal district court by habeas
corpus. The order creating the CSRT pre-judged the detainees,
declaring that they had already been
found to be enemy combatants based on multiple levels of
internal review. Rather than affording the detainees a
meaningful opportunity to prove their innocence, the CSRT
denied them fundamental rights, including the right to
counsel; the right to see the evidence against them; and the
right to a neutral decisionmaker. Moreover, as the government
itself acknowledges, the CSRT permits the use of evidence
gained by torture. In short, as District Judge Joyce Hens
Green found, the CSRT denies the core protections of
elementary due process that habeas provides: a searching
factual inquiry to determine whether a prisoner's
detention is unlawfu1, including whether it is based on
evidence secured by torture.
Review of CSRT determinations under the DTA would not
provide detainees with any opportunity to challenge the
factual and legal basis for their detention. The DTA, on its
face, limits review to whether the CSRT followed its own
procedures. No detainee, as the government argues, can ever
present evidence to a federal court even if that evidence
shows he is innocent or that he was tortured. In short, DTA
review of a CSRT finding would deny prisoners precisely the
meaningful factual inquiry provided by habeas corpus and
secured under the Suspension Clause.
Habeas corpus has aptly been described as ``the water of
life to revive from the death of imprisonment.'' For
centuries, the Great Writ has prevented the Executive from
imprisoning individuals based upon mere suspicion and without
a meaningful examination of its allegations. Habeas corpus
demands that individuals have a fair opportunity to
demonstrate their innocence before a neutral decisionmaker.
Eliminating habeas at Guantanamo would flout this long
tradition and would gut the core protections guaranteed under
the Suspension Clause.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide this statement. My
colleagues and I are happy to provide the Committee with any
New York, NY, September 25, 2006
The President recently said that ``time is of the essence'' to pass legislation authorizing military commissions. Time was of the essence when this administration took control and did not act on the dire warnings of terrorist action. Time was of the essence in August and early September 2001 when the 9/11 attacks could still have been prevented. This administration ignored warnings of a coming attack and even proposed cutting the anti-terror budget. It focused on Star Wars, not terrorism. Time was of the essence when Osama bin Laden was trapped in Tora Bora.here
After 5 years of unilateral actions by this administration that have left us less safe, time is now of the essence to take real steps to keep us safe from terrorism like those in the Real Security Act, S. 3875. Instead, the President and the Republican Senate leadership call for rubberstamping more flawed White House proposals in the run up to another election. I hope that this time the U.S. Senate will act as an independent branch of the government and finally serve as a check on
We need to pursue the war on terror with strength and intelligence, but also to do so consistent with American values. The President says he wants clarity as to the meaning of the Geneva Conventions and the War Crimes Act. Of course, he did not want clarity when his administration was using its twisted interpretation of the law to
authorize torture, cruel and inhumane treatment of detainees and spying on Americans without warrants and keeping those rationales and programs secret from Congress. The administration does not seem to want clarity when it refuses even to tell Congress what its understanding of the law is following the withdrawal of a memo that said the President could authorize and immunize torture. That memo was withdrawn because it could not stand up in the light of day.
It seems that the only clarity this administration wants is a clear green light from Congress to do whatever it wants. That is not clarity; it is immunity. That is what the current legislation would give to the President on interrogation techniques and on military commissions. Justice O'Connor reminded the nation before her retirement that even war is not a ``blank check'' when it comes to the rights of Americans. The Senate should not be a rubberstamp for policies that undercut
American values and make Americans around the world less safe.
In reality, we already have clarity. Senior military officers tell us they know what the Geneva Conventions require, and the military trains its personnel according to these standards. We have never had trouble urging other countries around the world to accept and enforce the provisions of the Geneva Conventions. There was enough clarity for that. What the administration appears to want, instead, is to use new legislative language to create loopholes and to narrow our obligations not to engage in cruel, degrading, and inhuman treatment.
In fact, the new legislation muddies the waters. It saddles the War Crimes Act with a definition of cruel or inhuman treatment so oblique that it appears to permit all manner of cruel and extreme interrogation techniques. Senator McCain said this weekend that some techniques like waterboarding and induced hypothermia would be banned by the proposed law. But Senator Frist and the White House disavowed his statements, saying that they preferred not to say what techniques would or would
not be allowed. That is hardly clarity; it is deliberate confusion.
Into that breach, this legislation throws the administration's solution to all problems: more Presidential power. It allows the administration to promulgate regulations about what conduct would and would not comport with the Geneva Conventions, though it does not require the President to specify which particular techniques can and cannot be used. This is a formula for still fewer checks and balances and for more abuse, secrecy, and power-grabbing. It is a formula for
immunity for past and future abuses by the Executive.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: I’ve been there 32 years. I have to absolutely agree with what I just heard. I mean, this is -- it’s Kafka. But it’s more than that. It’s just a total rollback of everything this country has stood for. I mean, you have 100 people, very privileged, members of the Senate voting this way and with no realization of what it would be like if you were the one who was picked up. Maybe you’re guilty, but quite often, as we’ve seen, purely by accident and then held for years.- democracynow
You know, I was a prosecutor for eight years. I prosecuted an awful lot of people, sent a lot of people to prison. But I did it arguing that everybody's rights had to be protected, because mistakes are often made. You want to make sure that if you’re prosecuting somebody, you’re prosecuting the right person. Here, they don't care whether mistakes are made or not.
And you have to stand up. I mean, it was a Vermonter -- you go way back in history -- it was a Vermonter who stood up against the Alien and Sedition Act, Matthew Lyon. He was prosecuted on that, put in jail, as a congressman, put in jail. And Vermont showed what they thought of these unconstitutional laws. We in Vermont reelected him, and eventually the laws fell down. There was another Vermonter, Ralph Flanders, who stood up to Joseph McCarthy and his reign of fear and stopped that. I mean, you have to stand. What has happened, here we are, a great powerful good nation, and we’re running scared. We’re willing to set aside all our values and running scared. What an example that is to the rest of the world.
AMY GOODMAN: You gave an example, Senator Leahy, when you talked about what would happen here. And, I mean, even the fact that “habeas corpus” is in Latin, I think, distances people. They don’t quite understand what this is about.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: “Bring the body.”
AMY GOODMAN: You gave a very -- sorry?
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: “Bring the body.”
AMY GOODMAN: You gave a very graphic example. You said, “Imagine you’re a law-abiding lawful permanent resident. In your spare time you do charitable fundraising for international relief agencies that lend a hand in disasters.” Take that story from there, the example you used.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: You send money. You don’t care which particular religious group or civic group it is. They’re doing humanitarian work. You send the money. It turns out that one of them is giving money to various Islamic causes that the United States is concerned about. They come to your house. Maybe somebody has called into one of these anonymous tipster lines, saying, “You know, this Amy Goodman. I’m somewhat worried about her, simply because she’s going -- and I think I’ve seen some Muslim-looking people coming to her house.” They come in there, and they say, “We want to talk to you.” They bring you downtown. You’re a legal alien, legal resident here. And you say, “Well, look, I’ve got my rights. I’d like to talk to a lawyer.” They say, “No, no. You don’t have any rights.” “Well, then I’m not going to talk to you.” “Well, then now we’re twice as concerned about you. We’re going to spirit you down to Guantanamo, and we’ll get back to in a few years.” And, I mean, that could actually happen under this. And these are not far-fetched ideas, as the professor knows. He’s seen similar things.
And with that, and I would love to continue this conversation, unfortunately I’ve got to go back to my day job, back to the judiciary. I think this is going to go down as one of those black marks in the Congress. You know, I wasn’t there at the time, but virtually everybody voted for the Tonkin Gulf resolution. When I came to the Senate, you couldn’t find anybody there who thought that was a good idea. They knew it was a terrible mistake. You had members of congress supported the internment of the Japanese Americans during World War II. Everybody knows that was a terrible mistake now. That day will come when everybody will look at this and say, “What were we thinking?”
Well let's be (hans) frank, that day is today, disavowed. As the good Schmittians have it: "habeas corpus, what were we thinking?"
Thursday, September 28, 2006
B'Tselem: Act Of Vengeance; Israel's Bombing of the Gaza Power Plant and its Effects
IRIN: Palestinian Agricultural Losses Top $1 Billion
UNRWA: The Situation In Gaza Is Deteriorating Dramatically
UN Human Rights Council: "Appaling" Conditions for Ordinary Palestinians
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
"It's as dismal a political landscape as I can remember in thirty years. Yet some discover a silver lining. They find it in the 9/11 conspiracy cult, which I have discussed here in recent weeks. A politically sophisticated leftist in Washington, DC, wrote to thank me for my attack, but added, "To me the most interesting thing (in the US) is how many people are willing to believe that Bush either masterminded it [the 9/11 attacks] or knew in advance and let it happen. If that number or anything close to that is true, that's a huge base of people that are more than deeply cynical about their elected officials. That would be the real news story that the media is missing, and it's a big one."
"I'm not sure I see the silver lining about cynicism re government," I answered. "People used to say the same thing about the JFK conspiracy buffs and disbelief in the Warren Commission. Actually, it seems to demobilize people from useful political activity. I think the nuttishness stems from despair and political infantilism. There's no worthwhile energy to transfer from such kookery. It's like saying some lunatic shouting to himself on a street corner has the capacity to be a great orator. The nearest thing to it all is the Flying Saucer craze. 'Open up the USAF archives!' It's a Jungian thing."
Jungian, schmungian; Alexander Cockburn is an amateurish amateur psychoanalyst. But does he have the capacity to be a great orator? Not if this feebly demagogic performance is anything to go by. Within a single peevish paragraph (which pleased him so much that he chose to reprint it), Cockburn complains of "nuttishness ... despair ... political infantilism ... [and] kookery" while haughtily disdaining to construct a rational argument or even address any relevant facts. What's roused his ire is the plebs' refusal to toe the party line on 9/11. It was imperial blowback, you see -- the guys at The Nation had that all worked out for us by the afternoon of the very same day. Whodunnit? Mad Muslims of course, all on their own; and no goddam wonder, for didn't we make them mad? Case closed.
On all this, Alexander Cockburn has not a word to say. Instead, he prefers to lambast the perceived defects of a few carefully selected "cynics" who have the temerity to distrust their government. We could cite Brecht here, and his modest proposal that the government should dissolve the people and elect another. But, under the circumstances, let's stick with Jung:
"All neurosis is a substitute for legitimate suffering."
The Cockburnite left's response to 9/11 was a paroxysm of premature smugness: "Imperial blowback! We told you so!" Five years on, we are all still paying for the neurotic indifference to reality manifested in that evidence-proof response. In the face of an oxymoronic War on Terror now rechristened "The Long War" (or "World War III", as the President would have it), something better and more rational is required. Something more effectively anti-war. Something more persuasive than opportunistic pseudo-omniscience. Something more sophisticated than rash acceptance and stubborn de facto support of a notoriously mendacious right-wing government's most indispensable myth. Something lefter than narcissistic laments about the gaucheries of carefully-selected proles.
It is in fact available. As Cockburn's anonymous "sophisticated leftist" points out, "a huge base of people ... are more than deeply cynical about their elected officials." That "cynicism" is entirely justified - and incomparably more rational than Alexander Cockburn's real or simulated credulity. That "huge base of people" is also the natural constituency of the left. So Cockburn would do well to listen to those people, to learn from them, to support them in their efforts to hold their warmongering leaders to account, and to help them avoid red herrings like the Pentagon missile yarn.
If that means apologising for his shameful attitude hitherto, then it might constitute a blow to his vanity. While Alexander Cockburn ponders whether such a blow would be endurable as legitimate suffering, the rest of us may wonder whether the left, and the world, can afford to ignore the deeply counterproductive effects of such vanity for very much longer.
[ Further links to be added later.]
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Compiled by Mike Medow for Critical Moment
Young Jews Speak Out for Lebanon and Palestine
A recent item in the Detroit Free Press, entitled “Detroit Area Speaks Out,” featured four quotes from local people responding to Israel’s war on Lebanon. Two quotes were from Arab individuals from Dearborn lamenting the destruction of Lebanon, and two from Jewish individuals -- one from Birmingham, the other from West Bloomfield -- stating their beliefs that “Israel’s army had the right to protect us and secure our borders” and that “Israel is fighting terrorists.”
That section in the Free Press, inspired the creation of this collection in Critical Moment of young Jewish voices in the Detroit area who are not parroting Israeli propaganda, but are speaking out in support of the peoples of Lebanon and Palestine currently under assault by Israel. As Jews of conscience in Southeast Michigan, we need to work harder to break the kind of dichotomy that was presented in the Free Press. Mainstream Jewish organizations and the corporate media work hard to maintain the illusion that all Jewish Americans “stand with Israel.” We need to shatter that illusion and assert the fact that there are a growing number of Jewish people who do not support Israel’s policy of endless war, occupation and oppression.
This collection of statements from young Jewish people in the Southeast Michigan area, was compiled throughout early August, during Israel’s bombardment of south Lebanon and Gaza.
For some time now I have felt strong in my convictions about Israel/Palestine, but considered it to be too personal of a subject to publicly debate. I have sat on the fence for too long in fear of being ostracized from my “community.” But I now feel that I can no longer remain idle while the Jewish settler movement continues to occupy stolen Palestinian land, and the Israeli army continues their racist crusade against the Palestinian people. As a Jew, I cannot, in any way, support and sympathize with Israel’s right to “self-defense” in the current war against Lebanon, because it is not about self-defense, but rather Israel’s justifications for stealing more land, and seizing more power at any cost.
-Matthew Jaffe of Royal Oak
I am very sad. Not the kind of sad that can be grieved in the moment and then washed away, but the kind of sad that is constant and clouding, like a dull aching that is continuously in the back of my head. Every time I turn on the TV or the radio, or glance at a paper I am reminded of my sadness as I watch the images of Lebanon being obliterated. I am equally saddened by the lack of images and information on the destruction of Palestine. And, as this is being done in the name of keeping my people safe, I think of my relatives lost in Auschwitz who were also obliterated in the name of keeping people safe. I remember many dinners with my father where he would look pained, talk about the holocaust and discuss his hatred of Germans. I wonder in decades to come how many dinners people will be having with their fathers learning how to hate me.
-Rebbecah Kessel of Detroit
As someone who identifies culturally as a Jewish person, I am outraged by the continued atrocities committed by the Israeli government against the people of Lebanon and Palestine. I am equally outraged by the continued support of the United States. I am also an aspiring history teacher, a passion of mine that has developed as a result of not wanting to see history repeat itself. Sure enough, history is repeating itself and I wish more Jewish people and all people could see that we are all just being used as pawns by those in power.
-Kenny Rose of Detroit
As a Jew of color growing up in Oak Park, my mom would tell me to keep my Judaism a secret when going over to play with friends of Chaldean, Arab Muslim or Christian heritage. This warning was made out of fear that people in the neighborhood would treat us differently knowing our background. In the end I found that when my friends and their families did find out I was Jewish, there was always a mutual respect for the value of each of our lives and cultures. My personal experience tells me that there is no inherent reason for hatred or antagonism between Jews and Arabs. But today, the actions of Israel’s government and military are the greatest threat to co-existence between Jews and Arabs.
Israel is failing at its alleged mission of creating Jewish safety. As long as Israel uses violence and hate in the name of “self-defense,” and as long as it claims to speak for all Jews everywhere, the image of Jews everywhere will be seen as violent and hateful. Jews who are not in support of what Israel is doing to Lebanon and Palestine should know that there are more of us out here. Until we come together as Jews to speak out against the atrocities Israel’s government and military commits against Lebanon and Palestine, and until we stop silently supporting these injustices carried out in our name, these war crimes will pretend to represent every Jewish voice. I hope more of us can feel the urgency and courage to make an alternative Jewish perspective visible.
-Carinne Silverman-Maddox of Detroit
About three years ago I told my dad: “Hey, dad, my friend (also Jewish), went to Palestine with the International Solidarity Movement. She came back and told me what she saw with her own eyes. Israeli troops armed with U.S. tanks and other weaponry dictated every facet of life there. Tanks would patrol some parts of town every night, and would sometimes demolish a house with the family inside. There were heavily fortified roads built for Israelis and Israeli troops only; the other roads’ intersections were impassible by vehicles from troops leaving huge piles of building debris and rubble from demolished homes in them. People were forced to stay in their homes by sniper-enforced curfews that sometimes were only lifted for two hours a day. These curfews could go on for weeks. Often when a curfew would be lifted and the people would try to get provisions at the market, troops would suddenly re-impose curfew and open fire on the people. Clearly the people were being terrorized, yet any Palestinians acting in self-defense were considered ‘terrorists.’
My dad said I had no authority to tell him these things. He hadn’t heard any of this on television or in the papers, and I was too young to know. My dad’s whole family died in Poland and Russia during the Holocaust, and in a sense he has never recovered from the horrors of that war which ended before he was born. Striking, how often the wounds of the past blind us to our own capacity to wound, maim, and kill. How after years of anticipated discrimination, one may become perpetually victimized, steeled and unfeeling, jaded to love and acceptance.
I wish to state very clearly for the record that I wish to honor the legacy of my family who died in the Holocaust by standing firmly in solidarity with those currently under assault by Israel, and for that matter with all peoples under the gods or godlessness of their choice, despite the despots that exploit us as cannon fodder and beasts of burden.
Identifying more closely with my nomadic Jewish roots than ever,
-W. Rosenthal of Chelsea
After having grown up with Jewish holidays and gatherings serving not only as celebrations of family and faith but also as space for lively political discussion, I have seen our arguments and dialogues altered by mainstream media coverage of the Middle East. I have seen some of my relatives, both young and old, transition from sincerely believing in a viscous kind of Zionism, to slowly starting to consider other viewpoints.
This current war has been a catalyzing agent for some of my family -- the people I’ve had the most heated discussions with, who have been on the verge of tears or screams when I’ve expressed opinions critical of israel and Zionism. I have been surprised by recent conversations with some of my relatives, and have discovered that some of the people whom I’d given up arguments with in the past have suddenly become critical of Israel and Zionism. This has put me in a position that I’ve never been in with my family in the past: we are all suddenly uniting around similar critical political perspectives. I hope this is a moment in which families like mine can join together in fighting the dominant forces claiming to represent us.
-Ben Chodoroff of Detroit
It is important for me to be in Palestine now working in support of Palestinian resistance to the Israeli occupation, and for rights and self-determination for Palestinian people. I have chosen to work in solidarity with Palestinian non-violent struggle and am trying to bring international media attention to the collective punishment and human rights abuses of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers and settlers.
I am ashamed when an Israeli military Jeep with a star of David on it shoots at kids standing on the sidewalk with me, or when men wearing kippas and tzitzim throw rocks at Palestinian children and encourage their kids to throw rocks and spit on them. I am really ashamed to say that I am Jewish after witnessing the victims of Jewish brutality. And I am disgusted by the arrogance and racism that not only keeps Jews silent, but applauds Israel’s inhumane policies.
-Lauren Heidtke from Michigan, currently living in the West Bank
I have noticed that for many Jewish people -- the current situation, rather than revealing Israel’s brutality as it destroyed an entire country, only confirms their belief that Israel is an underdog besieged by merciless Arab hordes out to destroy the Jewish people. In response to this, I think that more Jewish people must be more visible, outspoken, and organized about their criticisms of Israel and of Zionism. We cannot remain silent as violence is done in our name.
We need to create ways to talk about these issues with people who don’t have a radical critique of Israel, but might agree on many other points. There are many Jewish supporters of Israel that I think of as potential allies rather than a group to write off. These liberal, progressive Jews already have a commitment to social justice, human rights, and anti-imperialism, and need to be shown how these values can and must be applied to their beliefs about Israel.
-Max Sussman of Ann Arbor
From a brilliant post:
What is Enlightenment fundamentalism? It is, like religious fundamentalism, a simplistic notion that some particular text or body of texts has been written and that’s it—our lives are occasions to enact the wisdom contained in those texts, to live in the truth. It is a refusal to perceive either knowledge or faith as living and evolving through time and responding to circumstance. The Enlightenment fundamentalist, fully as armored in his self-identity as any creationist, cannot understand why an atheist and secular humanist like, say, me refuses to condemn protesting Muslim populations and instead insists on the responsibility of European right-wing demagogues who want to provoke violence to advance their own agenda. It’s not because I disbelieve in Enlightenment principles of free speech and the critique of religion, but because I am circumspect about the historical circumstances and power relations obtaining in individual events, because I—or any non-fundamentalist adherent of Enlightenment—do not immediately identify with powerful people and institutions that falsely claim to represent freedom, liberality or pluralism.
- Read the whole thing at Maxims & Reflections.This isn’t a common problem, Enlightenment fundamentalism. It tends to afflict well-paid academics or other cultural workers. Often the religious fundamentalist turns to his rigid faith to justify his poverty and lack of choices, but the Enlightenment fundamentalist embraces his iron doctrines to justify his wealth and privilege. If religious fundamentalism still functions in some way, at least among the people, as the heart of a heartless world, Enlightenment fundamentalism is the narrow cunning of that world.
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
September 20th, 2006
HUGO CHAVEZ, PRESIDENT OF THE BOLIVARIAN REPULIC OF VENEZUELA
"Madam President, Excellencies, Heads of State, Heads of government and other governments' representatives, good morning.
First, and with all respect, I highly recommend this book by Noam Chomsky, one of the most prestigious intellectuals in America and the world, Chomsky. One of his most recent works: Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance (The American Empire Project). It’s an excellent work to understand what’s happened in the world in the 20th Century, what’s currently happening, and the greatest threat on this planet; the hegemonic pretention of the North American imperialism endangers the human race’s survival.
We continue warning about this danger and calling on the very same U.S. people and the world to stop this threat, which resembles the Sword of Damocles over our heads. I had considered reading from this book, but for the sake of time, I shall just leave it as a recommendation. It reads easily. It's a very good book. I'm sure, Madam, you are familiar with it.
The book is in English, in Russian, in Arabic, in German.
I think that the first people who should read this book are our brothers and sisters in the United States, because their threat is in their own house. The devil is right at home. The devil -- the devil, himself, is right in the house.
And the devil came here yesterday."
The excellent David Traynier appends an e-mail to Chomsky:
I just wanted to add my congratulations, to what I'm sure is already a bulging inbox, on your success in having Hugo Chavez promote your work at the UN. It's a masterstroke but I guess you had to do something after bin Laden told the world he was reading William Blum...
Thursday, September 14, 2006
The NYT, that bastion of journalistic authority and truth, finally gets in on the act some 6 years later.
The damage to the planet's ecosystems has already been done, and continues.
Cuban bomb suspect to be released
A US court has ruled that a Cuban wanted on terrorism charges by Cuba and Venezuela should be set free from a Texas immigration detention centre. Ex-CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles was held for crossing illegally from Mexico after serving time in Panama for plotting to kill Cuba's Fidel Castro.
Mr Posada Carriles faces deportation, but it cannot be to Cuba or Venezuela.Venezuela, which says he was behind a 1976 plane bombing that killed 73 people, condemned the latest ruling.
A Venezuelan government spokesman, Eric Wingerter, said the fact the ruling came on the fifth anniversary of the 11 September attacks would be particularly insulting to the families of those who died in the bombing of the Cuban airliner. ...
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Analysis of the machine, in light of real election procedures, shows that it is vulnerable to extremely serious attacks. For example, an attacker who gets physical access to a machine or its removable memory card for as little as one minute could install malicious code; malicious code on a machine could steal votes undetectably, modifying all records, logs, and counters to be consistent with the fraudulent vote count it creates. An attacker could also create malicious code that spreads automatically and silently from machine to machine during normal election activities--a voting-machine virus. We have constructed working demonstrations of these attacks in our lab. Mitigating these threats will require changes to the voting machine's hardware and software and the adoption of more rigorous election procedures.
Would it be good for Republicans if terrorists kept trying to attack us?" ponders Republican consultant John McLaughlin, whose other clients this year have included Alabama Governor Bob Riley and Conservative Party Leader-cum-Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "You don't want to answer that question. You don't want to see Americans attacked, but this is an issue where Republicans have a decisive lead. It's the one issue where the President has a net approval rating. It's got to help the Republicans when something like this happens." McLaughlin should know. One of his clients is former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer, the leading Republican opponent to New York Senator Hillary Clinton, and the second Republican Senate candidate to spin the UK terror bust for political gain. On the Monday after the plot was broken up, the Spencer campaign launched an ad that juxtaposed images of an airliner and Osama bin Laden with Hillary Clinton. "National Security Agency wiretaps of terrorist suspects were vital to stopping this attack," a female narrator said sorrowfully. "But Hillary Clinton opposes the Patriot Act and the NSA program that helped stop another 9/11."
"When the Americans attack an area, they disarm the locals and keep them weak but the terrorists have already fled. When the Americans leave, the terrorists return and the people do not have any weapons to protect themselves."
Mr Samarrai said that leaders from al-Anbar had made several proposals to the Americans, including arming the tribes to fight al-Qaeda, providing teams of bodyguards for tribal leaders, clerics and politicians who opposed al-Qaeda and making an intense recruitment push to build an indigenous army and police force.
Mr Samarrai predicted that extremist groups such as al-Qaeda would be defeated in a few months if the Americans acted on any of the al-Anbar proposals. Many leaders in al-Anbar believed that the Americans wanted the chaos to continue and were deliberately helping al-Qaeda, he said.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Monday, September 11, 2006
At the birthday party, one of the Twin Towers of the American left collapsed into its own footprint, emitting huge clouds of smoke, hot air and filthy rubbish. Le Colonel Chabert observes and describes the spectacle.
Meanwhile, at another party, some months after describing the Constitution as a "piece of paper", the President stepped on the flag:
Finally, for connoisseurs of classic comedy, here's a reminder of Why We Fight and a summary of the evidence against the 19 Superstudents:
The Coincidence Theorist's Guide to 9/11
Seriously: it's that bad. And I'm wondering when the left is finally going to get the finger out and stop pretending to believe what is - literally - unbelievable.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Monday, September 04, 2006
Terry: Oh Punky!
FZ: Lead guitar player from a group called Angel. In the photograph, Punky was seen with a beautiful shiny hairdo in a semi-profile which emphasized the pooched out succulence of his insolent pouting rictus, the sight of which drove the helpless young drummer mad with desire!
Sunday, September 03, 2006
There are people, concentrated in the Hamptons and Beverly Hills, who still confuse poverty with the simple life. No cable TV, no altercations with the maid, no summer home maintenance issues -- just the basics like family, sunsets and walks in the park. What they don't know is that it's expensive to be poor.
In fact, you, the reader of middling income, could probably not afford it. A new study from the Brookings Institute documents the "ghetto tax," or higher cost of living in low-income urban neighborhoods. It comes at you from every direction, from food prices to auto insurance. A few examples from this study, by Matt Fellowes, that covered 12 American cities:
* Poor people are less likely to have bank accounts, which can be expensive for those with low balances, and so they tend to cash their pay checks at check-cashing businesses, which in the cities surveyed, charged $5 to $50 for a $500 check.
* Nationwide, low-income car buyers, defined as people earning less than $30,000 a year, pay two percentage points more for a car loan than more affluent buyers.
* Low-income drivers pay more for car insurance. In New York, Baltimore and Hartford, they pay an average $400 more a year to insure the exact same car and driver risk than wealthier drivers.
* Poorer people pay an average of one percentage point more in mortgage interest.
* They are more likely to buy their furniture and appliances through pricey rent-to-own businesses. In Wisconsin, the study reports, a $200 rent-to-own TV set can cost $700 with the interest included.
* They are less likely to have access to large supermarkets and hence to rely on the far more expensive, and lower quality offerings, of small grocery and convenience stores.
- Barbara Ehrenreich
Saturday, September 02, 2006
Friday, September 01, 2006
By Kathleen Peratis
Wednesday, August 30, 2006; A19
In early August Human Rights Watch issued a 49-page report, "Fatal Strikes: Israel's Indiscriminate Attacks Against Civilians in Lebanon," charging Israel with war crimes in its conduct of the war in Lebanon. Many of the Lebanese civilian casualties could not be explained by Hezbollah soldiers' hiding among civilians, Human Rights Watch charged. Although Hezbollah fighters did hide among civilians, the rights group discovered that in about two dozen instances, involving about a third of the civilian deaths, there had been no Hezbollah presence at the time of the attacks and the targets had little or no military value.
The report was based on the same methodology that Human Rights Watch has used for more than 20 years in situations in which many witnesses have an incentive to lie: face-to-face probing and on-site inspections -- in this case in Beirut and southern Lebanon.
The critics of reports on this subject -- Amnesty International made similar charges -- have been ferocious. They have not merely deployed the common defense of accusing the accusers of getting the facts wrong. They have gone much further and accused the accusers of bad intent. For example: NGO Monitor, echoing other critics, claims that "central in the strategy" of Amnesty International is "to delegitimize Israel."
But the real vitriol has been reserved for Human Rights Watch and its executive director, Kenneth Roth. Rabbi Avi Shafran of Agudath Israel has called Roth "loathsome." An editorial in the New York Sun accused Roth of "de-legitimization of Judaism" because his group condemned Israel's strategy as "an eye for an eye." Rabbi Aryeh Spero in Human Events Online referred to Roth as a "human rights impostor," and likened him to "Nazis and Communists." On Sunday, the Jerusalem Post published an op-ed by NGO Monitor's Gerald Steinberg titled "Ken Roth's Blood Libel."
Is it possible that some of the witnesses lied? Sure it is. It's even possible, though it's something of a stretch, that many of the witnesses deliberately misled Human Rights Watch researchers. But it simply will not do to "rebut" a detailed report such as the group produced by accusing Human Rights Watch or its executive director, whose father fled Nazi Germany, of anti-Semitism (or other bad motives) and let it go at that. Indeed, the critics barely mention, much less discuss, the 24 incidents described in the report. Generally they merely assert the undisputed fact that Hezbollah did often hide among civilians. Steinberg broadly asserts, without citing any actual evidence: "When the details were examined by NGO Monitor's research staff, or Prof. Alan Dershowitz of Harvard University, the claims have often been shown to be false or unverifiable." Often? Where? When? He does not say.
No one expected the Anti-Defamation League and others to applaud the Human Rights Watch report, but one is entitled to expect something more serious by way of a response. "You're biased" is not a rebuttal.
At least some of the report's critics seem to believe that Israel should be exempted from the rules of war. Thus, Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, who has accused Human Rights Watch of "immorality at the highest level," says: "The moral issue, the human rights issue that overrides everything else in this conflict is that if Hezbollah, Syria and Iran don't understand that they will pay an overwhelming price for these rocket attacks on Israel, then eventually these rockets will be armed with chemical weapons and the warheads with nuclear weapons. In other words, the Holocaust would be in the works."
In other words, if the "overwhelming price" Israel causes the enemy to pay is indiscriminate under the rules of war, Israel must do it anyway. And Human Rights Watch is worse than naive to expect otherwise.
I don't think Foxman and NGO Monitor and others who want selective exemption of Israel from the rules of war have faced the implications of getting what they wish for, such as: Who will decide when the law can be ignored? And: If the law is mowed down, where will we find refuge when the devil turns on us?
America's security has not been enhanced by its violation of human rights principles, from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo Bay. Israel's strength lies not only in its might but in its moral principle, which it should not abandon, even in a time of war.
The writer, a lawyer in New York, is a member of the board of Human Rights Watch and a regular columnist for the Forward, a national Jewish newspaper.
My Dear Gulls, As That Guy Said, When You Were Children, You Thought As Children, Now You Are Grown And It Is Time To Put Away Childish Things
"Ethnic Profiling" and the "War on Terrorism" on Board Northwest Flight 42 All Muslims on board were handcuffed
by Niloufer Bhagwat
August 26, 2006
Most of you must have read or heard of the drama in the air where 12 passengers, all Indian businessmen/traders in textile, all of them Muslims, 10 of them from Mumbai, were handcuffed and detained, after the Northwest Airlines flight No. 42 with US sky marshals on board on its way to Mumbai , was escorted by F-16 fighter jets back to Amsterdam. Who pays for these F-16 escorts is another matter ....
After several hours a statement was made by the Dutch authorities that they were "NOT TERRORISTS".
Without giving you my own subjective remarks on the incident I would like to quote a Dutch national A. Slotboom who was on board the same flight who has stated that the 12 Indians on board were treated " inhumanely ".... when the plane arrived in Amsterdam " I thought it was inhuman......They were treated like dogs ....." He deserves to be applauded for his courage ,as it was an act of solidarity with those being persecuted and terrorized all over the world, whether they are Muslims , or working people or poorer farmers or employees increasingly working for over 10 to 12 hours in offices.
The Dutchman further stated in a statement reproduced in a newspaper that:"....When the plane was in the air we just heard over the address system that the flight was being diverted to Amsterdam and did not know that anyone was going to be detained . Once we landed there the police authorities seemed to treat the 12 persons very badly and handcuffed them and humiliated them in front of all the others...."
He emphasized that " their arrest seemed part of the of an offensive against Arabic people.....they did not hit them, but they pushed them. They let them surely feel that they have no power ........"
He further said that he too was taken off the aircraft when he commented "that the way the Indians were being treated reminded him of what the Germans had done under Hitler." They came to him and said "Okay, you come with us."
Meanwhile, during a TV debate, the issue was raised, that since there have been so many random and indiscriminate arrests made of Indian Muslims in India, in Mumbai, Gujarat and other places in India with so many defamatory statements and so much prejudice orchestrated through the media against Indian Muslims within India; whether the Government in India was on strong moral grounds in condemning this treatment by the Dutch authorities, as increasingly Indians who are Muslim are being openly discriminated against in India and some political leaders without any action by law enforcing agencies, are repeatedly permitted to openly abuse citizens who are culturally Muslim, with some regions of increased foreign investment being termed the laboratories for "Indian fascism".
One way of identifying which governments are a part of the overt or covert alliance in this " War of Terror " which has seen merciless bombing operations using Depleted Uranium and Bunker Busters with DU against defenseless people in Yugoslavia , Iraq , Afghanistan , Palestine , Lebanon is the nature of articulation of the " Terrorist " threat from Muslims / Arabs in these countries , and the bombings organized against working citizens even as the oligarchy remains safe and protected.
The maximum bombings of innocent citizens are taking place in countries occupied by foreign troops.
We also have the memories of Ireland and the covert bombing operations. It now appears a part of an Imperial tradition to bomb citizens.
There are terrorist acts by armed groups in Assam, the North East and other places in India, admittedly non-Muslim regions aided and abetted by covert agencies. Yet the political class and the oligarchy, instruct official agencies to identify terrorism with people of Muslim origins, and day in and day out this is repeated on all television channels to the disgust of citizens of all communities in India though there are no trains or buses or airplanes segregated on the on the basis of religion.
The very suggestion therefor that people of one religious group are terrorists, and will bomb a plane or a train or a bus, is absurd as people of every religion and denomination including Shia and Sunni walk on the roads and travel by the same facilities whether Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Tamil etc .....
What is significant however the world over, is only the rich and those holding high office have private cars and are therefore not bombed along with working citizens.
Moreover the Generals are based in the occupied countries in the Green Zone. Only the lowly foot soldier is exposed. The pilots have special facilities in the former palaces or elite residential areas of occupied countries.
The travel advisory for citizens of the world, is to avoid countries resorting to Islamophobia or where frequent bomb blasts take place. In any case the Airlines of the USA, Britain, Israel and those NATO countries with occupation forces in Afghanistan and Iraq should be avoided by people from South Asia.
Similarly travel to Pakistan, India and Bangladesh where authorities are co-operating in this " War of Terror " on Arabs, Muslims, should also be avoided by citizens of Europe, Asia and the Arab world.
As of now the maximum number of people dying in India are farmers from suicides and government figures itself indicates more than one lakh, whereas unofficial figures average a few lakhs all over India. This indicates that farmers are being "Terrorized " by their conditions.
Moreover India is the sixth country on the list of countries where children's lives are seriously endangered says an official International report. Also evidence of children being indiscriminately terrorized by the nature of their society.
There is no doubt that we are being seriously terrorized in South Asia, we only differ on the nature of our threat.
Please avoid South Asia on your travels, apart from the USA, UK and Israel and those countries of Europe and other continents who are partners in the " War of Terror" against citizens, as millions have been killed in one form or another.
South Asia includes Sri Lanka, a country which was once the role model for nutrition, health care and education, though formally not socialist, which became a " basket case " for the IMF and World Bank, after neo-liberal policies were introduced, the rest is history where no peace plan is allowed to succeed, and both sides were trained according to a book by a former Mossad agent, in Israel.
There are collaborators in every country, in every religious group, however in this crazy world, one time collaborators themselves will be handcuffed and face trial ......the tragic fate of President Saddam Hussain. The former President Diem of South Vietnam. Keneth Lay of Enron. The Dayton accord did not save the former President of Yugoslavia and the country was mercilessly divided and broken up for a "New Eurasia".
There are plans for a "New Middle East" and a "New South Asia". There are also plans for a "New European Union" and a "New United States" minus all social security, with 12 hour working days up o the age of 65-70 with no health care.
A recent Judgement of a court of the United States in a Suit filed by the American Union for Civil Liberties among other Plaintiffs, indicates what is the state and predicament of the "Rule of Law" in America.
Weapons cover-up revealed
August 31, 2006
Sydney Morning Herald
THE Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, issued instructions to suppress a damning letter about the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq after the war, a former senior diplomat says.
Dr John Gee, an expert on chemical weapons, worked with the US-led weapons hunter, the Iraq Survey Group, after the war and wrote the critical six-page letter when he decided to resign in March 2004. In it he warned the Federal Government the hunt was, "fundamentally flawed" and there was a "reluctance on the part of many here and in Washington to face the facts" that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction.
Dr Gee recorded in an email soon after that "Downer has issued instructions it [my letter] is not to be distributed to anyone". He wrote to a colleague in the Iraq Survey Group that a senior official in the Office of National Assessments, the Prime Minister's intelligence advisory agency, had told him about Mr Downer's instructions.
In another email, Dr Gee said the head of the Defence Department, Ric Smith, told him the department did not receive a copy of the letter even though Dr Gee was working in Iraq under contract to it. Dr Gee said senior defence officials told him the Department of Foreign Affairs "had not passed the letter on to Defence".
Last night, a spokesman for Mr Downer said the minister "did not recall" receiving Dr Gee's letter but said he would check. But he described as "a conspiracy theory" material showing that the letter had not been given to the head of the Defence Department. "I have heard a lot of conspiracy theories over the years, but I have not heard that one before."
However, documents given to the Herald, including Dr Gee's resignation letter and his emails to another senior weapons inspector, Rod Barton, reveal serious efforts to contain his findings.
Mr Downer has previously admitted that he was briefed personally by Dr Gee on the expert's return from Iraq. But Mr Downer has never revealed the contents of that briefing. From the emails, it appears Mr Downer received the damning findings months before he and the Prime Minister, John Howard, accepted that no weapons of mass destruction would be found in Iraq.
One month after his briefing with Dr Gee, Mr Downer met the US head of the Iraq Survey Group, Dr Charles Duelfer. At their press conference, Mr Downer insisted the weapons hunt in Iraq "was still a work in progress" and he could not draw conclusions.
But Dr Gee's emails reveal he briefed every senior level of the Government, including the Prime Minister's office, Defence and Mr Downer's Iraq Task Force, upon his return from Baghdad. They also indicate Mr Downer knew of his letter. The letter stated: "I now believe that there are no WMD in Iraq and that while the ISG has found a number of research activities … it has found no evidence so far on ongoing WMD programs of the type I had assumed would be there."
Summing up his difficulties in Baghdad, Dr Gee wrote: "I have concluded that the process here is fundamentally flawed …"
He wrote that the Iraq Survey Group was "run by the CIA to protect the CIA".
According to one email, the defence chief, Mr Smith, on hearing the briefing, said: "So we've got a problem." Mr Smith told him "the only way to deal with bad news is to deal with it promptly and get it out of the way".
Despite this, when Dr Gee tried to hand defence officials a copy of his letter, they declined to take it.
Yesterday Mr Barton, who also resigned from the hunt, told the Herald that Mr Downer and Mr Howard should have raised his and Dr Gee's complaints about the Iraq Survey Group with the US.
"When the two senior Australians quit, and make it plain why they quit, because the process was corrupt, I think the least the Government could do was to go and talk to the Americans and ask what was going on here". - Sydney Morning Herald
Key Ronald Reagan advisor Hon. Paul Craig Roberts: "Gullible Americans have been duped by the 9/11 Hoax... Wise up -- the World is laughing at you."- GlobalResearchCanada
By Paul Craig Roberts Information Clearing House 08/14/06
I was in China when a July Harris Poll reported that 50 percent of Americans still believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when Bush invaded that country, and that 64 percent of Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein had strong links with Al Qaeda.
The Chinese leaders and intellectuals with whom I was meeting were incredulous. How could a majority of the population in an allegedly free country with an allegedly free press be so totally misinformed?
The only answer I could give the Chinese is that Americans would have been the perfect population for Mao and the Gang of Four, because Americans believe anything their government tells them.
Americans never check any facts. Who do you know, for example, who has even read the Report of the 9/11 Commission, much less checked the alleged facts reported in that document. I can answer for you. You don't know anyone who has read the report or checked the facts.
The two co-chairmen of the 9/11 Commission Report, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, have just released a new book, "Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission." Kean and Hamilton reveal that the commission suppressed the fact that Muslim ire toward the US is due to US support for Israel's persecution and dispossession of the Palestinians, not to our "freedom and democracy" as Bush propagandistically claims. Kean and Hamilton also reveal that the US military committed perjury and lied about its failure to intercept the hijacked airliners. The commission even debated referring the military's lies to the Justice Department for criminal investigation. Why should we assume that these admissions are the only coverups and lies in the 9/11 Commission Report?
How do you know that 9/11 was a Muslim terrorist plot? How do you know that THREE World Trade Center buildings collapsed because TWO were hit by airliners? You only "know" because the government gave you the explanation of what you saw on TV. (Did you even know that three WTC buildings collapsed?)
I still remember the enlightenment I experienced as a student in Russian Studies when I learned that the Czarist secret police would set off bombs and then blame those whom they wanted to arrest.
When Hitler seized dictatorial power in 1933, he told the Germans that his new powers were made necessary by a communist terrorist attack on the Reichstag. When Hitler started World War II by invading Poland, he told the Germans that Poland had crossed the frontier and attacked Germany.
Governments lie all the time--especially governments staffed by neoconservatives whose intellectual godfather, Leo Strauss, taught them that it is permissible to deceive the public in order to achieve their agenda.
Some readers will write to me to say that they saw a TV documentary or read a magazine article verifying the government's explanation of 9/11. But, of course, these Americans did not check the facts either--and neither did the people who made the documentary and wrote the magazine article.
Scientists and engineers, such as Clemson University Professor of Engineering Dr. Judy Woods and BYU Professor of Physics Dr. Steven Jones, have raised compelling questions about the official account of the collapse of the three WTC buildings. The basic problem for the government's account is that the buildings are known to have fallen at freefall speed, a fact that is inconsistent with the government's "pancaking" theory in which debris from above collapsed the floors below. If the buildings actually "pancaked," then each floor below would have offered resistance to the floors above, and the elapsed time would have been much longer. These experts have also calculated that the buildings did not have sufficient gravitational energy to accommodate the government's theory of the collapse. It is certainly a known and non-controversial fact among physicists and engineers that the only way buildings can collapse at freefall speed into their own footprints is by engineered demolition. Explosives are used to remove the support of floors below before the debris from above arrives. Otherwise, resistance is encountered and the time required for fall increases. Engineered demolition also explains the symmetrical collapse of the buildings into their own foot prints. As it is otherwise improbable for every point in floors below to weaken uniformly, "pancaking" would result in asymmetrical collapse as some elements of the floor would give sooner than others.
Scientific evidence is a tough thing for the American public to handle, and the government knows it. The government can rely on people dismissing things that they cannot understand as "conspiracy theory." But if you are inclined to try to make up your own mind, you can find Dr. Jones' and Dr. Woods' papers, which have been formally presented to their peers at scientific meetings, on line at http://www.st911.org/
Experts have also pointed out that the buildings' massive steel skeletons comprised a massive heat sink that wicked away the heat from the limited, short-lived fires, thus preventing a heat buildup. Experts also point out that the short-lived, scattered, low-intensity fires could barely reach half the melting point of steel even if they burned all day instead of merely an hour.
Don't ask me to tell you what happened on 9/11. All I know is that the official account of the buildings' collapse is improbable.
Now we are being told another improbable tale. Muslim terrorists in London and Pakistan were caught plotting to commit mass murder by smuggling bottles of explosive liquids on board airliners in hand luggage. Baby formula, shampoo and water bottles allegedly contained the tools of suicide bombers.
How do we know about this plot? Well, the police learned it from an "Islamic militant arrested near the Afghan-Pakistan border several weeks ago." And how did someone so far away know what British-born people in London were plotting?
Do you really believe that Western and Israeli intelligence services, which were too incompetent to prevent the 9/11 attack, can uncover a London plot by capturing a person on the Afghan border in Pakistan? Why would "an Islamic militant" rat on such a plot even if he knew of it?
More probable explanations of the "plot" are readily available. According to the August 11 Wayne Madsen Report, informed sources in the UK report that "the Tony Blair government, under siege by a Labor Party revolt, cleverly cooked up a new 'terror' scare to avert the public's eyes away from Blair's increasing political woes. British law enforcement, neocon and intelligence operatives in the US, Israel, and Britain, and Rupert Murdoch's global media empire cooked up the terrorist plot, liberally borrowing from the failed 1995 'Oplan Bjinka' plot by Pakistan- and Philippines-based terrorist Ramzi Ahmad Yousef to crash 11 trans-Pacific airliners bound from Asia to the US."
There are other plausible explanations. For example, our puppet in Pakistan decided to arrest some people who were a threat to him. With Bush's commitment to "building democracy in the Middle East," our puppet can't arrest his political enemies without cause, so he lays the blame on a plot.
Any testimony against Muslim plotters by "an Islamic militant" is certain to have been bought and paid for.
Or consider this explanation. Under the Nuremberg standard, Bush and Blair are war criminals. Bush is so worried that he will be held accountable that he has sent his attorney general to consult with the Republican Congress to work out legislation to protect Bush retroactively from his violations of the Geneva Conventions.
Tony Blair is in more danger of finding himself in the dock. Britain is signatory to a treaty that, if justice is done, will place Blair before the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
What better justification for the two war criminals' illegal actions than the need to foil dastardly plots by Muslims recruited in sting operations by Western intelligence services? The more Bush and Blair can convince their publics that terrorist danger abounds, the less likely Bush and Blair are ever to be held accountable for their crimes.
But surely, some readers might object, our great moral leaders wouldn't do something political like that!
They most certainly would. As Joshua Micah Marshall wrote in the July 7 issue of Time magazine, the suspicion is "quite reasonable" that "the Bush Administration orchestrates its terror alerts and arrests to goose the GOP's poll numbers."
Joshua Micah Marshall proves his conclusion by examining the barrage of color-coded terror alerts, none of which were real, and, yes, it all fits with political needs.
And don't forget the plot unearthed in Miami to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago. Described by Vice President Cheney as a "very real threat," the plot turned out to be nothing more than a few harmless whackos recruited by an FBI agent sent out to organize a sting.
There was also the "foiled plot" to blow up the Holland Tunnel and flood downtown New York City with sea water. Thinking New Orleans, the FBI invented this plot without realizing that New York City is above sea level. Of course, most Americans didn't realize it either.
For six years the Bush regime has been able to count on the ignorant and naive American public to believe whatever tale that is told them. American gullibility has yet to fail the Bush regime.
The government has an endless number of conspiracy theories, but only people who question the government's conspiracies are derided for "having a conspiracy theory."
The implication is even worse if we assume that the explosive bottle plot is genuine. It means that America and Britain by their own aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan, and by enabling Israel's war crimes in Palestine and Lebanon, have created such hatred that Muslims, who identify with Bush's, Blair's, and Israel's victims, are plotting retaliation.
But Bush is prepared. He has taught his untutored public that "they hate us for our freedom and democracy."
Gentle reader, wise up. The entire world is laughing at you.
What we know and don't know about 9/11
"Holding the Bush regime accountable for its obvious & documented lies"
by Paul Craig Roberts
August 18, 2006
Information Clearing House - 2006-08-16
I received a number of intelligent responses from readers of my August 14 column, "Gullible Americans," The letters deserve a reply. Moreover, some contain important points that should be shared with a wider audience. Pundits such as myself are not the only people who have interesting things to say. Considering the number of letters and the time it would require to respond individually, I am replying instead in this column.
Most readers from whom I heard understand the difference between loyalty to country and loyalty to a government. They understand that to support a political party or a government that is destroying the US Constitution and America's reputation in the world is, in fact, an act of treason. Therefore, I did not have to read the usual drivel about how doubting "our government" is un-American.
Among the issues raised are:
How could the complicity of the US government, or some part of it, in the events of 9/11 be kept a secret? For the most part, this question comes from Americans who believe the government must have been, to some extent, complicit in the attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon.
How can we differentiate between the real facts, the 9/11 Commission's reporting of the facts, and "conspiracy theories"?
What about the role of suicide flyers led by M. Atta?
What about the Popular Mechanics article and the TV documentary that debunk the skeptics and support the official explanation of 9/11?
What about the role of the US media in propagandizing Americans with the official explanation instead of examining the explanation, especially with regard to such truncated hatchet-job interviews with 9/11 skeptics such as the hatchet jobs presided over by Donny Deutsch on CNBC and by neocon Tucker Carlson on MSNBC?
Why are so many Americans hostile to holding the Bush regime accountable for its obvious and documented lies, lies that have misled America to war and gratuitously slaughtered and maimed tens of thousands of people, including our own troops?
I will begin by stating what we know to be a solid incontrovertible scientific fact.
We know that it is strictly impossible for any building, much less steel columned buildings, to "pancake" at free fall speed. Therefore, it is a non-controversial fact that the official explanation of the collapse of the WTC buildings is false.
We also know for a fact that the Air Force somehow inexplicably failed to intercept the alleged hijacked airliners despite the fact that the Air Force can launch jet fighters to 29,000 feet in 2.5 minutes. We also know that the two co-chairmen of the 9/11 Commission have just written a book that reveals that the US military lied to the Commission about its failure to intercept the hijacked airliners.
There are various explanations for this second fact. The military could have lied to cover up complicity or to cover-up its incompetence. However, no investigation has been made to ascertain the true explanation for the failure.
This leaves us with the incontrovertible fact that buildings cannot "pancake" at free fall speeds.
The only explanation known to science for the free fall collapse of a building, especially into its own footprint, is engineered demolition, which removes the supports for each floor of the building at split second intervals so that the debris from above meets no resistance on its fall. To call this explanation a "conspiracy theory" is to display the utmost total ignorance. Any physicist or engineer who maintains that buildings can "pancake" at free fall speed has obviously been bought and paid for or is a total incompetent fool.
The WTC buildings are known to have collapsed at free fall speed into their own footprints.
This fact does not tell us who is responsible or what purpose was served.
Since the damning incontrovertible fact has not been investigated, speculation and "conspiracy theories" have filled the void. Some of the speculation is based on circumstantial evidence and is plausible. Other of the speculation is untenable, and it is used to protect the official explanation by branding all skeptics "conspiracy theorists." I would not be surprised if some of the most far-out "conspiracy theories" consist, in fact, of disinformation put out by elements in the government to discredit all skeptics. But I do not know this to be the case.
How could government complicity be kept a secret? It can be kept a secret, because so many Americans are scientifically ignorant and emotionally weak. They are incapable of realizing the contradiction in the government's claim that the WTC buildings "pancaked" at free fall speed, and they are emotionally incapable of confronting the evil of the Bush regime. Many Christians think that Bush is "a man of God" who is protecting American morality from homosexuals and abortionists. Others who wear their patriotism on their sleeves think Bush is standing up for America and innocent Israel, and that they must not let anti-American anti-war protesters cause America to lose another war and repeat the Vietnam experience. Americans are both ignorant and full of resentments against the left. This makes them easily manipulated by the neoconservatives who dominate the Bush regime and the media.
Also, many anti-war and anti-Bush online sites are scared of being called "crazy conspiracy kooks." They protect their sites by staying away from the 9/11 issue, just as so many Americans are scared to death of being called "anti-semitic" and thereby do not dare criticize Israel no matter the heinous war crimes that state routinely commits. Of all the online subscribers to my column, only vdare.com and NewsMax had the courage to post my column. Realizing that even antiwar sites would serve as de facto gatekeepers for the neocons, I offered the column to ICH, whose editor cannot be intimidated.
The Popular Mechanics article and the TV documentary are obviously false since they both endorse the official explanation that the WTC buildings "pancaked" at free fall speed, an obvious scientific impossibility. Whether the false reporting by Popular Mechanics and television are due to incompetence or to complicity in a government cover-up, I do not know.
We know nothing about alleged suicide flyers led by M. Atta except what the government has told us, a government that has lied to us about everything else, such as Iraq's alleged WMD and alleged links to Osama bin Laden, and Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program, a program for which the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors cannot find evidence.
According to reports, the BBC has found 6 of the alleged suicide hijackers alive and well in their home countries. I do not know if the report is true, but I do know that the report has been ignored and there has been no investigation. Both the US government and the US media have turned a blind eye. We have no way of knowing if Atta and his named accomplices hijacked the planes, or, if they did, whether they were dupes of intelligent services that pretended to be a terrorist cell and organized the cover for the engineered demolition.
The fact that we do not know any of these things, and the fact that the 9/11 Commission co-chairmen now tell us that their report is flawed, are good indications that we have no documented information of who was behind the plot, why it occurred, or how it operated.
With regard to the role of the US media, if it is indeed a media rather than a propaganda ministry, one reader cited remarks by the distinguished investigative reporter, John Pilger, made in an address at Columbia University on 14 April 2006:
"During the Cold War, a group of Russian journalists toured the United States. On the final day of their visit, they were asked by their hosts for their impressions. 'I have to tell you,' said their spokesman, 'that we were astonished to find after reading all the newspapers and watching TV, that all the opinions on all the vital issues were by and large, the same. To get that result in our country, we imprison people, we tear out their fingernails. Here, you don't have that. What's the secret? How do you do it?'"
This quote is probably apocryphal, but it is well used to make a valid point. The answer to the Russian's question is that during the cold war the American public viewed the Soviet Union as a dangerous adversary and were amenable to reports to that effect. The fact that the Soviets were a potentially dangerous adversary made Americans blind to the roles of the US military-industrial complex, which benefited financially from cultivating the adversary relationship, and the US government, which benefited politically from cultivating the adversary relationship, in keeping the adversarial relationship alive.
The uniformity of the US media has become much more complete since the days of the cold war. During the 1990s, the US government permitted an unconscionable concentration of print and broadcast media that terminated the independence of the media. Today the US media is owned by 5 giant companies in which pro-Zionist Jews have disproportionate influence. More importantly, the values of the conglomerates reside in the broadcast licenses, which are granted by the government, and the corporations are run by corporate executives--not by journalists--whose eyes are on advertising revenues and the avoidance of controversy that might produce boycotts or upset advertisers and subscribers. Americans who rely on the totally corrupt corporate media have no idea what is happening anywhere on earth, much less at home.
Despite the dark days in which we live, some readers find optimism in recent polls that show more than one-third of the US public now disbelieve the official account of 9/11 despite the Bush regime's propaganda faithfully trumpeted by the US media. Bush's own rock-bottom polls show that Americans, like the Russians of the Soviet era, can read between the lines of the propagandistic US media. Many Americans can still spot a liar and a cheat when they see one.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions