Archive for May, 2004

Maybe Bush Will Get His One Day

Friday, May 28th, 2004

Pinochet stripped of immunity

A Chilean court stripped the country’s former dictator, General Augusto Pinochet, of his immunity from prosecution today, paving the way for his trial on human rights charges.

The court in Santiago voted 14-9 to lift the immunity Pinochet enjoys as a former president.

An appeal against the decision may still be launched at the supreme court, which has repeatedly ruled that Pinochet, 88, is neither physically nor mentally fit to stand trial.

A 2002 report by court-appointed doctors stated that Pinochet suffers from diabetes, arthritis and a mild case of dementia. He also uses a pacemaker and has had at least three mild strokes since 1998.

Prosecution lawyer Francisco Bravo said the court’s decision came as a surprise.

“We receive this with deep surprise but also with deep pride,” he said. “We stress that what was at stake today was not Pinochet’s health, but the principle of equality before the law.”

…Without immunity, Pinochet could be prosecuted for 108 different criminal complaints lodged against him.

Chile’s state defence council, which participated in the effort to remove his immunity, has investigated several high-profile murders committed during the 1973-90 dictatorship.
full article


Governing Body, U.S. Pick CIA Link Allawi as Iraqi Prime Minister

Friday, May 28th, 2004

By Tom Perry

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iyad Allawi, a former member of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party who then worked with the CIA to topple him, was chosen as prime minister of Iraq Friday.

Charged with taking over from the U.S. occupation authority on June 30 and leading his country to its first free elections next year, his nomination emerged from a unanimous consensus at a meeting of the 25 U.S. appointees on Iraq’s Governing Council.

United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, whom Washington asked to help shape a new Iraqi government, welcomed the choice of the British-educated, Shi’ite neurologist through a spokesman.

It was unclear how far U.S. officials or Brahimi influenced the choice of a long-time exile known to few Iraqis and whom people in Baghdad said was an outsider they could not trust.
Reuters article

UN sidelined in choice of Iraqi leader

Just in Case Anybody is Indulging Any Illusions About Kerry…

Friday, May 28th, 2004

Kerry Calls for More Troops to Bolster U.S. Military (Update1)

May 28 (Bloomberg) — Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry called for increasing the U.S. military by 40,000 troops, probably for a decade, in order “to match its new missions” in the war on terror and homeland security.

“I make this simple pledge,” Kerry, 60, said in remarks prepared for delivery to veterans and military families in Green Bay, Wisconsin. “If I am president, I will fight for a constant standard of decency and respect for those who serve their country in our armed forces — on active duty and as veterans.”

The added troops would help “relieve over-extended” National Guard and reservists in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kerry spokesman David Wade said. Half of the additional 40,000 troops would be used as military police and for civil affairs, tasks now mainly carried out by reservists; the other 20,000 would be combat troops. The U.S. now has about 138,000 troops in Iraq.
full article

The New York Times and Iraq

Wednesday, May 26th, 2004

Published: May 26, 2004

Over the last year this newspaper has shone the bright light of hindsight on decisions that led the United States into Iraq. We have examined the failings of American and allied intelligence, especially on the issue of Iraq’s weapons and possible Iraqi connections to international terrorists. We have studied the allegations of official gullibility and hype. It is past time we turned the same light on ourselves.

In doing so — reviewing hundreds of articles written during the prelude to war and into the early stages of the occupation — we found an enormous amount of journalism that we are proud of. In most cases, what we reported was an accurate reflection of the state of our knowledge at the time, much of it painstakingly extracted from intelligence agencies that were themselves dependent on sketchy information. And where those articles included incomplete information or pointed in a wrong direction, they were later overtaken by more and stronger information. That is how news coverage normally unfolds.

But we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge.

When is Prisoner Abuse Racial Violence

Tuesday, May 25th, 2004

by Sherene Razack
May 24, 2004

 My stomach contracts and I feel a deep chill in every  pore of my Brown skin when I see the prisoner abuse photos. I know that this is about racism. So why are so many publicly reluctant to say so? Or is it that we can’t get our words into print? Only a  few people have noted that the photos remind them of prison abuse and police brutality of Black and Brown men in North America, and of  American military and covert operations in Latin America, the Caribbean, Vietnam and elsewhere. Most of these writers are  non-Western with the notable exception of  Washington Post staff writer Phillip Kennicott. Not mincing words, Kennicott maintains that “these pictures are pictures of colonial behavior, the demeaning of occupied people, the insult to local tradition, the humiliation of the vanquished.” Using the words of Aime Cesaire, Kennicott actually names the abuse “race hatred.”  The Egyptian writer Ahdaf Souief declares that the abuse reflects the “deep racism underlying the occupiers’ attitudes to Arabs, Muslims and the third world generally.” John Pilger calls it “modern imperial racism. ” Recalling Vietnam, and the way that  the My Lai massacre is remembered only as a rare incident of exceptional violence, Pilger predicts that prisoner abuse in Iraq will come to be seen the same way,  as exceptional and unconnected to the national project of dominating racially inferior peoples. Two weeks into the scandal, the exceptional violence argument rules the day and the word racism is not even uttered as a possible contributing factor.
full article

On Israel

Monday, May 24th, 2004

from The Nation
by Daniel Barenboim

On May 9 in Jerusalem, conductor Daniel Barenboim was awarded the prestigious Wolf Prize, established to honor outstanding artists and scientists who have worked “in the interest of mankind and friendly relations among people.” Exemplifying these qualities in his own life, Barenboim was a friend of and collaborator with the late Palestinian intellectual and Nation contributor Edward Said. Barenhoim’s acceptance speech before the Knesset prompted Israeli politicians to denounce him for his criticism of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians as well as for his willingness to perform the work of Richard Wagner, regarded by many Holocaust survivors as having inspired Hitler. We reproduce his speech below.

I would like to express my deep gratitude to the Wolf Foundation for the great honor that is being bestowed upon me today. This recognition is for me not only an honor but also a source of inspiration for additional creative activity.

It was in 1952, four years after the Declaration of Israel’s Independence, that I, as a 10-year-old boy, came to Israel with my parents from Argentina.The Declaration of Independence was a source of inspiration to believe in ideals that transformed us from Jews to Israelis. This remarkable document expressed the commitment: “The state of Israel will devote itself to the development of this country for the benefit of all its people. It will be founded on the principles of freedom, justice and peace, guided by the visions of the prophets of Israel. It will grant full equal, social and political rights to all its citizens regardless of differences of religious faith, race or sex. It will ensure freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.”

The founding fathers of the State of Israel who signed the declaration also committed themselves and us: “To pursue peace and good relations with all neighboring states and people.”

I am asking today with deep sorrow: Can we, despite all our achievements, ignore the intolerable gap between what the Declaration of Independence promised and what was fulfilled, the gap between the idea and the realities of Israel? Does the condition of occupation and domination over another people fit the Declaration of Independence? Is there any sense in the independence of one at the expense of the fundamental rights of the other? Can the Jewish people, whose history is a record of continued suffering and relentless persecution, allow themselves to be indifferent to the rights and suffering of a neighboring people? Can the State of Israel allow itself an unrealistic dream of an ideological end to the conflict instead of pursuing a pragmatic, humanitarian one based on social justice?

I believe that despite all the objective and subjective difficulties, the future of Israel and its position in the family of enlightened nations will depend on our ability to realize the promise of the founding fathers as they canonized it in the Declaration of Independence. I have always believed that there is no military solution to the Jewish-Arab conflict, neither a moral nor a strategic one, and since a solution is therefore inevitable, I ask myself: Why wait? It is for this very reason that I founded with my late friend Edward Said a workshop for young musicians from all the countries of the Middle East, Jews and Arabs.

Despite the fact that as an art, music cannot compromise its principles, and politics, on the other hand, is the art of compromise, when politics transcends the limits of the present existence and ascends to the higher sphere of the possible, it can be joined there by music. Music is the art of the imaginary par excellence, an art free of all limits imposed by words, an art that touches the depth of human existence, an art of sounds that crosses all borders. As such, music can take the feelings and imagination of Israelis and Palestinians to new, unimaginable spheres. I therefore decided to donate the monies of the prize to music education projects in Israel and in Ramallah. Thank you.

The Photographs ARE Us

Sunday, May 23rd, 2004

Regarding the Torture of Others
Published: May 23, 2004

For a long time — at least six decades — photographs have laid down the tracks of how important conflicts are judged and remembered. The Western memory museum is now mostly a visual one. Photographs have an insuperable power to determine what we recall of events, and it now seems probable that the defining association of people everywhere with the war that the United States launched pre-emptively in Iraq last year will be photographs of the torture of Iraqi prisoners by Americans in the most infamous of Saddam Hussein’s prisons, Abu Ghraib.

The Bush administration and its defenders have chiefly sought to limit a public-relations disaster — the dissemination of the photographs — rather than deal with the complex crimes of leadership and of policy revealed by the pictures. There was, first of all, the displacement of the reality onto the photographs themselves. The administration’s initial response was to say that the president was shocked and disgusted by the photographs — as if the fault or horror lay in the images, not in what they depict. There was also the avoidance of the word ”torture.” The prisoners had possibly been the objects of ”abuse,” eventually of ”humiliation” — that was the most to be admitted. ”My impression is that what has been charged thus far is abuse, which I believe technically is different from torture,” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said at a press conference. ”And therefore I’m not going to address the ‘torture’ word.”

Words alter, words add, words subtract. It was the strenuous avoidance of the word ”genocide” while some 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda were being slaughtered, over a few weeks’ time, by their Hutu neighbors 10 years ago that indicated the American government had no intention of doing anything. To refuse to call what took place in Abu Ghraib — and what has taken place elsewhere in Iraq and in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay — by its true name, torture, is as outrageous as the refusal to call the Rwandan genocide a genocide.

Berg video filmed inside Abu Ghraib??

Lord Forbid an Israeli Politician should have a Human Moment

Sunday, May 23rd, 2004

Israeli Leader’s WWII Analogy Draws Fire
By RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI, Associated Press Writer

JERUSALEM – Causing an uproar, an Israeli Cabinet minister said Sunday he was reminded of the suffering of his family under Nazi rule when he saw TV images of an Israeli offensive in a Palestinian refugee camp.

Justice Minister Yosef Lapid, a Holocaust survivor, insisted he was not likening army actions to Nazi policies. However, he said the picture of an elderly woman searching for medication in the rubble of a home razed by Israel in the Rafah camp reminded him of his grandmother.

Infuriated Cabinet colleagues said that even if unspoken, the analogy was clear, and demanded he retract his comments.
full article

Well the Sandinistas Brought Their Kids Up Right

Saturday, May 22nd, 2004

Imagine. Under the U.S. Military Justice system a soldier who tortures receives the same punishment as one who refuses to.

Soldier Who Refused to Return Is Found Guilty of Desertion

ATLANTA, May 21 — A military jury convicted a member of the Florida National Guard on Friday at a court-martial in Fort Stewart, Ga., on charges of desertion because he refused to return to his unit in Iraq, saying he objected to the war there.

The soldier, Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia, was sentenced to the maximum penalty of one year in prison, reduction in rank to private, and a bad-conduct discharge at the end of his prison term.

His family said he would appeal. “I couldn’t be more proud of this brave and courageous young man,” said Norma Castillo, his aunt. “We’re not going to stop until justice prevails.”

His claim of conscientious objector status, filed months after his desertion, is being considered separately. His lawyers said the judge’s decision to exclude the application from all but the sentencing phase of the court-martial “gutted” his case.

American military law recognizes conscientious objection to war in general only and not to specific conflicts, said Eugene Fidell, a founder of the National Institute of Military Justice.

Sergeant Mejia, 28, has said his experience in Iraq, seeing brutality, senseless deaths and commanders who he said put glory over good decisions, convinced him that the war was “oil driven” and immoral.

The judge would not let him testify about the mistreatment of detainees he said he saw, incidents his lawyers said violated the Geneva Convention. Sergeant Mejia’s unit was assigned to secure prisoners at a holding facility in al-Assad last May, said Lt. Col. Ron Tittle, a spokesman for the Florida National Guard.
full article

Son of a Sandinista Charged with Desertion

Whoops the Puppet has Robbed the Toy Store

Saturday, May 22nd, 2004

By suddenly distancing themselves from Chalabi the U.S. has in reality set him up to take power in Iraq. He is certainly a bandit after their own hearts

The Truth About Ahmed Chalabi
by Andrew Cockburn

Why the US Turned Against Their Former Golden Boy — He was Preparing a Coup! What He Did as a Catspaw for Tehran: How He Nearly Bankrupted Jordan; the Billions He Stands to Make Out of the New Iraq.

In dawn raids today, American troops surrounded Ahmed Chalabi’s headquarters and home in Baghdad, put a gun to his head, arrested two of his aides, and seized documents. Only five months ago, Chalabi was a guest of honor sitting right behind Laura Bush at the State of the Union. What brought about this astonishing fall from grace of the man who helped provide the faked intelligence that justified last year’s war?

full catastrophe