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     A Series of Very Important Recent Articles (most I’ve been meaning to post since they were issued, now posted in order of when they were issued), particularly on the very important topic of torture in this month of June 2006 designated as Torture Awareness Month, and its associated, highly excellent website, “Bloggers Against Torture”, at http://blogagainsttorture.blogspot.com/ [please join with Bloggers Against Torture in the struggle against torture].



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Click here to go to t r u t h o u t ' s 'William Rivers Pitt' Page!    HOW CRAZY ARE THEY?
    (Crazy Enough to Carry Out
    Systematic Terrorism, etc.)

    By William Rivers Pitt
    t r u t h o u t | Perspective
    Tuesday, 11 April 2006
    [Copyright (c) 2006 in the
    U.S.A. and Internationally
    by t r u t h o u t (.org)
    and/or William Rivers
    Pitt. All rights reserved.]


    I had a debate with my boss last night about Sy Hersh’s terrifying New Yorker article describing Bush administration plans to attack Iran, potentially with nuclear weapons. After reading the Hersh piece, my boss was understandably worried, describing his reaction to the article in road-to-Damascus-revelation terms. They’re going to do this, he said.

    I told my boss that I couldn’t believe it was possible the Bush administration would do this. I ran through all the reasons why an attack on Iran, especially with any kind of nuclear weaponry, would be the height of folly.

    Iran, unlike Iraq, has a formidable military. They own the high ground over the Persian Gulf and have deployed missile batteries all throughout the mountains along the shore. Those missile batteries, I told him, include the Sunburn missile, which can travel in excess of Mach 2 and can spoof Aegis radar systems. Every American warship in the Gulf, including the carrier group currently deployed there, would be ducks on the pond.

    The blowback in Iraq would be immediate and catastrophic, I reminded him. The Shi’ite majority that enjoys an alliance with Iran would go indiscriminately crazy and attack anyone and anything flying the stars and stripes.

    Syria, which has inked a mutual defense pact with Iran and is believed to have significant chemical and biological weapons capabilities, would get into the game.

    China, which has recently established a multi-billion dollar petroleum relationship with Iran, might step into the fray if it sees its new oil source at risk.

    Russia, which has stapled itself to the idea that Iran’s nuclear ambitions are for peaceful purposes, would likewise get pulled in.

    Blair and Britain want nothing to do with an attack on Iran, Berlusconi appears to have lost his job in Italy, and Spain’s Aznar is already gone. If the Bush administration does this, I told my boss, they’d instantly find themselves in a cold and lonely place.

    The nuclear option, I told my boss, brings even more nightmarish possibilities. The reaction to an attack on Iran with conventional weapons would be bad enough. If we drop a nuke, that reaction will be worse by orders of magnitude and puts on the table the ultimate nightmare scenario: a region-wide conflagration that would reach all the way to Pakistan, where Pervez Musharraf is fending off the fundamentalists with both hands. If the US drops a nuke on Iran, it is possible that the Taliban-allied fundamentalists in Pakistan would rise up and overthrow Musharraf, thus gaining control of Pakistan’s own arsenal of nuclear weapons. All of a sudden, those nukes would be loose, and India would lose its collective mind.

    It was a cogent argument I made, filled with common sense. My boss seemed mollified, and we bid each other goodnight. Ten minutes later, I had an email from my boss in my Inbox. He’d sent me Paul Krugman’s latest editorial from the New York Times, titled “Yes He Would.” Krugman’s piece opens this way:

“But he wouldn’t do that.” That sentiment is what made it possible for President Bush to stampede America into the Iraq war and to fend off hard questions about the reasons for that war until after the 2004 election. Many people just didn’t want to believe that an American president would deliberately mislead the nation on matters of war and peace. “But he wouldn’t do that,” say people who think they’re being sensible. Given what we now know about the origins of the Iraq war, however, discounting the possibility that Mr. Bush will start another ill-conceived and unnecessary war isn’t sensible. It’s wishful thinking.


    Things have come to a pretty pass in the United States of America when the first question you have to ask yourself on matters of war and death is, “Just how crazy are these people?” Every cogent estimate sees Iran’s nuclear capabilities not becoming any kind of reality for another ten years, leaving open a dozen diplomatic and economic options for dealing with the situation. There is no good reason for attacking that country, but there are a few bad reasons to be found.

    The worst of the bad reasons, of course, is that an attack on Iran would change the conversation in Washington as the 2006 midterm elections loom. Bush and his congressional allies are about as popular as scabies right now, according to every available poll. If the current trend is not altered or disrupted, January 2007 may come with Democratic Rep. John Conyers Jr. sitting as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee with subpoena powers in hand.

    “As Joseph Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace recently pointed out,” continued Krugman in his editorial, “the administration seems to be following exactly the same script on Iran that it used on Iraq: ‘The vice president of the United States gives a major speech focused on the threat from an oil-rich nation in the Middle East. The US secretary of state tells Congress that the same nation is our most serious global challenge. The secretary of defense calls that nation the leading supporter of global terrorism. The president blames it for attacks on US troops.'”

    For the moment, one significant departure from the Iraq script has been the Bush administration vehemently denying that an attack on Iran, particularly with nuclear weapons, is an option being considered at this time. Bush himself called the Hersh article “wild speculation,” and White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan bluntly stated that the US is committed to diplomacy. Gary Sick, an Iran expert quoted by columnist Jim Lobe in a recent article, seems to think the reputation for irrational and dangerous actions enjoyed by the Bush administration is being used as a psychological lever. “That is their record,” said Sick, “so they have no need to invent it. If they can use that reputation to keep Iran — and everybody else — off balance, so much the better.”

    Then why this cold feeling in the pit of my stomach? Julian Borger, writing for the UK Guardian, has some added insight. “Vincent Cannistraro,” writes Borger, “a former CIA counter-terrorism operations chief, said Mr. Bush had not yet made up his mind about the use of direct military action against Iran. ‘There is a battle for Bush’s soul over that,’ he said, adding that Karl Rove, the president’s chief political adviser is adamantly opposed to a war. However, Mr. Cannistraro said covert military action, in the form of special forces troops identifying targets and aiding dissident groups, is already under way. ‘It’s been authorized, and it’s going on to the extent that there is some lethality to it. Some people have been killed.'”

    A battle for Bush’s soul? Some people have been killed? It’s a wild day here in Bizarro World when I find myself in total agreement with Karl Rove. It is the uncertainty in all this that makes the situation truly terrifying. No sane person would undertake an action so fraught with peril, but if we have learned anything in the last few years, it is that sanity takes a back seat in this administration’s hayride.

    I bought a coffee this morning at the excellent cafe around the corner, which is run by a wonderful Iranian woman. I asked her point-blank what would happen in her home country if we did attack. She dismissed the possibility out of hand. “I read that Krugman article,” she said, “but there’s no way they would do this. They’d have to be crazy.”

    Indeed. Too bad that hasn’t stopped them yet. [(Subtitle and/or emphasis added by Wolf Britain.)]

    William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn’t Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence.


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Click here to go to Jim Hightower's website!    BUSH’S IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY
    [The Country “Not Like Its
    Enemies”, Becoming More and
    More Like Its Enemies! (Part 1)]

    By Jim Hightower
    The Hightower Lowdown
    Sunday, 30 April 2006
    [Copyright (c) 2006 in the
    U.S.A. & Internationally
    by Alternet (.org),
    HightowerLowdown (.org)
    and/or Jim Hightower.
    All rights reserved.]


    The Bush administration has pushed hard for limitless powers to spy on, imprison and torture American citizens in the name of ‘security.’ Is this really what America stands for?

    A fellow from a town just outside of Austin (Texas) wrote a four-sentence letter to the editor of our local daily that astonished me: “I want the government to please, please listen in on my phone calls. I have nothing to hide. It is also welcome to check my emails and give me a national identification card, which I will be proud to show when asked by people in authority. What’s with all you people who need so much privacy?”

    Well, gee where to start? How about with the founders? Many of the colonists who rose in support of the rebellion of ’76 did so because their government kept snooping on them and invading their privacy. Especially offensive was the widespread use of “writs of assistance,” which were sweeping warrants authorizing government agents to enter and search people’s homes and businesses — including those of people who had nothing to hide. The founders had a strong sense of the old English maxim “A man’s house is his castle.” They hated the government’s “knock at the door,” the forced intrusion into their private spheres, the arrogant abrogation of their personal liberty. So they fought a war to stop it. Once free of that government, they created a new one based on laws to protect liberty — and this time they were determined to put a short, tight leash on government’s inherently abusive search powers.

    Hence, the Fourth Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Periodically in American history, presidents have tried to annul our basic right to be left alone. John Adams imposed the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts. Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War. Woodrow Wilson conducted the Palmer Raids. FDR interned Japanese-Americans and others. And LBJ and Nixon used the COINTEL program to spy on war protestors and civil rights activists, including Martin Luther King Jr.

    In each case, however, the abuses were temporary. Americans rebelled and gradually brought the government back in line with our country’s belief that privacy, a basic human right, is a cornerstone of democracy.

    Bush’s Push

    Now comes the Bush-Cheney regime, pushing the most massive and rapid expansion of presidential might America has ever known. “I believe in a strong, robust executive authority,” growled Dick “Buckshot” Cheney, architect of the power grab. He added, “The president of the United States needs to have his constitutional powers unimpaired, if you will.” I wouldn’t, but they’re nonetheless asserting an imperious view of unlimited executive power that is foreign to our Constitution, demolishes the founders’ ingenious system of checks and balances (key to the functioning of our democratic republic), and transforms America’s government into a de facto presidential autocracy.

    Their push includes a White House program of domestic spying so sweeping that it would make Nixon blush; an audacious claim of a unilateral executive right to suspend treaties and ignore U.S. laws; an insistence that a president can seize U.S. citizens with no due process of law and imprison them in CIA “black sites” or send them to foreign regimes to be tortured; a series of new plans for military spying on the American people; the repression of both internal dissenters and outside protestors; an all-out assault on the public’s right to know; and well, way too much more.

    The rise of a supreme executive is such a fundamental threat to our constitutional form of government — and to who we are as a people — that the Lowdown will devote both this issue and next month’s to it. The media barons have covered this rise only sporadically and disjointedly, but it’s important for We The People to see the frightening whole of it and launch the rebellion of ’06.

    National Security Agency

    Richard Nixon is the godfather of the Bush-Cheney philosophy of executive supremacy. “Well, when the president does it, that means it is not illegal,” Tricky Dick explained to us some 30 years ago. This plenipotentiary view of the American presidency (which would send shivers through the founders) is behind the unilateral, secret and illegal directive issued by Bush in 2001, ordering the NSA to spy on ordinary Americans. It’s now conceded that untold thousands of citizens who have no connection at all to terrorism have had their phone conversations and emails swept up and monitored during the past four years by NSA agents.

    This is against the law. First, Bush’s directive blatantly violates the Fourth Amendment, for it sends his agents stealing into our lives to search our private communications without probable cause and without a warrant. Second, it goes against the very law creating NSA, which prohibited the agency from domestic spying without court supervision. Third, it bypasses 1978’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which set up a special FISA court specifically to issue secret warrants so a president could snoop on Americans suspected of being connected to terrorists. Going around this law is a felony, punishable by five years in prison. Yes: George W. Bush broke the law. He’s a criminal.

    When this sweeping program of presidential eavesdropping was revealed last December by a leak to the New York Times, Bush first tried lying, scoffing that the news report was mere media “speculation.” Didn’t work. So then he turned defiant, belligerently declaring that damned right he was tapping phones. “If you’re talking to a member of al-Qaida,” he announced, “we want to know why.”

    Of course, George, if you have reason to believe that a particular American is talking to al-Qaida, you should scoot over to FISA pronto and get a spy warrant. We don’t have time to wait for no stinking court order, he shouts, we gotta jump on these traitors quicker than a gator on a poodle. The FISA system is “too cumbersome” — we need “agility.”

    Yeah, well, democracy is supposed to be a little cumbersome, so guys like you don’t run amok. Fact is, FISA judges can act PDQ and are hardly restrictive. Of the 5,645 times Bush has requested surveillance warrants, how many did the court reject or defer? Only six! Besides, FISA lets presidents go a-snooping all they want, the instant they want, then come back to court three days later to get the warrant. How cumbersome is that? Even GOP lawmakers didn’t buy the agility line, so Bush next tried claiming that Congress had actually given him the go-ahead to bypass the law. On Sept. 14, 2001, he said Congress passed the “authorization for use of military force,” empowering him to use all necessary force against the 9/11 terrorists. Yet none of the 518 lawmakers who voted for this say that it included permission for Bush to spy illegally on our people. In fact, George W. specifically asked congressional leaders to give him this permission but was turned down. Finally, Bush has resorted to spouting Nixon’s maxim that a president’s official actions are inherently legal. Even though he broke the law knowingly and repeatedly, the Bushites assert that it’s OK, citing a dangerous and thoroughly un-American defense that, as commander-in-chief, he has the constitutional right to break any law in the interest of national security. In matters of war and foreign policy, he, Cheney, and Alberto “See No Evil” Gonzales claim that the president’s authority cannot be checked by Congress or the judiciary — indeed, they don’t even have to be informed.

    Nonsense. He’s commander-in-chief of the military — not of the country. He’s president, not king. And as president, he’s the head of only one of the three co-equal branches. Yet bizarrely and pathetically, Congress has rolled over and even cheered this gross usurpation of its clear constitutional responsibilities — including its power to declare war, control the public purse, regulate the military, ratify treaties, make laws “necessary and proper” for the conduct of all government, provide oversight of executive actions and generally serve the public as a check and balance against presidential abuses. As Sen. Russ Feingold, the truly fine defender of our rights and liberties, wrote in a February blog: “I cannot describe the feeling I had, sitting on the House floor during Tuesday’s State of the Union speech, listening to the president assert that his executive power is, basically, absolute, and watching several members of Congress stand up and cheer him on. It was surreal and disrespectful to our system of government and to the oath that as elected officials we have all sworn to uphold. Cheering? Clapping? Applause? All for violating the law?” The breathtaking notion that Bush can, on his own say-so, thumb his nose at the due process of law and even be a serial lawbreaker has astounded not only Feingold but also a slew of leading right-wing thinkers:

    Paul Weyerich of Free Congress Foundation: “My criteria for judging this stuff is, what would a President Hillary do with these same powers?”

    George Will, columnist: “[Executive] powers do not include deciding that a law — FISA, for example — is somehow exempted from the presidential duty to ‘take care that the laws be faithfully executed.'”

    David Keene of the American Conservative Union: “The American system was set up on the assumption that you can’t rely on the good will of people with power.”

    Ironically, this Bush push to place himself above the law is centered on a failed program. The agents who are having to sift through piles of our calls and emails say that nearly all of the sifting is worthless, finding fewer than 10 citizens a year who even warrant further checking. In fact, the Bushites can point to only two “successes.” They brag that the spying uncovered a plot to detonate fertilizer bombs in London — but British officials deny that NSA spying helped uncover the plot. Their other “success” is ludicrous — they claim to have found a guy who was going to cut down the Brooklyn Bridge. His weapon? A blowtorch. In response to Bush’s illegal spying, Congress has been almost comical. After huffing and puffing about doing a deep investigation into the criminality of the program, Senate Republicans abruptly cancelled their plans for public hearings and ran to the White House waving surrender hankies. Last month, they announced that they had negotiated with Cheney, who graciously gave the Senate a grand oversight role. What did they get, specifically? A new subcommittee. TAH-DAH! Now seven senators will be allowed an occasional peek at whatever documents the White House is willing to send to them. In turn, Congress will sanction Bush’s secret spying on Americans, letting him snoop on someone for 45 days without having to bother getting a warrant from that pesky FISA court. You can just hear Cheney guffawing back in his cave. Bush’s assertion of extraordinary authority has nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with his and Cheney’s mad intent to enthrone the American presidency with “plenary” power — i.e., unqualified, absolute power.

    March of Autocracy

    It would be distressing enough if the Bush-Cheney NSA power play was their only assertion of authoritarian government, but it is just one item on an astoundingly long list. Here are two particularly brash examples:

    IMPRISONMENT. Bush maintains that, as “a war president,” he has the inherent power (never claimed by any predecessor) to seize and imprison any American citizen suspected by his administration of having even the vaguest connection to terrorists. He declares that he can throw citizens in federal jails in perpetuity on his own authority, without consulting a judge or getting an arrest warrant. The hapless innocent suspects who wail that a nightmarish mistake is being made are out of luck. Bush says that his executive prisoners can be taken in secret (without even notifying their families), do not have to be told of any specific charges against them, have no right to lawyers and can be held without trial.

    They might be shipped to secret CIA prisons around the world, which were authorized not by Congress, but by a classified executive order signed by Bush on Sept. 17, 2001. Yes, the order creating the secret prisons was itself secret. These CIA “black sites,” as they are called in Bush’s bureaucratic netherworld, are not subject to congressional oversight. Last December, after members of Congress learned about these facilities, both chambers voted to get reports on where the CIA’s prisons are and what goes on inside them. But at the behest of the White House, GOP leaders quietly took this provision behind closed doors and killed it — the majority vote be damned.

    Accused citizens might also be secretly turned over to repressive foreign governments for interrogation — an unpleasant, illegal and morally bankrupt practice known as “extraordinary rendition.” Consider Maher Arar’s case. Returning home from a family vacation in 2002, this Canadian software engineer was “detained” by the feds at Kennedy Airport, thrown into solitary confinement in Brooklyn, denied proper legal counsel, grilled and then “rendered” by the Bushites to a Syrian prison. He was held there for 10 months in a rat-infested dungeon and brutally tortured. Finally, finding that he had no connection to terrorism, the Syrians released him.

    Arar sued the U.S. government for knowingly sending him to a torture chamber. In February, a federal judge blocked Arar’s case without even hearing it. Caving in to Bush’s claim of supreme executive power, the judge ruled that extraordinary rendition is a foreign-policy matter that the courts cannot review.

    TORTURE. “We do not torture,” says George W. in yet another bald-faced lie. Actually, he and his henchmen have bent themselves into contortions trying to assert that the commander-in-chief does, indeed, have the inherent right to torture suspects in U.S. custody. In 2002, when he learned that Afghan detainees were being abused in violation of the Geneva Conventions and our own War Crimes Act, Bush did not order the mistreatment to stop. Instead, he signed an order stating, “I have the authority under the Constitution to suspend Geneva.” He might as well have shouted, “I am the king!”

    A year later, a White House memo tried to redefine torture, imperiously declaring that only gross brutality that causes “organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death” can be called torture. John Yoo, the lawyer who has crafted many of Bush’s claims of expansive executive authority, even argues that it would not be unlawful torture for a president to order that the testicles of a detainee’s child be crushed. “I think it depends on why the president thinks he needs to do that,” says Yoo.

    Human-rights groups report that more than 100 captives have died while being tortured by executive-branch interrogators. “We do not torture?” Then why did Bush and Cheney fight so ferociously last year to kill Sen. John McCain’s bill that would ban our government from using torture? The White House pleaded, threatened, cajoled and demanded that Congress at least exempt the CIA. Only when the ban passed both houses by veto-proof margins did Bush appear to give in, even publicly hugging McCain in a gesture of concession.

    But when he signed the bill on Dec. 30, with Congress and the media out of town on holiday, Bush quietly added a “signing statement,” augustly proclaiming that he retains the right to ignore the ban whenever he thinks it conflicts with his inherent authority as commander-in-chief. The Constitution clearly says that Congress — and only Congress — is empowered “to make all laws.” Yet this president, who whines that “liberal” judges keep stretching the Constitution beyond the strict words of the founders, says that he can rewrite America’s laws by interpreting them to mean what he wants them to mean.

    If Bush can spy illegally, arrest citizens and throw away the key, sanction torture, lie, make his own laws and not be held accountable, then what can’t he do? More next month (below). [(Subtitle and/or emphasis added by Wolf Britain.)]

    From The Hightower Lowdown, edited by Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer, April 2006.

    Jim Hightower is the author of THIEVES IN HIGH PLACES: They’ve Stolen Our Country And It’s Time To Take It Back(!). To purchase the book, go to Amazon.com. He publishes the monthly Hightower Lowdown. For more information about Jim, visit JimHightower.com.


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Click here to go to Jim Hightower's website!    INSIDE DONNIE RUMSFELD’S
    [The Country “Not Like Its
    Enemies”, Becoming More and
    More Like Its Enemies! (Part 2)]

    By Jim Hightower
    The Hightower Lowdown
    Wednesday, 24 May 2006
    [Copyright (c) 2006 in the
    U.S.A. & Internationally
    by Alternet (.org),
    HightowerLowdown (.org)
    and/or Jim Hightower.
    All rights reserved.]


    While claiming that they must “secure'” America for a post-9/11 world, the Bush-Cheney zealots are taking us back to a pre-1776 world.

    In 1928, Justice Louis Brandeis wrote that the real threat to American freedom was not from an outside assault, but from the devious manipulations of our own misguided leaders. “The greatest dangers to liberty,” he observed, “lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning, but without understanding.”

    Nearly 80 years after Brandeis’s warning, the zealots have been brought in from the far-right fringe on the golden chariot of George W, and they’ve shown that they have no understanding of the essence of America, which includes our hard-won liberties, our rule of law and our system of checked-and-balanced governmental power.

    But these men of zeal — Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al. — are hardly well-meaning. They are deliberately and determinedly striving to impose the AntiAmerica on our own land — an unrecognizable America of supreme executive authority, constant surveillance of the citizenry, secret government and suppression of dissent. Their chief weapon is fear. They feverishly wave the bloody flag of 9/11, shouting that the citizenry must surrender liberties or be attacked again by The Madmen, that we mustn’t question authority for this only encourages The Madmen, that all government operations must be cloaked in a dark veil of secrecy to keep The Madmen off balance, and that executive and police power must drastically expand to protect us from The Madmen.

    While claiming that they must “secure” America for a post-9/11 world, the Bush-Cheney zealots are taking us back to a pre-1776 world. They have been astonishingly successful in a remarkably short time, insidiously taking autocratic step after step, which a compliant Congress and the establishment media have mostly missed, ignored, minimized or applauded. These two “institutions of vigilance” have failed us. So it is up to “We, The People” to assert ourselves against this dangerous rise of authoritarianism in Bush’s America.

    The Spook Society

    “You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you have to concentrate on,” George W said with a laugh at Washington’s Gridiron dinner in 2001.

    If only we’d known then that behind George’s snickers, the Bushites were serious. Employing a combination of deceit, defiance, arrogance, flag-waving and secrecy, they have fooled a majority of Congress and the media into accepting the overlay of a “spook society” on our “Land of the Free.” The far-reaching extent of their efforts are only now becoming clear.

    Last month’s installment covered Bush’s secret and blatantly illegal directive for the National Security Agency to spy on citizens here at home. This clandestine four-year program of executive eavesdropping — scooping up billions of phone calls and emails sent or received by innocent Americans — has now been getting wide media coverage. But to focus only on this one piece is to miss the more startling reality: the quiet installation inside our country of a massive snoopervision complex, much of it initiated, funded and controlled by Donnie Rumsfeld’s Orwellian Pentagon.

    Since the founding of America, a central tenet of our liberty has been that the military is not to be turned on our own people. Violations of this guiding rule have occurred in the past, but rarely and only temporarily, and when it’s been violated, public outcry has forced the reinstatement of the rule.

    Bush & Co., however, has not only turned loose the military to spy extensively on the American people, but has also asserted the right to do so in perpetuity. Its claim is that 9/11 turned the homeland into a foreign battlefield, so the nation’s historic prohibition against military surveillance of Americans is null and void. And since this war on terrorists has no end (“the long war,” Rumsfeld calls it), the Bushites maintain that the Pentagon can engage in domestic spying ad infinitum.

    This military intrusion into our privacy has come with a heavy dose of linguistic perversions by top officials. For example, a secret Pentagon memo from Nov. 5, 2001, has now surfaced. In it, the Army’s chief intelligence officer insists that while the Pentagon cannot “collect” information on citizens who have no connection to foreign terrorists, it can “receive” such information. “Remember,” he wrote with Machiavellian delight, “merely receiving information does not constitute ‘collection’ [Military intelligence] may receive information from anyone, anytime.”

    Meanwhile, the ever-sneaky Bushites have quietly been pushing legislation that would compel the FBI and other police agencies to give information that they collect on you and me to the Pentagon, as long as the info is somehow “related” to a foreign intelligence investigation. This does not mean that, to spy on you, the snoops must have cause to think that you are in any way tied to terrorism, but only that they claim their investigation to be vaguely related to some foreign matter — a catchall that sweeps up war protestors, for example.

    The legislation has yet to pass, but intelligence watchdogs say that Bush has already implemented it by fiat — Executive Order 13388 appears to authorize the Pentagon to access domestic intelligence files. Also, the military has already created a robust collection system of its own. A new Northern Command, established in Colorado in 2001 to monitor Americans, now employs more intelligence analysts than does the Homeland Security Department. Also, the Marines launched an operation under a 2004 executive order for the “collection, retention and dissemination of information concerning U.S. persons,” noting that the corps will be “increasingly required to perform domestic missions.” And, during the past five years, each of the service branches has created its own domestic snooping enterprises. As Sen. Ron Wyden (of Oregon) complained last year, “We are deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans in America. This is a huge leap without even a [public] hearing.”

    Total Information Awareness(TIA)

    A nightmare right out of 1984, complete with the ominous, all-seeing name it was given, TIA was the ugly spawn of John Poindexter, the convicted master schemer behind the Iran-Contra scandal in Reagan’s White House. George W and Rummy had snuck him back into the government in 2001, ensconcing him deep inside the Pentagon, where he ran a team to develop TIA’s unprecedented and voracious ability to grab every speck of private data on Americans from every public and corporate data bank. The plan was to put it all in a Pentagon supercomputer and mine it to build files on anyone the authorities might deem suspicious.

    Luckily, a couple of years ago, this massive invasive madness came to light. The public howled so loudly that Congress rose up and demanded that the program be terminated, and Poindexter was forced to slink away.

    But wait — who’s that guy in the shadows, and what’s he doing? He’s Brian Sharkey, Poindexter’s close pal who was a key player in the creation of TIA. He now heads a firm that’s been getting government contracts to keep pursuing TIA’s shadowy projects. In an internal email to TIA’s subcontractors, Sharkey gleefully announced: “Fortunately, a new sponsor has come forward that will enable us to continue much of our previous work.” He added that the TIA effort would henceforth go by the cryptic code name of “Basketball.”

    The new “sponsor” of this hoops game is a highly classified outfit called Advanced Research and Development Activity (ARDA) that is housed inside NSA (yes, the very agency that’s been running George W’s illegal domestic spying program). In a February public hearing, Sen. Wyden asked Bush’s director of national security and the head of the FBI a direct question: “We want to know if Mr. Poindexter’s programs are going on somewhere else.” We don’t know, replied our nation’s top two snoops. When a reporter asked an NSA spokesman whether TIA had been moved to ARDA, he clammed shut: “We can neither confirm nor deny actual or alleged projects.” ARDA itself is now being moved to the national intelligence agency and given a new name: “Disruptive Technology Office.” It’s hard to follow all of the trick passes of “Basketball,” but the bottom line is that TIA was halted in name only, having been stealthily slipped into another agency that has been moved and had its own name changed.

    Salute Your Big Brother

    Three years ago, the Pentagon set up a new, ultrasecret agency called CIFA, for Counterintelligence Field Activity. Its initial task was to detect terrorist plots against military installations in the United States, but two years ago, a directive from the Pentagon’s top ranks ordered CIFA to broaden its scope by creating and maintaining “a domestic law enforcement database.” The agency’s motto became “Counterintelligence to the Edge.”

    In May 2003, Rumsfeld’s top deputy, “Howling Paul” Wolfowitz, authorized a new snooping operation code-named TALON (Threat And Local Observation Notice). It directed military officers throughout the country to collect raw information about suspicious activities by local people and to feed reports on them into CIFA’s humming computers. In its first year alone, TALON’s far-flung network of military snoops fed more than 5,000 “local activity” reports into the electronic maw of CIFA.

    Nearly everything about CIFA, including its budget, is kept secret, but it is known that the agency has generously spread its budgetary wealth to Pentagon contractors. Northrop Grumman, for example, received funds to develop a CIFA database dubbed “PersonSearch,” and Computer Sciences Corp. got a grant for an electronic system to detect and monitor people’s “abnormal activities and behaviors.” You might say, OK, Hightower, but surely these fine public servants and civic-minded corporations are merely protecting us homelanders by watching known terrorist types with Arab-sounding names and Muslim affiliations. Right?

    Uh-uh. Forget about merely needing to defend the rights of Arab-Americans — the Pentagon is invading everyone’s liberties. You could ask these folks:

    In October 2004, the Broward County Anti-War Coalition was discovered by the ever-alert snoops to be planning a demonstration outside a military recruitment office. The group ended up in the CIFA database, even though the only crime of the 15-20 members who protested was to wave a giant sign proclaiming, “Bush Lied.”

    In 2004, George Main, head of the Sacramento chapter of Vietnam Veterans for Peace, had organized a small Veterans Day protest in front of a military office. Not only did he and his VVP buddies end up with their names in a TALON report, but he also got a call from his government the night before the protest, pointedly suggesting that he was a threat to national security. “It was very intimidating to have a special agent call out of the ether,” George says.

    About 10 peace activists who showed up outside Halliburton’s Houston headquarters in June 2004 also were reported to CIFA by a TALON team. Why would Halliburton warrant coverage under a program supposedly designed to stave off attacks on military installations? Pentagon officials say that its “force protection” mission now includes its private contractors.

    These intrusions into perfectly legitimate First Amendment activities are not isolated mess-ups by a few overzealous military officers. Even the Pentagon concedes that thousands of TALON reports have been filed on totally innocent, nonthreatening civilians and are retained in CIFA’s computer banks.

    Data Mining

    The Pentagon is hardly alone in rummaging through America’s vast array of computerized records — collecting, crosschecking, storing, analyzing and monitoring trillions of bits of our personal data, from our credit card transactions and our phone calls to every single internet search we’ve ever made. The Government Accountability Office reports that 52 federal agencies now operate nearly 200 of these data-mining programs, building files on anyone that the computers and bureaucrats deem the least bit suspicious. As one privacy expert puts it, “We have lists that are having baby lists at this point. They’re spawning faster than rabbits.”

    The irony is that this mass invasion of our privacy does nothing to make Americans safer. Internet security expert Bruce Schneier points out that these data-mining systems are “so flooded with false alarms” that they’re “useless,” forcing agents to waste money and time chasing after thousands of innocent people.

    Political Enemies

    Dick Nixon must be grinning in his grave, for the FBI is now reprising the abusive role it played in tracking down Tricky Dick’s infamous enemies list. The FBI’s own “terrorist” files show that the agency has again been spying on such nonthreats as peaceful demonstrators at the 2004 political conventions, while also maintaining a “Terrorist Watch” list that includes such groups as “Food Not Bombs,” a volunteer group that serves vegetarian meals to homeless people.

    Also, in 2002, the FBI’s Pittsburgh office spied on a group of “terrorists” operating in a “cell” called the Thomas Merton Center for Peace and Justice. An agency memo warned that the center “holds daily leaflet distribution activities in downtown Pittsburgh.” The memo notes that the Merton Center “is a left-wing organization advocating, among many political causes, pacifism.”

    Pacifism! Holy J. Edgar Hoover! Forget about terrorists attacks — there are pacifists passing out leaflets in Pittsburgh!

    Secret Service

    Speaking of disruptive, the newly extended Patriot Act creates a new class of federal felon: the disruptor.

    This chilling provision, tucked into the bill in January without a hearing or debate, authorizes the Secret Service “to charge suspects with breaching security or disruptive behavior at National Special Security Events.” What is NSSE? An event where the president or other protected official “will be temporarily visiting,” such as a public speech, a political rally, an inauguration ball, the Olympics, the Super Bowl or any other event designated by the Secret Service as being of “national significance.”

    We’ve seen that simply wearing an anti-Bush T-shirt or having a pro-Democrat bumper sticker is enough to get you branded a disruptor, bounced from a Bush event and thrown in jail. But this provision broadens the reach of Bush’s exclusion zones, sanctions the lockdown on free speech and assembly rights, and turns what was a trespassing misdemeanor into a felony. Also, you can be considered a disruptor even if the VIP has not arrived at the NSSE or has already left. Under this provision, not only is the public official protected from “disruptors,” but also the NSSE itself becomes the protectee, criminalizing free speech at public events.


    There are a thousand other cuts that the Bushites are making to America’s Bill of Rights, the rule of law and separation of powers. Theirs has become, for example, the most secret government in our history, spending billions of tax dollars a year to classify millions of even mundane documents, issuing executive fiats to deny “We The People” access to crucial public information under right-to-know laws, and trying to make it a federal crime not only to leak internal executive information (unless, of course, the White House does the leaking), but also to receive any leaked info.

    The Bushites have made unprecedented efforts to silence scientists and dissenters within government. This administration has also launched a sweeping array of “citizen watch” programs with names like Coastal Beacon, CAT Eyes and Eagle Eyes, enlisting individuals and groups to spy on neighbors and report even the most unsubstantiated gossip to authorities. The eerie slogan of these watch programs is “Be our eyes and ears so we can calm your fears.”

    Using its never-ending war as a bugaboo, the Bush-Cheney regime is asserting that it is entitled to operate as a military presidency. The Madmen hate our freedoms, the Bushites screech, so in order to defeat The Madmen, our freedoms must be suspended — for as long as it takes. Not only is that grotesquely absurd, it is entirely un-American.


    Editor’s note: This is the second half of a two-part series from the Hightower Lowdown. Read last month’s article here (or above). [(Subtitle and/or emphasis added by Wolf Britain.)]

    From The Hightower Lowdown, edited by Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer, April 2006.

    Jim Hightower is the author of THIEVES IN HIGH PLACES: They’ve Stolen Our Country And It’s Time To Take It Back(!). To purchase the book, go to Amazon.com. He publishes the monthly Hightower Lowdown. For more information about Jim, visit JimHightower.com.


(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. t r u t h o u t has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is t r u t h o u t endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

“Go to Original” links are provided as a convenience to our readers and allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted on TO may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the “Go to Original” links.

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Click here to go to an old Washington Post 'Sidney Blumenthal' Page!    A STATE OF EMERGENCY
    (The Bushcon/Neocons Are
    Violating and Destroying
    The U.S. Constitution!)

    By Sidney Blumenthal
    The Guardian, U.K.
    Thursday, 01 June 2006
    [Copyright (c) 2006 in the
    U.S.A. & Internationally
    by t r u t h o u t (.org)
    and/or Sid Blumenthal.
    All rights reserved.]


    Bush is a danger to the Constitution in his wartime capacity as Commander in Chief.

    Within the Bush administration something that senior officials call the “war paradigm” is the central organizing principle. They do not use the phrase publicly, but they bend policy to serve it. After September 11 the war paradigm was instantly adopted. George Bush, who proclaimed “I’m a war president”, assumed the paradigm as his natural state and right. According to its imperatives, the president in his wartime capacity as commander in chief makes and enforces laws as he sees fit, overriding the constitutional system of checks and balances. Some of the paradigm’s expressions include Bush’s fiats on the treatment of detainees, domestic surveillance and international law, and his more than 750 “signing statements” — interpretations of laws that he claims he can implement as he chooses.

    In the beginning, the elements of the war paradigm appeared to be expediencies, conceived as emergency measures in the struggle against al-Qaida. But their precepts were developed before September 11 by John Yoo, promoted to deputy assistant attorney general in the office of legal counsel at the department of justice, where he was tasked to write secret memos on torture, surveillance and executive power.

    Once Bush approved them, the clerisy of neoconservative lawyers put them into effect. They believe fervently that the constitution is fatally flawed and must be circumscribed. The Bush administration’s holy grail is to remove suspects’ rights to due process, speedy trial and exculpatory evidence. The war paradigm is to be strengthened to conduct permanent war against terror that can never be finally defeated. There is no exit strategy from emergency.

    In the short run, Bush’s defense of his war paradigm may precipitate three constitutional crises. In the first, freedom of the press is at issue. On May 21st (2006) Alberto Gonzales, the attorney general, announced the possibility that the New York Times would be prosecuted for publishing its Pulitzer prize-winning article on the administration’s domestic surveillance. “It can’t be the case,” he said, that the first amendment trumps the right of the government “to go after criminal activity”.

    In the second case, a wartime executive above the law may be asserted. Last week the special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who charged the vice-president’s former chief of staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby with perjury and obstruction of justice, made plain his intention to summon Cheney to the witness stand to impeach Libby’s credibility or else commit perjury himself. But will the administration fight the subpoena as an infringement on a unitary executive that should be immune from such distractions in wartime?

    In the third case, if either house of Congress should fall to the Democrats in the November midterm elections, the oversight suppressed during one-party rule would be restored. Would the administration refuse congressional requests for documents as it did when the Democratic Senate in Bush’s first year asked for those pertaining to Cheney’s energy taskforce, which reportedly included Enron’s CEO Ken Lay, last week convicted on numerous counts of fraud?

    Bush does not contemplate retreat from the war paradigm, which he embraces as his reason for being. After his 2004 victory he claimed he had had his accountability moment. But the constitution is an intricate mechanism of checks and balances that creates constant accountability. The question at the heart of Bush’s politics is whether that can be indefinitely suspended and the constitution radically revised. [(Subtitle and/or emphasis added by Wolf Britain.)]

    Sidney Blumenthal is a former senior adviser to President Clinton, and is the author of The Clinton Wars. To purchase the book, go to Amazon.com.


(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. t r u t h o u t has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is t r u t h o u t endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

“Go to Original” links are provided as a convenience to our readers and allow for verification of authenticity. However, as originating pages are often updated by their originating host sites, the versions posted on TO may not match the versions our readers view when clicking the “Go to Original” links.

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(The Neocons And Bushcons Are
Working Overtime to Terrorize,
Imprison, Torture, and Murder)

By Mara Verheyden-Hilliard
and Brian Becker
Friday, 02 June 2006
( International A.N.S.W.E.R.
{A.ct N.ow to S.top W.ar
and E.nd R.acism} Coalition
http://www.AnswerCoalition.org/ )

[Copyright (c) 2006 in the U.S.A. and
Internationally by the Interna-
tional A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition,
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard
and/or Bryan Becker.
All rights reserved.]


Click here to go to the International A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition's website!        When U.S. marines carried out the savage and systematic execution of Iraqi families and small children in Haditha last November, it was initially reported as a "battle" with "insurgent casualties." A photo of a kneeling Iraqi civilian moments before he was murdered was taken by a Marine using his cell phone camera. Other pictures of the corpses of small children, families lying in pools of blood in their homes, students gunned down in a taxi are all part of the documentary evidence.

The massacre in Haditha took place one year after a much larger massacre of civilians in Fallujah. Four to six thousand civilians are estimated to have been killed in Fallujah in November 2004, according to credible independent sources reporting from the ground. The truth of Iraq is that there were other massacres almost every week in between the events that have made Haditha and Fallujah famous cities: famous in the way no city wants to become well known throughout the world. The attack on the people of Iraq and ensuing occupation by the United States government has caused the deaths of well over 100,000 Iraqi people (the British medical journal, The Lancet, reported an excess of 100,000 dead eighteen months ago).

"Ethics Training" to Prevent Massacres

Now that the butchery in Haditha is making headlines in the United States, high ranking officials in the Pentagon as well as the President are promising an investigation. They have even announced "ethics training" for combat troops. The implication is that something unusual happened when unarmed civilians, including terrified small children and their mothers who were trying to shield them, were riddled with bullets by U.S. soldiers. Were they rogue soldiers lawlessly breaking ranks from an otherwise pristine mission aimed at liberating Iraqis? That is pure fiction. Those who criticize the management of the war are talking complete nonsense when they say that the actions of these Marines will make it "harder to carry out the mission in Iraq."

The Haditha massacre will not make the Iraqis think differently about the United States or Bush. It will only confirm their view, an outlook shaped by the cruel, cold-hard reality of the past years.

A Routine Phenomenon

Just this week, on May 31, US soldiers in Iraq "killed two Iraqi women — one of them about to give birth — when the troops shot at a car that failed to stop at an observation post in a city north of Baghdad." The AP reports that Nabiha Nisaif Jassim, 35, was being raced to the maternity hospital in Samarra by her brother when the shooting occurred Tuesday. Jassim, the mother of two children, and her 57-year-old cousin, Saliha Mohammed Hassan, were killed by the U.S. forces, according to police Capt. Laith Mohammed and witnesses. Her husband was waiting for her at the maternity unit of the hospital when Jassim, pregnant with their child, and her cousin were murdered.

Yesterday, the BBC disclosed new video evidence that U.S. forces massacred another group of Iraqi civilians in the town of Ishaqi in March. The story, carried by Knight-Ridder in March, and denied by the U.S. government thereafter, stated that U.S. troops had rounded-up villagers into a single room of a house and then "executed 11 people, including a 75-year-old woman and a 6-month-old infant." BBC reported June 1 that of the eleven people murdered by U.S. troops, five were children. The soldiers then, "burned three vehicles, killed the villagers’ animals and blew up the house."

In Afghanistan this week, large masses of people took to the streets throwing rocks at U.S. military vehicles following another incident in which U.S. military personnel raced through Kabul and then rammed passenger vehicles killing at least three people. A top Afghan police officer reported that U.S . soldiers then opened fire indiscriminately directly into the crowd killing at least four more people.

Rejecting the Disney Version of U.S. Foreign Policy

The perception of the U.S. in the Arab world is based on actual information and knowledge of the Iraq war and the war in Afghanistan. The U.S. financing and support for the ongoing war waged by the Israeli military against the Palestinian people also contributes to the understanding of the U.S. role among the people of the Middle East. This perception is 100 percent different than the fantasy promoted in the United States. In the United States, facts are not allowed to stand in the way of the official legend.

All the mainstream media, the politicians and even some in the "peace movement" in the United States uphold the Disney version of U.S. imperialism: a fundamentally benign force, motivated by democratic values and a vision of freedom, that is suffering an unexplained outburst of criminality based on stress caused by poor management of the war. Haditha, and Fallujah before it, or Abu Ghraib, are registered as deviant behavior by out of control people. Conveniently they are all rank and file enlisted men and women. No Generals, Secretary of Defense or President need worry.

That every exposed crime is widely accepted to be "deviant" or aberrational in the United States is only a testament to the power of political indoctrination by the media and the government whose economic resources for "opinion-molding" are greater than that of any previous empire in human history.

The Perception of U.S. Imperialism from The Middle East

"The deaths in Haditha, a volatile town in western Iraq, have barely caused a stir in Iraq and much of the Arab world — where American troops are reviled as brutal invaders who regularly commit such acts," writes AP reporter Hamza Hendawi, in a story filed on May 30, 2006.

The next day a dispatch from AP reporter Kim Gamel, reports the same sentiment, "People in Samarra are very angry with the Americans not only because of Haditha case but because the Americans kill people randomly especially recently," Khalid Nisaif Jassim said.

Closely connected by language, historical and geographic knowledge, and access to more comprehensive media reporting, the Arab people consider the entire war, including its unprovoked initiation by Bush on March 20, 2003, to be a criminal endeavor by large powers against a small but oil-rich nation. The racist character of the war itself is well recognized throughout the region. Having battled for a century against colonial and semi-colonial domination, the Arab people don’t derive their knowledge about the intentions of Britain or the United States from FOX News or the New York Times.

In the U.S. media, Iraq is treated as a low-intensity war. When U.S. soldiers are killed their deaths are accompanied by a small article. The fact that well more than 100,000 Iraqis have died does not merit blazing headlines. Iraqi suffering is minimized or usually attributed to "terrorists." Thus, the people of the United States are shielded from that which the Arab people know all too well about the criminal character of the war of aggression.

Fallujah and Hue City, Vietnam

The issue of Fallujah is a case in point. Fallujah is emblematic of the war. It is well understood throughout the Arab world but treated like ancient history by the U.S. media.

On the eve of the assault on Fallujah, the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition sent out an email to anti-war activists (November 7, 2004) under the headline: "Top U.S. Marine in Iraq Calls for Massacre in Fallujah." It reported that Sgt. Major Carlton W. Kent gave an emotional pep-talk to 2,500 Marines who were poised to attack the city. The marines had just notified the people of Fallujah that any male between the age of 15-55 who dared go outside would be automatically killed. "You’re all in the process of making history," the Sgt. Major exhorted his soldiers. "This is another Hue City in the making. I, have no doubt, if we do get the word, that each and every one of you is going to do what you have always done kick some butt." (AP, November 7, 2004)

Evoking the events in Hue by U.S. officers, as a motivation for today’s troops, shows the macabre criminality inherent in imperialism’s war for conquest.

Hue was a city in South Vietnam that was a scene of horrific war crimes by military personnel when it was captured by U.S.-led forces in March 1968. U.S. Under-Secretary of the Air Force, Townsend Hoopes, admitted that Hue was left a "devastated and prostrate city. Eighty percent of the buildings had been reduced to rubble, and in the smashed ruins lay 2,000 dead civilians …" (Noam Chomsky’s forward to the papers of the 1967 International War Crimes in Vietnam Tribunal.)

The Machinery of Racism

How can 100,000 people die, how can children be murdered, how can the devastation and destruction of an entire society occur at the hands of the U.S. government without there being a huge outpouring of indignation and condemnation in the U.S. mass media, much less even acknowledgment by so many in the "loyal opposition"? Because the U.S. mainstream media is a corporate dominated propaganda machine that is part and parcel of the imperial establishment and shares its interests. It uses the instrument of racism, a tool that has been fine-tuned by the forces of militarism in the United States for nearly four centuries. The racist demonization of conquered and targeted people has been crafted with the idea of dehumanizing the victims so as to prevent the forging of human solidarity in opposition to the crimes of conquest and Empire. The mass media, always willing to exploit the emotional appeal of death and tragedy that occurs within the United States, can ignore or define the experiences of the people of Iraq as somehow less worthy, the death of Iraqi children as less agonizing, their lives less valuable.

Bush Proclaims that Iraq "is only the beginning" of Endless War

The day after the NY Times front page story revealing the graphic details of the Haditha massacre, George W. Bush said these words about the Iraq war to the West Point graduating class of 2006: "This is only the beginning. The message has spread from Damascus to Tehran that the future belongs to freedom, and we will not rest until the promise of liberty reaches every people, in every nation." Reiterating his and Cheney’s theme that the U.S. is now engaged in "endless war," Bush told the young cadets: "The war began on my watch, but its going to end on your watch."

While Bush was exhorting the next generation of privileged military officers to enthusiastically embrace his imperial crusade, the reality is that this administration sees in every rank and file enlisted man and woman nothing more than pawns. For the working class youth who make up the bulk of the military, the Bush administration has only callous disregard. Bush is willing to send these young people to kill and be killed while it carries out vicious cut-backs in education, job training and veterans benefits. The rich are always ready to have the working class and poor people do their fighting and dying.

The crimes of the U.S. soldiers in Iraq are as inevitable as the crimes committed by soldiers in imperial armies throughout history. The conquered people refuse to accept their fate. They rise up, they form resistance organizations. They take up arms and conspire to oust the foreign occupiers. They are then branded as terrorists and criminals by the Empire. To the extent that they enjoy popular support among the indigenous population, the population itself is considered "suspect" by the occupiers.

Civilians thus become a danger. Children and young teenagers can become the "enemy." The vehicles carrying expectant mothers to the hospital can thus become a threat because they must travel quickly, too quickly for the comfort of the occupying soldiers who are fearful of car bombs.

A Pertinent Revelation this Week: 50 Years After the Fact

In the Korean War, U.S. soldiers gunned down hundreds and possibly thousands of South Korean civilians as they tried to escape the horrors of war. For five decades, the Pentagon and each successive U.S. administration denied these facts. South Korean survivors who tried to press their claims against the United States were labeled traitors and North Korean spies and put into prison for many years. After the killings of No Gun Ri in July 1950 were exposed decades later in the U.S. media, the Pentagon even carried out an "exhaustive" investigation and concluded that the actions were those of inexperienced soldiers. "The deaths and injuries of civilians, wherever they occurred, were an unfortunate tragedy inherent to war and not a deliberate killing…. Soldiers were not ordered to attack and kill civilian refugees in the vicinity of No Gun Ri." (Department of the Army Inspector General, No Gun Ri Review, Jan. 2001)

But just this week, as the Pentagon begins its new "investigation" into Haditha, a document has come to light that not only reveals the truth of the massacre of Koreans but that it was an act of official U.S. war policy. The day of the mass killings, the US Ambassador to South Korea sent a letter to State Department official Dean Rusk about the military decision arrived at a meeting on July 25, 1950 announcing that Korean war refugees would be shot if they approached US lines. The day after the decision the 7th U.S. Cavalry Regiment killed hundreds of civilians at No Gun Ri in South Korea.

The Logic of War Crimes

There was a military rationale for killing the civilians at No Gun Ri and in scores of other sites throughout Korea during the war. The U.S. soldiers could not tell whether the civilians were sympathetic to the North Koreans or whether they would permit North Korean soldiers into their midst.

The Geneva Conventions expressly prohibit the targeting of civilians under any circumstances. But the Pentagon had a bigger political concern than adhering to international law. The fundamental fear of the Pentagon and the White House in Korea, as it was in Vietnam and during the first and current war against Iraq, was that public opinion at home would turn against the imperialist adventure and tie the hands of the warmakers. The logic of their political calculus was that U.S. public opinion would turn against the war directly as a result of a large number of U.S. casualties. This thought took them to the next murderous conclusion: if civilians pose even a remote risk to U.S. soldiers it is better to shoot the civilians first and ask questions later. Dead Korean or Vietnamese or Iraqi civilians will not be as politically damaging back home as dead American soldiers.

There is one more side to the logic of war crimes. If the civilian population is sympathetic to the resistance fighters it is necessary to terrorize the civilians as punishment for providing aid or shelter to a guerrilla army. This is not a new story. The Japanese wiped out whole villages and nearly some cities in China as a warning against aiding the communist-led resistance during World War II. The Nazi’s policy in Serbia was to kill one hundred Serbs for every German soldier killed by the resistance. Under the direction of John Negroponte, current Director of US Intelligence services, the Salvadoran military carried out large-scale massacres of peasant communities that were considered supportive of the FMLN resistance fighters in El Salvador during the 1980’s. In Vietnam, the CIA organized the Phoenix Program, a clandestine war that assassinated as many 50,000 south Vietnamese who were considered to be members or sympathizers of the National Liberation Front.

The People of the United States Must Act to Stop Imperialist War

There is no investigation, no new training, or change in the way the war and occupation is administered that can stop massacres like Haditha, Fallujah and the day in and day out killings of Iraqis and destruction of their society. The only change that can bring about the hope of building a new future for Iraqis, one of self-determination and eventual peace, is to end the foreign occupation of Iraq and remove the invading army. Every day the U.S. and other troops remain in Iraq the situation grows more dire for the Iraqi people. We must demand that the troops be brought home now and reach out to our friends, families, co-workers and schoolmates to make this demand a powerful and undeniable force. The majority of people of the U.S. now oppose the war in Iraq – but at this very moment, many in the peace movement are urging that all focus turn towards the elections, just as they did two years ago. This is the road to irrelevance and it must be rejected.

The war in Vietnam was not ended because "better politicians" were elected. No one could assert that Richard Nixon was better than anything or anyone. What mattered was that millions of people used every avenue to intensify the mass struggle in the streets and in every community throughout the country. The Vietnamese people were clearly determined to fight until their homeland was free from foreign occupation. Ultimately, the U.S. soldier was only fighting to return to his or her home. The congruence of these factors and the ever-widening mass anti-war movement made the nearly genocidal conflict unsustainable for the Pentagon brass and the occupant of the White House. We must learn and re-learn these lessons and apply them to today. That is the challenge and obligation of the next period. [(Subtitle and/or emphasis added by Wolf Britain.)]

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard is a civil rights attorney and co-founder of the Partnership for Civil Justice. Brian Becker is the National Coordinator of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition.



About Wolf

Equal, Human, Civil, Legal, and Liberty Rights Advocate; Independent Legal Assistant, Troubleshooter and/or Whistleblower; Personal Computer Specialist; Blogger / Blogmaster; Webmaster; Writer; and Poet; Sui Juris / Pro Esse Suo / Pro Se (meaning that I ONLY represent myself as best I can; that I do NOT practice law or medicine without a license; and that I do not give medical or legal advice, which should be obtained from licensed legal and/or medical professionals). Also a bonafide member in good standing of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) [as a fully physically disabled former legal worker]; of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU); and of Amnesty International (AI).
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